21 Most Popular Divination Tools from Around the World

Ancient runes on table
Ancient runes

Divination is a powerful practice that allows you to access your inner wisdom, seek guidance from higher realms, gain insight into life’s mysteries, and glimpse the unknown aspects of the future.

The need to know what tomorrow will bring or to find answers to life’s questions, is an age-old drive among humans. It’s no wonder that some form of divination has appeared throughout history in almost every culture in the world.

In this article, let’s explore 21 powerful divination tools used by the ancients. We will also see how the tool works and how you can use it effectively in your own life.

21 Ancient Divination Tools and Techniques

24 divination tools and techniques
24 divination tools and techniques

1. Animal Divination

Tiger spirit animal
Animal divination was very common in shamanistic cultures. It basically involves interpreting animal symbolism to gain insights into the future. If you feel connected to the natural world, you might want to explore animal divination.

How does animal divination work?

There are many aspects to animal divination but it can be as simple as an animal appearing in your meditation (or dream) to give you a message. You can look up the symbolism of that particular animal to understand what its appearance means to you.

Animal divination can also occur outside of meditation. If a type of animal that you don’t see often, suddenly appears in your neighborhood, it may be there as a message to you. Alternatively, you may notice images of a particular animal recurring frequently in your life. Perhaps you’ve seen it on book covers, paintings, statues, movies, and other places far more frequently than usual.

You can even ask an animal symbol to appear to you as an answer to a question you have.

2. Tarot or Oracle Cards

Tarot cards
Tarot cards

Tarot (or Oracle) cards are one of the easiest forms of divination to learn. They allow you to use your intuition without your conscious mind getting in the way. Tarot decks generally contain 78 cards which includes 22 major and 56 minor arcana cards. Each card represents a different element or aspect of life.

You can also choose to use Oracle decks instead of Tarot decks as they are easier to learn. As opposed to Tarot decks, oracle decks contain their own types of cards, which would be more closely akin to just major arcana. Tarot decks all follow the same structure, as opposed to oracle decks that have no set structure. Each oracle deck can contain any number of cards, all of which are different with different meanings, and they are more open to interpretation. It’s important to choose whichever type of deck speaks to you.

How to use Tarot cards for Divination:

Shuffle the cards and spread them out in front of you. Focus on your question as you shuffle and draw cards. You may notice that some of the cards seem to glow, calling to you, or you may simply feel compelled to pick certain cards.

A tarot card reading can be done by drawing cards for a predetermined spread, or you can just pull a card or two at random, flip them over, and see what they say.

3. I Ching

I Ching coins & hexagrams
I Ching coins & hexagrams

I Ching is believed to be one of the oldest forms of divination originating in China. I Ching, which means “Book of Changes,” originally consisted of tossing yarrow sticks to see how they would land. These days using three coins in place of yarrow sticks is generally the more popular method. The coins are marked to signify the equivalent of “heads” and “tails.”

How to use the I Ching for divination:

Unlike other divination tools such as runes or tarot, you don’t simply pull a coin to see the meaning. To use I Ching, you first set an intention or ask a question and then cast the coins multiple times to build a hexagram – a set of 6 parallel, whole or broken lines (as shown in the image below).

I Ching hexagram
I Ching hexagram

Each time you cast the coins, you assign a 2 or 3 to the coins, depending on which side they land on (Heads be a 2 and Tails being a 3). Those numbers are added up and if the added value is an odd number, you would draw a whole line and if it’s even, you would draw a broken line. After six casts, you will have a stack of six line symbol. This is your hexagram. You can then look up the specific hexagram in the I Ching book to understand the energy in the hexagram and how it applies to your question.

4. Scrying

Crystal scrying
Crystal scrying

Scrying involves gazing into a reflective object/surface to channel images/symbols pertaining to your question. You can scry using any reflective object such as a mirror, water, or even a crystal ball (as depicted in popular culture).

