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.
- 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.
- Develop an oracular query.
- 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.
- Acknowledge the clay you are holding
as an oracle.
- State your query.
- Close your eyes while you hold the
clay in your hands.
- 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.
- 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.
- When your piece feels finished, open
your eyes and add any decorative flourishes that feel appropriate.
- 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.
World is Your Oracle
by Nancy Vedder-Shults
Nancy's forthcoming book, The World is Your Oracle, compiles
hundreds of divination methods, from ancient oracles to modern-day
techniques. The excerpts published here will describe a few of the
ways to access the deeper layers of our minds and broaden our sense
A good oracle puts us in touch with ourselves. It lets us discover
our motivations, feelings and thoughts about the question we're
exploring. And it connects us with the atmosphere or environment
surrounding that question making us aware of the water
we swim in, but usually don't notice.
To receive inner guidance, all we need is to open ourselves to what
our body/mind tells us, what our emotions display, and what our
unconscious knows. In this way, we can begin to hear with our inner
ears and see with our inner eyes. Using these mystical senses
what we might call the sense organs of the unconscious
we perceive holistically, noticing relationships and patterns rather
than isolating, classifying and judging what we observe. Once we
have gathered this wisdom, we can then use the rational mind to
interpret what we have learned.
We live in an interconnected world, a web of life. Each segment
of that web reflects the whole just like fractal designs or holography.
That's why the patterns we discover through divination give us information.
They mimic the relationships of the whole at a particular moment
- 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.
- clay, courtesy of Murat Bayral.