“Oracle” has many meanings from hokey to holy. I am most
interested in #5 in the Dictionary-com definitions, namely a divine
communication or revelation. Oracles are symbol systems that help
us receive insights or revelations. I believe the Source of their
inspiration follows strictly the orientation of the seeker. When you
open yourself up to divine inspiration, the Holy Spirit, your Higher
Self—however you see good guidance according to your personal
beliefs—those are the forces that will shine through when using these
If you are fearful, or if you want your “fortune told” where you have
no power or spiritual backbone to co-create your own dreams in
divine partnership, don’t be surprised to find negative energy in a
tarot reading or other symbol system consultation.
Like any tool, oracles can be used for higher good or dubious intent.
Think of a knife. In the hands of a skilled surgeon or premier chef,
this tool can perform miracles of healing or nurture. In the hands of
a serial killer—not. Like all tools, oracles run the gamut of agony and
ecstasy. Again, the difference lies in the hands of the user. With
oracles, the seeker often uses a medium—a consultant—rather than
consulting the cards or other symbols directly, although people do
both, of course. That’s why choosing your consultant is especially
important if you use one.
The Medium Is the Message
Let me start with a couple of bad examples. I once worked
with a woman who consulted a well-known, local astrologer
on all her investments and life decisions. This was in the
1970s, but I swear, if ATMs were in operation back then,
she’d have consulted her “friend” before she made a $20
cash withdrawal. You can probably predict what I’m going
to say without an astrology chart. Ultimately, my workmate
lost her shirt by turning her power over to this woman’s
predictions. It was a stark lesson about making a god of either
the symbol system or the medium. Ironically, the astrologer also
worked herself out of a job. They both lost. After all, how could
my workmate continue to pay her for advice after she lost everything?
The most horrible story I ever heard—same astrologer—was
a reading wherein she predicted the exact date and time
of a male client’s death—and he died exactly when she predicted! I
was utterly appalled; convinced she had literally scared him to death.
Few people would want to know this information. To ask for it, is—
well—asking for it! Still, I believe to this day that the astrologer in
question abused her power over this man. Astrology can be (pardon
the pun) dead accurate, but she would have no way of knowing his
fate. Even if she did, “pronouncing” it took away any personal power
he had over the outcome, which was not necessarily sealed. Specific
predications can be a real power trip.
The same symbols can portend literal death or any other
major, life-changing transformation while the person remains
embodied. Did the astrologer contribute to his death? Depressing
thought, but I think it explains why these tools have sometimes had
a terrible reputation. It’s all in how they’re used. Fortunately, in
general, they tend to be used for higher good by most people I
Examples: As a consultant, I have helped people out of
thorny dilemmas and have foreseen the potential for happy
marriages later realized in tarot or astrology readings. I use oracles
directly for myself on an ongoing basis, and now with years of
practice my use of them is refined. I am able to see new angles to
problems and personal tendencies I want to change. Symbols never
cease to amaze me with their simple wisdom.
How Does It Work?
My theory is that oracles work like a symbolic mirror and magnet.
Symbols have strong universal meanings. Much is contained in their
simple patterns, and more importantly, the person who seeks
guidance will fill in the blanks with the personal details needed to
make the symbols meaningful.
The magnet part: Everything on earth has an energy field;
every person and thing resonates. When we seek guidance,
we are drawn to the energy—or it is drawn for us through the
reader—that matches the frequency of the issue on which we want
guidance. When you shuffle a tarot deck, for example, and put the
energy of your question into the cards, the “right ones” fall into the
It’s no different with any of the other symbol systems. We
are drawn to want an astrology reading when the vibration of the
issue is creating internal pressure for resolution, so we seek out
an astrologer when we have significant transits or activity in our
astrology charts. Our subconscious gives us dream material, as
does our internal synchronicity machine, our magnet for meaningful
Once when I taught a dreamwork class, I spoke about encountering
people I was thinking about or repeated encounters on a topic I felt
were “signs.” A surprised participant said, “You talk about real life
the same way as dreams.” Exactly! When we have the eyes to
see, the symbols and signs are all around us. Our subconscious is
in constant dialogue with us, and when we pay attention, we can get
limitless Higher Direction.
