Divination is an ability of witches to gain insight on the future, the present, and the past. Witches commonly use this power to predict future catastrophic event and reading ones past. This power has been practiced through a variety of mediums such as tarot cards, pendulums, mirrors, crystal balls, tea leaves, palm reading, bones, runes, blood, and some even involve contacting the Spirits and the Ancestors.
Other supernatural beings, such as sphinxes, also called Oracles, have some prophetic abilities to see into future event.
Automatic writing or psychography is the psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source.
In Friday Night Bites, Bonnie was obsessed with three numbers, and kept on thinking and writing unconsciously 8, 14, and 22 on the pages of her notebook instead of listening to the lesson. These numbers proved to be prophetic when professor William Tanner's corpse was found in school parking near building number 8. One of the parked cars had 14 on the license plate, and 22 was the number of the parking lot where the corpse was found. This occurrence proved that automatic writing may be unconsciously activated and used to predict events.
In Heart Shaped Box, the Sisters Coven witches have used automatic writing to spy on the private conversation between Davina Claire and Kol Mikaelson by linking their consciousness to the Hand of Glory used to evoke the spirit of Kol Mikaelson.
- Main article: Seer
Foresight is a form of divination to get visions through force of will that sometimes allow the eyes of the prophet become white or blue in color. That power, of course, is mastered by seers, but is accessible to all witches through spells and rituals if they know how to trigger the vision.
Notable examples of foresight are visions obtained by means of localization or the prophecies, such as the one made by the former Regent Josephine LaRue to Hayley Marshall-Kenner by warning her about the shadows that threaten her future (Dahlia); or the forecast that the seer Alexis has made the destruction of Mikaelsons family. Bonnie Bennett is known for having predicted several events, from the death of Heath Ledger to Obama's election, up to premonition of the arrival of Damon Salvatore in the city.
In An Old Friend Calls, the current Regent Vincent Griffith got a vision sent to him by the Ancestors on the hiding place of the white oak bullet. During this vision, the man's eyes have paled and saw exactly where the White oak bullet was.
Hydromancy is a divination skill to gain visions by means of water or other liquids.
The extremely powerful witch, Dahlia, has used the blood collected in a stone bowl to spy on her enemies. Ariane, a witch from the Sisters, has plunged herself along with Elijah Mikaelson in a pool to create a link with the Original Vampire and read his mind, as well as glimpses into his past and future in a matter of seconds.
- Main article: Spells and Rituals#Locator Spells
This type of divination is widespread among witches all over the world and seems to be one of the most used divination spells.
By using a map and a personal item, a witch can locate the exact spot where an object, a person or whatever desired is localized. Sometimes this action calls for a spoken incantation or for the use of candles or other agents that help the concentration of the witch, sometimes they just need a map and sand or blood (from the person or relative they are tracking) to be dropped on the map and that will magically move to the target's point as the spell is chanted.
However, locator spells can be blocked using equally powerful cloaking spells, preventing the target's location from being found.
Sometimes the witch can see the location hosting her target in her/his mind as a vision, especially if it is a powerful witch such as Freya Mikaelson.
The ability to see, talk and interact with ghosts and spirits. Many witches in both series have shown to have this power even if generally it requires a spell or a ritual known as Séance, where the deceased is summoned inside a circle of salt or chalk, usually by using a personal object of the spirit to be summoned. Some humans, known as Mediums, in particular conditions (i.e. near-death experiences or resurrected), have acquired psychic abilities that allow them to interact with ghosts.
A Ouija Board is a board printed with letters, numbers, and other signs, to which a planchette or movable indicator points, supposedly in answer to questions from people at a séance. Is a recurring theme in novels, where both Elena Gilbert and Bonnie McCullough used one to communicate with spirit entities.
Osteomancy is a set of divination skills that uses bones, whether animal or human, to gain prophetic visions of past or future events.
Dahlia utilized a bowl of bones to divine that Esther had turned her children into barren monsters through the vampirism spell in order to spite her for taking Freya.
The pendulum is a jewel or a crystal hanging from a thread or a chain that is oscillated over a surface, a map or a person and the witch draws responses from the pendulum swings.
Freya used a pendulum to detect Rebekah during a locator spell, making magically swing a big marker on some maps, without success due to a powerful counter-spell which was hiding Rebekah's body. In Heart Shaped Box, Freya has again used her special large pendulum to trace Aurora de Martel, twirling the object over a map while performing the spell.
Tasseomancy, also known as Tasseography or "reading tea leaves" is an ancient practice that originated in the East. This practice consists in the interpretation of the pattern that the tea leaves forms inside a cup after sipping tea and draw from them prophetic responses.
There are 78 tarot cards in a tarot deck with two parts to it: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The most popular tarot deck used today is the "Rider-Waite Deck". A simple way to use divination with tarot cards is to shuffle the deck and ask a yes or no question. According to Vincent Griffith, the cards are symbolic but can help a witch to find common clues.
In Wild at Heart, the witch Ariane uses Tarot cards to represent each of the major member of The Strix and point out the traitor, who was represented by "The Hanged Man" card while the others were depicted as "The Knight of Pentacles".
In Bag of Cobras, Vincent used a tarot deck to identify those who were allied with The Hollow among the guests at Mikaelsons' party. After channeling energy and infusing it into the cards, he laid out the cards for a reading. A recurring theme on the cards (The Hanged Man, Death, The Magician and the Seven of Swords) was a snake, thus directing Vincent and Klaus to someone identified with this symbol.
In One Wrong Turn On Bourbon, the witch Ivy, also known as the "Greatest Seer of New Orleans" and the "Oracle of Jackson Square," provided insightful tarot readings for Vincent. Her tarot readings were quite impressive, consisting of cards floating in midair before creating spreads on their own, or a deck of cards catching fire and leaving only the useful cards. Ivy also gave both positive and negative meaning to some cards. According to her, the Sun card is a sign of good health and abundance, the Temperance card means peace and the Chariot card is for triumph and success. In addition, the Hangman is for terrible sacrifice, the Devil for bondage and slavery and the Tower means a calamity. The Emperess, instead, represents a powerful woman.
In Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Vincent and Ivy settled a reading at the Lafayette Cemetery. Vincent turned over three cards: Battle, Cunning, and Loss. Ivy foretold that Klaus was grieving and desperate, but he wasn't erratic. He knew that if he pushes them, they'll revolt. The Seer added that Hayley will be lost and that Klaus was playing a larger game, walking a fine line. Shortly after, the Death card turned over by itself, foretelling the imminent death of the members of the Faction that Klaus kidnapped.
- Locator spells can be seen as a common form of divination.
- Divination was first seen in episode Friday Night Bites, when Bonnie unknowingly foresees Coach Tanner's death using the number 8, 14, and 22.
- The Tarot Card Vincent was using at Lafayette Cemetery were a variation of the Tarot of Marseilles deck, a famous French deck; this is appropriate since the witches of New Orleans have traces of French blood in the veins and often speak French Creole during their rituals.