Jonathan Edwards has a new workshop on the horizon; Participants will learn to navigate the world of divination and to decipher the signs provided by the universe. In the interview below he talks about what we can expect from this new series, the role divination plays in his work as a healer, and how plants can be our guides through the realms of dreams and symbols.
"Divination Games" sounds fun and mysterious. What are they?
It's a good question. Divination is an old-fashioned word for how we can provoke the universe into furnishing us with signs and symbols to guide us along our path in life. This work, which is also play, is growing out of an interest in the power of randomness to open a space for meaningful coincidence. If you've ever had a really on-point Tarot reading or picked up just the right book at the right time, you have a sense of what I mean. Why the games? Zen teacher Suzuki said "what we're doing here is so important, we better not take it too seriously." I've found the best way to go deep is to take a playful approach. I've developed several simple games. Some are based more on words, some on pictures. One of them is a map-making game, a kind of psychological cartography.
How and where did your divination practice take shape?
It's been quite a winding road that's led me to this stuff! With quite a few left turns along the way (laughs). In a nutshell, I found that when I would experiment with a random process (like flipping coins to consult the I Ching), really interesting things tend to come up. So much so that it's sometimes a little scary--like, what's going on here? Who's talking to me? It's difficult to explain...it's like you're making use of a quantum loophole in the fabric of reality, to access messages from...somewhere else. Maybe it's the ancestors giving us hints, maybe it's our higher self or a future version of us like in the movie Interstellar. I don't really know. But it works amazingly well, and I've come to trust the process as a way of navigating my own life. It's led me to some incredible experiences. And so naturally I want to share these tools with others and empower folks to tap into this incredible source of guidance and wisdom.
Does this work influence your practice as an acupuncturists and herbalist at Brooklyn Acupuncture Project?
Yeah, both directly and indirectly. Directly in that I'll occasionally bust out the I Ching and do a reading with a patient, especially when there's a strong psycho-spiritual element to what's going on. Indirectly in that doing divination really led me down a rabbit hole, and that journey has had a strong influence on how I see the world and, by extension, how I practice in the clinic. .
Learning from plant teachers sounds like it's going to be difficult. How will we do that?
Coming from a secular, western family background, I was skeptical for a long time too. But I've come around to realize that we have everything we need--our five senses, our intuition--to communicate with plants directly. They're alive, they're intelligent, they have gifts and message for us. One goal of my work is to help people get back into direct relationship with nature, including the plants. Practically speaking, it's about sitting with plants, tasting them, and paying attention to what we experience. Some may get info through imagery, some more through bodily sensations, some through thought patterns. It's all potentially valid.
In the context of the divination games series, we'll work with a couple of plants that have a special resonance with this work. Mugwort is known for helping us access the world of dreams and symbols, to get into our non-linear brains. And Yarrow is an amazing ally for helping us get aligned with our life's work: to understand what that work is and to actually walk the walk. We'll invoke these teachers as patrons of sorts, we won't focus so much on the plants but they'll be there, guiding and directing us at every step of the way.
What inspired you to offer this series?
I want to share the joy and excitement that I've found in tapping into my gifts and passions and in clarifying my life's work. Hopefully people will walk away inspired, with many of their inner questions answered, and with fun and flexible tools for continuing the process as they go through life.
Why only 6 people per session? Why make it such an exclusive engagement?
I want to keep it intimate for the sake of having a safe, supportive group container. Without a container this kind of work can't really happen at all.