My Thoughts on Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher

I received an unexpected review copy in the post from Weiser Books, for a book I was completely unaware of. The title in question is Casting Lots: Ancient Hebrew Divination Magic by EliSheva Nesher.

I have a fondness for various forms of divination, with years of practical and sometimes professional use of tarot, oracle, and standard suited (playing) cards, and middling skills in the casting of runes. While this is a book I would generally pass over, I was intrigued and quite pleased to receive it. Before I share my thoughts, here is the publisher’s pitch:

“In Casting Lots, Elisheva Nesher does not just present the system of using the aleph-beit to cast lots for spiritual guidance and wisdom, she also shows the range of divine beings and spiritual practices in ancient Canaan/Israel, as well as the modern polytheist revival. There is a warmth and generosity here towards all sides that we all can learn from.” —Rachel Pollack, author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and A Walk Through the Forest of Souls
Lots are an ancient Hebrew form of divination and magic that may also be used for healing, blessing, cursing, meditation, and spiritual interaction. A set of lots contains twenty-two small discs, each one bearing one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In a manner similar to runes, these lots are then cast and interpreted. Though lots were once so common that explanations of how to cast them were unnecessary, over the centuries their methods and uses fell into obscurity.
In this practical guide, author and seer Elisheva Nesher has reconstructed the ancient art of lot casting for modern times. Her book contains explanations for each of the twenty-two lots and explores their meanings, both mystical and mundane. It also includes detailed instructions on how to cast, as well as craft your own set of lots. In addition to divination, Casting Lots explores the magical gifts of the lots as well as how to use them to contact and interact with the Hebrew spirits, such as Asherah. A brief guide is included for those unfamiliar with these spirits.
Casting Lots is a complete instruction manual for mastering the art of lot casting.

First, I am a fan of Diana Paxson’s work, both as a Troth Elder and as fantasy author. To have her write the foreword and to speak so eloquently and fondly of Ms. Nesher, of her practice and friendship, was all the introduction I needed.

For all my history and occult interests and study, the Ancient Hebrews, those pre-Rabbinic peoples, were a bit of a blind spot for me. If nothing else, I appreciated the lessons gleaned from a fellow NeoPagan. Reconstructing a faith from historical scraps is a daunting challenge. And to see those similarities between cultures is an enlightening awakening.

I stated earlier how I might have passed this book by without a second glance. What a mistake that would have been. I am thankful to Weiser for sharing this work with me, and to the author for putting together such a thoughtful examination.

I truly appreciate books that make me think, not only about what the author is presenting and suggesting, but in how it might relate to my own journey and that is the gift that Casting Lots has given me.

Beyond the Casting of Lots, this book delves into polytheism, our connections to spirits, divinities, and preternatural intelligence, in to various forms of meditation which is all very insightful and illuminating. The book is full of wonderful surprises and I really am thrilled to have experienced it. I learned from it. What better praise can one levy upon a book they’ve read?

There’s nothing exceptional about the physical book itself. The cover, paper stock, graphic design, et al are fairly standard. I think it works in this case. No bells and whistles to distract from the message. It’s all about the content…

Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher is released today, the first of November, and is available wherever books are sold. Here is the AMAZON link. I certainly recommend it. It has a lot to offer.

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