Fashioning your own system of omens
This too is from the book by Callia Underhill, it is part of one of the methods explained in the book. The method is not important here, if you want to know more, get the book
Fashioning your own system of omens is quite easy.
There are really no particular requirements, other than that if you are going to go on a nature walk, your system will include animals, birds, trees, clouds, storms, and other things that occur in Nature. As we have mentioned previously, the magical theory behind divination is based largely on the contents and patterns that you hold in your subconscious mind. Though your personal subconscious mind is filled with images and patterns that you have inherited by virtue of being a member of the human race (and if you subscribe to a belief in evolutionary reincarnation, of animal and plant life as well), it is possible to train your subconscious mind to give meaning to personally chosen symbols.
For instance, suppose you have a list of twenty natural manifestations that you wish to form into a divination system for your Omen Walk. For instance, you may associate thunder with anger or an unfavorable outcome to your question, lightning with disasters or perhaps spiritual enlightenment, robins with new and favorable beginnings, roses with love and friendship, hummingbirds with speedy messages, squirrels with money, and so on. No matter what interpretations you have given to each object, they will work for you, provided, however, that you study your list so thoroughly that they pass into your subconscious mind and become a permanent part of your subconscious knowledge.
You may ask, "How on earth will I know when my symbols have passed into my subconscious mind? How will I know when I can begin using the symbols for divination by omen?" We find our answer, once again, in basic magical theory. You are already familiar with the fact that the subconscious mind is symbolized by the Moon in most magical traditions, just as the Sun (and sometimes Mercury, as
we have seen) symbolizes the self-conscious mind and your normal waking consciousness. The moon is also a symbol of our emotional natures. This fact is used by astrologers to judge the basic emotional nature of a person in a horoscope. Thus, if the moon represents the subconscious, and the moon also represents the emotions, we can deduce that the subconscious mind must also be closely linked with our emotional natures.
We also know from dream specialists and psychologists that our basic image-making faculties are linked to our subconscious minds. This is why we dream in images and pictures and rarely (if ever) in words. When the self-conscious mind is stilled in slumber, the subconscious mind has free reign to throw its images into our field of awareness, causing dreams. Qabalistic tradition also confirms the connection between images and the subconscious mind. The seat of the subconscious in Qabalah is termed "Yesod." Yesod, as a center of awareness, corresponds to the Moon. What is even more interesting is that Qabalists often call Yesod "the Treasure House of Images." The images referred to in this phrase are the personal images of your subconscious mind, as well as the images that we are continually creating on the astral plane by virtue of being thinking and feeling creatures.
If you are new to magical theory and magical religions, all of this can seem a bit daunting. However, all you need to realize at this stage is that your subconscious mind is inextricably bound up with the images that you feed it. We can make use of this fact in training ourselves in a personal omen system.
The first thing you must do is decide on a system of symbols, either by creating your own or adopting one outlined in this chapter. Twenty symbols is probably the fewest that you can get by with. Forty symbols would probably be a good maximum at this stage, unless you have a very good memory and have been trained in transferring emotionally charged images to your subconscious mind such that you can do it quickly and efficiently.
Once you have decided on your symbols, your next step is to take one symbol and meditate on it for at least three days. For example, say you have chosen thunder as a symbol for anger, war, dissension, and conflict. Sit in an upright chair, making sure you will not be interrupted. Compose yourself by relaxing your whole body and breathing deeply and rhythmically. When you are relaxed, begin thinking of your symbol. Imagine that you are walking outside. Storm clouds cover the sky, and you begin to hear thunder. Keep hearing the thunder sounding out over and over.
When you have attained some facility in hearing the thunder, you can proceed to the next stage. While still imagining the thunder sounding out periodically, begin to reflect on the ideas of anger, dissension, and conflict. You can remember past events where you were angry with someone or at some situation, or you can remember seeing images of others in conflict. In any event, try to arouse the emotion of anger in yourself. Call this up as vividly as you can. Persist in this exercise for no more than ten minutes. Remember to keep hearing the thunder, for only then will your subconscious mind begin to associate thunder with anger. Keep to the exercise for three days.
At the end of the three days, you will begin to notice a change in your thought patterns. Every time you see others in conflict or begin to experience anger yourself, you will think of thunder. Likewise, every time you hear thunder outside, it will remind you of anger. When this starts occurring-when one symbol immediately and effortlessly throws the other symbol into your mind-you will know that this particular symbol and its association has passed into your subconscious mind. Then you will be ready to use it for your Omen Walk.
