Return to the main gate





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.
John Williams - Crystal GazingEtymology
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 word 'describe'.
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 infamous quatrains.
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 visions.
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 future events.
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 the world.
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 water.
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 pass.
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 the individual.
~ 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, b13, s1, s2, s4, m21, m23, m39, m42, o2, o10, o22, o24, o30, o31, o32, o55, o56, w07, w08
Created: 03.27.2010       Updated: 03.27.2010


PagansPath Terms & Conditions