There’s a woman standing on stage in a small, dark theatre in London. With a flourish, she holds up a Kellogg’s cornflake box, and rips it to pieces (luckily, no cornflakes inside). She looks at the debris and asks for a volunteer. A million hands go up – this is The Stand-Up Psychic Show, so everyone’s up for a reading – and one woman takes to the stage. The reading that follows is insightful, funny, and very accurate. There’s a huge round of applause.

The presenter on stage is Becky Walsh, an intuitive, TV presenter and author with a background in theatre and stand-up comedy. Becky’s demonstration always stayed with me, because she proved you could divine with literally anything to hand: since that time, I’ve divined with stones, shells, tea leaves, plants, flower petals, egg whites, salt, flour – you get the drift – and wrote up some of these techniques in The Divination Handbook.

Little did I know I was about to venture into new divination territory until last weekend, when meeting two friends in York for a rare day off the writing schedule. I realised I didn’t have my tarot cards with me, so we thought about casting divination stones in the park (I do a lot of stone-casting at home by the beach) but got distracted by hunger and the Vikings in the streets, all dressed up for that weekend’s festival. Heading for food along the packed, cobbled street, we found the perfect location: The Real Ale and Pizza Pub (also full of Vikings in full regalia, carousing, etc).

With much oohing and finger-licking, we polished off a whole pizza each. Then Rachel piped up: How about we read our plates, Liz? She explained this impulse as, ‘I don’t know, it’s just that… bit of crust on that plate, sort of sticking out, is really annoying me.’ An annoying crust? Who knew.

The minute Rachel suggested pizza-reading and Julie nodded in agreement, I recalled not only Becky and her cornflakes box, but the celebrated British psychic, Arthur Molinary (who read for Freddy Mercury). At one of Arthur’s classes at the College of Psychic Studies in London, we’d been given a bowl of sand each. He walked past each bowl and made a random pattern in the sand with his fingers. ‘Now, interpret!’ After that first black feeling of panic, we all began to divine meanings, and to offer Arthur interpretations as he made his way through the class. So, at that moment of pizza-reckoning, I reasoned that a pizza couldn’t be far off an impression in sand. And after all, there’s that time-honoured tradition of reading with food: from chicken entrails (yuk, indeed) to apple-bobbing at Samhain.

These are of course, summaries of just some of the issues that arose from each plate. For confidentiality reasons, I’m not matching the plate to the person (although anyone who knows me will probably guess which was mine).

The stack of scraped-off ham, stacked by the cutlery: Feeling emotionally shredded. The two large, half-eaten slices, clearly cut: a good front. Boldness, doing what you say you’ll do; taking a practical approach. Three clear portions of remaining food: divided time and loyalties. Compartmentalising life to cope with pressure.

Angle of the knife and fork: Forced space; setting very clear boundaries. The multiple pieces of leftover crust and base suggests a multitude of projects. Drawn to three pieces in the centre – two upright crusts and a broader piece between them felt like there would be three primary projects to focus on. It may be time to push the others aside.

The single piece of crust to the left: worry, irritation. The horizontal stack of crusts: planning, working through a series of projects or problems in an ideal order. Getting through work is foremost, as the crusts are at the top of the plate. The need to clear out negative energy; a longing for space. Lots of ideas, but presently scattered thinking – like the blackened crumbs.

Of course, you can try this with the remnants of any meal. Reading without preparation, on the hop, also helps free up your imagination and intuitive knowing: there’s no pressure, and you might be surprised at your insights. And, if you’re feeling a little too welded to one precious deck of tarot, LeNormand or oracle cards, give yourself some time away and read with whatever you have.

After all, we all need a day off from time to time.

Thanks for reading.