Let's take another example.
Suppose you have chosen the squirrel as a symbol for theft, dishonesty, or swindling. During your three-day work on this symbol, you will call up images of squirrels, perhaps stealing nuts and hiding them away somewhere. When you have gained facility in imagining this, you will begin to think of theft, dishonesty, and swindling. Think back on times when something was stolen from you, times when others have been dishonest with you, or incidents of swindling and cheating. If you have no such situations in your past, think of situations that you have read in books or seen in movies or on television. Continue to !ink the squirrel with these ideas. At the end of your three days, you should begin to think of theft, dishonesty, and related ideas whenever you see a squirrel. The converse is also true when you hear of or see incidents of theft or dishonesty, you will think of squirrels. When one image calls forth the other, you can be certain that the association is firmly ensconced in your subconscious mind.
You will proceed with the rest of your list of symbols in the same manner, keeping in mind that it is the emotional charge that you give to these symbols that will transfer them to your subconscious mind.
Link a picture or image ("image" refers not just to visual images, but also to all perceptions of the senses-sounds, tastes, and the like) to a specific interpretation. If you ever want to add another omen to your list, you would follow the same procedure. It is imperative to keep a record of your symbols, just in case you forget an interpretation or two. This might be quite possible if you have a lengthy list. If you ever do forget a symbol and its interpretation, you should take another three days to go over it again, just to make sure you have it in your subconscious mind.
Now it doesn't mean that, for instance, if you have linked squirrels with theft, every time you see a squirrel in daily life someone is going to steal something from you. These interpretations are meant to hold true only during your Omen Walk. After all, squirrels are quite common in most places, and it simply wouldn't be fitting for you to walk around in a continual state of paranoia just because you live in an area with a high squirrel population.
You would be well advised to compile your own system of symbols and interpretations for the same reason you should interpret your own dreams. Greater personalization of symbols and interpretations often leads to greater accuracy.
However, something is to be said for using symbols that are commonly used in other magical practices. Many of these "prepared" symbol systems already exist in your subconscious mind by virtue of the fact that you are human. Magical theory informs us that our own individualized subconscious minds are linked to a greater, vaster body of knowledge held in the Universal Subconscious Mind.
This is a difficult concept for some to grapple with, but you can think of it in this way. Imagine that your personal subconscious mind is represented by a river that leads out into a great ocean. Every other person on Earth also has a river leading into this ocean. Now while you may have your own particular field of awareness (your river), the water that flows' through you is exactly the same as the water in the great ocean and in everyone else's river.
Suppose you have a particular thought about a symbol. This thought we can liken to a fishing-float that you have placed in your river. Eventually the currents of your personal river will drive the float out into the ocean. That is, your thought will eventually add to the Universal Subconscious Mind. Likewise, suppose another person has placed a fishing float in his or her river, and it eventually makes its way into the ocean and then into your personal river. This fishing float (or thought) has now come into your field of awareness, and you can make use of it.
Imagine now that one thousand people have placed an identical thought into their subconscious minds. The fact that a larger number of people are thinking the same thought increases the potency of the thought in the Universal Subconscious. Eventually this thought will make its way to your individual subconscious mind. You may not be immediately aware of it (since none of us is ever fully aware of all the contents of our subconscious minds), but it is still subsisting below the surface of your normal waking consciousness to be used when needed.
Now let's intensify the example. Imagine that thousands of people over the course of hundreds of years are all putting the same thought out into the Universal Subconscious. As an example, let's say that the thought is one linking the Norse rune Beorc to ideas of fertility, birth, and new beginnings. Even though you may not be consciously aware of the interpretation of this rune, by virtue of the fact that others have, over the course of many years, linked this rune to these meanings, you are already subconsciously aware of the meaning.
Such potent symbols as the runes need very little work to make them a part of your subconscious knowledge. In fact, the knowledge is already there; you just have to consciously realize it. Those that have gone before you in this field have done much of the work already. This is true of other symbols as well, such as numbers, the Tarot symbols, planets, and zodiac signs.
So, in the end, it doesn't matter if you adopt a system of well-prepared symbols or develop your own. Each has its advantages.