The Everyday Oracle

Communicating with Spirit by using Omens, Signs & Symbols

            by Stephen Russell Poplin, M.A.

            There is something mysterious and special in and around us at all times. Those who can hear, listen, those who can see, look. In my studies into philosophy and comparative religion, I have come to appreciate many alternate ways of viewing reality and the "beyond." In my life as a mystic, I am fascinated with how we approach the world based upon our inner truths -- whether they be substantiated or not. In my work as a transpersonal hypnotherapist, I aid people in recognizing patterns and processes that are usually hidden or elusive to casual observation. I hope to share with you some ideas and "tricks" that may open up or expand your own doors of perception. Very much like broadcast channels, whether on radio or TV, these transmissions or signs are invisibly surrounding us at this exact minute, only waiting for the right electronic receptor to decipher them (“let he who has eyes, see!”). Ultimately, we are surrounded with omens, signs and symbols in a divine conversation. Wrap your thoughts around that!

            There are many ways in which we can receive this sublime communication. This means, among other things, that we may need to alter our perceptions in order to receive the good news. How are we focusing?

            May I suggest that we might want to adjust our own personal "rabbit ears," or adjust our tracking system, or tune to the precise radio channel, in order to get the broadcast clearly.

For example, are you into photography? Painting?

 - Notice that you learn to shift your view of things in order to capture the image. You are more aware of light, color, shadow and shading. Your perceptions, or filters, are utilized in imaginative and inspiring ways. You look at things differently.

            How about the subject of everyday words? Let's move to the arena of semantics, of words and origins. Just like the way we need to adjust our visual perceptions to things that are already there, we have some common words with some interesting and uncommon meanings.

            I will use the word omens throughout this presentation, which basically are the meanings behind the signs, images or events. Omens are signs and symbols, usually of prophetic significance.

- When something is ominous, though, we might feel dread. Indeed, that is what it has come to mean. Ominous means a foreboding or foreshadowing of evil.

Let’s take a listen to other common words and their surprising meanings:

- an auspicious occasion

            auspice [birdseer, augur] a sign, or observation for signs, used in augury or divination, as the flight of birds. An omen, usually favorable, as to the future.

- inauguration day

            inaugurate [to take omens; hence, to consecrate; to augur in] To begin or initiate under favorable or auspicious circumstances; or with ceremony. An augur was a member of the highest class of official diviners of ancient Rome. Thus, one who foretells events by omens.

- What's your prognosis doctor?

            prognostic [pro - gnosis - to know before] to foresee; prognosis - to predict (disease or the course of the disease)

- Wrong predictions can be disastrous!

            disaster [dis + astrum - star] against, or dissonant with, a star; a baleful aspect of a star or planet. Sudden and extraordinary misfortune.

- Things to be considered!

            consider [with + constellation, stars] to view with fixed thought; originally with the stars, or fate, in mind.

            Thus, we have new meanings behind the familiar. You may never hear these words in quite the same way again. Perhaps you are now more curious about other words, ideas and notions which have provocative origins or hidden meanings. I hope so. Just as old words are seen anew, so are omens; look with new eyes into the mysteries of the so-called known world! We take a new look at something familiar.

            Let's now look into distant antiquity for some other insights into this “mysterious” topic. Soon you may declare, like Daniel (4:3) "How great are His signs! And how mighty are His wonders!" When Heaven, Spirit, God, or whatever a culture declared it to be, communicated with us mortals or caused unusual signs and events to occur, the peoples of the past called them miracles and inspired premonitions. This was true in all cultures and times. From China we were told: "Heaven does not speak but reveals itself through acts and deeds."

            Mencius (372 - 289 BC)

            And in ancient Greece, we learned from Plato's teacher. "You have heard me speak at sundry times and in diverse places of an oracle or sign which comes to me ... This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child. It always warns but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do." Socrates Apology

            The Greeks took the will of the gods into serious consideration. They consciously used their understanding of a greater power, sometimes called Fate, even in their voting. These people, who gave us the notion of democracy, used it with a twist: As you may know, they loved contests of all sorts. In their theatrical contests, which went on for days, they included a unique way for the Gods to vote too. They took out half of the ballots and tossed them! Fate, or Chance, had its say! (Could you imagine our modern elections doing that?! Oh, perhaps they have!)

