“The cast lot puts an end to strife And decides between the mighty ones.”
– Proverbs 18:18
The phrase “The die is cast” owes its inception to the ancient art of lot casting. Our ancestors cast lots using dice, beans, bones and other small objects. The outcome of these castings determined many things from forecasting a battle’s success and elected leaders to resolving inheritances and even choosing a prisoner’s sentence. Even tossing a coin is a type of binary lot casting! Yes or no? Stay or Go?
Lot Casting for Modern Witches and Pagans
Try lot casting yourself. First, determine a suitable medium for it. I suggest choosing a durable medium like dried dyed beans, colored popcorn kernels, game board dice or tokens, runes, wood slices, or even perhaps nuts and bolts. Also, locate a piece of soft, natural cloth that measures at least 12” x 12” and draw a good-sized circle on it.
Some cast divination systems, like runes, have a specific interpretive value already assigned. If you’re putting together a personalized collection of symbolic items you’ll probably want at least five. Each additional token increases the randomness of the reading and the potential interpretive value.
Symbolism and Meaning of the Lots
No matter the medium you’ve chosen, it’s important to predetermine what each token in the set means, and if that meaning will change depending on where the token lands on your casting cloth. Make notes of the associations in your Book of Shadows to maintain congruity from reading to reading. While the consideration and notation process takes a little time, is well worth the effort. The more you ponder and refine your divination tool, the better you will understand it, and the better it will work for you.
A Test Run
[wisew_rectangle_large align=”left”]Hold the symbolic tokens you’ve chosen in a bowl or bag over the casting surface. Shake them thoroughly with your eyes closed while thinking of a question. After a few moments of thought randomly release a few, or all, of the objects to the surface of the cloth. Anything that falls outside the circle is not interpreted.
Generally speaking, objects that land close to you represent present concerns, pressing matters, or close family and friends. Those further away from you in the circle represent future situational actions or acquaintances. Things on the right are more positive omens, while those landing on the left are negative, A but this only applies if you’ve set up your casting surface using these associations.
Increasing Interpretive Options for Lot Casting
Lot casting is a very flexible art, being limited only by what you have on hand, your ability to relate to symbolic items, and your imagination. You can personally increase the divinatory value of the casting space by using the traditional correspondences for the four directions, for example.
North represents things that are frozen, halted, or in a holding pattern. It can also symbolize the need for letting a matter rest and the winter season.
East represents things that are just beginning and a time of renewed hope. On a timeline, east can represent the present or following spring.
South represents situations or feelings that are highly energized. It also symbolizes summer.
West represents the emotional, intuitive self and the season of fall.
It’s worth noting that in Wicca the four directions also have Elemental correspondences: North is Earth, East is Air, South is Fire and West is water. You can add this information into your casting system for possible interpretive values.
When tokens land on or near these points, adjust the interpretation accordingly. For example, an object symbolic of love that lands in the north would then represent a relationship that’s going nowhere, or progressing more slowly than you like. If the same token landed in the east, it would portend the beginning of a new, refreshed, relationship, possibly in spring.
Household Objects For Casting Lots
Some of the best casting tools come randomly out of the kitchen junk drawer (or a similar space). There is a treasure trove of symbolic objects from which to choose here and around your living space. It’s also a good way to recycle odds and ends into a spiritual application for magic in the 9-5 world. You can close your eyes and randomly grab something from the drawer for simple questions.
Exactly what you have available, and what each object represents to you, may differ from the following assortment and suggested interpretations, so don’t be afraid to get creative. These are just examples.
- Aluminium foil scrap: being protected to some degree, but not so much that safety is guaranteed.
- Battery: personal energy increasing or decreasing.
- Bottle cap: a secret revealed for boon or bane.
- Bow: a pleasant surprise or a gift.
- Bulb (Christmas style): an idea or inspiration whose outcome may be predicted by the other objects in the casting.
- Button with saying: matters of communication-what’s written on the button may provide more insight.
- Checker piece: strategy−think before you act.
- Coin: finances−if heads, a positive omen; if tails, a negative sign (although this can be changed by nearby objects in the reading).
- Comb: put things in order; the need to organize.
- Crayon: the child within−have you been getting enough playtime.
- Dinosaur keychain: hanging on to outmoded ideas or behaviors.
- Egg (chocolate): something hidden beneath a shiny exterior that may, or may not, live up to promises.
- Film negative: looking at something the wrong way, or with too much negativity−step back and get an alternative perspective.
- Fingernail clipper: cut away what you don’t need so you can experience real growth.
