Divining the Divine

“The oracular is scriptural….[it] must not be regarded by Christians as a minefield.  Only the stern huntsmen of orthodoxy attempt to ride us with blinders, short reins and a martingale.  The Divine requires us to be free.”

–Ralph Blum, The Healing Runes, p. 37

The word “oracle” comes from the Latin orare, which means to speak or pray, and it signified first and foremost a Divine message, a proclamation or a command from on High.  The word also stands for the medium or tools through which the Voice of the Divine communicates with the receiver.  These methods of communication could be pictures seen in clouds, words from a burning bush, messages marked in stone, Urim and Thummim upon a high priest’s breastplate, a scroll rolling open to a particular passage.

Oracles work through the synergy of Divine wisdom(Spirit) and human intuition (spirit), and because intuition goes deep and is not easily understood by logic and reason, we Westerners can feel unsure how to approach it.  And Christianity has a long history of suspicion about any practices that seem superstitious, pagan, or “magical.”  Yet one of early Christianity’s most influential thinkers, Augustine, was a major proponent of the oracular.  In fact, he began his journey of faith in a mystical experience that led him to open a Bible at random, read the first words he saw, and take a new direction for his life that culminated in his becoming a saint.

Though we might think of the oracular tradition as belonging to the distant past, it has persisted in what could be called home Oracles or―in techno-speak―text messages from God.  These are methods people use to consult God in private.  One we may remember our grandparents using was “Noah Webster’s Oracle.” This involved opening the dictionary at random and placing a finger anywhere on the page, then taking counsel from the entry their finger had marked.  And it is still popular to use the Bible in the same way, with the same intent of receiving an immediate, personal, Divine response to a pressing question of right conduct.

Other ways for God to “text” us include daily devotional guides, boxed oracle card sets, runestones, song lyrics heard in the supermarket, or even internet resources clicked on at random.  There seems to be a renewed hunger for immediate and personal connection with the Divine to guide us in the increasing speed and stress of our daily lives.  The moments of quiet, focused attention upon an issue and the Divine response to it serve as oases of peace in turbulent days, and recall the truth of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

May our experiences of the oracular lead us deeper into knowing, loving and following the Divine in all our ways.

(This article is my own synthesis and interpretation of material from The Healing Runes by Ralph Blum and Susan Loughan and from The Book of Runes, also by Ralph Blum.)


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