- The Encyclopedia Britannica (2008) describes Scrying as:
- Divination of distant or future events based on visions
seen in a ball of rock crystal. Divination based on an analysis
of reflections in water, on polished metal, or on precious stones
was practiced by early humans, who probably interpreted these
phenomena as a vision of the spirit world. Scrying became widespread
by the 5th century AD and was condemned by the medieval Christian
church as the work of the devil.
- Scrying comes from the Old English word descry meaning "to
make out dimly" or "to reveal." Adding the prefix/suffix
'be' (often 'gye' in Germanic languages), gives us the modern
- Descry: c.1300, probably from Old French descrier "publish,"
from Latin describere
- Alternative Names:
- Crystal gazing · Oculomancy / Eye Viewing ·
Catoptromancy / Mirror gazing · Hydromancy / Water viewing
· Fire gazing · Smoke scrying · Cloud scrying
· Oil scrying
- The History Of Scrying
- The history of scrying is a little murky. Many try to connect
the art of scrying with other methods of divination such as dowsing,
tea leaves or the Chinese methods of reading lines and faces.
While these methods are historical, they are not the precursors
to traditional scrying.
- In order for an object to be related to an older object it
must have some type of evolutionary connection that can be traced
through validated records. Scrying simply does not have this
connection to these other methods of divination. But that shouldn't
lessen the historical value of those methods, nor the value and
historical uses of scrying.
- We know scrying was used by ancient Celts, probably by way
of the Germanic invasions of the Norse. Scrying plates have been
found in several archeological sites around Celtic lands that
are known to have been Norse influenced settlements. Druids are
one of the earliest known peoples to have used crystals for divination
in the form of scrying plates.
- Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566), according to his son, would
gaze into a bowl of water or dark ink and then quickly take notes
about what he saw. He would later compile these notes into his
- One of the earliest written works of scrying comes from The
Shahnameh, a historical epic work written in the late 10th century.
Used in pre-Islamic Persia the epic gives a description of the
Cup of Jamshid or Jaam-e Jam, as a cup of divination which, according
to mythology, was long possessed by the rulers of ancient Greater
Iran. The cup was filled with an elixir of immortality and was
used for scrying. Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda explains that one could
observe all the seven heavens of the universe by looking into
the elixir and the whole world was reflected in it. In popular
stories such as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, the cup is
depicted as a crystal ball. Helen Zimmern's English translation
of the Shahnameh uses the term "crystal globe".
- In 1958, Classical Greek archaeologist, Sotiris Dakaris discovered
a scrying center near the Dodona oracle. This temple was described
by Homer and Herodotus, as a place where people would sit in
complete darkness while awaiting their turn in front of the oracle.
An extensive maze led to a long hallway where the 'gazing' would
take place. Dakaris found the remnants of a bronze cauldron ringed
with a banister which made it appear that people stand around
the cauldron and gaze into it's contents for enlightenment or
- Dakaris also describes psychomanteums (sometimes spelled
as psychomantium) used by ancient Greeks. These are mirrored
rooms designed to communicate with the spiritual realm. Also
called "mirror gazing", this is another form of scrying.
- Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd
century AD. He is famous for his Description of Greece
is a ten book series that is dedicated to some portion of Greece
from firsthand observations. This collection is a crucial link
between classical literature and modern archaeology. In his observations
of Patras, he writes:
- Before the Temple of Ceres at Patras, there was a fountain,
separated from the temple by a wall, and there was an oracle,
very truthful, not for all events, but for the sick only. The
sick person let down a mirror, suspended by a thread till its
based touched the surface of the water, having first prayed to
the goddess and offered incense. Then looking in the mirror,
he saw the presage of death or recovery, according as the face
appeared fresh and healthy, or of a ghastly aspect.
- In A.D. 312 when Emperor Constantine was marching against
the army of Maxentius at Rome, both he and his entire army saw
a shining cross of light amid the clouds. This form of cloud
scrying has been used as a form of divination around the world.
Clouds are said to be the written messages of the Heavens, foretelling
the outcome of current events. This is also the predecessor to
the modern childs game of seeing objects in the clouds.
- We know scrying was used in early Egypt around 4BC from paintings
depicted on walls and tombs. Egyptian priests would use water
scrying before Egyptian Gods or Goddesses to gain wisdom or foresee
- One of the most
detailed examples of oil scrying are written in the Greek Magical
Papyri written in Egypt between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500. This
method of scrying is traced back to ancient Babylonians and found
its way to the Egyptians and Hebrews.
- Native Americans used a form of scrying by way of rising
smoke. This isn't just the stereotypical movie version where
a blanket is draped over a small fire and then lifted to release
the smoke. Rather watching the rising smoke from a flame and
divining images held within the smoke stream.
- In the early 20th century women practiced mirror scrying
to foretell the image of their future husband. This practice
could be found on turn of the century Halloween greeting card,
as the one shown to the right.
- This superstition may have been born from the legendary Bloody
Mary tale. One version of this legend states Bloody Mary encourages
young women to walk up a flight of stairs backwards, holding
a candle and a hand mirror, in a darkened house. As they gazed
into the mirror, they were supposed to be able to catch a view
of their future husband's face in the reflection. There was a
chance that they would see the skull-face of the Grim Reaper
instead, meaning they were destined to die before they married.
