When I was a little kid I discovered the concept of divining answers from a magnet on a string. I can't remember where I heard about it first; some book about divining for water and minerals, I think. I can't remember how I learned about it. I do remember that I immediately went out, made a magnet-string tool, and discovered that it worked. In my test run it told me one of our lambs was a girl. I already knew that but that's why it was a test. I thought it was wrong when it said bunny Patty was a boy and bunny Clover was a girl, but later that turned out to be true as well. (Patty became Patrick. It was a simple transition.)
I told my brothers about it. We were all able to do it, me and my youngest brother with a little more skill than my middle sibling. My youngest brother could make the magnet swing in different directions by thinking at it, even when someone else was holding the string.
My mom was squibby about the whole thing. "You don't know what you're opening yourself up to," she said. "Satan appears as an angel of light, you know."
I was puzzled at first. The whole concept of not recognizing darkness in disguise didn't make sense to me then. It makes a little more sense to me now but I still think that God gives us a pretty good feel for when we're being deceived and when we aren't. If we can't trust that instinct then we can't trust any of it, I think, since that's all we really have to go on.
That and evidence of behaviour I guess.
It does suck that we're so good at deceiving ourselves, but that's where self-awareness comes into things.
Dad seemed to think that divining gender was a simple electro-magnetic thing. Scientific. He had little to say about asking questions and getting yes/no answers. Probably because I didn't ask him about it.
I haven't used the magnet on a string for a long time. For a while when I lived in Rosebud I lost my ability to use it. Along with my ability to make clouds dissipate. I ran into a skeptic who had more power over me than I realized; more power over me still I think than I would like but now I'm aware of that and I keep my walls politely up to protect myself. Before I realized that though, my faith was tested and my connection to the other side was a struggle and nothing that couldn't be explained rationally worked for me. I lost the magnet. It slipped from my mind altogether.
A few weeks ago I am cleaning the office and I find my magnet from all those years ago. Still on the green braided yarn string I made to keep it safe. It falls out of a box into my hand like it had never left. I try to see what it would say about Z. but she keeps trying to bite it, so I put it on the dresser and forget about it again.
Until this morning. It is stuck to my glasses case so I pick it up and began to play around with it like I used to. What gender of baby will my friends have next? A boy. Will I be an RVP within the next 5 years? Yes. Will I be an Area Manager in a year from now? No. By next GTC? Yes. Will S. and I get married? No, but when I ask if we'll be together for the rest of our lives it swings yes. Will I live past 60? Yes. Will Scott? No. Hmm. Will we have children? This confuses the magnet. First it says yes; on further questioning it says one boy and one girl; then two boys; then one boy; then no children at all. We will, however, have a theatre company together. That it seems pretty sure about.
A friend of ours read S.'s palm and said he'll live to be an old man and he'll have three daughters, with me. Who is right? I guess only time will tell.
I notice that sometimes when it swings yes it swings clockwise, and sometimes counter-clockwise. So I ask if those directions meant different things. Clockwise it swings. Does clockwise mean yes for certain? Clockwise. Does counter-clockwise mean a likely yes but not a certain one? It stays counter-clockwise. I test it by asking something I knew the answer to - clockwise it swings. Again I ask if I'll be an Area Manager by the next GTC. Counter-clockwise - likely but not certain.
Spoiler alert - if you haven't read The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, skip this next paragraph.
I recently re-read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. In that series the main character, Lyra, uses a form of divination to determine the truth of things past, present and future. She learns that a substance called Dust is on the 'other side' as it were, answering the questions. The Dust also answers questions through the I Ching. Presumably it uses all forms of divination, but those were the only two mentioned in the books. The Dust is later revealed to be fallen angels. If I hadn't read the series it probably never would have occurred to me to ask who was answering my questions. It certainly had never occurred to me before.
Are you what Lyra refers to as Dust?
Am I dealing with a spirit?
Is that spirit neutral?
Is that spirit good?
Is that spirit evil?
Was my mother right about this?
Yes, she definitely was.
Was my father right about this?
I continue to ask questions. Are you accurate? Mostly. Is your aim to harm me? No. Is your aim to hurt me? Yes. Can you hurt me? Yes. Can you harm me? No.
The distinction is important - hurt is temporary. You can recover from hurt. Hurt is a burn. Harm though. Harm is a bigger deal. Harm is something that takes a lot of time and potential therapy to recover from. Abuse is harm. And hurt. Anyway. The magnet clearly understands the difference.
Should I as a Christian stop messing around with this?
I put the magnet back on the dresser and go upstairs.
I wonder how honest the spirit on the other side is but I'm not sure if I'll go ask.
I might just use that magnet to find stray needles from now on.