The best divination books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about divination and why they recommend each book.

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I Ching

By Alfred Huang,

Book cover of I Ching

I first did the I Ching when I was in my 20s. The first reading I had was by a guitar player in Vancouver, and it came out like perfection. This was before my success, before Cheech, and it just lit up my path forward in life. It wasn’t until I was headed to jail that I picked it up again. My brother-in-law sent me a copy, and it was the first thing I did when I got inside. The first line I got back was “you are in jail for a reason”. It was astounding. The word penitentiary comes from the word penance, I took that to heart and that is what I did. I view my time in jail as a religious retreat.


Who am I?

Tommy Chong is a Canadian-American actor, writer, director, musician, cannabis rights activist, and comedian. He is known for the Cheech and Chong comedy albums and movies along with many other roles. He is a poet and a philosopher and these are his picks for the books that mark his spiritual journey through life.


I wrote...

The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint

By Tommy Chong,

Book cover of The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint

What is my book about?

Beginning with Tommy's experiences growing up in Canada in the forties and fifties as a mixed-race kid and going on to become a comedy legend, The I Chong is at once a memoir, a spiritual exploration of his time in prison, and a political indictment of the eroding civil liberties in post-9/11 American society. He tells the unbelievable story of his trip down the rabbit hole of America's war on drugs and of his experiences in the federal prison system, and he offers up timely observations on combating the conservative political forces at work in this country. Introspective, inspiring, and incendiary, The I Chong is a unique chronicle of one man's life and how his humorous and spiritual point of view saved him during his wrongful incarceration at the hands of an administration without boundaries.

Six Ways

By Aidan Wachter,

Book cover of Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic

The title of this book says it all. It is about effective, practical magic with an emphasis on manifestation. Six ways an incantation that is as simple as it is powerful. The book goes into detail about different styles of magic that are available for readers who want to learn more about sorcery, witchcraft, chaos magic, and spirit work. I like this book because it takes one deep into the inner world of magic that exists within the recesses of the mind, opening up the practitioner to spiritual possibilities that have the goal of improving the self. Techniques such as meditation, trance, spiritual cleansing, and dreams are dealt with in an easy and straightforward way.

Who am I?

I have been studying American styles of magic for more than 30 years. Having received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, I have explored the idea of magic as a natural counterpart to both religious thought and scientific theory. After teaching courses on this subject to college undergraduates, I recommend these books based on what I have found to be the favorites of students and peers as the most accessible, enjoyable, and practical sources for beginners.


I wrote...

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

By Yvonne Patricia Chireau,

Book cover of Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

What is my book about?

Black Magic looks at the origins, meaning, and uses of Conjure―the African American tradition of healing and harming that evolved from African, European, and American elements―from the slavery period to well into the twentieth century.

Illuminating a world that is dimly understood by both scholars and the general public, Yvonne P. Chireau describes Conjure and other related traditions, such as Hoodoo and Rootworking, in a beautifully written, richly detailed history that presents the voices and experiences of African Americans and shows how magic has informed their culture. Focusing on the relationship between Conjure and Christianity, Chireau shows how these seemingly contradictory traditions have worked together in a complex and complementary fashion to provide spiritual empowerment for African Americans, both slave and free, living in white America.

The Bathhouse at Midnight

By W.F. Ryan,

Book cover of The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia

I chose this book because it is such a wide-ranging compendium of Russian folk beliefs in general (in English!) as well as of Russian customs involved in trying to ensure the fertility and health of crops, farm animals, and women, all desperately needed for the survival of the community. It is these fascinating and picturesque customs that so often get incorporated into dances. Furthermore, the Dancing Goddesses were often pressed into service for divination of the future, especially by young girls worrying about whom they would marry and how many children they would have, or if they would die first. (I accidentally witnessed one of these ceremonies in Danzig in 1993—they have not died!)


Who am I?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.


I wrote...

The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

By Elizabeth Wayland Barber,

Book cover of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

What is my book about?

