Divination is the technical term for what most people would call fortune telling, but the reality of what divination is, is a bit more complicated than that. Most realistic practitioners will admit that most forms of divination simply offer a guideline, and the reader is simply interpreting the probable outcome based upon the forces presently at work.
In more ancient times, the purpose of divination was, primarily, discovering the will of the gods. The more modern view is split between a more fatalistic outlook on the future and one where the future is not fixed is simply a tool to analyze the specific path one is on and divination is a tool to determine what that path is.
Divination is also subject to interpretation error or bias, from the person reading, especially if they have a personal stake in the reading. Learning to remove your desires from the equation is a matter of practice. Most beginners try out several different methods and find they are more gifted in one method than the others. Picking a method with less room for interpretation (i.e. tarot cards versus scrying) is another way beginners can reduce the risk of misinterpretation.
Automatic Writing (Psychography): Psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing which are dictated by the subconscious, or a spiritual or supernatural source
Osteomancy: The use of animal bones. The typical method, similar to runes and the ogham sticks, typically uses small bones, which are marked with symbols, placed in a bag or bowl, and then withdrawn one at a time so that the symbols can be analyzed.
Scrying: This type of divination is based on an analysis of reflections in water, on polished metal, rock crystals, or precious stones. Can be done during a full moon with water, or with crystals (like a crystal ball).
Lithomancy: Reading stones. Involves casting or picking stones to interpret an omen, foretell the future, or to seek insight on a specific subject. Many people base the readings off of the position of the stones as well as how the light hits them, but some simply assign meaning to the specific stones, similar to tarot cards.
Pendulum: This is one of the easiest methods. A pendulum can be made from almost anything. Once you “prepare” the pendulum, you may ask it yes or no questions. The swing of the pendulum dictates the answer.
Tasseography or Tasseomancy: The act of reading tea leaves or coffee grounds. The patterns and shapes are then reviewed and assigned meaning. There are many guides available for interpreting these signs.
The Celtic Ogham: Named for Ogma or Ogmos, the Celtic god of eloquence and literacy. Each character of the Ogham alphabet is carved into a staves or sticks.
Runes: Typically small pieces of wood or glass carved with the 24 ancient runic alphabetic symbols, each with specific characteristics. There are several ways to cast runes, depending on the type of question and complexity/depth of the reading.
Tarot Cards: A deck of 78 cards, broken into two sections, the Major and Minor Arcana. The exact images depicted vary based on the deck of cards being used but the Rider Waite deck is considered the standard for divination purposes. The most common spread is 3 cards (usually Past, Present, Future) but there are many more intricate spreads you can try. Interpretations are widely available, but the meaning of a card differs based on it’s position in the spread.
Cartomancy: This method uses the standard deck of playing cards. 52 card deck, separated into 4 suits of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades. Though they are used for playing non-mantic games today, many consider these to be the original tarot cards. Similar to Tarot, you can do a simple 3 card spread or more intricate spread and the meaning for each card is widely available.
Ouija Board: Also called a spirit board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0–9, and the words yes, no, hello, and goodbye. The participant/s channel a spirit to answer their questions, similar to Automatic writing. The spirit will then guide the hands of the participant/s to the answer via the planchette.
*Palm Reading/Palmistry: I have included this method though there are no tools involved, because it can be done by a novice, and the interpretations of different lines are well established.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the objects that can be used for divination, just the “mainstream” ones.
One type of Divination that is quite popular in western culture is Numerology/Astrology through the reading of Horoscopes. However, these readings are generally not individualized enough, and are interpreted and assigned meaning by others through unknown methodologies which cannot be easily be duplicated by the average individual. Therefore I did not include these methods, and will not include them in future exploration of the instruments used for Divination.
I may do a post on Numberology and/or Astrology on a more psychological or sociological level in the future, to elaborate more on why I consider them to be the most fatalistic approach.