How to do scrying for divination:

Before you learn to scry, it’s important to remember that scrying helps you connect with your intuition and inner wisdom. You need to use the reflective surface not to see physical images but as a canvas to project your mind’s images. So you are pretty much channeling you own intuition onto the canvas. Here’s how this is done.

Bring yourself to a state of deep relaxation by taking slow and deep breaths. Close your eyes, and bring your question to your mind. Meditate on it for a few seconds before gazing into the reflective surface (this can be a mirror or a bowl of water).

As mentioned earlier, remember that when scrying, the intention is not to stare at the reflective object with your physical eyes, but rather to stare “through” it with your mind’s eye. This is similar to how you must relax your eyes to view the 3D image hidden in a stereogram.

Consider putting on some relaxing music, diffuse relaxing essential oils, keep crystals like Amethyst nearby, and dim the lights a bit, for a better reading.

5. Rune Casting

Runes for divination
Runes for divination

Using runes is very similar to the technique you would use when pulling tarot cards. While runes would not contain a minor arcana equivalent, they can be compared to the major arcana. Runes can be made of wood, flat rocks, or pieces of crystal. Each “rune stone” contains a carving or drawing of a letter from the Norse alphabet, which has specific meaning.

How to use runes for divination:

To use runes for divination, place your rune stones in a bag. Shake the bag to mix the stones. To cast the stones, you can either dump a few runes out of the bag, and only read the ones that land with the symbols facing upward. Or you can pull a small handful of runes from the bag and drop them to see which ones land with the symbol facing upward.

An alternative method is to reach into the bag and pull out runes one at a time, pulling those that call to you. As in tarot, the number of runes you intentionally pull from the bag can be predetermined by a spread, or you can simply pull one or more as you feel compelled to, and read what is within them.

6. Pendulum Divination

Pendulum for divination
Pendulum for divination

In its simplest form, a pendulum is just a slightly weighted object at the bottom of a chain or string. When using a pendulum for divination, you can either tap into your own inner wisdom or ask for help from the spirits in directing the movement of the pendulum. You watch the movement of the pendulum to determine the answer to your question.

How to use a pendulum for divination:

When doing a pendulum reading, you must first determine which direction will be yes and no. You do this by simply asking the pendulum or the spirits what your sign is for yes and seeing how it moves. It may swing back and forth, it may rotate clockwise or counter clockwise, or it may simply sit still.

Make a mental note of what it does, and use that as your symbol for yes. Then repeat the process, asking how the pendulum will move when the answer is no. These motions may be different every day, so be sure to do this before every pendulum reading.

Once you have found your pendulum motions, you can ask your question. Then watch to see whether the pendulum moves with the predetermined yes or no direction. If you want a more in depth reading, you can bring in a pendulum board. A pendulum board will have the basic yes and no written on it, but will also contain other information. This might include directions, numbers, letters, or more specific answers.

You can even design your own pendulum boards to include information relevant specifically to you. To use a pendulum with a board, ask your question, and then watch which part of the board the pendulum swings toward. The information on the section of the board will be pertinent to your question.

7. Cowrie Shells Divination

Tiger Cowrie shells
Cowrie shell divination is an ancient method that has its roots in West and East Africa. It has also been practiced in India, and various Afro-American cultures. This method of divination takes on various forms and can involve anywhere from 1 to 21 shells. Typically white cowrie shells are used but other types of shells can be used as well.

How to use Cowrie shells for divination:

Hold an even number of white cowrie shells, preferably 8 shells in the palm of your hand. Recite your question while focusing your attention on the shells. Now toss the shells on a suitable mat or cloth. Your answer can be determined by the number of shells that land with the slit facing upwards (indicating ‘YES’) as opposed to the ones that land facing downwards. For instance, if out of 8 shells, 5 land up and 3 land down, the result can be interpreted as an YES.

