Omens and Auguries

“Sometimes an Omen is an Omen, and sometimes its just random stuff that happened…”

If you are new to the occult and dealing with Hekate or other Spirits, then one big problem you have is telling when those Spirits are trying to tell you something. Unless you have a close relationship with Hekate, and even then, She won’t normally just come out and say what She want you to know. Often, I would say more than often, the communication will be subtle and confusing. One of the skills you need to learn then, is how to interpret the signs She send us.

There is a name for this, Augury.

This is the type of divination where you look for signs and messages from the Natural World. This could take place in the animal or plant world, with the appearance of unusual types or numbers of either, or signs can be of unexpected weather or natural occurrences. Earthquakes or eclipses were seen as messages from the Gods in ancient times. We know more about science and how the Earth behaves now but still, while the Gods and Spirits have the power to cause things to happen that scientists would attribute to natural occurrences, a skilled occultist knows they have a deeper meaning.

The problem for us is that neither we, nor the Gods like Hekate necessarily see the World in the same way. How then can we help cut down on the confusion?

We need to establish a common language between us.

“Sailing Ships and Messages at Sea”:

Humans have sailed the oceans and seas of the World for thousands of years, and yet radio has only been available for a little over a hundred years. Before that we were left with primitive methods like lamps, torches or shouts across the waves. As ships got bigger and nations developed navies, the need to be able to send complicated messages and commands between ships became very important. What developed was a system of brightly colored flags, each of which meant something specific, which were displayed among the rigging of a ship and could be seen from far off through a telescope, or just by a sharp eyed lookout.

What we need to do, is come up with our own “colored flags” which both the Gods and we can use to make our communications clearer.

Consider the Tarot Cards. If you are like most of us, you have a set of cards which you use to do divinations and figure out what influences are going to affect you and your future. Depending on which cards you turn over, will have different meanings and foretell different situations.

You can’t just pick up a deck right out of the box and expect to get good results, can you? It takes time and practice. One of the important things I suggest to new occultists, is be sure to read the book of card meanings you get with your cards. In fact read it several times, and let the meanings soak into your unconscious, or if you are good at memorizing, your conscious mind.


You want to do this because having a common understanding of the meaning of each card, allows the Spirits to pick what they want to tell you. And more importantly, allows you to understand what they mean. Just like the signal flags of old navies, both of you then have a common language, even if you must do some personal interpretation. Reading up on the original creator’s choice of meanings for each card is especially important if the deck is a non-standard one.

“First Step, Get In Touch With What Is Normal”:

Now the Natural World around us doesn’t come with a simple instruction manual. What you will need to do is write your own.

Consider this, if you stepped out of your door tomorrow morning, and found two crows watching you, what would this mean? What if one flew away, and one stayed?

Would this be unusual?

The animal world, especially of birds, offers a good way for Spirits to communicate with us, through a wide variety of messages. Whether you are in a city, in the suburbs or out in the country, birds are all around us. Bird augury is one of the easiest to start with. Once you learn how to see signs and omens via birds, you can adapt the methods for other animals, or plants, or weather and other things around you.

How do you start then?

Well the only way to tell what is unusual in the environment around you, is to know what is not unusual. That means getting out there and studying Nature around you.

Finding out what birds are native to your area. Finding out what their habits are. Do they show up first thing in the morning, or do they favor the afternoon or evening? Do they come in groups, or are they solitary? Try and identify the birds who are in your neighborhood. Take a few pictures. Sometimes you can identify individuals who come back on a regular basis. Read up on the Internet. These will be your messengers from the Spirits.

Remember those two crows I mentioned earlier? Supposed my neighbor came out of his house one morning and saw them, what would he think? Crow is associated with magic, and with warning. The number Two, can signify harmony and balance. With one crow leaving, and one staying, perhaps the message is a warning that your balance is out of wack, or faces problems soon.

Or it might just mean that I had changed the time in the morning when I feed the birds in front of my house. Which I recently did. I found that I was staying up until 2 or 3am, and then waking late in the morning. I began to intentionally turn in around 11pm, and rise at 6am. While I’m having my first cups of coffee in the morning, I put out a variety of bird seed and nuts on my driveway. My cats and I then get to watch which birds show up. I get to see black birds, doves, finches and sparrows, along with those crows on a daily basis.

