How do you tell when something’s a sign? Witch/Pagan writers and bloggers seem to get some variation of this question constantly. “During a ritual, my candle flared really brightly and then went out. What does this mean?” “My crystal shattered. Is that a bad sign?” “I heard that you can use incense to tell if a room is cleansed or not.”
It’s usually for good reason, too. Some stuff just seems like it might be significant, and it’d be really reassuring to have someone with more experience give a definitive, “Yes, this is what that means.” Unfortunately, the actual answer is always closer to a, “… Maybe?”
A candle flaring and sputtering could be some kind of sign, but it’s most likely going to be a sign that the manufacturer’s quality control kind of bites. Crystals can shatter for an arm-long list of reasons, ranging from heat, cold, resonance, or pre-existing cracks. The way incense smoke behaves generally has much more to do with the ingredients, manufacturer’s QC, relative humidity, and drafts than anything else. These things don’t mean that we’re never given signs, though. It just takes a bit of discernment to pick them out, and it’s a kind of discernment you can’t really depend on an outside source to help you with.
Look at it this way– a lot of witches and Pagans operate on intuition, even if they refer back to books when they need to. They work with deities they feel drawn to. They choose their tools intuitively. They cleanse things when they feel “off.” Why rely on an outsider’s feelings about whether or not something is a significant omen?
It can be difficult to ignore something that seems like it should be significant, and I’m not suggesting that people should. Still, even in these situations, the lex parsimoniae should be applied– is it more likely that you’re being given an omen you don’t understand, or that a 5-for-$1 chime candle probably wasn’t up to spec? If it does genuinely appear to be a sign, what does it mean to you and how do you feel you should act upon it?
Like dream interpretation, interpreting signs is an inexact art at best. Ask nine witches about an omen, and you’re likely to get nine different answers. In the end, the only one who can tell you if something is significant is you.