I exhale and gingerly lift the pendulum from my lap. My eyes are closed, and I can feel the tremble of the string, the shining gem pulling down on it, and the eyes of my friends upon me. I exhale again.

“Is he single?”

Shrieking ensues from the ladies in my living room. Jumbles of words — “ask again,” “that wasn’t counterclockwise,” “get the sage” — fill the room as my eyes flutter open.

A small, translucent white gem swirls in a circle above my lap — completely independent of my influence. It drifts around and round — rhythmically and seemingly without any urge to stop — in its hypnotic whirl. Margaret thinks I should ask again, but Jessica is confident that a tarot reading is in order. Priya isn’t leaving until I consult our horoscope handbook, and Isla isn’t buying any of this.

In a world of increasingly popular elements of do-it-yourself divination, we all need a little navigation. What are crystals good for? What is tarot card etiquette? How do you read tea leaves? From a girl who’s done it all, paid for most of it, and endured the consequences of a bad reading, take my advice on how to handle it all!

Palm Reading

It stems from Roma and Ethiopian traditions. The best way to get your palms read is to shell out for physic — go to the trendiest area in your town, and you might be able to find one for a reasonable price. In its essence, palm reading uses the grooves, gestures, and grains of your hand to determine your destiny.

Palm reading is best if you want a holistic view of your life, such as how long you will live or your major relationships’ trajectory. Don’t expect detailed depictions of future events from your palm — our hands show big pictures. It’s also important, to be honest with your reader; lying or misleading can cloud their judgment and exaggerate your results.

Crystals

A crystal pendulum is best suited for answering yes or no questions. For instance, if you want to know if you’re overthinking in a situation or, as aforementioned, if he’s interested in you, then a crystal pendulum is the way to go. Crystals can also be good for attracting positive energy into your life, excising negativity, and cleansing your aura. Crystals can be bought at new-age shops, street fairs, or gathered in the wilderness with a divining crystal. However, it is important to learn about each crystal you introduce into your life: Educate yourself on its powers — and dangers — thoroughly before buying it just because of its looks.

Tarot Cards

Margaret is our tarot queen. A collector of cards and handbooks, she has made Sunday nights our weekly reading evening. We all choose a type of reading — a 3 card essence reading, a 12 card romance one, an 8 card affirmation, or a 9 card solution — and she will seriously and sincerely articulate the meaning behind our cards.

Importantly, tarot readings deal with the connectivity between cards — so be forewarned by offers for a single card reading. The link between cards matters as much as the cards themselves in a reading. For instance, in a 5 card advice reading, the first card represents the essence of your problem, while the second regards if you are on the correct or incorrect path. Cards 3 and 4 points to the main things harming and helping you, respectively, and card 5 encapsulates how progress can and should be made. The dialogue between these cards is what makes a reading informative.

While Margaret deals with a physical deck, there are versions you can get on your phone or tablet that provide clean and concise readings for various subjects. You can also splurge on a professional reading or a regular consultant if you are at a transitional period in your life and want more guidance.

It’s extremely important to treat tarot cards with respect. While the deck will recognize its owner, it is attentive to the subject of the reading. In other words, tapping, touching, or trifling with cards during a reading can mess up the energy that they put forth. For this reason, it is important not to touch cards that aren’t yours or through which you aren’t receiving a reading.

Tea Leaves

Tea leaf reading is a tale as old as the tea itself. Tea leaf reading began in the Himalayan mountains centuries ago. The best way to read your tea leaves is to pour some boiling water over a cup of loose leaf tea — rip open a teabag if you need to! Then sip your tea carefully — make sure not to drink the leaves! Then, jot down what you see when you have a sparse amount of water left. What shapes do you recognize, and what symbols are present? What feelings do you feel? Who pops into your mind?

Horoscopes

Perhaps the most accessible form of DIY divinations, horoscopes have dominated pop culture, friend groups, and Instagram bios. In essence, horoscopes use the time, date, and location of your birth to describe different aspects of your personality. They can help us understand ourselves, care better for the people around us, and evolve as individuals. For a deep dive into this, check out Constellation Crash Course: How to Decode Your Horoscope.

Sage and Incense

Isla and I are no strangers to bad dates. One night, when seemingly all our other friends were busy, the two of us decided to hit up happy hour at a local bar. She immediately shot three places down, citing bad dates that had made it impossible for her to return to the venue. The other four closest bars had the stink of my bad dates on them. So, like any normal pair of single gals, we burnt some sage before going out and carried the scent of cleansing with us.

Burning sage and other incense have been used historically to ward off evil spirits or help with medical issues. If you have a lingering problem that’s bothering you, try transforming your surroundings through the power of smell. Your environmental wellness is very important, and introducing the candle, herb, or plant can help clear your mind and space.

The reality is that our subconscious mind is a treasure trove of psychological ruminations and deep-seated implications. There’s a reason that dream-interpreting religious figures and oracles were staples against ancient cultures.

Most important to all is not to appropriate another culture, ethnicity, or sacred tradition for fun. Many people have used divine readings as a way to conduct themselves, their communities, and their futures for centuries. The best way to engage with divinations without being disrespectful is to learn about the divination practice’s history, importance, and elements — don’t just use it to see if someone’s single. Mitigating cultural appropriation by learning — not expecting to be taught — and respecting the practices are foundational to treating people with respect.

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