Oracular Mechanics

Playing by the Rules
By Allan Ritchie

When I play a game I like to know the rules. To enjoy myself, I need to know the landscape of the field, what the objectives are and how do I win.  The rules matter.   This month I want to examine Rory’s Story Cubes as a game.  As I continue to transform the Story Cubes into an oracular device I need to start out by looking at them as a game.  What can the rules of the game teach me?  Seeing how the game is played I can learn more about how I read and understand the difference between imagination, intuition and divination. 

Rory’s Story Cubes© come in a variety of packaging options.  The set I purchased included a little white sheet of paper that gave guidelines on how to play.  As a die hard fan of Tarot decks this was instantly recognizable as the proverbial “Little White Book” and also as an incurable optimist I always read “Little White Books.”  The game play for Rory’s Story Cubes is not complicated. The Original set came with three versions of game play.  Watch this videoto see Rory teach and demonstrate the most classic version of the game. 

Roll all the 9 Cubes and then consider the Cube’s facing images and find a starting point for the story.  Beginning with “Once upon a time . . .” you create as story from the nine cubes linking them together.

For kids, parents and fans of stories the phrase, “Once upon a time”  leads their imaginations into story mode.  The role of a storyteller is to connect people with ideas and concepts. Likewise, the tarot reader connects a client with the concepts and insight of their life. In a reading, we often find that a spread starts with a past position or jumps to a present position.  The setting of a story is important just as the current situation in a clients life is important to the reading.   

The “Once Upon a Time” version of gameplay resembles a general reading.  Roll the cubes and see what comes up. Toss the cards and see what happens.  We have all done this with mixed results. The second suggested version of the game is to give a title or theme to the story before you roll.  The next video is a bit longer and in only a month has become the most watched Story Cubes video on YouTube.  The video shows a group of guys playing this type of game.   As you watch consider the way in which they interpret the icons and string the ideas together. 

Think up a title or theme for a story (Examples: ‘The beach”, “My Favorite Vacation”,”Dream”.)  Then roll all 9 cubes and try to tell a story that relates back to the title or theme. 

When we work with an oracle to preform a reading we look for answers, advice or insight to a particular situation.  This second form of play resembles a reading in that the symbols are interpreted with a particular idea in mind.  When I do a reading for a relationship reading then the cards take on one set of meaning but then in a career reading there is a different understanding.  Working with the Story Cubes for a themed story something similar happens. 

There is a broad and ever expanding selection of Rory’s Story Cubes© sets.  The developers are creating sets to add  different genre of stories.  Each new set adds symbols that enrich a story based on that theme.  There are also now an abundance of themed Tarot decks that give readers the same direction. Yet what matters is not the deck but how you used it that matters.  We can often hear the reader speak of their decks in terms of personal relationship. They find a connection that is formed with a deck. This connection comes from consistent patterns and continual use of the tool.  The productive use of the tarot and the Story Cubes is built on understanding of symbols, consistent use and intent. 

Up to this point I have been really looking at ways in which a single person plays the game alone or in a group setting.  In oracle work we engage with others and there is a give and take. Here is one last video to watch as the creators of the cubes explain how to play as a group. 

Divide the cubes among the players.  Starting with one player and continuing in a circle, take turns adding to the story based on the images until all the cubes have been used. 

Again here we see a dynamic that often takes place in a form of oracular reading. The tool is spread and the client is lead to consider what they see in regard to the question or challenges that they are facing. The Story Cubes generate the opportunity for the conversation. Getting the client aware and invested in their own reading is often difficult and with a tool like Story Cubes there is a chance if they are telling the story of their life they will be more dynamic in the reading process. 

My purpose for appropriating the Story Cubes as an oracle is to understand the process in which I had come to understand the Tarot. Knowing the rules and the tool will lead me to understand  better how the answers are found using the tool and the way that it creates messages. Knowing the importance of playing by the rules has taught me the importance of my reading ritual.  Learning the symbolic language is essential to understanding an oracle but second in importance is a standard ritual.  

So whether I am working with a general reading, specific questions or interactive problems solving session, it is essential that I know my ritual and the steps of how I read. This does not mean that I can’t shake up things and try new things. This doesn’t mean that my ritual has to be strictly sequenced.  Shuffling, laying out the cards, whether clients handle the cards, question spoken aloud or not, spread choice or even how you turn the cards over are all ritual issues that I know some readers have strong feelings. While other successful readers do not consider some of these topics relevant .  Ritual helps to set intention. Working to discover my own history of reading it has made me aware that it is important to know what is working in my ritual. 

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