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Clay

You may not have considered the oracular potential of making ceramics. Yet potters have known, since they began fashioning objects out of clay, that their craft transported them to a state that felt more grounded and centered than other parts of their life. In fact, Mary Caroline Richards' 1962 book, Centering in Pottery, Poetry and Person, has conveyed this idea to many readers in the intervening 45 years.

As an oracular technique, sculpting clay will satisfy both visual and kinesthetic people. Those who lean towards the kinesthetic will enjoy the sensation of modeling clay; it possesses a wonderful texture and feels cool to the touch when you begin to work it, warming as it grows more malleable. Those drawn to visual oracles may enjoy the end product more; you can feast your eyes on the clay object you create, as well as studying it as a representation of the answer you seek.

In my experience, sensory involvement with clay will transport you to an alternate consciousness that facilitates oracular insight. "Opening up" a piece of clay, as potters sometimes call this process, can bring you into the present moment and connect you to your inner wisdom.

  1. Obtain a piece of clay about the size of a man's fist or double the size of a woman's. Make sure it's malleable enough to mold fairly easily.
  2. Develop an oracular query.
  3. Use your favorite breathing exercise to ground and center as you warm the clay in your hands. Take a few mindful breaths, relaxing into your seat and into the present moment.
  4. Acknowledge the clay you are holding as an oracle.
  5. State your query.
  6. Close your eyes while you hold the clay in your hands.
  7. When you feel the urge, begin to knead the clay, pressing out any bubbles to create a rounded, homogenous lump that's ready for you to mold.
  8. Once you've prepared the clay and you feel the time is right, begin to open up the clay in the way it wants to unfold. Follow its lead. Intuit what it wants to create. It will be easiest to do this with your eyes closed.
  9. When your piece feels finished, open your eyes and add any decorative flourishes that feel appropriate.
  10. Study what you've crafted. Spend some time carefully rolling your sculpted clay in your hands to see all sides of this object, and after a few minutes, you will begin to notice an answer forming just as the clay formed in your hands.

Please Note:

  • For this divination method, I strongly urge you to use the earthenware clay that children used to play with in school. This type of clay comes in red or grayish color, but in either case, it derives from the earth, and potters use it to make ceramics. Polymer clays like Fimo or Sculpey may make a nicer finished product, but they're stiffer to work with. When you're divining, the process is the point. Earthenware clay works more easily and feels better in your hands. Also, for many of us it's associated with childhood memories, allowing us in the process of sculpting to access our playful "younger self" as a route to deeper wisdom.
  • If music helps you to settle into a meditative state, play something soft and non-vocal in the background as you work your clay. You can also light a candle if it sets the right mood for your oracle.
  • While studying your molded clay, you can ask yourself these questions: Of what does it remind you? Does its shape imply an answer to your question? Is it sharp like a knife, indicating a need to cut something off? Or curved and inviting? What associations do you have with the image you've created? Do these associations relate to your life in any way? How does the molded clay make you feel? What does its form tell you about your question? Do you see several smaller symbols contained within the clay? How do they relate to each other and to your divinatory question? As with any symbolic oracle, you need to discern the associations that resonate with your experience in order to interpret what you see. If this is a new process for you, check out my suggestions in "Free Association" (MatriFocus, Samhain 2006).
  • As always, if you hear a voice or feel guidance arising in you during the divination process, accept it as part of your answer. Divination has its own process as well as its own timetable, so be aware that your understanding may come during your oracle or afterward, sometimes even several days or weeks afterward.
  • Once you've finished, you can honor the guidance you've received from your oracle by allowing the clay to dry and then painting or decorating it in whatever way appeals to you. If you place the finished object where you can see it during the course of your everyday life, it will remind you of the insight you gained from your oracle.

Graphics Credits

  • clay, courtesy of Murat Bayral.
Copyright / Terms of Use: Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without the author's or artist's permission. Other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.


MatriFocus Cross-Quarterly
is a seasonal web journal (zine) for Goddess Women and others interested in Goddess Lore and Scholarship, Goddess Religion (ancient and contemporary), Feminist Spirituality, Women's Mysteries, Paganism and Neopaganism, Earth-based Religions, Witchcraft, Dianic Wicca and other Wiccan Traditions, the Priestess Path, Goddess Art, Women's Culture, Women's Health, Natural Healing, Mythology, Female Shamanism, Consciousness, Community, Cosmology, and Women's Creativity.

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