I also occasionally see a pair of cardinals, the male bright red mostly and the female less so. And once a hawk decided that all those other birds might make a good snack, though she didn’t get one. In the evening its not uncommon to hear owls, and in the Summer, hummingbirds in the garden.

Along with the many birds, I also have squirrels, a woodchuck who sometimes sleeps under the neighbor across the street’s side porch, very early morning possums, nighttime raccoons, and the occasional deer at sunrise. Knowing how and when the wild life in my neighborhood come by, lets me know when something is out of place and deserves my attention. Then I can see if they have a message for me.

BTW, feed your local wildlife. Not only does it encourage them to come by and visit, but its polite and shows respect for Hekate as well as for Nature and the Spirits who are using those animals to communicate. Start doing it, please.

“You Knew There Would Be A Journal, Didn’t You?”:

Seems like every time a beginning magician takes up a new skill, someone is telling them to start writing things down. Learning to read omens and signs is no different. As I opened this post sometimes and omen isn’t an omen. It may be days or even weeks before you understand what a message sent to you by Hekate means or understand the situation you’ve been informed of. She doesn’t have the same sense of Time as we do.

Second, you’ll want to see how accurate your interpretations are. Different messengers can have different meanings. Crow is thought of as an indication of magic in your life, but it can also give warning. Most of the omens you receive will only be understood in hindsight. Its only as you gain experience that you will start trusting your intuition as to what a sign is, and make the correct interpretation. Its going to take some time and a lot of writing things down before then though.

Third, a dedicated journal for your work with omens, will save you time. If you come across a messenger today, which you remember encountering 6 months ago, you can go back to that entry and see what possible meanings it had for you then. Even see if your interpretations came true. Remember we are coming up with a shared language between Hekate and ourselves. Some signs will be reused and you want this.

Pick up one of those blank books from the occult or specialty goods store. There are dozens and dozens of nice ones out there. I prefer one that is pre-lined but get what works for you.

You’ll want to have some space for general notes and comments, so thumb back 20-30 pages to start your recording of omens and signs. We’ll talk more about just what notes in a moment.

Begin writing down the signs you see today. You don’t have to wait until you have a better handle on the process, in fact, starting when you are still unclear is better. You approach it with less preconceptions. I typically date the entries, then first list the omens I see, followed by any thoughts I was on how I felt at the time. Then later I look up online or in books, what meanings others have found correspond to those signs.

One of the better books I’ve found in understanding what signs mean, is Ted Andrews’ “Animal Speak”. I’ve taken much of the techniques I’ve described here from that book and use it as one of my first references when trying to figure out the messages Hekate is trying to send me.

“Understanding the Messages”:

There is more to a message than just what species of the messenger. An unusual animal or situation in itself is important, but more than that, how the sign appeared, its actions and the environment are just as significant.
Here are some of the ones I note.

1) Number: Magicians have long thought that numbers hold a special magical meaning and the number of messengers can hint at the correct interpretation of what Hekate is trying to communicate to you. I normally only count up to 9. If its more than that, or I’m unsure of the number in total, or it varies as I watch, say its a flock of birds in the sky, or on the ground, then I consider the message is in flux. I often go on to seek more clarification with a divination.
That is always an option. If the message you receive in an omen is unclear to you, consider doing a reading afterwards and ask for more information from Hekate.

2) Sex and Age: In some animals it is easy to see whether the messenger is male or female. Deer are a good example. A large buck, with antlers has a different meaning, from that of a doe and perhaps young. Birds or small animals can be harder to identify the gender but with study you can. Same with the age.

3) Color: Bright colors can reveal the intensity of the situation, though many animals have a subdued color so they can blend into the environment. A brightly coated animal, or one that stands out from its background can signify to you how important the message is.

4) The Landscape: Where did you see the omen? A large deer at the edge of a stand of trees is a different message, than one casually walking across a parking lot. So too are the plants and features of the place the messenger appears. Is it standing on a prominent stone or is it in the branches of a distinctive tree? A squirrel on a statue might mean something different than if its watching you from the branch of an oak.

Also, is this a natural environment for the messenger? Urban landscapes by their nature are limited, but then omens can come on you while you journey through your day.

5) Direction and Distance: Each of the major directions, East, West, North and South, have traditional spiritual meaning but beyond that, did the messenger appear from the right or the left of you? That can change its meaning. So too if the messenger appears in front of you, or approaches from behind. So too in how far away the messenger is when you notice it. Did it appear at your feet as you exited your home in the morning, or was it far off but noticeable?

