Divination using a computer — can it be real?

When the idea of divination software first occurred to me (1987), even though I was not prejudiced against computers, I was concerned about whether PCs could truly be programmed to facilitate authentic I-Ching (and later Tarot) experiences for people. (I tell the whole story in my new book.)

This continues to be an issue for many Tarot fans even to this day, who sometimes ask me “Isn’t it necessary to feel the energy of the cards in your hands to get a real reading?” My response is to point out that cardboard is not really such a good conductor of energy, and that the real energy of Tarot is not in the cards but in the archetypal symbols, which represent potentialities inside of us, no matter how they are displayed outwardly.

Nevertheless, I had to prove it for myself that computers could aid and not obstruct real divination — and I was a bit obsessed to find the truth of the matter — which is why I spent most of my life savings to develop an I-Ching software program in 1988. At the time, my friends thought I was nuts!

For some karmic reason, it was vitally important to me to find out. I wanted to be able to personally use the I-Ching discretely in the office (of the incredibly dysfunctional software company I worked for). But to invest so much in that seemed a bit crazy. I was doing it for a market of one (myself) … I certainly had no idea, intention or plan of starting a new industry!

I had the idea (and a manual I-Ching reading encouraged me) that it would be possible to program the computer to help in the process without hindering, to be a “transparent” technology — i.e. one that did not interfere with the user’s energetic connection to the way the coins landed (or which cards were picked in Tarot). In other words, I had to be careful not to let the computer take over the process and do too much.

As soon as my programmer, an artist and I completed the first multimedia I-Ching prototype, I used it and fell in love with it. Why? Because it was energetically true … and best of all it worked! Soon after that I threw caution to the wind, quit my high-paying job, and started Visionary in order to share my invention with the world. I had no business plan and almost no capital, and little did I realize that I would have so many sleepless nights flirting with bankruptcy for the next ten years. But even the suffering, it seems, was a necessary part of a slow-birthing manifestation process.

The important thing for me in the beginning was that I was able to prove that the concept was sound. My subsequent sense of mission about producing authentic software-facilitated divination led to the later realization that the internet could provide universal access to these sacred tools in an inexpensive way that really worked. And here we are!