You can also interpret the result based on even and odd numbers. Even being a YES and odd being a NO. For instance, if three shells land with slit facing upwards, the answer is a NO as 3 is an odd number.

You can also use a single cowrie shell for a quick YES or NO answer. If the shell lands with the slit facing upwards, it is a YES.

8. Carromancy (Wax Divination)

Wax divination
Wax divination – pouring molten wax in water

Carromancy is a technique of using wax for divination. There are various ways in which this can be done, but one of the most popular methods involves pouring molten wax in cold water and then looking at the pattern formed after the wax cools and solidifies.

How to use wax for divination:

Take a regular pillar or taper candle (of any color that would make reading easier). Hold it in your hands and meditate with it for a few minutes while bringing your question (and whatever God or Spirit that you work with) to your mind. Now light the candle and after it has burned for a few minutes, pour the molten wax in a ceramic bowl containing cold water and let it drip for a few seconds or so. Clear your mind and study the pattern that has been made and see if it reminds you of something or if you can find a hidden image or a symbol in it. You can then interpret it to see what the symbol means.

Another way to do this is to light a taper candle in a ceramic bowl and allow it to burn down completely. You can then have a look at the pattern that the leftover wax has made.

You can also look at the candle as it is burning down and try to see if there are any patterns that come up.

9. Tasseography (Tea Reading)

Tea leaves divination
Tea leaves divination

If you like tea, you might enjoy tasseography. Tasseography offers the distinct advantage of being a tasty, as well as inexpensive divination tool. This method of divination involves reading the shapes that appear in the leaves after drinking a cup of tea.

How to use Tasseography for divination:

To use this tool, start by putting some loose tea leaves in a cup; you cannot use a tea bag for this. You’ll want to use a light colored cup so you can easily see the leaves at the bottom. Pour hot water over the leaves in the cup and let it set for a few minutes to cool.

While the tea is cooling is the perfect time to center yourself, set your intentions, and ask your question. When the tea has cooled, drink the cup, leaving just enough liquid in the bottom for the tea leaves to move freely. Swirl the cup in a circle several times, then flip it upside down over a saucer.

When the remaining liquid has drained, flip the cup right side up. The remaining tea leaves will be stuck to the bottom of the cup in various shapes. Gaze at those leaves and let your imagination run, seeing what shapes you can find in them.

You can use books telling you what the symbols mean, or you can interpret them using your own experience. A symbol that may mean one thing in a book, may mean something entirely different to you personally. It’s important to take both aspects into account in a tea reading.

10. Bibliomancy (Book Divination)

Open book
Stichomancy is a divination tool that consists of receiving messages from books. Most often the books used in stichmancy are of cultural importance, such as the Bible or the Book of Changes from the I Ching. However, any book can be used in the practice, even popular fiction.

How to use Bibliomancy for divination:

Think about your question and choose a book. This can be a sacred text or just a book that you feel calling to you. Use your intuition to open the book to a specific page, and move your hand to a specific passage. The information in that passage will contain advice or answers to your question.

You can even open a dictionary and place your finger anywhere on the open page, and then look down to see what word your finger is pointing to. The meaning of that word will contain the answer to your question.

11. Audio-bibliomancy (Music Divination)

If you are a music lover then you will love this technique as it uses music for divination.

How to use music for divination:

There are various ways you can do this but a simple method is to put on a random song from a random playlist on an app like Spotify or Pandora and then skip to a random part of that song and see if the lyrics you hear have an important message for you. Another way is to turn on the radio and see if the song playing has a hidden meaning or answer to your question.

12. Automatic writing

Also known as free association writing, automatic writing can reveal your inner thoughts as well as answer questions. It is most commonly done with a pencil and paper, but in our modern world, you can also opt to use a computer or tablet as well. Many psychics use automatic writing to channel the books they write.

How to use Automatic writing for divination:

Focus on your question and begin writing or typing. Try not to look at or think about what you’re writing. Just write. Automatic writing is difficult for many people, because it can be challenging to not think about what you’re writing. However, if you succeed, the results can be quite impressive.

