May is already shaping up to be Divination month here on the Voodoo Universe blog, and let me say I see good things. Divination it’s in the cards, the stones, the bones, the future. Today we feature a dear friend of mine,a very wise practitioner, and accomplished reader, Vinnie Russo.
Vinnie Russo has been reading Tarot for over 25 years and is the owner of “Arsenic & Old Lace”. He is an elder is several Traditions of modern Witchcraft and is active in several local and national Pagan organizations through which he holds legal clergy credentials. Vinnie lives in the Boston area where he runs two magical groups – the Sheaves of Demeter which is a coven in the Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft and Congrega Rosa d’Oro which is focused on Italic/Sicilian-American Craft. He is personally interested in the development of nature contacts, such as those forces typified by the spirits and minor divinities of Greek and Italian mythology – specifically, Lare, Lasa, and Manes/Ancestors.
When did you start divining?
1984. That’s when I started to study divination systems in earnest. Before that, I trusted my intuition and often had dreams but I had not tried to develop a specific divination skill until that point.
With what method?
The three main methods of divination that I use are scrying, dream techniques, and Tarot. The first is scrying which is the conscious and unconscious recognition of patterns and determining their mundane meaning as applies to the question or situation – such as gazing into fire, pool of water, or clouds. The second what the ancient Greeks called Dream Incubation – which is a type of dreaming trance that uses a collection of techniques. The aim is to dream about issues or topic of personal importance. This allowing my subconscious to work on an issue or topic and reveal them in vivid dreams when appropriate. Oracular or prophetic dreaming, if you will. The third method of divination that I use is the Tarot and that is the one that I use most often with my clients. I prefer the Tarot as a form of divination when I work with clients because it can be such a versatile tool. The Tarot can help clarify situations as well as get a look into the currents that are in motion and what can be done to influence them.
What method do you use most often now?
I most often use Tarot. It’s quick and although the Tarot speaks in symbols, it can get directly to the point.
How important is the question?
I’ve found that “the better thought-out the question, the more accurate the answer”. When I have a client, I spend a bit of time with them helping them to craft a question that truly reflects what they want or need to know. Often, a client will initially think that they want to know one thing but after careful reflection they realize that they really need to know something else. Sometimes when doing a reading for a client, I will get an answer to the question that they “should have” asked rather than the question that they did ask.
Do you have a yes/no method of divining you recommend?
When working with the Tarot, a Yes/No question can often be overly simplistic. The question, “Will I get the job?” is a good example. The candidate that is going to be chosen is most likely going to be the one that was best prepared and was best presented. A better question might be, “What can I do to swing the odds in my favor to become the selected candidate?” However, when a Yes/No answer is needed and/or appropriate I do have a system that I use. After asking on the question and focusing on as definitive an outcome as possible, I simply throw 3 card. Depending on the positive/negative association of the 3 cards, it indicates the Yes or No: Yes = 3 positive; No = 3 negative. If you want to take it a tad further when the cards are mixed positive and negative, then: Yes-but = 2 positive and 1 negative; No-but = 2 negative and 1 positive.
Is there any advice you have for newcomers when using divination?
First, although it is important to trust your intuition, make sure that you are starting from a solid basis. In other words, find out what system of divination works best with your personality and skills. Then, research it. Learn at least one, or two, or three ways to use the system and learn them well. Once you know the basics of a divination system, then you can modify it to be more personalized. When I started learning the tarot, I was lucky enough to have 2 very skilled teachers. The advice that they gave me was to choose several recommended authors with differing systems and experiment to see which one(s) resonated with my skills and outlook. I studied the traditional meaning of the card as well as the symbolic meanings on specific decks that I use when doing readings. From there, I developed my own system that is part way between traditional Tarot and a type of scrying into the pictures of the cards.
The second piece of advice is that when learning a new system, it is incredibly valuable to keep a record of your progress. Review your hits as well as your misses. Both can be helpful in building your confidence in how a system traditionally works and how you can work with the system.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. Practice, practice, practice. Very few people are an expert right away when they pick up any new skill.