Book: Divination Conjure Style: Reading Cards, Throwing Bones, and Other Forms of Household Fortune-Telling
Author: Starr Casas
Publisher & Year: Red Wheel/Weiser. 2019
Availability: Here and Here
I have always been fascinated by other people’s devotional practices. I grew up in a non-denominational Christian household. The only time I attended church was when it was a requirement to spend the night at a friend’s house as a pre-teen. I was always curious about why people would want to go and what they did. I’m still curious about how other people worship the divine. If there’s an open ritual, I’m there. An invitation to go to temple? Sure. I’m not interested in joining anyone’s house of worship but I want to understand this thing that brings them fulfillment, particularly if it’s enough for them to attend on a regular basis.
Divination Conjure Style by Starr Casas is like being invited to church and also having all the aspects of the service explained. Not only “here is where the holy water is used” but how the holy water is made. Maybe for some this would be a bit like reading stereo instructions but for someone who has a limited frame of reference, it was very refreshing. This book is a cross between an introduction book and a memoir. Not only did she explain the basis of her conjure practice, she also shared how the practice was passed down to her. There are a few instances where she refers back to her first book, which I don’t have, but I don’t feel that you had to have read that book to understand this one. Admittedly, I was coming at this from a perspective of curiosity, particularly about the divination aspect, and not trying to integrate conjure into my practice.
Just over half of the book is dedicated to card divination, in this case divination using playing cards. From the start, Starr provides a multi-step process to cleanse and connect with a new deck of cards. This includes a recipe for making Holy Oil and a ritual to dedicate your cards. The two steps take a combined two weeks to complete. I’ll admit, this sounds close to eternity to me when it comes to a new deck that I really want to work with. I’m also really terrible about timing my magical workings to astrological events as patience is not a virtue I possess.
I will say that one of the things that caught me off guard was how much Christian influence is in conjure work. Honestly, this is something that I know and forget until I’m reminded again. As I mentioned, the first part of the book is dedicated to card divination and it covers the meanings of each card and also offers a Bible verse that can be used as part of cleansing work or reflection. Thankfully, each verse is provided on the page with the card meaning, so you don’t have to have a Bible next to you as you progress through the book. I found that the basic guidance for each playing card correlated well to my tarot knowledge. The thing I appreciated was the brevity of the descriptions, which also brought to light slightly different ways to view the cards.
After the card definitions there are several different card layouts, like one would expect in a card reading book. I found the Holy Trinity Reversal spread useful to help reveal the issues currently blocking you. It was nice that one of the rows made suggestions on how to remove those obstacles. Many readers are good at defining the obstacle and what the cause is but sometimes fail to mention what work will help remove the blockages. After layouts, there is a section on card combinations. It discusses common cards that appear together and how to interpret when the same number shows up multiple times; for example three aces. There is also a small section on incorporating the cards into root work. There are a few “recipes” provided if you’d like to try your hand at root work.
The last third of the book covers additional conjure style divination that is not related to cards, some of which I was already familiar with and some I was not. The longest sections are on bone readings and candle reading, including information on gathering your own bone set. The candle reading included gazing into the flame and reading the shapes formed by the melted wax. There were smaller sections on divination practices that I hadn’t heard of: blue water and using eggs. Blue water is a form of scrying using water, salt and Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing, hence the name.
If you are interested in learning more about conjure practices, particularly divination, this would be a great book to pick up. If you are just looking to learn to read playing cards, this is probably not the book for you. Personally, I enjoyed learning more about conjure practices, however, I was reminded that it is not a practice for me, as the Bible is not a holy text I desire to read with any frequency.
Starr Casas can be found online at www.oldstyleconjure.com