Rufus Opus recently made a remark in passing about regret he felt at neglecting divination as an ongoing practice. He mentioned this in light of a personal calamity. I couldn't agree more with this sentiment. Regular divination as a diagnostic tool for ones own magical life and as a vital spiritual skill, in my opinion, is the cornerstone of any wise conjurer's practice. It is that open dialogue with the numinous which extends beyond ones own visions and visualisations. Using tools such as the cards and horary astrology gives us a measure of objectivity that allows for crucial warnings, rebukes and interventions from the spirits to be made available when we might not otherwise be willing to hear them. A visionary interaction with the Beyond is vital, yes - but relying on that alone is dangerous: ego, delusion and wishful thinking can creep into the mix when this is the only spiritual technology being used. We need checks and balances to keep us sane; to wake us up to our own bullshit; to show us our blind spots. Skilled divination, using tried and tested traditional tools, does just that.
Similarly, any practical magician worth his/her salt working for self or others needs to be able to read and read accurately. Its a core skill and to neglect it is to flirt with disaster. Often my instinct tells me to take certain course of action, but when I read the cards or cast a chart to verify I sometimes am shocked to find how wrong my urges were. Just yesterday I was approached by someone who has been suffering under the influence of destructive co-worker. After listening to the malice with which this person sabotaged everyone around him it seemed clear as day that he should be hot-footed and moved right out of the picture post-haste. Yet, when I checked the cards the outcome of that course of action, surprisingly, indicated a worsening of conditions for my client - disaster in fact. No, we were to pursue a reconciliation; find a way to have the problem person feel more supported and then and only then would things turn around. Had I gone with what felt righteous and just in that moment instead of reading dispassionately I could well have caused more damage than good. In the past I have ignored these sorts of counter intuitive readings at great cost and this is exactly why I have come to rely on divination as the starting point for any magical action.
If we read for ourselves every day, we begin seeing patterns emerge we might not otherwise notice. We expose a deeper mythic current driving our world; one which frequently evades our best intuitive or spiritual senses because of its depth. It becomes a path on which this deeper current is constantly being drawn to our conscious attention again and again. It takes courage because much of the time the news is not so good - but if we are fearless and face the current and swim with it no matter what it exposes we become more awake, bold and powerful.