6) The Activity: Whether the messenger is standing still, or is in motion is also important and can tell you things about the message. Unusual activities especially.

Recently on one of my morning walks, I came across a English Bulldog. My neighborhood is suburban and of houses, duplexes and apartments so pets are a common occurrence. I often have dogs bark at me as I walk, which I take as a sign from Hekate that she is watching me. In this case though, the bulldog was in the front yard, and was sitting in a chair. It watched me as I walked past without barking, then watched me as I walked past again on my return. This was out of the ordinary. The next day, the bulldog was again outside, but this time it was standing on the driveway. It watched me pass, but was gone when I returned.

Each of these clues will have a positive aspect and a negative aspect. You may not be able to tell which applies at first but you should consider as you ponder the message, is Hekate offering me a suggestion or is She giving me a warning? Sometimes it can be both.

I have written small tables of each of these in those first 20-30 pages in my journal. Not huge entries but shorthand notes to remind me of their meanings. Field notes if you want. Later as you become more experienced with the occult, there may be times you have your journal with you, and come upon a suspected message you want to interpret at that moment. These field notes can help you do that.

Remember, the journal is for you and you can put what ever helps you in there. If you run out of room in front, then don’t hesitate to add sections elsewhere in the journal.

“The Most Important Thing”:

All of these points won’t make you the next Oracle of Delphi unless you make a conscious effort to invite Hekate and Nature into your life. Just as a deck of Tarot cards are meaningless in the hands of someone mundane, but a precise tool in the hands of a skilled magician, the signs and omens that She puts before you will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes unless you want them to have meaning.

No amount of book learning is going to do you as much good as getting out of that house and into the natural world outside. Take walks and see what you come across. Visit parks and just sit. Keep a cunning eye out for the ways Nature interacts with the creatures in it, and how it interacts with YOU.


FOOTNOTE: One thing about opening your eyes to the signs around you, and developing your skill at reading the omens that Hekate sends you, is that this communication is not just one way. A skilled magician can use the language they develop to not just passively listen but to also actively ask.

Ted Andrews, the author of “Animal Speak” gives the example of his relationship with his Totem Hawk. That when he drives he can sometimes gain information about road conditions and situations like where the police are waiting, by sending out a mental message and asking for a sign. A hawk on the side of the road, which flies off to the left, may warn Andrews of a situation ahead, where one that flies off to the right may tell him that the road is clear.

This is a bit out of my level of skill right now, but it certainly makes me want to work at developing it.

As always, opinions or comments are encouraged. Thanks.


Sleep and Dream Journals

Before we get back to discussing Energy Work and Protection, I’d like to take a couple of blog posts to talk about another useful skill that a shaman needs to develop, that is “shamanistic dreaming”.

To do that we must first talk about something we all do, that is sleep.

Unless you have a physiological or health problem, the act of sleeping is something you spend a significant time doing almost every day. Hopefully you don’t.

(If you do, you may want to delay any study of shamanism until you have worked through those. While some shamanistic practices can help with basic insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, you’ll be dealing with altered states of consciousness in your study which should not be attempted lightly.)

Most of us sleep about a third of our life in a sleeping state. I usually average 5-6 hours a day, though I been trying to increase that to at least 8. Not only does getting 8 hours keep you more rested and relaxed but in a time of pandemic, it can keep you alive. Your immune system actually requires a certain amount of sleep to reset itself and work at top form. Scrimping on that sleep can contribute to becoming ill.

Not only is sleep important for your physical health, they are also important for your mental health as well. Your mind uses the downtime to process the day’s events and filter out what’s important and what’s not. Dreams play an important part in that upkeep but how is still subject to much debate.

For shamans, sleep and dreams are an important realm to learn to work in effectively. Remember, I said shamans don’t have to understand “how” something works to use it, just that it “does” work. Dreams are the same, you might not know how or why you dream, but you can learn how to use that time to get stuff done.

Getting a handle on your dreams isn’t something that you can do in a weekend, like the basics of energy work. Its going to be something you will work on day to day for probably a year or so but its an essential skill you should master.

Understanding Dreamtime

We have all had dreams. Some are just random collections of images while others are detailed and clear to the point we think it is the Real World. Why this is so, is complicated if you ask scientist who study dreams.

What they really means is “We just don’t know”.

