I worked at a Wicca store for a few years, and almost every customer I met ended up playing with the Magic 8-Ball by the cash register. It brings back warm fuzzy memories from childhood.
I saw people asking it questions all day long and laughing at the answers it gave. A toy? Yes. Explainable? Yes. Then why is everyone nodding as they laugh at it? Why are they laughing with something that has no inherent magick in it?
Because the 8-Ball is an underappreciated oracle that operates on the same principle as Tarot, Runes, Pendulums, Bibliomancy, or any divinatory tool.
Take Tarot. I've given hundreds of readings over the past 20 years. What the petitioners often tell me (or their companions) is that they learned stuff they already knew; stuff they were vaguely aware of, but only on a subconscious level. Not DIScovery, but REcovery.
Pendulums, and dowsing rods work on the same principle just translated into your muscles. A pendulum is nothing more than an amplifier. You have the inherent ability to find water, your Will or North.
You ask the bob a question, but you are really asking yourself the question, in the form of your body. The fine muscles of your hand and wrist will respond subconsciously (via your peripheral nervous system) and Wisdom will rise and break the surface tension of Reality.
That’s the cool thing about Magic 8 balls and the pendulum –
nothing is hidden. Everyone can see and
understand exactly what is going on. There is no illusion - but there is
evidence of a force outside of normal reality. Not stage magic, but real magick.
In dowsing it’s obvious that the petitioner’s hand is moving, causing the pendulum to move. It’s just that the petitioner is not consciously moving their hand.
Switch the pendulum bob with the Magic 8 Ball and the same principle is enacted: A tool that takes your question and bounces it off your inherent witchiness.
Bibliomancy is closer to the heart of the 8-Ball phenomenon. Bibliomancy is about as simple as it gets: You just open a book at random and read the first thing your eyes fall on. It acts as a catalyst for your subconscious; it shocks your opinions to the surface.
So, you ask the 8-Ball a question and it shoots back a random answer. Dumb, right? Far from it. The randomness is the key. It's the ricochet off Chaos that connects your conscious and unconscious minds. I've watched many folks actually argue with the little globe of plastic and water. They ask it, "Should I quit my job?", and then they turn it over.
"My sources say no."
"No? What do you know? I hate my job!"
So the next time you play with a Magic 8-Ball, try a little respect. It doesn't know anything, but you know more than you're letting on. Together, you just may learn something.
Oh, and one more thing: Shaking it harder will not make that cute boy at school notice you.