            In many of the Greek plays, the Gods--positioned above the action on the stage below--spoke only to the Heroes, who were half Gods themselves. What this symbolized was that the Heroes had something of the Divine within them. This idea was akin to the ancient Greek atomic theory (developed by the Atomists, of course), which held that the smallest particles, atoms, were within individuals for reasons. For instance, if someone sees a red color or a blue color out there in the world, that means that that person has a red or blue atom within his eye. If he didn't see blue--as in color blindness, it was because he didn't have it within him. It was the same with the Heroes--they had something of the divine within them. I share this concept with you because I feel the Greeks were on to something here. We have within each and every one of us the capacity to see, or sense, the divine in the world. We just need, sometimes, to adjust our inner receptors. Also, there are individuals who are born with special abilities to “see” or sense things that others have a mere notion of. Like born musicians or mathematicians, we have psychics and mystics among us.

            Meanwhile, as the Greek civilization developed, the ancient Hebrews were developing their vision of the divine communication. In the Bible, we read: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Joel 2:28

            Dreams can be very profound, insightful, and even predictive. Watch out for rigid books of categories, which I think of as recipe books. If you dream this, then that means such and such. Remember to keep the options, the interpretations, open and fluid. Look for an individual interpretation, not an all-encompassing meaning. Watch out, too, for wishful thinking. There is the story of the ancient Greek King that was going to do battle with the Persians. He went to a famous temple and asked the oracle to prophesy for him. The oracle told him that if he were to battle the Persian King, a great empire would fall. This was the news he was waiting for. He gathered his army together and attacked the Persians. He lost. The oracle was right. A great empire did fall--his. It was a matter of interpretation.


            Time is a very important factor in all of this. "Time is of the essence."

Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist and writer, consciously included Time in his conceptualization of the whole subject. He coined the word synchronicity, meaning with + time. It referred not to physical causations but to synchronous events that held meaning for the observants. Something “coincidentally” occurs at just the right moment, or time, when you have either a receptive frame of mind or are in the middle of a question you are pondering. Essentially, when two or more events occur at the same time, there is an a-causal relationship, open to interpretation.

            A modern, convenient, and tasty form of prognostication is found in fortune cookies! A delightful type of omen that you can chew on! A girlfriend of mine complained from time to time about my style of dress, which sometimes could be termed unkempt. (Many a guy will sympathize with me, I’m sure!) To my rescue came a sign. I received a fortune cookie that said "the wise man dresses simply and with clarity." She was so disappointed.

            When I took a good look at all these different perspectives of what omens are-- symbols and signs and miraculous events-- I saw there was an ebb and flow to the whole process. I term it a yin and yang approach to participating in the Great Conversation. On the yin side we would be waiting for omens. This essentially means passive receiving. Many of these omens, voices and signs just came to people. But they had eyes to see. "Blessed is he that watcheth." (Revelation 16:15)

            And then we have the active yang side of the divine communication; that is, taking an active role in the dialog. An ancient example was consulting the Temple priests, priestesses, and oracles. This means taking on the study of interpreting signs, dreams and omens yourself or actively seeking someone who does. And that brings us to using what are called metaphysical or divination tools. Now this really opens up a lot of mysterious and fascinating things.

            Have you ever opened up a book of scripture, or a favorite book, randomly pointed, and found your answer, or received some good advice? -- quite a few of you have, I'll wager. This is called divination, which comes from the root word divine. The possibilities are almost endless. We can use the Tarot cards, study the cycles of astrology, calculate our birth numbers through numerology, open our hands to peer into palmistry, etc. I have personally looked into these various "tools" with some surprisingly positive results. We can consult the ancient Chinese I-Ching by tossing the traditional yarrow sticks or, in our modern times, toss three coins in a particular technique. (If we chose to be very traditional with the I-Ching, we would heat up tortoise shells until they cracked and then "read the lines." Likewise, in ancient Greece, oracles "divined" or prophesied by sacrificing and opening up small animals and reading their entrails. It may feel gross or primitive now but it was used for centuries.) I have had my tea leaves "read" and learned how to interpret coffee grounds around an up-turned cup by a Romanian woman when I lived in Spain. All of these methods that I investigated mysteriously "worked" or were accurate in what they described or predicted. Here, I learned, was the yang side of producing omens, or taking an active role in the process.


            I started adding all this up...birth charts, tortoise shells, coffee grounds, laying paper cards on the table and things like that. It was not only mind-boggling, but uncanny in accuracy and varied in possible techniques. Finally, it came to me that anything will work! I think we can make up a system right now and it will "work." I can read, maybe, the bottom of shoes, or gaze behind the ears, or interpret weather stains on the ceiling(!). I think if you choose it, recognize a pattern (like a language), and consistently use this language or meaning, it is going to work for you. And from my belief in that particular theory, I then asked yet another question: what is happening here?