Initially you may just write gibberish, but if you keep going, you will start to form actual words and sentences. These may reveal thoughts you didn’t know you had about something, or you may find that you’ve written yourself advice about your question.

13. Dice divination (Astragalomancy)

6 faced dice
6 faced dice

In dice divination you roll a regular six-sided dice, a polyhedral dice, or a special divination dice and interpret the numbers to gain insights and guidance. As opposed to a regular dice, divination dices can have symbols or numbers that have specific meanings.

How to use dice as a tool for divination:

Before rolling the dice, take a moment to set your intention or formulate a specific question. Then, close your eyes and proceed to roll the dice. After they’ve landed, take note of the numbers or symbols that have appeared. These can be interpreted using a variety of factors, such as the combination of numbers (if two dice are being used) or any associations and meanings that you’ve assigned to the numbers beforehand.

For instance, if you are using a single dice, you can assign even numbers like 1 and 6 to be a YES or positive answer and odd numbers like 1 and 5 to be a NO or negative answer. Numbers 3 and 4 can indicate MayBe or Try Again.

14. Ogham Divination

Ogham alphabet
Ogham alphabet – 20 letters

Ogham divination is done using the ancient Ogham alphabet. Ogham was an Early Medieval alphabet, which was actually used to write Old Irish and other Celtic languages. It has a long history of being used for magical and divinatory purposes by the ancient Celts.

The Ogham alphabet typically consists of 20 letters. Similar to the runes, each one of these letters is associated with a specific tree, plant, or natural element. It also has a divinatory meaning. You as a diviner can use these associations to interpret the messages that come through during a reading.

How to use Ogham as a tool for divination:

For Ogham divination, you will need a set of 20 wooden staves each inscribed with a different Ogham letter. Material other than wood can also be used to create these staves. As with other forms of divination, you begin by setting an intention or bringing a specific question to your mind.

You can then draw (from a bag containing the letters) a single stave or three or more staves based on the method you are using. Take a look at the Ogham letter inscribed on each stave, as well as the associated tree, plant, or natural element. You can use these associations to interpret the message that’s coming through. You may also consider any intuition or insights that you receive during the reading.

15. Capnomancy (Smoke Scrying)

Incense divination
Incense divination

Capnomancy (also known as smoke scrying) is an ancient divination technique that involves interpreting the shapes, patterns, and movements of smoke, arising from incense or candles, to gain insight into a question or situation. This technique was practiced across many different cultures throughout history, including in ancient Greece, China, and the Middle East.

How to use Capnomancy for divination:

Light an unscented incense (1 to 3) or a candle in a quiet and calm space and allow it to burn for a few minutes so it starts producing smoke. Now close your eyes and bring a question to your mind. Relax for a few minutes before opening your eyes and focusing on the smoke as it arises and dissipates. Look to see if you can find patterns, such as animals, objects, or symbols in the smoke.

Do not try to force any particular thoughts; instead allow your mind to relax and be open to the images and symbols that may arise in the smoke. Once an image appears, you can interpret it based on your personal associations or traditional meanings.

16. Mahjong Divination

Mahjong tiles
Mahjong tiles

Mahjong divination is based on the traditional Chinese tile game of Mahjong. This involves a set of 144 tiles that are divided into three categories – the four seasons, the three dragons, and the three suits. Each tile has a meaning associated with it that can vary based on the practitioner’s personal associations, cultural beliefs and question that needs to be answered.

Typically, the four seasons tiles are associated with change, the passage of time, and cycles. The three dragon tiles, on the other hand, represent, power, authority, and control. Lastly, the three suit tiles, which consist of the circle, character, and bamboo tiles, are linked to wealth, success, and relationships.

