Before I begin this book review, some background on the author is essential.
For several decades, William Douglas Horden has focused on the I Ching. Of his more than twenty books, nine are part of a series that concludes with the book being reviewed. The others—directly or by way of energetic and experiential connections—further explore the ancient tool of divination and spiritual practice called the I Ching.
Interested readers should read my previous reviews of Horden’s works for details on his background and training, which are extensive and impressive.
The Art of Divination is a handbook for those who are diviners and those whose path may be leading them there. My wife, a psychic medium, makes her living in large part as both a diviner (with tarot, other readings, and communications with the dead) and when using aspects of divination in her work as an energy healer.
As for those who may be considering divination in whole or in part as a focus of their life—the category into which I fall—The Art of Divination will provide invaluable insights into what is involved. And, I have to tell you, it is quite a lot.
But don’t let this daunt you. Horden is a Master Teacher, a statement I base on having been blessed over the last decade to experience his skill through books and exercises, I Ching readings, and in-person visits.
Apropos of the themes, after the Preface/Introduction the book comprises a triad: Parts One through Three. As one would expect, the Preface/Introduction set the stage, with writing that I can only describe as having a rhythm and frequency that is divinely channeled. Read them carefully, maybe more than once, as they will create a receptive state for the pages to come.
Part One, “The Role of Consciousness,” is as timeless as it is timely and all the more profound for the increasing amount of mainstream science findings on this once almost mystical subject. Definitions of consciousness vary. Horden’s is: “Consciousness is the sum of the body’s experience.” Eloquent and deep. Given that we know there is cellular memory—the storehouse of trauma—and that, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, “Neurons that fire together wire together,” we have to be aware of whether we are “the light bulb or the light” (Joseph Campbell).
These quotes demonstrate that Horden’s definition emerges from the traditions of consciousness studies while standing on its own. For instance, he breaks consciousness down into passive and active. Passive is “rooted in the physical brain.” So most of the scientists are looking at this aspect, to humanity’s detriment, because that is merely the starting place. The active consciousness arises from it and can train it. Incredible news.
Horden also details the very active, insidious role that DNA plays in keeping us lustful, anxious, and aggressive. This alone is worth the price of the book. When we are (actively) conscious (i.e., practicing Awareness) of these usually unconscious Drivers, we can understand a great deal about why we (re)act in the moment in unhealthy ways.
Although I have studied the works and systems of many spiritual teachers, I have been continually impressed by Horden’s ability to blow away the smoke so we can see the simplicity in what many make Complex. With a single sentence—“You can have only one conscious thought at a time”—he illuminates why koans and sutras work. And why being Present in the Moment matters.
Another excellent strategy—one I learned from one of Horden’s previous books—is to stay Present and keep the passive consciousness loops from driving you against your connection with the Divine by stating “Enough!” Since I started using this word three years ago, I have all but eliminated the crippling anxiety that would keep me in bed afraid to face the day for several predawn hours each morning.
At this point, Horden turns his full attention to the Diviner, who is a mediator between Heaven and Earth (one of the triads I alluded to earlier). Here his role as teacher shines. In unfolding the role of the Diviner he draws on another triad: The condition of “Transcendent Being gives rise to Pure Ideas, which give rise to Living Images, which give rise to Material Forms.”
In 30 years spent applying spiritual systems to the Creative Process, especially Storytelling, I have seen this at work in the roles of Writer (Pure Ideas), Director (Living Images), and Actor (Material Forms).
For those Creatives reading this review, know that your role in the Cosmic Interplay is essential. This book will make it more so.
In Part Two, “The Role of the Will,” Horden maps the requirements for commitment to learning and practicing Divination. The first is Surrender to the One Will. It was a watershed moment for me 13 years ago when I first said, “Thy will be done” and meant it. This coming from a Catholic who had said it thousands of times prior. Along with this are “as above, so below,” “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and “Like attracts Like.” If you practice these maxims, the benefits are profound.
The second is Receptivity. By surrendering, we are allowing new energies and experiences to flow to us, but we have to be open to receiving them.
Then there is Timing. Along with Horden, Paul O’Brien is doing notable work with this. The rest of Part Two outlines more of the work Diviners need to do to attain a level of competency.
Part Three, “Stepping Outside Time,” addresses life after death, the nature of time, the Diviner’s journey to Enlightenment, and communion with the Oracle. This is the realm of nonduality, of “mystical union,” of which the great Alchemists and Spiritual Teachers spoke.
This is also the realm in which the Diviner spends increasing amounts of time and, having lived with a Diviner for 22 years, the commitment to do so and still navigate the daily obstacles and commitments of the everyday world can be a challenge.
It gives one pause. Many years ago, during a meditation, I felt my Third Eye opening. I panicked as a voice whispered, “Accept this and nothing will be the same.” I didn’t.
Are you on a path to being a Diviner? I can think of no better resource to increase your understanding of the journey and, should it be your wish, to begin to undertake it.
TITLE: The Art of Divination
AUTHOR: William Douglas Horden
PUBLISHER: Delok Publishing