Yet you don’t have to know why we dream to use them but it is helpful to understand a bit about the how we dream, primarily the various stages of sleep and how to recognize them.

Most people have heard of REM sleep aka “Rapid Eye Movement”. This is the period where we have our dreams. Its called that because during this period, you can be observed having movement of the eyes under your closed eye lids. Perhaps you are experiencing your dreams as if it were real, and like the Real World, you are looking constantly around.

What some might not know is that during REM state, your mind actually locks the body up from moving. The tossing and turning you do in your sleep happens in non REM states. I’m guessing the mind knows you might get up and wander off if it let you move, lol.

More importantly for developing your skill at using Dreamtime as a shaman tool, is to recognize the two pseudo dream state, the hypnagogic and the hypnopompic state. The first is the state you are in when first falling asleep. Its that semi sleep phase where you aren’t quite asleep. Your mind as it winds down, can throw up images and scenes that seem like dreams but aren’t. The hypnopomic state is the period when you are just waking up, and you can have similar false dreams. Neither of these are useful as a shamanistic tool as lucid dreaming, though the hynagogic phase can help you pre-load a situation you wish to work on into your mind before fully dreaming.

Pre-lucid Dreaming and The “Reality Check”

“Lucid” dreaming is the state in which you are fully conscious that you are dreaming and can affect and direct the outcome of that dream. Most of us only have 2 or 3 such dreams in a year. Often the moment you consciously realize you are dreaming, you will awaken. With practice you can stop that, and even increase the number of lucid dreams you have.

More common is a state of “Pre-lucid” dreaming. A point where your dream is so vivid and real that it you almost question whether it is. What we want to do is cross the divide between those vivid almost waking dreams and the complete package of lucid dreaming.

Strictly speaking, being aware you are dreaming is not lucid dreaming. You can be aware that you are dreaming, and yet be a passive passenger to your unconscious. These dreams can be quite fun, but are not what a shaman needs. There must be a measure of actual conscious control to be able to use dreams as a tool.

One method of taking control, is to train yourself into a habit of questioning whether what you are experiencing is a dream or is it reality through. You do this by intentionally asking yourself “Am I Dreaming?” through out your day, and tying that question into certain events which happen in your Life on an everyday occurrence.

We all use our keys each day. We all open a door each day. We all check the time. We all do many repetitive tasks each of which can be used as a trigger to ask the question “Am I Dreaming”.

James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep recommends twenty one triggers, but you can make a list of as many as you need. The objective is to have 3-4 easily remembered triggers for each day of the week. Review that day’s triggers in the morning after you get up, then as the day progresses when ever a trigger comes up, stop and consciously ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”.

Naturally the answer is going to be “No”. What is happening though is you are establishing a habit which with luck, will carry over into your dreams. If one of your triggers is “When I open a door”, and you’ve done that repeatedly for several weeks, when you come across a door in your dream state, there’s a good chance your will reflexively stop and ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”. This will give your conscious mind the opportunity to take control of the dream.

The more intent and energy you put into performing your reality checks, the more effective they will be. You can even pair them up with a physical gesture. One good one is to immediately look at your hands. Hands are one of those things which you never seem to notice while dreaming. Intentionally making the gesture a part of your reality checks will re-enforce the act.

Try to do the checks about twenty times a day. If you find an action which doesn’t happen much, then replace it with one that does.

Preparing Yourself To Dream

Just as you wouldn’t try and go on a jog without some preparation (and practice), you shouldn’t try and do focused dreaming without some appropriate preparations.

– Bedrooms Are Special

Too many people just lump their bedrooms into the generic “its a room in my house” when in reality your bedroom is the one room you spend the most time in during your day.

Why not treat it as such?

Clean out the distractions and especially get rid of the television or your computer laptop. Get some good sheets and comfortable pillows. Put on some incense. Turn your bedroom into a place you can relax and not some place cluttered with distractions.

– Clean Your Body Of The Day’s Debris

Just as the air outside has a host of contaminates and pollution that’s good to get off you at the end of the day, your mind picks up a load of mental and physic gunk that you should rid yourself of before bedtime. Its actually residue which stains your ethereal body, not the physical but we’ll talk about the different layers you have in a later post.

If you are sweaty and physically soiled from your day, then unless you’ve done it on coming home, take a cleaning shower. Wash up and get the normal grime off you. Make it hot if you like and let the water work out the aches of your muscles.