How to use Mahjong for divination:

Mahjong divination involves shuffling the 144 tiles and then drawing a set of tiles, usually either 12 or 16, and using it to create a layout or pattern. You will then interpret this pattern to gain insight to your question(s). This divination tool is a little difficult for beginners as it requires a strong knowledge of Mahjong and its symbolism. It also requires an understanding of the principles of divination and interpretation.

Another similar form of divination tool is domino divination which involves using domino tiles for divination.

17. Geomancy Divination

Geomancy was one of the primary forms of divination employed throughout Europe, Egypt, and the Middle East, until the late 19th century. This method of divination basically involves drawing random figures in the sand (or soil) and then using the figures to create a geomantic figure of dots. This would then interpreted by comparing it with the 16 primary geomantic figures (as shown in the image below) that have a fixed symbolism.

Sixteen geomantic figures
Sixteen geomantic figures

Each one of the 16 geomantic figure represents a certain formed state of the world or the mind and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures.

How to use Geomancy for divination:

To use Geomancy for divination, you start by writing down the question you are seeking an answer to. You then need to use a method to come up with a binary number of 1’s and 2’s which will then be used to create the geomantic pattern. There are various ways to do this, like drawing a random number of lines on the ground (or paper) and then counting these lines and if the sum comes as an odd number, it counts as 1 (one dot) and if it comes an even number, that counts as 2 (two dots). You can even use a geomancy tool as shown in the image below:

Geomancy tool
Geomancy tool (Source)

Although the simplest way to do this is to toss or spin a coin and use the head as 1 dot and tails as 2 dots. You will need to spin the coin 16 times to get a total of four dotted patterns. These four patterns are called the Four Mothers (as shown in the image below).

Geomancy patterns
Geomancy patterns

Using these four patterns, you will need to create another four patterns known as the Four Daughters. Then by combining these 8 patterns you create a set of four patterns known as the Four Nieces. Finally, these four patterns are combined to arrive at two patterns known as the Witnesses. Finally, these two patterns are combined to arrive at the final pattern known as the Judge. This pattern is them compared against the set of 16 primary patterns and interpreted accordingly.

Yup, that sounds complicated, but it’s not. Geomancy can actually be very interesting and easy to do once you get the basic gist of it.

18. Oomancy (Egg Divination)

Egg white
Oomancy (egg divination) is an ancient Greek divination practice that involves interpreting the shapes and patterns formed by the egg white when it is dropped into hot water. Different shapes or patterns were believed to have specific meanings. For instance, a bell-shaped egg white was interpreted as a sign of good luck or celebrations to come.

In the past, oomany was also perfomed after an egg cleansing ritual to determine if negative energy or evil eye has left the person’s body. One method of performing this interpretation involved rolling the egg over the person’s body to absorb the negative energy, and then cracking it open into a bowl of water to see if the negativity had been removed from the body.

19. Astrology

Astrology natal chart
Astrology natal chart

Astrology is the divination of the stars and planets. The gravitational pull of the celestial bodies influences our personalities and lives just as much as it influences the tides of the ocean. Most people are familiar with their sun sign, but there are also moon signs and rising signs. Though not as influential as your sun sign, they do impact how your sun sign affects you. You will need your birth year and exact birth time to find them.

Beyond personality traits, astrology can also help when making plans in your life. You can use a synastry chart to see how astrology affects the compatibility between yourself and potential partners. You can use astrology to avoid starting new projects during retrogrades, or plan optimal times for events such as weddings. Astrology can even be used as a guide for planting your garden.

20. Color Divination

Color cards
Color divination involves reading colors. This is often used in conjunction with other forms of divination. You might lay out colored cards just like tarot cards, with each color having a specific meaning. Or you might use a pendulum over a color wheel to see which colors the pendulum points to.

You can also burn candles of a certain color when doing other divination methods to enhance the session. If you’re casting runes about money questions, you might burn a yellow or green candle. Both of these colors are associated with money and abundance and can intensify the clarity of the rune session.

