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What Cards and Coins Reveal: Divinatory Techniques in the Netherlands

Monday 24 April 2017
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


19.30 Welcome
19.35 Hanneke Minkjan: Searching the Web of Wyrd:
Divination in Dutch Neo-paganism
20.05 Response from student group
20.15 General discussion
20.35 Break
21.00 Hella de Jong: Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands:
The Skill of Divination as a Modern Coping Mechanism
21.30 Response from student group
21.40 General discussion
22.00 The discussion continues in a nearby pub


Lipsius Building, Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden




The symposium is hosted by the Leiden Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR). It is part of the courses New Religions and Lichaam en Geest in Alternatieve Spi­rit­ualiteit within the BA programme Religious Studies (Religie­wetenschappen), but open to all.


Markus A. Davidsen (m.davidsen@hum.leidenuniv.nl)


Hanneke Minkjan
Searching the Web of Wyrd: Divination in Dutch Neo-paganism

Abstract: Divination is an art or practice of discerning the future. Already in antiquity, but also in indigenous non-Western cultures, divination practices were common. The word divination comes from the Latin word divinatio and means ‘belonging to deities’. Therefore, divination is supposed to take place through divine interference. From the 15th century onwards, divination practices, such as astrology, became widely known also in Western societies. Some of these practices are still in use in modern neo-pagan traditions. For instance, Tarot readings are popular, but also other card decks are recognised to receive glimpses of the future. Both divinatio naturalis, or “intuitive” divination, and divinatio artificosia, “inductive” divination, is discussed for five neo-pagan traditions: Modern Witchcraft, Druidry, Asatru, the Goddess movement, and neo-shamanism.  Practices that will be elaborated are, for instance, the Germanic Runes, the Ogham Oracle, as well as trance journeys, where communication with the pagan divine takes place. In contemporary paganism, the Web of Wyrd is a much used symbol, in which all things are connected. By scrutinising this “Web”, neo-pagans try to get to know future events and, sometimes, even change these circumstances through magic.

Bio: Hanneke Minkjan is a cultural anthropologist and a PhD candidate at the Free University Amsterdam (VU). Her subject of study is neo-paganism in the Netherlands: Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, the Goddess Movement, and neo-shamanism. She received her MA at the University of Amsterdam, where she studied trance practices in Dutch neo-shamanism.

Hella de Jong
Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands: The Skill of Divination as a Modern Coping Mechanism

Abstract: Divinatory practises play a role in helping us find our place in the grander scheme of things. They provide us with alternative insights on how a given scenario is playing itself out in our lives. Whether we use crystal balls, card decks, rune sets, or any other means of divination, they are all tools to aid us in making the right decisions so we can create for ourselves a better future. In this talk you will be presented with an emic view on divination to complement the etic view given in the first part of this symposium. In defiance of the idea that divination is an ancient practice that somehow survived in our modern times, you will learn how recently developed most of our divinatory tools actually are and how these systems are currently used not merely to read the future but also to help us shape it. Illustrated by the story of the Raven Coins, a brand new oracle system that will be published later this year, you will be given enough ideas to create your own oracle when you get home.

Bio: Hella de Jong has received her MA in the Study of Religion (cum laude) at the Leiden University in 2015. She has been a practising Neo-Pagan for more than 25 years, active in both Druidry and Wicca. She is currently working on a new divinatory system that will be published in the autumn of 2017.

Previous Leiden symposia on New Religiosity

2012: Hekserij in Holland
2013: Identity and Tradition in Contemporary Paganism
2014: New Forms of Sacrality in the Netherlands
2015: Playing with Religion
2016: Elves, Spirits, and Aliens: Superhuman Entities in New Religions

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