Modes Of Divination I Have Used, 1977 To Present -The Toast

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Felix Kent’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

A General Note:

I grew up in Los Angeles, in a household which many people would describe as New Age. A lot of things I believed then I no longer believe, or, more accurately, no longer believe are my business. However, certain habits of mind are ineradicable; one that I have been unable to eradicate is my desire to believe that the universe is sending me messages. These are my voyages. 


Scantron Tests


Divinatory Process: If little bubbles in consecutive questions form a diagonal line across all rows, good things (unspecified) are about to happen.

Reasons For Abandonment: No more multiple choice tests to take. Also, the temptation to deliberately blow questions unsettled me.

Field Notes: At some point all those tests moved from actual bubbles to little broken up brackets, which seems way less compelling from a fortune-telling standpoint.  

Math Homework


Divinatory Process: If 4 is next to 8, that’s good, because 4’s essential character is female and virtuous, while 8 is heroic and stalwart. If 3 is next to 8, that’s bad, because 3’s essential character is female and seductive. If 4 is next to 5, that’s bad, because 5 is a cad, who will seduce and abandon 4. 

Reasons For Abandonment: My math homework was taking too long. Also, the higher forms of math didn’t seem as suited for narrative purpose — even I couldn’t truly believe that long division had any kind of correspondence to a Jane Austen novel. 

Field Notes: Don’t allow your children to read Jane Austen when they are young; it will ruin their lives.

Dream Imagery


Divinatory Process: One of my aunts went to a seminar, and told me that if I set an intention to have a certain thing in my dreams foretell something, it would do so. Okay, I said. She suggested that I use this technique. I said I wanted to use it find out when my period was going to start. I had just started getting my period and it was super-irregular and as a result there was maybe a certain amount of leakage. She seemed a little taken aback, but said that maybe I could use blood in my dreams as a symbol. It seemed like a good idea.

Reasons For Abandonment: It didn’t work at all, not even a little bit.

Dandelion Blowing


Divinatory Process: You close your eyes and you blow as hard as you can in the general direction of the dandelion while making a wish. If you blow all of the seed pods off, your wish will come true.

Reasons For Abandonment: Limited lung capacity meant I was always being told my wish would not come true. My mother lectured me on the annoyance of dandelions to a virtuous homeowner.

CD/iPod In Shuffle Mode


Divinatory Process: I don’t need to explain this; everyone does this, right?

Reasons For Abandonment: N/A

Field Notes: Sometimes now I’m too distracted to really pay attention, which makes me sad. Also, certain songs over time have acquired a patina, blurring their prognosticatory usefulness. Like, when George Michael’s “One More Try” comes on I am not just recalling its fateful appropriateness to my seventh grade dance, wherein a guy who had a crush on me was urged to ask me to dance by the guy I had a crush on, and did so, and confessed his love in the middle of the song and I rushed off the dance floor as a result, which was sad, but I am recalling all the times I thought about that dance, many of which were humorous and light-hearted in nature, and so it’s hard to say what the true meaning of the song is. Which is appropriate to how much muddier life becomes as one gets older, but when I’m looking for messages about the future, I don’t really want ambiguity and complexity.


1994-2000, 2006, 2012

Divinatory Process: Something about the stars.

Reasons For Abandonment: Often dull. Too easily verified. Too easily disproved. Or, worse, too vague to have any meaning. Too many people receiving the same message at once, which means I don’t feel special. Also Vanity Fair had the best horoscopes, but discontinued them. 

Field Notes: In times of stress, I totally revert to reading my horoscope, so this saga is by no means over.



Divinatory Process: Well, there are a lot of different patterns, but I always used the Celtic Cross.

Reasons For Abandonment: Too lame. Too goth, but not in a cool way, in a hippie way.  Also 1997 was a really great year, and so I felt like I didn’t need any comforting looks at the future. Which is funny, because that year my runes told me I could do no wrong, when all through high school, when I was miserable, they told me that I sucked. Accuracy is not necessarily what I’m looking for in my fortune-telling tools — hope is probably closer to the mark.

Pop Can Tab Pulling


Divinatory Process: You twist the tab of your can of soda pop back and forth while reciting the alphabet. The letter of the alphabet that the tab comes off on is the first initial of the person you will marry.

Reasons For Abandonment: Eventually I worked my way through the entire alphabet and lost faith in the process. Also, I was drinking fewer canned beverages.

Ordinary Playing Cards

1994-1995, 2000-2001

Divinatory Process: I used to know a really good card game where you used the number of letters in the name of your crush to find out if he or she loved you, but I don’t remember how it works anymore, which astonishes me.

Reasons For Abandonment: The first time because I went off to college and got busy, the second time because I had been living in a tiny tiny town and I had the most awesome friend and we would hang out in her living room or my living room and drink beer and eat Oreos and try out the names of every guy we could think of on this card game and then I moved away from her and it was too sad to even think about playing that game again.

Field Notes:  Drinking beer and eating Oreos and telling the future from playing cards with your best friend is awesome, and everyone should spend at least a year of their life doing so.

Tarot Cards


Divinatory Process: Again, the Celtic Cross.  

Reasons For Abandonment: N/A

Field Notes: My tarot cards are really pretty, which makes me feel better about my insatiable desire to receive messages from the universe, a desire that is apparently not ever going away. Also, I tell myself that it’s not so much that I’m trying to tell the future, as much as it is that by looking at the patterns I am clarifying my current thinking.  But I’m still embarrassed by it, I’m not going to lie. Also, sometimes the patterns I see suggest that things are going to kind of suck for a while and that’s not so great. But there’s something about that process of stepping out of how things really are and peering into how things might be that I’m not willing to let go of, and probably never will be. That said, it’s a pretty good gauge of my emotional barometer how often I feel the need to plunge into the future. More than a couple of times a year spells trouble, which I suppose is a fortune-telling method all its own.

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