From the old English word descry (meaning to perceive from a distance; to discover by the eye), it is an ancient method of divination involving gazing into reflective surfaces such as crystal balls, shiny stones, mirrors, bowls or pool of water or any other reflective object or shiny flat surface until clairvoyant visions appear.
The tool of scryers is called a speculum, which can be any object, but is usually one with a reflective surface.
The most renowned prophet of all time, the French physician and astrologer Nostradamus, used a brass bowl of water on a tripod next to a lit candle, then dipped his wand into the water and anointed himself with a few droplets before staring into the water to have his prophetic visions. Dr. John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, used a crystal egg and black obsidian mirror. The stereotypical speculum is the crystal ball as popularized by gypsy fortune-tellers.
The premise of scrying is that, by gazing meditatively at these objects, one will be able to focus and project imagery from within, for instance from the mind’s eye. The subconscious moves into a channeling condition, thereby opening up the psyche, which is said to be influenced by the phases of the moon.
Scrying practitioners aim to answer questions, solve problems, find lost objects or people, and help solve crimes.
The art of scrying dates back to near the beginnings of civilization, and it may have started when man first gazed into a sacred pond or river. Ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Aztecs, Incas, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, and many others, have all practiced this method of divination in some form or another. Similarly, Native American tribes such as the Apache and the Cherokee, used and still use crystals, as do the Australian aborigines and tribes of Borneo and New Guinea.
Scrying is a popular practice among many modern-day witches, and it is a tradition which is carried out by many Wiccans on the night of the Samhain Sabbat (Halloween).
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Sources: (1) Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (5) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (6) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press; (7) Yalsovac, Nichole, Divination Systems, University Of Metaphysical Sciences.
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