Friday, May 30, 2008

Oracle Anxiety

So apparently, I’ve developed a reputation as a seer. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. But it’s all geomancy’s fault.

Since I’ve mentioned geomancy a couple of times in the past, I should probably explain what it actually is. At its core, geomancy is a binary system of divination: a question is asked, and in response random numbers are generated (traditionally by making marks in sand or on paper, but dice and playing cards work well, too). These numbers are broken down to even and odd, represented by two dots or one dot, arranged into a series of figures, and plugged into an astrological chart. You end up with something like this:


The chart is interpreted based on the individual meanings of the figures, their positions and how they interact with one another. And even though you’re just looking at a bunch of dots, a story becomes clear, with its own introduction, exposition, climax and conclusion.

In theory, geomantic divination is a lot like that scene in The Matrix, where Cypher explains the stream of strange, green symbols on his monitor: "I don't even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, red-head.” But in practice, it’s like that scene in Lady in the Water, where a roomful of panicky people hang on the words of a little kid who has been charged with delivering a crucial message in a life-or-death situation, but must do so by interpreting the images on cereal boxes.

I don’t doubt that I have a talent for geomancy, and I don’t doubt that, after studying this system of divination for a number of years, I’ve got a decent level of skill. What I doubt is my ability to deal with the pressure that comes with reading for others, as well as the pressure that comes with consistent accuracy.

I started actively reading for friends a few months back, and word spread fairly quickly amongst my acquaintances. At this point, I get a call or an e-mail requesting a reading at least once every other week or so, and while I’m always happy to do it, I sometimes worry that the acquaintance in question might make a critical decision based solely on me playing metaphysical connect-the-dots. And I sometimes worry that I haven’t provided enough information, or that I’ve provided too much information. It’s kind of mortifying when one of my readings hits the nail on the head, but the readee’s fingers are still in the way.

Oh, and speaking of: what the introductory “Divination for Dummies” books never tell you is that a spot-on, all-pistons-firing, oh-my-Gods-how-did-you-know-that reading is fucking freaky. It’s one thing to give a yes/no answer to a “Should I or shouldn’t I…” type of question. It’s something else entirely to go all clairvoyant and blurt out facts that should simply not be accessible via a collection of indiscriminate marks on a piece of paper. Makes my inner logician want to pack up shop and head back to Protestantism.

But this is where coven-based Witchcraft comes in handy. Whenever I freak myself out with a reading, I call Co-Witch A., who freaks out right along with me, acting as my personal cheerleader and offering solidarity through mutual hysteria. Then I call Co-Witch B., who calms me down and thumps me upside the head if I start pulling a prophet schtick. After that, I call Co-Witch Y., who sympathizes capitalistically:

“True psychic experiences, especially unexpected ones, can be really, really unnerving,” she’ll say. “Which is why you should be charging $40 a pop.”

And usually, this makes me feel better. However, the last time I had a geomantic meltdown, I decided to give the Witches a break and called Apocrypha Jones, Mistress of the Postmodern Occult.

In addition to being my best friend since before I could legally drink, Apocrypha’s been reading Tarot for nigh on twenty years, so flashes of insight from the Beyond are as nothing to her. She kept silent while I ranted for a few minutes, then cut me off.

“Evn, listen. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve had a divinatory urge, and you tried system after system, but none of them really grabbed you until geomancy.”

“Well, yeah,” I said, not quite clear where she was going.

“Think of it like photography,” she continued. “You’ve just been putting the wrong filters over your camera lens. It makes sense that the filter that finally worked for you would really work.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, but it did make sense.

“Besides, you’re a Virgo. Earth signs tend to be late bloomers.”

I took her word for that. But overall, I think she’s right. If I’ve always had this push to find a system of divination, then it’s probably because I’m supposed to be divining. Maybe, instead of having anxiety attacks every time I give an accurate reading, I should accept that I’m doing something I’m called to do--something at which I’m gifted, that can ultimately benefit other people. In fact, if any Loyal Strifemongers ever want a reading of their own, let me know and we’ll see what happens.

But it’ll cost you $40. Cash up front.

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