Some people are “blessed” with visions: of the future, of the past, and of things that don’t exist, at least in this reality. As children, they get told they have overactive imaginations. They are sometimes called “spacey” or “dreamy”, and often need creative outlets like art or writing to get these visions out of their head. It often gets particularly intense during adolescence, a time when both hormonal and psychic realities are shifting.
As adults, they often find that they develop a personal system of divination or visual augury using various techniques. Sometimes they see repeating numbers. Other times its dreams. Some people see visions in nature. Sometimes it’s a particular bird winging their way with a warning.
If you’re one of those people who have that kind of relationship to spirit, here’s a guide to the four different types of precognition.
Symbolic vision is a precognitive experience based on symbol systems and metaphors.
It includes bird augury, tea leaf reading, tarot, and most sortilege practices. It also includes dreams using symbolism, and there are entire book series dedicated to helping one interpret the symbols. Does an anchor mean something’s dragging you down or does it mean you need to do more grounding? It can be difficult to know what a symbolic vision means, and interpretation is always part of the game.
If you’re creating your own symbol system, write it down.
Visionworkers who often experience symbolic vision absolutely need to be journaling what they experience so they can build a lexicon of their personal metaphors. You can’t just go buy a book, or ask a random person on the internet what your personal vision means. That’s because symbols are built from your subconscious interaction with the spiritworld. It uses the lens of your self and memories to communicate. For one person an anchor could be a symbol of their beloved Grandfather who was in the Navy. For another, an anchor could represent drowning. Both are connected to boats and the sea, but the meaning and how it should be interpreted is vastly different.
If you’re using an old symbol system, learn it well and expect it to shape you.
When one chooses a sortilege system, one is choosing a metaphor system as well. Like a baby bird, you are imprinting on your chosen symbols, which will then guide and shape how you view reality. Those who study astrology think with the lens of Greek mythology and the European Renaissance. If you study Ogham, you bend your mind toward the view of Celtic culture and the Medieval bards. Tarot comes out of the early Italian Renaissance with all the Christian mythos that implies. Choose wisely. Symbols shape you even as you use them to shape reality.
Ask your spirit guides for what will happen.
Spiritworkers will have the most experience with spirit vision, and thusly with spirits who have opinions about the future and what one should do about it. This is precognition that comes from outside yourself, but still within your vision and ability to perceive other worlds. Ancestral guides, fairies and elves, animal guides and all manner of creatures and spirits could bless you with visions of the future, as simple as telling you what is going to happen or as complicated as giving you a vision of the multitude of realities possible.
Visions gifted by spirits are only as good as the spirits who give them.
This is why it’s so important to keep up those relationships. If symbols are the wizarding world version of vision, then Spirit guidance is like being Hagrid. You have friends. Sometimes they’re friends that eat people. Sometimes they’re friends who lie. You need to trust the spirit who gives you precognition. Otherwise, you could be taking bad advice. Just the other day on the Book of Face, I saw someone complaining that every time they went looking for a spirit guide, they got a dog. It was boring, they said. They wanted something new.
Keep up your end of the bargain by giving spirits offerings.
Value your friends and don’t disdain spirits who stick by you. That person was lucky their spirit guide was a dog and as loyal as one. Someone with a less loyal friend would have lost that guidance long ago. Make sure to give offerings and attention to your spirit guides on a regular basis. It’s a relationship. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it. It doesn’t have to be a vast feast or a whole bottle of whiskey. Some of my closest allies love a good story told out loud, or a bit of spun thread. It’s better to know what your allies like than to get them fancy things they don’t want.
True Vision: Third Person
Visions where it’s like a movie that you’re watching.There are two kinds of what I call True Vision. This is where you have a dream, a daydream, a trance experience or a waking vision that is like a movie playing of the future, past, or alternate reality. Often even when it is a vision about yourself, it is still possible to see it from a perspective outside your body. Sometimes it can have symbolic elements, or be mediated by a spirit guide. The key to true vision is that you are sensing it like it’s almost real.
One or all the senses can be involved.
Most commonly sight is the primary sense. You watch it like a movie. Depending on the intensity of the vision, sound, smell, touch, or even taste can become involved. When it hits this level of intensity I call it smell-o-vision. Having many senses involved doesn’t make it a true vision, it just makes it an intense vision. Some of the truest visions I have had have been incredibly ordinary. It’s been watching myself and my kids decorating a Yule tree, driving, or even going to the bathroom. Precognition isn’t always kewl. Sometimes it’s just knowing what the bathroom in your next house is going to look like.
Context is the key to visions.
No matter how mundane or thrilling the vision is, the key is remembering all the details, and that means training your mind. Precognition is a gift. Learning to use precognition is a skill that needs training. Practice meditation and visualization skills in order to increase your ability to recall all the details. You never know what will be important. When I had that dream of decorating the tree, I saw that I had put up a pet fence around the tree so that the baby couldn’t get in. At that time I had a 2-year-old. I knew another baby was on the way.
True Vision: First Person
It’s a backward memory from the future rather than the past.
This is often what we think of when we imagine what precognition might be like. We think it will be like we are remembering in reverse. This gets into all kinds of weird assumptions if you think about linear time, and what living a memory backward might be like. It does appear that no matter how odd it seems to be able to remember something before it happens, occasionally it can happen.
This is different than Deja Vu.
The feeling of having lived something before can be profound and can occasionally be an omen, but it’s not a first-person vision. Dreams or visions of the future happen… beforehand. You can write them down, to the best of your ability, and then come back to them in your journal.
Pay attention to your mind.
Just like with all other forms of precognition, the ability to focus and recall is key to a useful outcome. However, there is one extra trick I’ve learned over the years that only happens with first-person visions. You have access to your brain. In my experience, when one is having a first-person memory of something that has yet to happen, you can recall that memory and have all the knowledge that you had at that moment. Mostly it’s what is on the surface of your mind, what you were going to be thinking of. There’s still a lot of knowledge. I will say that it’s not the kind of thing you can memorize lottery numbers for, and if you don’t already study the stock market you’re simply not going to know how to make a million. It’s mostly simple things, like someone getting sick, or a friend’s boyfriend is now a husband.
It’s the stuff you think about anyway.
Think about it. If you assume that you can actually have a memory from the future, 99% of those memories are going to be everyday events. Mostly it’s going to be driving to work or cooking dinner. That’s okay. That’s life. Sometimes you can get a bead on an actual exciting event, but that’s not always the case and takes a lot of training or talent, or both. I find that it’s better to use symbolic divination if you want a specific answer to a specific question.
Powerful visions are difficult and rare.
Real visions occur when they want to, and how they want to. If we look at history, we see that people who had visions, like Joan of Arc and Hildegard of Bingen didn’t choose to have those visions, couldn’t stop them, and sometimes they made them sick. The human brain doesn’t normally produce visions, and it can be a sign of mental instability. In the end it is the outcome that is the most important thing. Is this useful to you or your community? Then maybe it’s worth pursuing. Is it causing you harm? Then maybe you should stop. Make sure to write your experiences down, and practice some sort of meditation on the regular.