European communal dance developed around farming beliefs about fertility and health, when farming spread to Europe 8,000 years ago. Food crops depended on soil and rain: the ancestors, buried below, could push up the sprouts, but who managed rain? Perhaps the spirits of girls who died before bearing children (many by drowning) and hadn’t used their natural allotment of fertility. Dance rituals appeased spirit-maidens when angry, and told them when it was time to leave their watery homes and shed fertility by dancing across the fields. My book traces traditional seasonal rituals, folklore of the dancing spirit-maidens, wedding customs around those most potent maidens, Brides, plus the matching archaeological evidence, concluding with insights from cognitive science on “Why do we humans just love to dance?”

Holistic Tarot

By Benebell Wen,

Book cover of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth

If you’ve ever thought about using the Tarot for personal development instead of just divination, but didn’t know where to start, Holistic Tarot is the resource for you. Tarot cards are no substitute for a good therapist, but in this book, Benebell Wen shows you how to use the cards to better understand your emotions and desires and to help you remove blockages to your creativity and satisfaction with life. This is a structured and methodical approach that will give you practical results.


Who am I?

I began reading Tarot in high school – or at least, trying to. Like most people, I was pretty intimidated starting out. It took several teachers, a stack of books, and a lot of years before I understood that Tarot cards are simply repositories for symbols of the human experience. That’s how they continue to be so popular: they speak to something deep within us all. It was only natural that my art endeavors and my passion for the ancient Minoans would eventually dovetail with my love of Tarot. The end result was The Minoan Tarot, which I’m delighted to share with you along with these excellent Tarot books.


I wrote...

The Minoan Tarot

By Laura Perry,

Book cover of The Minoan Tarot

What is my book about?

Ancient Minoans meet modern Tarot in this vibrant 86-card deck and guidebook that call on archetypes of Tarot through iconography inspired by beautiful works of art from ancient Crete. Connect with mysterious snake priestesses, labyrinthine temple complexes, and courageous bull-leapers. Explore gender-balanced face cards reflecting the egalitarian nature of Minoan society that makes this deck especially relevant for modern users: Priest and Priestess, Lord and Lady, Youth and Maid.

Each card displays symbols from an ancient writing system reflecting literal image concepts or pointing to deeper meanings. This deck and comprehensive guidebook can also be used for meditation and personal growth. Experienced or new readers will find The Minoan Tarot a natural tool.

Xxxholic Omnibus 1

By Clamp,

Book cover of Xxxholic Omnibus 1

I was introduced to CLAMP’s work through one of their most popular works, Card Captor Sakura when I was seven or eight, but I really grew to love their darker, more surreal projects such as xxxHolic. Not only is the artwork throughout the manga series gorgeous, but the story also introduces you to all sorts of Japanese folklore, explores time loops, and the thin barrier between the human world and spirits. xxxHolic has been at the top of my recommendation list for manga lovers and newbies to the medium for years. Any fan of dramatic twists and turns, the supernatural, and snarky, snappy dialogue will certainly love this series as much as I do.


Who am I?

Fantasy has long been a favorite genre of mine for the way you can explore so many different concepts and ideas, and the freedom it gives you as a storyteller. If you feel like you’ve been transported to that world as the story unfolds, I see that as a successful story. Creating vibrant, diverse, new worlds and real, flawed characters for readers is something I strive towards with every project. As a queer author, I find it especially important to give queer characters the hero roles they deserve. The best thing about fantasy is it can be anything, and anyone, from any background, can be the main character.


I wrote...

Queer Windows: Volume 1 Spring

By Cay Fletcher,

Book cover of Queer Windows: Volume 1 Spring

What is my book about?

Love comes in all forms, from enduring friendships, the classic love at first sight, and misunderstandings that unfurl into blooming romance. Queer Windows gives a glance at four fantastical, queer love stories.

Histoire du tarot - Origines - Iconographie - Symbolisme

By Isabelle Nadolny,

Book cover of Histoire du tarot - Origines - Iconographie - Symbolisme

When you delve into different facets of the tarot, you come across quite a few different models or systems with different assignments of numbers, Hebrew letters, paths, astrological signs…which can be very confusing! I was quite confused myself when I was looking for the correspondence between the 4 Tarot ‘suits’ and those of a regular card game and find different contradictory correspondence with the pips of regular playing cards.

