I first encountered divination as a child. It came about as a result of the novel The Way of Wyrd, which led my father to an interest in runes. A rune set followed, in a charming little bag. While the rest of my family soon lost interest in runes, I stayed keen, and I learned how to read them.
As an aside, The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates has been an entry point into Paganism for a great many people over the years. And as a second aside, I had the rune set and book that I’ve since widely seen described as rather fantastical and not relevant to historical runes at all. Having read around on runes, I’ve ended up with an idiosyncratic way of reading, which works for me.
Divination can be a really appealing thing for children, both to experience it and as practitioners. I have done divination sessions in school contexts. It’s not easy reading a child’s future because they have so much potential. I had one very memorable child I read for where the whole cast was awful looking – which is the last thing you want to tell a child. I paused, drew breathe, looked at her, tried to find something appropriate to say… and then intuition struck.
“You’re going to be the sort of person who saves orphans or cares for sick animals or goes to war zones to rescue people, aren’t you?” I said.
She looked at me with big, serious eyes, and said yes, that was the sort of thing she was thinking of. I pointed out that this was a very hard kind of life, and she said she knew. It was a powerful moment, and I was struck then by her seriousness and courage. She’ll be an adult now, and I hope she’s doing well.
The difficulty with being a child doing divination is that you just don’t know enough about life to be confident about what you’re reading. I remember a reading I did as a young human for an adult friend of the family, and I could see there were some serious issues in her life and my feeling was that it was about the relationship she was in at the time, but I didn’t feel able to say what I thought and said some things about her workplace instead. I remember this, because I was entirely right about the relationship issues.
The important thing to remember with divination is that the future isn’t fixed in stone. What we get from a reading is a sense of where things might be going and what the options are. It’s a tool, not pronouncements from some rigid destiny. That’s why there’s room for interpretation, and what we each bring to the interpretation process is really important. If you’re doing divination for yourself, then how you interpret is part of how you’re choosing things should be. It can be a really good tool for problem solving and helping you figure stuff out.
It’d be wary of putting a rune set or a tarot deck in the hands of a child. These are powerful tools and can be scarily accurate, in my experience. It can however be a lot of fun learning about the many different forms of divination out there, and many of the simpler tools are fine to play with under supervision. The important thing is to never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to.
What I would recommend for children is oracle decks – you can get a feel for them fairly easily. Something with art the child likes, and an uplifting set of interpretations can be ideal. It’s a way of making a little magic in a day without doing anything overwhelming.