As witches, we believe in (and hopefully regularly engage) alternative forms of 'knowing.' We don't just rely on the material realm and reality to give us information. Many of us pay attention to 'hunches' or intuition, have conversations with our gods or spirits, consult divination systems like the tarot or runes, read clouds or tea leaves, or practice some other form of nature divination or augury. The information we receive supplements--it does not supplant--the information that our analytical self is receiving from the material world.
I think some people use intuition, or similar ways of knowing, without really realising it. Think of the people you know who always seems to carry good fortune with them or be 'at the right place at the right time.' However many of us tune out our intuition or come to doubt it through many years of people telling us that decisions and actions should be based on facts, not feelings. I find this particular ironic because just about all the successful research scientist I've spoken to have told me that most of their 'big discoveries' have come from following hunches or even vivid dreams.
What's interesting about the scientists is that while they may be following a sense of intuition, or even guidance, in their research, their methods are rooted in a strong foundation of practical science. The two--conventional and alternative knowledge--work synergistically. It's through building practical foundations and actively developing our intuition and other ways of knowing that we can gain our deepest understandings and work our most powerful magic.
A wise witch once told me that an effective witch should know (and trust) the different intuition-like ways that they receive alternative knowledge, as well as being proficient in several different systems of more tangible divination to help check or deepen the guidance. For example, I often will follow-up a hunch or omen with a tarot or rune reading and some material research.
What are you ways of knowing? We don't all receive alternative knowledge the same way. Do you get flashes or visions? Hear sounds, voices or hold conversations? Sporadically perceive deeper meaning from seemingly everyday things, occurrences, conversations or songs? Get 'gut feelings' or read 'vibes' off of people or objects? Have vivid or prophetic dreams? Simply 'know' something? Get a whiff of a scent or aroma, or a taste on your tongue, real or not? Or perhaps the hairs on your left arm stand up or you get a pain in your right big toe.
Pay attention to your ways of knowing. Develop them. One way of doing this is to keep a small notebook and simply jot down when you have a 'flash.' As part of your daily or regular practice, see if there are patterns to any of them. Which ones ring true or are revealed as true over time? You can also work with a flash through divination, art or stream of consciousness writing.