I confess that when I’m struggling with an issue or looking for guidance, wisdom or just calm, I have always been a fan of various oracles and methods of divination. And I don’t mean the fortune teller at a street fair years ago, who looked at my palm and told me I would have nine children.

I know, this topic may sound a little nutty to some of you. But take it from a science-loving skeptic: when life feels overwhelming, these are the tools that have helped me focus, find clarity, stay mindful and often feel more empowered and in control of my life.

Even my kids love them.

So here, I’m sharing 4 of my favorites.

May one of these methods of divination be a small investment in helping you find the positivity and strength within — that nudge you really need when the going gets tough.

CMP is an Amazon and rstyle affiliate

1. Runes

Viking runes: A positive, thoughtful method of divination to provide guidance and clarity

I am someone completely devoted to science, facts and logic — which may sound counterintuitive, but it’s actually how I came to love Ralph Blum’s The Book of Runes so much.

This is something I purchased — wait for it — for a college physics course on divination methods and alternate ways of knowing. In other words, scientific proof that there are many ways to “know” things, even if they seem beyond our comprehension. And one of them is runes.

These little Scrabble-like tiles with Norse symbols are so positive and clarifying that they always make me feel better. Draw one or lay them out in a spread for clarification on an issue you’re facing (money, relationships, family, health). What you can’t ask is, “will I win the lottery?”

Sorry, it’s not a fortune teller.

For years, I’ve started each new year drawing a single rune and asking what I need to know for the year ahead. Sometimes it’s Strength, reminding me that sometimes opportunity is disguised as loss; or Gateway, the rune of non-action, suggesting that I look at how I can work on myself and let go of my past before seeking results.

I should mention that while it does mention “the divine,” that can mean whatever you want it to mean; whether God or the greater powers of the universe, or just your own inner divinity.

The best part is that it’s wildly empowering and positive; every runic meaning, even those that may seem outwardly negative, is a reminder of your own power to manifest change or react to circumstances. In other words, we are never entirely at the mercy of our environments. I love that.

($14.50 from Amazon with free Prime shipping)

2. Medicine Cards

Medicine Cards by David Carson: A beautiful method of divination based on Native American animal totems + spiritual guidance

I know a lot of people who love Tarot cards, and more power to you, but they’ve never quite been for me. Years ago, my mother introduced me to medicine cards (specifically this beautiful set by Choctaw Nation member David Carson and lauded Seneca/Cherokee author Jamie Sams) and they resonate with me far more.

They’ve been referred to as Native American Tarot, but I find that an oversimplification.

Each card’s meaning is derived from indigenous peoples’ age-old understanding of spiritual knowledge, animal totems, respect for nature, and humans’ inextricable connection to the natural world that we often ignore in modern civilization.

Draw one of the 52 animal cards, each of which provides its own “medicine,” or lay them out in a spread, and see what wisdom you may be needing to hear.

If you happen to cross paths with one of these animals — a bear, a bald eagle, a rattlesnake — you can also look up that animal in the book to glean some meaning from the run-in. As you may have heard: There are no coincidences.

($27 from Amazon with free Prime shipping; or buy directly from the author site for a little more, and get a signed book from co-author David Carson)

3. Angel Cards

Angel Cards: An encouraging, positive method of divination to provide clarity during tough times

This is a popular method of divination with quite a few of my friends because they’re so cheerful and charming. One former colleague of mine used to spread them out on his desk each day, so that anyone coming into his office could choose one to help find a mantra for the day. It was a nice gesture — and a good excuse to start my day visiting his office.

Essentially, this method of divination, created by Kathy Tyler and Joy Drake, includes 72 cards each with a whimsical illustration of an angel, plus a single word to meditate on or to provide guidance for the day.

Think: Authenticity, Wisdom, Healing, Joy, Risk, Beauty, Purpose, Grace.

Each card is not much bigger than a fortune cookie slip, making it easy to draw a new one each morning, then carry it in your bag or pocket, should you need to refer back to it all day for some comfort or guidance. Or, you can make a note each day in a journal, keeping track of the words you’ve drawn to try and identify long-term patterns that can provide guidance.

Either way, as far as methods of divination go, this one is just simple, easy and fun. I really do miss the ritual of sitting at my friend’s desk each day and discussing the cards we’d drawn. (Sniff, I miss you, Adam!)

($11.35 on Amazon with free Prime shipping)

4. Creative Joy Oracle Card Deck

Methods of divination: Creative Thursday Oracle Card Deck offers beautifully illustrated guidance for mindfulness and a creative journey

This is the newest of all the methods of divination here and wow, am I a new fan.

Stunningly illustrated by our friend, uber-popular illustrator and overall inspiration-creator Marisa Cummings of Creative Thursday, she sent me a set as a gift recently and I am absolutely in love with them — as are my kids.

It couldn’t be easier: Focus your energy on the deck, think of an open-ended question or concern that’s on your mind (as you would with runes), then draw from the 32 oracle cards to help set you on a path of clarity or a creative journey.

I tried it together with my oldest daughter and we really enjoyed how words seemingly unrelated to specific issues allowed us to get out of our proverbial boxes and devise creative solutions and new ways of thinking.

For example, a struggle she was having at school yielded the cards Adventure, Family, and Celebration.

We talked about how Adventure (adorably depicted by several of Marisa’s creatures road-tripping in a vintage van) represents the adventure of life, and how there are ups and downs along the journey, though in the end, we get to where we’re going. Family, we agreed, was a clear statement that whatever happens with friends, you can always rely on family to be there for you. Celebration required a little more thinking; but we decided it was a reminder to take joy in even small wins, and to celebrate the big stuff instead of getting bogged down in minor setbacks.

We could all use a lesson like that sometimes, right?

I know I can.

As with the other methods of divination, this is not a fortune teller. The Creative Joy Oracle Deck is meant to open your mind to help address life’s challenges or creativity blocks in new and positive ways.

And now my daughter is asking if we can do it again every night. I’m in.

($32, Creative Thursday; yes it’s more expensive than others, but it’s not mass-produced, it comes lovingly packaged, and it supports the work of a wonderful independent artist.)