In this week's installment in our Meet our Readers series David Spellsinger tells us about his completely unique divination tools and how they came to be.
If someone has never had a reading with you what can they expect?
First of all, I don't believe in fortune telling. I don't believe anyone can know the future because it's not fixed. Just because I read it in stones, as my grandmother used to say, does not mean it's written in stone. It's a changeable path you're on and I see ahead of you a little bit maybe and I see the bigger picture, I just back away and see from a wider angle. I believe a person is going to get the most out of a reading with me if they are honest with me about what they need and what they want. I think of myself first and foremost as a spiritual advisor. I was trained by my grandmother not to tell people better things than what I see. She told me that If i see something is going to be a disaster i need to tell them, but tell them what to do to make it not a disaster. Tell them what path to take.
You mentioned your grandmother, is that how you got started?
Oh yeah totally, I mean I think through my brother and those who knew me as a child literally I had a reputation for being psychic because I would know who was going to call before they called or relatives who were going to die before they died. it's not just the bad things, the deaths and all that but good things as well. I would just know things that's how I make a lot of my musings and proclamations I just know. It's not the stones or the cards or the runes, I do use them, they are tools not just props. When I contact my spirit guides, I don't exactly hear a voice. I let my imagination be a medium with which they connect to me. That's another one of the lessons I learned from my grandmother, people with good imaginations are your best seers. And I said how do you tell the difference between something you are making up and something that's real? She said you have to take that risk or you'll never get anything. Turning off your imagination is like turning off your tv and expecting to see the news. Your imagination is the means through which your unconscious or subconscious mind, which is the part of you that is in tune with the connectedness of all things speaks to you. I don't really think of myself as someone who spirits are talking to or gods or higher beings or anything like that, it's the mind which I believe all the gods and all of those things are coming from. People underestimate what the mind is and where it stops and where it begins.
It reminds me of the Lon Milo Duquette quote “ It is all in your head… you just have no idea how big your head is”.
Yeah I like that quote, I don't think I know that one, it's very appropriate. My grandmother sat me down to teach me that very principle. She said close your eyes and imagine you are standing in a field now tell me what you see. I said “I saw a field of wheat or something and I'm standing and I can't see over it very well but it goes on for a long time”. She said “Now I want you to take off running. Now if you keep running and keep running are you ever going to run into the inside of your skull?” I laughed and said no, she said ‘You'll never run into anything you can't run around and keep going. You could run around the world.'' The point of that exercise is that there is no finite limit to the mind. It was an important lesson that I still use and it opened my mind to a lot of things. I'm very interested in psycho cybernetics and theoretical physics. I tell every one of my students they need to see down the rabbit hole. That’s the one movie ill recommend to a lot of people that aren't really heavy readers to get an understanding of magic and mysteries. Its an incredible primer to get you into the mindset.
You mentioned different tools that you have and use. Can you go into detail about what you use in a reading on how you use them?
I have my grandmother’s Cherokee spirit stones. She passed these on to me when I had scarlet fever at age seven. the doctors had pulled the sheet over my head and actually signed the death certificate. And that was back when doctors still made house calls. I'm told that after they signed the death certificate my grandmother came in saying that i wasn't really gone and the spirit was telling her to call me back. They were not allowing her into the room though because my other grandmother was a devout Jehovah's witness and she thought that she had evil pagan beliefs and wouldn't allow her anywhere near me. She climbed in through the window and they heard her voice and there she was with me sitting up in her arms. She was chanting in Cherokee and I was holding the medicine bag that she had come in to put under my pillow. The doctor said “ok he's alive obviously, but he'll probably never speak, he was brain dead for over 55 minutes. He probably won't be able to walk” and they tell me I opened my mouth right then and started chattering about white lights and a man with a long white beard who said I couldn't go yet because he and I still have work to do in this world. And that stuff you hear about with near death experiences meeting a Jesus figure or Moses or in my case I think maybe Merlin. I don't remember any of it but these are things they have told me my whole life. In my grandmothers mind it meant i had to be a shaman because in cherokee tradition everything is 7 everything is in numbers of seven .there are seven cherokee clans and so on 7 is the sacred cherokee number, or was, and um in her tradition if you met death in anyway even close to death much less being considered dead and you survive it somehow that is a mark of a shaman you have to become a shaman. I came up to her a few days later and she was sitting at a tree stump and she had all of these stones, all 49 of them and she shushed me and said “Be quiet and wait, this is about you”. So I sat down and waited and she reached in with her eyes closed and grabbed a stone, looked at it and laughed. It was the shaman/magician stone. So she pulled out the stone and it answered her question so she said ok, i'm giving you seven of these stones right now and she gave me the first seven. They are the seven elements and they are the base of the whole system. She said this is your first lesson then but she determined i would be 49 by the time I learned all the stones because you learned seven stones every seven years. That's how it was done. But by the time I was 14 she had said she wasn't going to be around long enough to teach me all of them at the right times. She was going to teach me the rest that summer. And she was gone two more years after that. I think I put them in a sock like you would with a bunch of marbles and put it in a drawer. They stayed there for years and when I got older and decided I wanted to do more in this field, she appeared to me in a dream and said I couldn't use the stones, not until she said it was ok. You should get yourself some cards. I can remember her reading playing cards and I had learned from watching her and my grandfather how to read them. But I was fascinated by Tarot and I am an artist, I wanted to be a comic book artist so by the time I turned 18 I had drawn this deck of Tarot cards. One of the things that's kind of swell when you are getting a read from me is I have a tarot deck that nobody else has. I drew these one one sheet of poster board and cut them out and laminated them with clear sheets of shelf lining paper. Just some watercolor markers and even some crayon.
And that's just the majors?
Just the major arcana, which is the way it was normally done. Originally it was just the decks of 22 major arcana and eventually it was merged with more standard playing cards as well to make a larger deck. I also don't read the reverse meaning which is also how it was done originally; they only read in an upright form. I also have another deck that I designed completely myself, this takes the tarot, you can see somethings that are very tarot like you can see the sun and the moon but these are based on the seven elements like the Cherokee spirit stones they are 49 cards and they are someway relevant to the 49 stones. I also mixed in the runes and the I Ching which I started reading before I started learning tarot or drew my tarot deck. I started reading I Ching because of my interest in martial arts as it is an Asian divination tool. It's a very personal combination of ideas and practices and expresses who I am and what my worldview is.
Well I first started illustrating this in ‘82. My first version was a little dark, I had just come out of a homeless period and divorce and a lot of negative things that gave me a darker view on life. I was doing a reading and someone asked “why are your cards so dark?'' So I started drawing this one a few years later in ‘84. I had already gotten a bit lighter by then.so these are from '84, my tarot deck is from ‘79 and the spirit stones go back to when I was seven but they had been in use for a long time before that.. When I do reading I use the spirit stones a little bit occasionally. I get a few people who don't like the stones. In that case I'll use the cards.