21. Numerology

The study of numerology or arithmancy as it’s sometimes called, is similar to the study method of astrology. It reveals traits about you, but can also be used for deeper answers.

How to use numerology for divination:

All numbers in the world can be reduced to 1-9. Each of these nine numbers has a specific energy and meaning.

Your birth date will either be one of these nine numbers, or a larger number which can be reduced to one of these nine numbers. For example, if your birthday is the 23rd, you simply add the 2 and 3 together, and your number is 5. You can then look up the meaning behind that number to see how it influences your personality. You can expand on this by creating a numerology chart that takes additional factors into account such as birth month and birth year as well.

Beyond personal birthdates, this technique can be used to see what number energy a particular year will have for you. It can be used to plan events on certain dates that are advantageous to you depending on what your birth number is. You also can consult numerology to calculate compatibility with potential partners.

In addition, seeing recurring number patterns like 777, 111 or 1111, can have a deeper meaning too. Interpreting this is also a part of numerology divination.

How does divination work?

Divination allows you to connect with and seek guidance from the spiritual (inner) world. Most forms of divination allow you to ask for guidance from the spirits (or higher energies) before you begin. Who you ask will depend on your own personal belief system. It may be a deity, your ancestors, or just the universe in general. It is also a way of revealing what you already know or feel, but may have a hard time discerning with your conscious mind.

Divination allows your mind to get out of the way, and just reveal this knowledge plainly, without being influenced by your own conscious thoughts.

Questions you can ask during divination

A variety of questions, such as whether you should take that job offer, or when the best time for that romantic getaway is, can be answered with divination. It can also be used for general future inquiries. You could perform a divination session at the beginning of the week, month, or year to get a general feel for how that time period will be for you, or if there is any advice you need to know about.

It’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone. Divination simply shows you the likeliness of future events in relation to your current course. If you suddenly change course, then what was predicted for that course may no longer apply. That is actually one of the great benefits of using divination. If you read something during a divination session that you’re unhappy about, the knowledge allows you to change course, and therefore create a different outcome.

Moving on, let’s take a look at 20 divination tools that have been used for centuries and how they work, so you can incorporate them in your daily life.

Which Divination Tool is the Most Powerful?

The power of the divination tools depends upon you. Without you they are simply objects; you provide the power. Therefore, the most powerful divination tool is the one that works best for you. It will be different for everyone. Some people are very adept at seeing images in bowls of water. Others see nothing in water, but can easily read the stars in astrology. You will want to experiment with multiple tools to find which suits you best.

Points to Bear in Mind for Better Results

When you get a new divination tool such as a set of tarot cards or I Ching coins, you will want to cleanse them. You can leave tools outside under the light of the full moon for cleansing. You can ask the spirits to cleanse their energy. You can also leave tools in a bowl of salt for three days. Just be sure the tool is not something that will be damaged by the salt if you choose this method. There are many other ways to cleanse tools as well. Choose whatever resonates with you.

You may also want to use some bonding methods with new divination tools to strengthen your connection to them. This can be as simple as sleeping with them under your pillow at night. Or carrying them on your person at all times for several days. Use itself also increases your bond with your tools. The more you use them, the more you will bond with them, and the better success you will have with them in your divination sessions.

When using your tools, mindset will factor greatly in any divination technique. It is imperative to go into a divination session with an open mind, and be relaxed as you ask your questions. You may find lighting candles, burning incense, or playing a certain type of music helps clear your head and get you into the proper mood.

The greater your level of intuition, and the more receptive you are to receiving messages from the spirit world will enhance your success with these techniques. Get clear on what answers you hope to receive and set your intentions before beginning your reading. Meditating before a session can greatly help you clarify what you hope to accomplish in your session.


Ultimately you make your own decisions in life, and divination tools only have the power you give them. However, they can be of great assistance in helping you understand what you are intuiting. The more you use them, the easier it will get, and the more enjoyable you will find it.

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