In a lecture, Isabelle explained to me very clearly with many examples how the 4 elements or colour symbols of the 4 suits in the regular card game originated and changed over the years and how they evolved in different systems of the tarot cards.

Isabelle Nadolny has done a lot of research working as a historian in the National Library of France and has compiled her findings, based on multiple references and documented resources, in this thick and very richly…


Who am I?

Since I was a teenager, I have been attracted to astrology, Jungian psychology, synchronicity, symbolism, alchemy, and Jewish esotery. Someone gave me my first Tarot deck as a present. Since then I collect old and new decks from the entire world and created my own Sun and Moon TarotI continue to deepen my knowledge of tarot and all the systems associated with it. At times I focus more on the Sefiroth and Kabbalah. Sometimes I’m more interested in different ways of interpreting tarot. I've been illustrating Astrological Learning Cards for a while now, trying to better understand the different astrological archetypes and to make art.


I wrote and illustrated...

Sun and Moon Tarot

By Vanessa Decort,

Book cover of Sun and Moon Tarot

What is my book about?

By playfully incorporating mythology and astrology, I bring unique interpretations to traditional tarot. The deck follows the traditional structure of Crowley Thoth Tarot but is also influenced by the book Mind MirrorThe Minor Arcana features Crowley’s keywords, but has people in the imagery and is influenced by the symbolism of Pamela Colman Smith's illustrations. Major Arcana cards show the associated Hebrew letter in the artwork.

Sun and Moon Tarot is a multi-cultural tarot deck with symbolism borrowed from Hinduism, yoga, ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology, the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and more. The Sun and Moon Tarot was published in 2010 and the pocket-sized version in 2017, it’s presented in a tin and features the black borders as originally designed.

The Way of Tarot

By Alejandro Jodorowsky, Marianne Costa,

Book cover of The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards

The famed filmmaker and esotericist, Alejandro Jodorowsky, has poured decades of profound spiritual and divinatory understanding into this text to create one of the most significant systems for using the cards as a divinatory tool. Based on the Tarot d’Marseilles - arguably the stylistic form that constitutes the tarot’s most fundamental iconography - the text includes a comprehensive training system that can be used to provide a foundation for professional divinatory work.

Who am I?

I have been a tarot devotee since my early teens and have offered both training and divinatory sessions using the tarot. My book on the fifteenth-century tarot deck known as the Sola-Busca, The Game of Saturn, was nominated The Best Esoteric Book of the Year and was reviewed in two of the world’s leading academic journals. My non-fiction is published by Inner Traditions and Scarlet Imprint; literary prose and poetry by Corbel Stone Press and Paralibrum. My essays on energy healing appear in the peer-reviewed Paranthropology Journal and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology as well as on my academia.edu page.


I wrote...

The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarocchi

By Peter Mark Adams,

Book cover of The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarocchi

What is my book about?

The fifteenth-century Sola-Busca tarocchi is one of the earliest and most artistically accomplished fully-figured tarot decks in existence. The Game of Saturn leads the reader, step by step, in a process of patient detective work to decode the clues embedded in its complex imagery. Decoded, the imagery reveals the Neoplatonic metaphysics and ritual practices of an elite Cult of Saturn active amongst the elite families of the Italian Renaissance.

The Pig

By Edward Lee,

Book cover of The Pig

Forget everything you know about the horror genre. This book is one of the most overwhelming, disgusting things I’ve ever read, and physically gagged multiple times while reading it. If you’re not familiar with extreme splatterpunk, brace yourself. Nothing can prepare you for the all-out gore, guts, and absolutely insane depravity found in this book. There’s one scene in here that will never leave me. You’ll know it when you get to it. Oh, and it’s kind of about a pig. 

This book is not currently available.


Who am I?

Books that make me feel uncomfortable are usually the ones that have stuck with me most over the years. There’s just something so alluring to me about an author who can effectively bring out that feeling in readers. When I started writing stories, I wanted to make my readers squirm – I wanted to layer the guts and gore with underlying psychological themes that made the violence and trauma that much more impactful. These books that I mentioned acted almost as study guides on how to blend shocking violence with themes of loneliness, depression, and rage. If you layer these correctly, you’re going to effectively be able to make your reader uncomfortable and your stories memorable.  


