Book Review

Title: Pagan Portals: Divination: By Rod, Birds, and Fingers
Publisher: Moon Books
Author: Melusine Draco
Pages: 112 pp
Price: $10.95 (paperback)

Divination: By Rod, Birds, and Fingers is a companion volume to By Spellbook & Candle and By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root. It does not, however, seem to require that it be read or worked side by side with either text, or for one book or the other to be read first as a prerequisite. The title is derived from a quote from Robert Cochrane. The quote and title do set a good tone, theme, and organization for the book. This book is clearly dedicated to divination compared to fortune telling, and more geared towards personal use than reading for others. The reader would do well to bear in mind that the author is from Wales, as this effects her writing style; also, the culture is a bit different.

In the text, the Rod includes, wand-, staff-, rod-, and arrow-related divination. Fingers includes all forms of sortilege, which are objects selected, drawn, cast, or thrown. The Birds chapter relates to divining by watching birds in various forms.

The material is not that which is often repeated elsewhere. It may not be new from a historical standpoint, but the material is very fresh from the standpoint that many of the topics or methods are often not written about in this manner. In a sense, they are re-introduced to the public. There were shining moments of awe when I read something I hadn’t before seen in print.

In the beginning of each chapter there are lists of various sub-types of the divination realm, terms, and definitions . Each chapter considers not only the how of divination, but also the why’s of each method, followed by some instructions and examples. Along the way, there are some thought provoking questions such as “The Tarot appears to be the weapon of choice for most witches, but how many, truthfully, would rely on it when confronted with making a difficult decision in their lives?” I also very much agree with the writer’s urging to not meander across different systems, but to work at one to be proficient. This book left me wanting more.

In summary, Divination: By Rod, Birds, and Fingers provides an introduction to, and beginning instructions in, several methods of divination rooted in traditional witchcraft. I feel it is accessible and understandable to someone new to the subject, but I would encourage more reading on individual systems afterward. It would be appreciated by someone involved or interested in traditional witchcraft. If you are already a Moon Books reader, or reader of By Spellbook & Candle or By Wolfsbane and Mandrake, or other books by Melusine Draco, this should join your library with its related companion books.

[Robert Scott is the editor of The Diviner’s Handbook: Writings on Ancient and Modern Divination Practices.]

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