5 Tips for Honing Your Discernment Skills
Sometimes witchcraft is tough. How do we know its working? How do we know such and such spirit we are working with is what we think it is? How do we know when certain meditative insights are legitimate or appropriate for our path? The answer lies in developing and honing our skills of discernment to accurately judge what is just our ego or true spiritual insight.
What is Discernment?
Discernment is usually defined as the ability to judge well. This also falls into the idea of determining the difference between fact and fiction. In the context of spirituality and witchcraft it is meant to refer to one’s ability to tell apart one’s imagination and ego from spiritual truths.
To hone one’s discernment skills can help tremendously in one’s witchcraft and spiritual paths.
For a witch, discernment comes down to being able to judge when something magical is transpiring from the work we put in and when something is a mere coincidence. If one is a spirit worker and dealing with deities and other spirits, it comes down to judging between one spirit and another or whether a message from our deity is what they really said and not our own ego.
For some, this skill comes pretty easy. Whether due to innate skepticism to keep themselves in check, or having spent time practicing early on in their path, they are able to trust their intuitions and subsidize it when other discernment techniques.
For others though, they need just a bit more help in honing their ability to accurately discern things in their magical and spiritual practice. Learning a few skills can help in improving this. The following tips are some ways to work on building up your discernment skills in your practice.
Ask for Signs
One of the first methods I learned for discernment is to ask for a sign from the Universe or from a trusted spirit or deity. This is as simple as spending a quick moment in prayer or meditation and sending a request out for a specific sign to confirm something.
I prefer to ask for a sign for a specific sign to ensure I am not just looking at the first thing that happens coincidentally as the sign. I also like to ask for a sign or symbol of something that is “off-season” or else something that rarely occurs in conversation, television, or online browsing. An example of something off-season is images or mentions of snow in the summertime. My spirits then have to work a little harder to confirm the thing I am asking about rather than it just becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another tips when asking for a sign is to specify a timeframe and number of signs. I usually shoot for a minimum of three occurrences of the symbol within three days, but you can shorten or increase the length of time and increase the number of occurrences too.
If you aren’t sure if this worked the first time, you can always try again with a new sign after the old one expired. This can be helpful if you think you made the first sign too easy or difficult and want to try again or else you want to rephrase and see if the answer is consistent. However, once you do this three times, it is probably best to take a step back and try another method or accept the answer you previously received.
Whether with tarot, oracle cards, pendulums, runes, or another divination method, this can be a wonderful and relatively easy method to help with honing your discernment skills. Whichever tool you use, you will want to be familiar with it enough before using it for discernment.
One way to use divination for discernment is simply ask your preferred tool about the issue in question. This will then involve you reading and interpreting the tool for your answer. Using simple layouts like "problem, situation, and advice" can work well. Or even simpler with pulling a single card message.
You can also try yes and no spreads with cards. While most tarot decks don't have cards that specifically give yes or no answers, I have done a five or seven card spread to get a yes or no response. If its a deck that I read reversals with I will designate upright cards as yes and reversed cards as no. If there are more upright cards in the layout, then the answer is yes and vice versa. The other way I do this if I don't read with reversals with that deck is designating Major Arcana as yes and Minor Arcana as no. There are less Major Arcana so if the majority of the five or seven cards ends up being mostly majors then I know its a bit strong of a yet answer.
You can use a pendulum for yes/no questions too, but be mindful of whether your personal will is taking over when asking questions. Consider using a secondary method of discernment as well if using the pendulum.
Questioning spiritual insights and input is a good way to work on discernment if you are little more mentally oriented and need to process by thinking or writing through things. For this method, it will help to have paper or a journal (your book of shadows works well) and something to write with. Recording the process is helpful as it will give you something to look back on to verify your line of questioning and ability to discern.
Start asking questions about the situation. Am I wanting this thing to be true because it will give me an ego boost? If so, why do I want that? If not, is it something that is good for me? If not, why would such and such spirit ask this of me? If it is good for me, am I scared of doing it? Is this something that I am rejecting because I am afraid? Why does it make me afraid? Is this something that I am rejecting because I am not ready to hear it? Why or why not? Is this intuitive feeling just my IBS acting up or did I not drink enough water today? Am I worrying about the outcome of my spell work because I am super invested in its outcome or am I worried about repercussions? And so on.
Free write your answers. Some of the questions that you might end up asking yourself will generate intuitive, gut responses. Others will require you to ask more questions to dive deeper. Just keep going to delve further.
Some questions should even be focused on double checking on your physical well being too. Sometimes that weird feeling is just the fact that you might have forgotten to eat or drink enough water today.
Regardless, writing down the questions and answers can help you process through things and make a more accurate judgment of what is going on in your spiritual practice.
Trust and Practice
One thing about discernment is learning to trust your intuition and psychic abilities and that trust often comes from practice. Learn some practice techniques for the various intuitive and psychic abilities you have and schedule some time to practice them. The more you develop them, the easier it is to trust your ability to discern correctly from your ego and true insights.
Practice some form of meditation that works for you and your personal practice. This is one of the more recommended ways of getting in touch with your intuition, so try finding a method that works for you.
This can be one of the tougher tips. Figure out a way to make time in your daily practice to work on a technique to strengthen your intuition and your discernment skills. It can start as part of your daily morning ritual or something done once a week on a free day. But practice.
Ask a Friend
Finally, when still in doubt or questioning whether you are influencing the results of divination or asking for signs, consider asking a friend for help. If they read cards, they may pull out their deck and ask the cards for you or use another discernment method. Either way, a friend can help you question and work through the process of discerning spiritual events in your life. It could even be as simple as reminding you to trust the process or check in with whether it is coming from the ego.
When asking a friend, give as much or as little information as you see fit. Also consider who you are asking help from. Some folks mean well but can color their interpretation based on what they think you should be doing regardless of the actual messages. It takes some skill at discerning the right people to ask for help too, but that can aid too in strengthening your discernment in general too.
Learning how to accurately discern in your spiritual practice can take time. It will not be an overnight thing, but the more you work on it the more easily it is to trust your intuition and psychic insights and how successful your magic is.