I wrote...

The Third Parent

By Elias Witherow,

Book cover of The Third Parent

What is my book about?

No one knows where he came from. No one knows what he wants. No one dares ask about his strange physical abnormalities. For a quiet suburban neighborhood, things are about to change. And it starts with a knock at the door. Follow his rules. Don't call the police. Listen to his lessons. That's what Jack and his family were told. Held captive in their own house, they must face a growing storm of mental and physical trauma as they try to just stay alive.

But even if Jack can survive the horror of his childhood, will his tormentor ever leave him alone? And who is he really? Who is Tommy Taffy?

Collected Ghost Stories

By M.R. James,

Book cover of Collected Ghost Stories

When I first set out to write a horror novel, I wanted to read as many “scary” books as possible to get in the mindset. My goal was to indeed be scared for the enjoyment of it, but there was another reason behind it – to discover what exactly scared me and why. My goal was to then apply this to my book. M.R. James was recommended to me by a friend, and it certainly gave me the heebie-jeebies almost immediately. I especially love the story, "Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad.” Talk about creepy!

James has a delicate and masterful way of presenting the unknown in such a terrifying way that it cues your imagination to run rampant. Because he has a way with description and subtlety, every sound in your house becomes a ghost, every folded blanket, an ominous creature.


Who am I?

I’m an American horror and fantasy writer, addicted to reading dark fiction and Gothic literature. I’ve always loved the spookier things in life and wrote my first horror story when I was nine. When not writing books, I love breaking a sweat in Jiu-Jitsu class, baking desserts, and traveling. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have.


I wrote...

Summoner of Sleep

By A.I. Winters,

Book cover of Summoner of Sleep

What is my book about?

Ryder Ashling’s world is turning upside down. He’s lost his job, wife, home, and now he’s doubting his sanity. Behind his descent are horrific nightmares of clocks so vivid that they follow him into the waking world. When he discovers his neighbor has been documenting his nightmares with scientific precision and leaving him vials of a drug called Summoner of Sleep, things get weirder.

His neighbor disappears and Ryder follows his trail to Marble Woods, a town erased from all maps. Now it’s whispered to be the home of marble-skinned demons, as well as the birthplace of Summoner of Sleep. It's here in Marble Woods that Ryder will come face-to-face with the darkest of family secrets and be forced to make a decision that will change the fate of the world.

Nordic Runes

By Paul Rhys Mountfort,

Book cover of Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle

This book veers off the path of mythological source material into the land of metaphysics. It contains explanations and interpretations of Norse runes and how they were (and still are, by modern pagans) used for divination. The first part focuses on lore surrounding the runic alphabet—often called “Elder Futhark” runes, which can be traced back to Viking times. Part two discusses rune staves, which are formed by combinations of the individual runes to create powerful symbols. The book ends with a section on rune casting. In my research about Nordic runes, I found this book quite helpful and enlightening.


Who am I?

As a fiction writer who prides herself on drowning her stories in a thick marinade of authenticity, I’m a research hound. In preparing to write my Asgard Awakening series, I leaned on my lifelong love of mythology to fuel countless hours of research about Norse cosmology, runes, myths, and gods. I now consider myself an expert on deconstructing Marvel movie plotlines, comparing their Asgardian characters to the Norse gods they’re based on, and womansplaining everything the studio did wrong to any sucker who will listen. ;-)


I wrote...

Runed

By Kendall Grey,

Book cover of Runed

What is my book about?

After destroying the world at Ragnarok, the Norse trickster god Loki wakes up in the 21st century only to discover he's no longer a male god but a lowly human woman. He’s been a woman before, but this time, it’s permanent. Also, it sucks. Teaming up with a Scandinavian Studies student and Odin's former raven (now a snarky chicken), Loki embarks on a quest for the runes that will restore his immortality—and his manhood, Norns willing—to its former glory.

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