- This period of the early 19th century popularized many stage
magicians use of crystal balls to foretell the future of members
of their audience. At this point the use of scrying became part
of the world of entertainment and stage magic and lost it's significance
as a spiritual tool for divination. This idea was carried into
early films with gypsies using crystal balls to con money from
un-expecting clients, mediums
who conducted seances and opened the door for horror in the form
of possession through divination tools and correspondences with
the devil or evil forces.
- But for some spiritualists the practice of divine divination
remained and the use of tools such as scrying continued behind
closed doors. One prominent practioner of scrying was Madame
Blavatsky who taught Occult studies and divination. Thanks to
Blavatsky and many like her, the use of scrying tools survived
the superstition and is widely used by adept psychics around
- Scrying Methods
- Catoptromancy is a form of scrying and divination using a
mirror. Also known as captromancy or enoptromancy. Mirror gazing
is a popular method of scrying and comes in two forms. The first
requires an individual to stand before a mirror and stare into
their reflection. By relaxing their vision images appear in the
reflection and spiritual messages can be interpreted or questions
can be answered. The second method uses a mirror as a scrying
plate. A mirror is placed flat on a table or at a 90degree angle.
A flame or small light is placed near the mirror to allow the
light to reflect onto the mirror. The scryer would then interpret
spiritual messages or discern answers to questions from the lights
reflection and perceived images.
- Ceroscopy is a form of scrying that was very popular in early
Russia. A scryer would fully met the wax in a pot, most often
made of brass. The liquid wax was then dripped into cool water
where tiny shapes were formed. The scryer would then interpret
spiritual messages from the molded wax shapes floating in the
- Cloud gazing is a method of scrying using clouds in the sky.
Discerning shapes in the clouds and witnessing their evolution
foretells current events and how they will change and come to
- Crystal gazing is a method of scrying where a scryer looks
into a crystal; typically a ball and reads the images that appear
in the reflection. It should be noted that lead crystal balls
are not the best tools for this method. Rather natural crystals
with all their cracks and imperfections are preferred.
- Hydromancy is a method of divination scrying using water,
including the color, ebb and flow, or ripples produced by pebbles
dropped in a pool. The scryer would then interpret spiritual
messages or discern answers to questions from the images perceived
in the water.
- Lecanomancy is a form of water scrying where a stone is thrown
into a basin or body of still water. The scryer divines messages
from the sound the stone makes in the water and the images formed
in the rippling water.
- Lychnomancy is a form of divination by flame. Also called
Lamp gazing (Lampadomancy) or Flame gazing. This is a method
of scrying using the light of an oil lamp or the flame from a
candle or fire. Images are perceived in the flame, or shadowy
images are perceived close to the flames that provide messages
to the seer.
- Another method of Candle gazing employs the use of 3 candles
arranged in a triangle. A questioner or a scryer ask questions
and the answers are depicted in the action of the flames.
- ~ A positive answer to a question is indicated by one flame
burning higher than the other two.
- ~ A wavering flame would indicate a journey.
- ~ A spiral flame indicated plots by enemies.
- ~ An uneven flame danger.
- ~ Sparks indicate caution.
- ~ A sudden extinction of a flame indicates bad luck.
- Molybdomancy is a method of scrying using melted metal and
water. Using tin or lead, the metal was melted to a liquid state
and then dripped into cold water where the metal would harden
into varying shapes. A scryer would then interpret the spiritual
messages from the molded metal shapes. Molybdomancy is similar
to Ceroscopy which uses wax.
- Oculomancy is a form of scrying where the diviner gazes into
the questioners' eyes and reads the reflections.
- Oil gazing is a method of scrying using oil in various forms.
It can be placed in a dish, rubbed on the hand or forehead, coated
within a cup or plate to reflect light directed into the oil.
Written accounts from the Babylonians describe at least 3 forms
or methods of oil scrying.
- ~ "Princess of the Thumb" - A scryer anointed the
forehead and thumbnail of a subject. The shiny nail acted as
a magic mirror in which the scryer saw spirits.
- ~ "Princess of the Hand" - Oil was mixed with black
soot to make a black paste that was covered upon the hand. The
scryer then used the hand as a mirror to scry future events for
- ~ Princess of the Cup" - Sesame seed oil was used to
coat the inside of a cup that was rested on its side. The cup
was used as a concave mirror to capture and magnify the light
of a candle that was fixed on its inner rim.
- Scrying plates are often made of stone or crystal polished
to a very high gloss for reflection. A scryer would gaze into
the reflection or would coat the plate with water or oil and
gaze into the reflective service. The scryer would then interpret
spiritual messages or discern answers to questions from the images
perceived in the reflection.
- Smoke gazing is a method of scrying using smoke from a flame
or typically a fire. As the smoke rises, images are perceived
in the smoke that details spiritual messages for the seer.
- Sources: 1, b10,
- Created: 03.27.2010 Updated: 03.27.2010