Before you do though, gather a wash cloth or two, a large bowl, some ice and some kosher salt. Put these on the basin before you shower.

Once you’ve finished your physical wash, and this can include brushing your teeth and other personal hygiene, add water to the ice. Then add a little kosher salt. Stir this up.

Cold water is the best for removing physic gunk, the colder the better actually. Take the wash cloth and begin wiping your body down. Start with the face and neck, rinsing the wash cloth as you do. Imagine it picking up the stresses and interference you felt throughout your day from where it stained your inner body. Rinse out the cloth regularly.

Don’t be surprised if the water in the bowl begins to get dirty. Physic gunk can manifest itself when you do this. Continue down your body until you get it all. I like to spend a bit of time on my feet. One, I’m on them all day long and giving them a bit of tender care is good for them, and two, the World we live in has so much random energy and stress out there, its good to separate our bodies from it.

I’d recommend if you can turn out the light and use a candle to see by while you do the cleaning. It puts you into a more relaxed mood and unnatural light of your computer or television. That light disrupts you body’s natural rhythm and contributes to poor sleep.

Greer recommends you take this water outside, to pour it onto a large and healthy tree. The tree will act to dissipate the gunk and render it inert. Might not be easy, depending on your situation. If you need to, flush it down the toilet. You can say a brief banishing like “May this cause no harm” three times over it if you wish.

– Cleaning Your Mind Of The Day’s Debris

Once you’ve done your body cleaning, you will want to do the same with your mind. Here is a simple ritual which will help you.

(Again, this is from James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep .)

  1. Find a comfortable position on the edge of your bed. Begin by just letting your mind go where it will. I like to do some simple breathing, in through the nose, hold briefly, then exhale thru the mouth, hold briefly and repeat.
  2. When you are ready, begin visualizing the day’s events. How was your morning? What problems came up and how did you deal with them? Did you handle them well or is there something you would do differently, now that you are looking back? Allow yourself the time to process what went on. Forgive yourself if you felt you did it poorly and congratulate yourself on things you did well.
  3. This second part is something too many of us forget. We dwell on the negatives and not on the positives. This just reinforces that which we give attention. Let go of the negative but by all means give yourself a pat for the things you successfully.
  4. If a certain problem or event sticks with you, take both hands and put them to your face, palms inward. Imagine the problem as a ball of energy. See it collect in between your palms. Once you have it visualized, cup your hands over it and draw it away from you. Push it out and imagine it gently dissipating in the air in front of you. Do it again if the problem is still in your mind.
  5. Don’t rush, take your time and try and put yourself in a clear and positive state of mind.
  6. When you are ready, stand. Take your hands and slowly bring them down your body, beginning at your head and working to your feet. Imagine the stress and energy flowing out of you. Do this slowly or rapidly, what ever feels correct for you. Do it several times until you feel yourself relaxed and refreshed.

Just before you get into bed and get comfortable, say to yourself with Intent “I will remember my dreams tonight”. Say this several time. This will remind yourself to do just that. I add a personal part which is a brief devotional to the spirits who are my patrons and allies, thanking them for their protection and guidance.

You should be ready to dream now.

We’re going to stop here, and continue into “Mugwort and Lucid Dreaming” in our next post.

For now I did want to cover one final thing.

Dream Journals

Recently, I began to keep a Dream Journal. You should too.

The act of writing on a regular basis aka “Journaling” has become popular in the last decade for all sorts of people as a way to relieve stress and solve problems in their mental and physical life.

For practitioners of the occult its an even more important activity. Writing down your experiences is a much older tradition, one stretching back to pre-history. Those early journals are one way we know so much about the practices of those who came before us.

Starting your own journal will provide you with a way to go back and review what happens to you. When you start to explore magic and the occult, strange things happen. You won’t always know why they did when they do occur. The reasons and causes may take time to manifest.

With dreams especially, you are traveling an ocean of dark and murky waters at first, and like old seafarers the navigational “Rudder” or book you make will be invaluable.

Buy a journal. Buy a good pen too which you just use to write in it. Keep it handy but also keep it safe where others won’t come across it. Write your name and something that speaks to you on the first page.

For now, just begin by writing what you remember each time you awake about any dreams you had. Don’t worry too much about form or content. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all, or even if you don’t have a dream the previous night. Just focus on the act of writing.

We’ll talk more about your journal and the things to put in it, in the next blog post. Until then, Dream.