Tuesday 15 March 2022

Interview: Jessica Howard & The Art of Lithomancy

Jessica Howard is the author of Pagan Portals - The Art of Lithomancy, which is due out towards the end of this spring. I talked to her about her background in paganism, divination and other things:

Q: Please can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background in paganism?

A: I’m Jess, based in the UK, and I've been pagan for just over 20 years now. In that time I have explored many different paths and approaches - from kitchen witchcraft to ceremonial magick, I've loved trying new things and gaining an understanding of what works for me and building my own personal path. In the past few years I've felt very drawn to water witchcraft which is how I describe my practice now - and with divination being an association of the element of water, is very fitting for lithomancy! 

Q: Could you briefly explain the basics of lithomancy?

A: One of the things I love about lithomancy (but is also slightly frustrating) is the lack of historical evidence of the practice. Very little can be found as to how lithomancy has evolved, and while that lack of historical reference is frustrating, it also gives us a lot of room to play and form our own unique style of divination. Another great thing about lithomancy is that it is cheap. All you need are some stones from your garden to get going! 

There are three main types of lithomancy; the 'yes/no' method, the traditional method, or what I call the freestyle method. The 'yes/no' method is where you cast a minimum of two stones - one representing yes and one representing no - to get your answer. The traditional method contains 13, or sometimes 16 stones, each corresponding to different planetary influences and some other aspects such as your environment, fate, etc., and casting those. And freestyle sets are ones you make yourself! You can make your own general reading set, or a set specifically to give you guidance in relationship matters, your career, etc. 

Essentially no matter which of the three methods you use, you just need some stones with assigned meanings, then ask your question, cast your stones, and interpret their meaning. Lithomancy is what is referred to as a ‘visual and intuitive’ form of divination, in that we use our eyes to interpret the patterns in which the stones fall, and we use our intuition to interpret the messages of the stones. 

That's the very top level explanation - there is a lot more to it than that, especially if you are creating your own set. But lithomancy is cheap, allows us to be creative, can be as simple or as complicated as you would like, and is extremely effective. And most importantly, it’s fun!

Q: How did you become interested in this form of divination, how have you developed the practice and what led you to write the book?

A: I used to be a part of Rachel Patterson's Kitchen Witch Online School of Natural Witchery some years back. I attended a workshop she ran on lithomancy and was instantly hooked, so a big thanks to Rachel for introducing me to it! I’ve tried so many different forms of divination - tarot, oracle cards, pendulum dowsing, different types of scrying - but lithomancy was the one that really spoke to me. From that workshop, I just kept practising! Making my own sets, generally experimenting and seeing what worked and what didn’t work, and then performing weekly, monthly, and yearly readings as well as ones focused around specific questions for both myself and others to help strengthen my practice. I’m also interested in how lithomancy can be expanded and used in other areas of my more general magickal practices. For example, I also practice energy healing, and have designed a set which draws on the chakras and the elements to aid in identifying blockages and offer guidance on how to unblock those areas (which I go into more detail about in my book).

I decided to write this book because there is so little information out there on lithomancy. It is such a simple and cheap method of divination which allows us to be creative and build an effective practice based on our own personal symbology - I just wanted to get more information about it out there. I would love to see more of a community of lithomancy practitioners in the same vein as the tarot community - people sharing their sets, helping each other interpret readings, discussing tricks and tips that have helped them and such. So I’m hoping this book will introduce more people to lithomancy and help build more of that community that I myself would love to be involved in.

Q: If people are in learning do practice Lithomancy, apart from reading your book, what would you recommend they do?

A: Honestly, just give it a go! You can pick up stones from your garden, shells from the beach, use crystals you already have in your collection (among other things) to build your set so you don’t need to break the bank. I’m a big fan of walking the talk - reading books and browsing online is all well and good, but you won’t get anywhere near as much as you could do from it unless you actively try it out yourself. Agin, lithomancy can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it and it is a great form of divination for those who want to start small and build upon it as they learn and grow.

Q: What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

A: At the moment I am still on a mission to help others get into lithomancy - so writing articles, offering readings to others, and preparing competitions, useful guidance to share online, etc. More generally, I have another book out on Water Witchcraft (date tbc) so I’m going through the process of getting that through the publishers (and it contains a little bit of information on lithomancy). I am also in the process of creating a ton of training courses on different subjects - including lithomancy - to be released onto my website next year for free.

Q: Anything else I would like to say?

A: Honestly, I really would love to see more people using lithomancy and so if it is something you are interested in or if you ever have any questions, then do just pop me a message on instagram or through my website and I would be thrilled to help! I am very active online - I have my own website, www.thecottagemystic.com , and my Instagram @thecottagemysticwitch, and I am a moderator over at the UK Witches subreddit.

You can view The Art of Lithomancy on Amazon. It is published by Moon Books and will reach shops in May 2022.

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