            My conclusion was this: There is a Great Dialogue happening... A grand and divine conversation going on! We are conversing with greater forces or intelligences, we are communing with higher powers. And the really exciting thing is this: In any way that you wish to communicate with that greater force, call it Spirit or God, you will be communicated with. Choose your language, study a system! Let the Grand Dialog begin!

            Okay, great. Who starts the conversation in this “paranormal” situation? We have discussed here the Yin way, from Spirit, and the awareness necessary to be open to well as to interpret it. We can choose the Yang approach, or reaching out to Spirit and asking the big questions. This approach presupposes that you will be looking into metaphysical tools and interpreting signs, symbols and omens yourself or consulting with modern oracles. If we are open, however, to the reciprocal give and take of a conversation with the Divine, interestingly enough, that is just like talking with a good, wise friend. It will work both ways, and you will find yourself in the middle of a Grand Conversation.

            "The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word....Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment." Ralph Waldo Emerson

            Colin Wilson, who wrote The Occult, has some helpful hints and attitudes to cultivate for those who desire to look into "hidden" things (which is what occult means). He describes people as being surrounded by a curtain that they can't quite see beyond. This is reminiscent of that famous Renaissance woodcut of the sage who breaks through the common paradigm and discovers the wonders beyond--different dimensions, cosmic spheres, the distant stars, and great clock-like mechanisms beyond. Colin Wilson writes:


"The curtain is everyday-ness. It is a state of mind rather than an object of reality. The human mind must be thought of as being akin to the radar of bats. We somehow reach out and feel the reality around us. But in my ordinary, everyday existence, I do not need to reach out very far and I get into the habit of not doing so. Whenever I am deeply moved by poetry, music or scenery, I realize that I am living in a meaning universe that deserves better of me than the small minded slot in which I have to truly live. And I suddenly realized the real deadliness of this lukewarm contentment which looks as harmless as ivy on a tree. It is systematically robbing me of life, embezzling my purpose and vitality. I must clearly focus on this immense meaning that surrounds me and refuse to forget it. I contemptuously reject all smaller meanings that try to persuade me to focus on them instead."

 Focus on the divine and start that conversation.

            Things to keep in mind: just as with anything, there are pit-falls and hurdles and things to watch out for. And what has frightened off a lot of people from this whole hidden or hard to understand (occult) subject is a combination of misinformation, ignorance and doctrine. At other times, one hears worries about evil forces or, more secular, about being led astray or misguided. One can just as reasonably warn people about medical quacks and dishonest experts in the world of modern commerce. Therefore, I will ask, what did you ask when you were consulting the oracles?

- And, as was noted before, how have you interpreted the information?

- And, whether you liked the answer or not, was it a good lesson nevertheless?

- Furthermore, did you over-do it? I have met several people whom I would term to be psychic junkies; they go around to psychic fairs and get lots and lots of readings and usually do not pay too much deep or profound attention to them. I also know some astrologers who check their astrological aspects, in depth, every day. I knew a woman who threw the I-Ching coins three times a day. Be careful of overdoing it! Use your own mind and free will!

            In many areas of life, it is a good idea to get a second opinion, check with the facts that you are sure of, listen to your feelings and, especially, compare the guidance with your own ideals. And remember that the results of your actions will inform you too. "By their fruits will you know them."


Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are finite, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask him? So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.Matthew 7:7

            And so it is! There are a thousand and one ways to communicate with the divine Spirit, or God, with just as many ways to listen. And so I pray that you, my friends, receive good omens and I hope that you dream great dreams.

            The Everyday Oracle was conceived as a simple and fun way to “toss the coin” to get quick insights concerning everyday life. One does not have to study esoteric texts for many years to get started. One just needs to look at common symbols in new ways. It is part of the divine communication.

            Officially, the E Oracle is an entertainment devise, to be used in aiding you in brain-storming, inspiration, and simple decisions. One should not use the E Oracle for major life decisions such as “should I marry .....?” or “should I buy this company?” or other important questions. The inventor, manufacturer and all of the representatives producing E Oracle take no responsibility for foolish uses of the product. The Everyday Oracle is a stepping stone, educational tool to aid you in getting in touch with your own intuition and ideals.


    Stephen Russell Poplin

stephen at transpersonal dot us

    Transpersonal Home