For many years - perhaps two decades or more - I have been refining a document for my book of shadows that attempts to categorize into only a few general categories, all types of divination. I started with 4 basic forms. It then evolved to 5. Then the titles of the categories changed because the lists had to be reorganized. As I edited that document today, I was considering those groups of divination that function obviously within an altered state of consciousness, like mediumship, and those that function less obviously in an altered state of consciousness, like casting lots. Just before I considered once again starting the whole classification system from scratch, I asked my partner for his input. After a bit of discussion, he basically told me that I was building a list that was of no use.
I was insulted and hurt, but not in a major way. I was injured in that way that I get when my own baggage gets in my way. I start to feel my self worth lessening because I think I'm being viewed as not being smart. Ultimately, I just wasn't seeing his point. So we decided to actually do some divination using tarot, which is the form with which I'm the most practiced.
There was a time when I did tarot almost daily. For me, the cards stopped being something one looks up in a book and instead became a series of pictures tucked inside a story book - the story of the scenario of the question involved. They became something with which I conversed inside myself, generating an understanding for which I didn't seem to have the words. At times I knew the message inside myself so well that I didn't always have the ability to put it into standard language. But it has been a very long time since I did tarot - really did it in the way I used to.
I prepared myself and entered the receptive state of mind. I did the reading and the story appeared, just as it used to. I even had some trouble telling the story the way I used to. I was not totally on my game, however, because I didn't give in to total trust in the message.
At that point, I realized my partner's point related to my list. Whereas my list was great for academia because it related the types of divination based on their mode of delivery, it failed to isolate and expose for what divination was really used - that is, to engage the psychic power of the mind.
With this perspective, and with this experience, I came to understand that all divination has the potential to be psychic or superficial. Some are easier than others, such as with tarot where one can lay down cards and simply read meanings from a book. Others, like mediumship, are nearly impossible without practice and access to a psychic power. For me, I only got good at tarot after years of practice, when the superficial meanings in a book transformed into an archetype, a spiritual concept, a life lesson and a message with meaning. I know that the journey was at times tedious, laborious and even downright boring, but there was something beneath the surface that kept me going. I don't know if I could do it all again with another divination form, but I hope each new one will be progressively easier.
As for the list, I know that it does need to be reworked. But the new list is going to be simpler. I've decided that my book of shadows doesn't need an academic list of divination. What it needs is an examination of how to divine using any tool one might take up. I need to go back to what I know inside, rather than back to the inside of a book.