- Fuse, burnt out: scattering your efforts in too many places−find a singular focus and follow it through.
- Key: an opportunity opens up, or the solution to a problem presents itself.
- Magnet: attracting specific energies to yourself (remember like draws like−so stay upbeat).
- Matches: put a fire under projects that you’ve put off or given up on; alternatively, a sign of warmth or passion in your future.
- Nail: finally tackling a difficult situation the right way (hitting that nail on the head); alternatively, a desire for security.
- Needle: repair a situation or relationship that’s gone unattended or started to unravel.
- Nut in a shell: fertility, especially for a man (note that this pertains matters of creativity, knowledge, money, instead of literal fertility); alternatively, a crazy (nutty) idea whose time has come.
- Pacifier: trying to find substitutes for what you really want rarely satisfies.
- Paperclip: associations with people or situations that may need strengthening.
- Plug, three-way: connections that require the help of friends, family, or an acquaintance to secure effectively. Alternatively, body-mind-spirit connection.
- Rubberband: the need to stretch, grow, and remain flexible
- Screw: time to stop pussy-footing around and grow a backbone−if someone hasn’t been doing their fair share, say so!
- Shell: the need to “go with the flow” and get in closer contact with your intuitive self.
- Spring: improved outlooks and an upbeat attitude will literally return the “spring to your step.”
- Stone: the need to live more simply, keeping one foot in reality.
- String, knotted: the web of fate or destiny, some of which is starting to reveal itself.
- Twist tie: keep your relationships fresh; preserve them with love, understanding, and constant tending.
- Umbrella (paper, decorative): the need to get out of some unfavorable “weather” in a situation or relationship−the thing you think will protect you, won’t.
- Velcro: make sure you’re holding on to the right things.
- Wire: finding an equitable balance between rigidity and flexibility; alternatively, a precarious situation.
Adding the Casting Cloth to Household Items
If you want something a little more formalized than the grab-and-read method, pick out a limited number of household items and place them in a bowl or bag and focus on your question. Say you’re curious regarding career changes. Upon shaking the bowl or bag in which your tokens lie you get this result:
- The film, coin (heads up), and checker fall out close to you on the cloth, just to the left of center.
- The key falls out mid-circle near the 3-way plug, to the right of center.
This casting might represent the fact that your financial future looks hopeful, but you’ve been going at things the wrong way. You need to reconsider your job search before continuing. Once you find a different approach, the right opportunity will open up thanks to a friend or acquaintance.
If you added the four directional markers to your cloth, the interpretation might change slightly.
- A coin (heads up) in the east.
- A paperclip in the north.
The coin is definitely a positive financial change, possibly come spring. Additionally, those changes will come from staying right where you are. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side!
Most people have three die at home or can get them easily. Dice are also very portable, so they make a good medium for living magic. In casting dice, the number of the outcome determines the query’s answer instead of where it lands
To begin, put the three die in a container. Shake this while thinking of a question then cast all three onto the cloth. J together those that land within the circle, then interpret the dice as follows:
3: Good news, an announcement, or a gift.
4: Bad news, trouble, or hindrances.
5: Rejoicing; a desire is realized successfully.
6: Sadness, often caused by misfortune or defeat.
7: Frustration, brought on by financial difficulty or gossip.
8: Miscommunication that could escalate into an argument.
9: Harmony among people; a tense situation gets settled.
10: Opportunity presents itself.
11: Estrangement; a decrease in feelings toward a situation or person.
12: Revelation, often disclosed by the media or friends.
13: Melancholy; an ominous feeling that you can’t shake and should probably pay attention to
14: New friends or colleagues.
15: Slow down−someone isn’t being totally honest.
16: Adventure, possibly a trip abroad.
17: Success, but one that comes from altering your tactics and approaches.
18: A very positive omen; good fortune and plenty.
[wisew_rectangle_large align=”left”]One way to make dice lots similar to other casting methods is to cast the dice a cloth that has four to twelve symbolic tokens around the perimeter. Then, both the number showing on the die and the token near which it lands provide additional interpretive value. For example, if the sum was three and the dice landed close to a heart, you could interpret this to mean a happy love affair. If you want some alternative interpretive values for your system, look for a good book on numerology or cleromancy (divination by dice) in the library. Both offer ideas on what each number potentially symbolize in your reading.
Lot casting is another tool you can add into your Witch’s kit with very little effort. If you are looking for a portable divination method that you can personalize, lot casting might be perfect for you. Give it a try!
Adapted from Wicca 2000 by Patricia Telesco All Rights Reserved