I Want to Try It. Where Do I Start?
If you haven’t done this before or haven’t done much of it,
here are my suggestions—probably good for the seasoned oracle
1. What system appeals to you most? Start there.
If astrology fascinates you, go there first. If you can’t remember
dreams, maybe you need a little more work on bringing the
subconscious to waking awareness before you can use this one.
Do tarot cards call you? Runes? The I Ching? If you don’t know, visit
a metaphysical bookstore where you can look through many of the
symbol sets or books on them like a kid at Christmas. Let yourself
be drawn to the images or system that calls you.
2. Approach oracles with the wonder of a child. These
systems are completely about connecting guidance to your own
inner tracking device, your intuition. Play with them and respect
them with wide-eyed wonder. Their optimal guidance will flow
through your openness.
3. Get trusted referrals for consultants. A personal referral
from someone you know and trust who has seen this particular
astrologer, tarot reader, or dreamworker is always best. The
metaphysical bookstore or resource center is
another source. Try someone at a local psychic fair—the
one with the longest line! Reputation rules when it comes
to trusting someone to work these channels with you. If someone
“doesn’t feel right,” don’t open yourself to that
4. Take what fits, toss the rest. This was the advice
of my first mentor in all things intuitive, the late, great Betty
Bethards, a San Francisco Bay Area psychic and meditation teacher.
I have lived by it with optimal results. No “reader" can be 100
percent accurate because his or her own experiences can’t help but
influence interpretation, at least a little. That can be handy, if they
have like experiences and lessons to learn, or it can put you off
track, if they don’t. While most good readers do their best to avoid
putting their own “stuff” into interpretations, the translation of
symbols is a tricky business. The analogy I like to use is a ballpark.
It’s easy to get into the right ballpark or neighborhood on an
interpretation because of the breadth of content each universal
symbol holds. That is what makes them so powerful, like the oak
tree contained in an acorn. However, to find the right seat in the
ballpark really takes reaction, dialogue, and sorting from the seeker.
If you don’t actively participate, you will suffer pronouncements
instead of helpful insights. Which brings me to the final point:
5. Be an active participant in all readings with a
consultant. Ask questions. Give your opinion. Say when
something feels right or when it feels off. Be sure you walk away
getting your key concerns covered. It might not be quite as
complicated as being a patient in an HMO system, but the idea is
the same as navigating this bureaucratic form of medical care. You
have to be your own patient/seeker advocate. The best readers will
welcome you as a co-pilot on the adventure of going a layer deeper
into your inner growth during your time together. You enter the
sacred ground of your psyche together. Your reader needs to
properly respect the inner sanctum, your needs, and your help to
make it a meaningful journey.
Sealed with a Ms.
I thought it would be fun to draw a tarot card to seek
Higher Guidance in wrapping up this article. At first when
this idea came to mind, I thought, “Huh?” Using these tools
has made me respect these inspirations, no matter how silly
the light bulb over my head might seem at first.
Turns out, I’m also going to be able to illustrate how anything can
become an oracle. I “got” that the words I should Google were
“tarot oracle.” They led me to a new deck I hadn’t heard of, literally
called the Tarot Oracle. Click on the link and look at the Magician
Card, that Mystical Ms. She’s for us; I’m convinced of it! She’s
juggling the stars and her key words are Intuition, Taking Chances.
Take a chance on your intuition. Oracles will expand your
sense of inner knowing and connection to All That Is.
© Joyce Mason, 2008-2011. All Rights Reserved.
Link freely, quote short passages, but please seek permission
for all other uses of the author's material.
Tips on Using
1. Find which type
appeals to you most.
2. Approach the
symbols with childlike
3. Get trusted referrals
for readers or
4. Take whatever
information fits; toss
5. Actively participate
in the reading.
A Primer on the Use of
Dreamwork and Other
Q: What do tarot cards, fortune
cookies, astrology, dreams and
meaningful coincidences all have in
A: All can be used as oracles.