January 20, 2022

Use your Favorite Book to Inspire your next Journal Entry:  how bibliomancy might spark insight and awareness

Bibliomancy  (pronounced: bib·li·o·man·cy) is an ancient technique where you open a book, often a sacred text, to any random page and stop at any verse or passage in the hopes that it will bring you the answer to a question.

When used in conjunction with your journal, the passage that jumps out at you can be used as a springboard for your next journal entry. 

For this technique, it is helpful to choose a book that you have read multiple times or a book that you find enlightening or inspiring in some way.  Many people like to choose a religious book; however, both fiction and non-fiction books can work well. 

For this exercise, I chose a book that sits on my desk in my "essential inspiration" stack - one that I have read many times.  You could use this passage that jumped out at me or choose any book from your essential inspiration stack and see what happens.

The book is Big Magic - Creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.   I began this exercise by taking a deep breath, holding the book and asking for inspiration.  

I flipped through the pages and let it land very randomly on page 132.   I let me eyes land on the first words that jumped out at me.  

And this is what it said: 

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes you have to let it go. 

Tom Waits as quoted by, Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic, page 132

Copy that passage and then set a timer for 5 minutes...

Using the book and page that you randomly choose (or mine if that one feels right to you), spend five minutes writing whatever comes to mind as you respond to that passage.

If you get stuck, just write the quoted material again until a new thought or idea comes to you. 

Keep your hands moving as quickly as possible and try not to think too much about what you are writing or edit it during this process. 

You might read a bit more from the book for more context

After using that random passage for an initial springboard, you might go back to the book and read the next few paragraphs for more context and see if that applies at all to your situation.

In Big Magic, this section shares a lesson from a songwriter, Tom Waits, that she interviewed for GQ magazine.  He talks about writing songs and how children are able to use their creativity to make things up and then "toss them out like little origami things or paper airplanes." 

The passage talks about making creative work fun, not getting too attached to the outcome and trusting that you have an unlimited supply of creative ideas.  

Re-read what you wrote in your journal and gather insights

Take a moment and go back and read what you wrote in response to the passage that you choose randomly from the book.  

What do you notice? Is there anything that surprises you? 

Jot down an additional sentence or two about your insight by writing,  "As I read this, I notice..."

What I noticed was that I was able to easily identify things in my current to-do list of projects that "worked" and others that were solidly in the "doesn't work" category.

I noticed that I could let them go more easily and without guilt or judgment.

How did this work for you? 

Let me know if this technique worked for you by leaving a comment below.

If you found this helpful, subscribe to the journaling mailing list for more tips and prompts and get another simple, but effective technique that will help you get the most out of every month of the year. 

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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