O God, speak to me through yarrow stalks

How does God speak to us? Let us say he speaks in our minds and we must worry no more about it. Except I will worry because that is me.

I am speaking in my own mind right now as I form these words and type them. Somewhere in my Wernicke’s area, some chemical magic is doing something that I perceive as language. Does the Holy Spirit enter my brain and stir that soup?

Let us say he speaks in our hearts. I feel good. I feel happy. Does the Holy Spirit know how to fire up endorphins?

Let us now say that I find the words of God hard to hear when I must rely on my mind and my heart alone. I do not know what is me and what is he. My mind is noise. I want something tangible.

So let us say that I pray that the yarrow stalks I cast will lead me to some oracle grounded in an ancient ink, not mind “ink” but real ink on real paper. If he can reach in and whisper to my neurons, would he also whisper to the stalks?

Thus I create my hexagram. Two lines are changing and lead to another. 觀(guān) leads to 訟 (sòng). I consult the oracle and my mind now finds a language not my own to which the Holy Spirit can now lay anchor.

“Speak to me in human words.” The occult words of the I Ching?


  1. D. Fletcher says:

    I don’t know about you, but I definitely think Joseph Smith often mixed up his own ideas (like a true genius) with the revelations of the Lord, probably to the Lord’s great frustration.

  2. Rituals can be fun.

  3. Fun? It’s the only way I ever “feel the spirit.”

  4. “If he can reach in and whisper to my neurons, would he also whisper to the stalks?”

    Exactly! I think it was James E. Faust who said God doesn’t make things so unequivocally clear as to negate the need for faith, but I want to know why God has to make the divine and mundane so mixed up as to be inscrutable.

    I see the lack of God’s involvement in the world, and I comfort myself with the belief that God enters the world through consciousness (Steven Peck writes about this). However, though our brains are more than the sum of their parts, they are still made of water, ions, and organic molecules. If I accept God’s ability/willingness to intervene in consciousness, does it make any sense to excuse absence everywhere else?

  5. #seerstones #rodofnature

  6. David Day says:

    Read something recently from Ben Spackman on this: After breakfast, I do not consult my hot chocolate mug for inspiration. But Joseph of Egypt might well have done so, and God may well have spoken to him that way because it was the cultural expectation. D&C 1:24 allows for just that kind of thing. Joseph Smith, his family, and the general culture of his day were generally much more broad in their conceptions of how God might communicate to them than we are today, by means of dreams and visions, but also by divining rods, seer stones, and other things.

    But I do think that Western post-Enlightenment culture which we all absorb from birth makes it difficult to maintain more than lip-service faith in revelation, so that the only means culturally left to us is either nearly-imperceptible “being moved on by the Spirit” or full-on divine/angelic visitation. (And even then, we might wonder about our sanity

    Now that I’ve wet your appetite, the link is here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/benjaminthescribe/2014/03/gospel-doctrine-lesson-12-genesis-40-the-end/

  7. melodynew says:

    And if God speaks to us all in more ways than we can number, shall we rejoice and weep together? Yes, we shall.

    This is lovely. Thanks RJH.

  8. D.Fletcher,

    You presuppose that JS and his own thoughts are external to the divine message! This interpretation is the modern, transcendental one in which material objects are represented while intentional objects, and intentional objects alone (words, concepts, etc.) are representers. Most traditional or “pre-modern” tribes do not think like this at all, opting instead for a naturalistic interpretation in which material objects are both represented and representers.

    More plainly, you assume that JS and his thoughts stand apart from and interpret a message rather than being a part of the message itself. In the later case, JS’s audience would literally be communicating with God and therefore thinking through JS himself.

    Here is the basic point from Steve Fuller’s Social Epistemology:

    “[T]he (transcendental) anthropologist focused on divination as a self-contained practice, and consequently found the shaman’s ad hoc reasoning about the animal parts to increase the level of systemic disorder, since it seemed to complicate the implicit rules of divination for no apparent reason except to save the particular case. In contrast, the savages situated the shaman’s reasoning in a larger system of representation, namely, one which included not only the animal parts, but the shaman himself, as representings. The question for them, then, was whether to complicate their interpretation of how divination works or their interpretation of how the shaman works. The savages decided on the former, which effectively increased the level of theoretical mediation required for an observer to understand divination, since now not only must he grasp overt regularities in the practice, but he must also know those crucial junctures when deviation is allowed. One consequence of this move is to place more authority in the hands of the shaman over the interpretation of his own actions.” (Section 2.2)

    All too common I see people presupposing the transcendental approach in which a prophet must do their best to place aside their own cultural conditioning in order to read a divine message and then do their best to relay this message to the church without further contaminating it. This creation of a “problem of interpretation” out of thin air is, I insist, totally wrong. Instead, the prophet and his cultural conditioning are themselves part of the message which the church must continually renegotiate its relationship with.

  9. Mysterious and beautiful, RJH. Than, you!

  10. On the mission, we would pray together over a map of our city, and the one who had the spirit would circle a finger over the map until it made contact with a particular place. Sometimes we found fantastic people in those sacred places. I really miss those days.

  11. David Day, I’ve been thinking of that passage from Ben’s post every since I read it a couple weeks ago. I recently read through this book ( https://bycommonconsent.com/2015/12/20/book-review-a-global-testimony/ ) and it really hit me that, in cultures where visions, dreams, and miracles are expected, they happen.

    I challenged my Gospel Doctrine class to figure out how exactly we allow the Lord to speak to us…the conclusions I’ve come to in my own life are not particularly encouraging.

  12. Mary Lythgoe Bradford says:

    I really do enjoy these Inks and Links!!

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