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The Art of Scrying: Techniques, How-To & Answers

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)


Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Scrying is a method of divination that involves gazing into a usually reflective or translucent surface such as a scrying glass, a crystal ball, mirror, or a scrying pool.

Crystals, fire, and smoke make also be used.

Practitioners gaze into the surface or past it, to achieve a trance-like state.

While in a trance, the practitioner may see spiritual visions or visions of the future or activities taking place elsewhere in the present reflected in the scrying surface or in their minds’ eye as they gaze.

The Art of Scrying

To practice scrying effectively, it is important to create the right conditions. Observing the sphere is best done at night, illuminated by candlelight, with a clear and focused mind. After formulating a question, intense concentration on the crystal is required until clouds appear, which often serve as a precursor to actual visions.

According to Melville, a renowned interpreter of scrying, the appearance of white clouds signifies good news, while black clouds are considered ominous. Bright colors like red and yellow may herald unpleasant surprises, while blue and green suggest happy events.

Techniques in Scrying

According to the law of sympathetic magic, the spherical shape holds numerous correlations in various aspects of life. Our planet itself is spherical, and even the human skull, housing the brain, possesses a spherical form.

Symbolically, the sky is often associated with the sphere, while the earth is likened to a square, as described by the Greek philosopher Plato. He theorized that humans were originally round before being divided into sexes.

Head of Platon, Roman copy. The original was exhibited at the Academy after the death of the philosopher (348/347 BC).

The idea of the spherical figure is also prevalent in Australian legends, where the primitive androgyne is depicted as having a spherical shape. Islamic cosmology also embraces the symbolism of the sphere. Throughout shamanic cultures, crystal has been recognized as a potent inducer of trance states, making it a favored material for scrying.

Historical Examples of Scrying

The practice of scrying can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The Australian aborigines revered the quartz crystal as an object of veneration.

Druids in 2000 B.C. are said to have practiced divination with quartz crystals, and it is likely that the druids inherited these techniques from their predecessors. In classical times, scrying was performed within the framework of precise religious rituals. Even in the Christian Middle Ages, it held magical significance.

It was not until the Renaissance, with the contributions of Paracelsus, that the idea of visions being influenced by the interaction of crystals with human magnetism gained attention. Dr. John Dee, an astrologer, mathematician, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I of England, was a prominent practitioner of scrying in the 16th century. Notably, Cagliostro also employed a stone for his predictions.

The Crystal Ball: Tool of Divination

The crystal ball, widely used for divination, dates back to the early Middle Ages. The first documented account is associated with the British mathematician and occultist John Dee, who claimed to have received a crystal ball from an angel on November 21, 1582.

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Dee used it on multiple occasions to connect with angels, with the assistance of medium Edward Kelley. The beryl stone, approximately 6 cm in diameter, believed to be used by Dee, is now housed in the British Museum.

In the 19th century, anthropologists Andrew Lang and Ada Goodrich-Freer conducted numerous experiments on scrying using glass spheres. Goodrich-Freer discovered that the oldest crystal globes were made of beryl, challenging the previously held belief that they were made of quartz. Hyaline quartz and glass eventually became the preferred materials due to their transparency.

The practitioner establishes a connection with the crystal ball through sight or touch, or sometimes both, as visions begin to form and the practitioner maintains focus until they dissipate.

The use of quartz, beryl, and glass in scrying can be traced back to ancient civilizations, demonstrating a continuous tradition.

The Use of Crystal Balls in the 16th Century

While the definitive use of crystal balls can be traced to the latter half of the 16th century, their historical roots are likely much older. The English mathematician and magician John Dee claimed to have received a crystal ball from an angel on November 21, 1582, using it to communicate with angels.

His sphere, a beryl stone with a diameter of approximately 6 centimeters, is now preserved in the British Museum in London. Two other crystal balls associated with medical diagnoses are housed in the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and the Museum of Science in London.

Francis Barrett, in his book “Magus,” explains the process of preparing a crystal for visions and highlights its use in divination.

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Crystal balls have been used to obtain visions or images related to past events, distant locations, or future occurrences. Mediums employ crystal balls to communicate with the deceased or supernatural entities, while in magic, the sphere undergoes various rituals to enhance its efficacy.

In the 16th century, the physician and alchemist Paracelsus proposed that the crystal ball could interact with human magnetism, inducing visions.

What is a Scrying Mirror?

A scrying mirror is usually (but not always) a black reflective surface rather than a silvery one. As its name would suggest, a scrying mirror is used for scrying.

It is used as a focal point for meditative scrying and sometimes just for meditation. Sometimes the practitioner will see images in the mirror itself, but most often the mirror aids the practitioner into settling into a meditative

The Art and Interpretation of Scrying

Scrying is an ancient practice that involves gazing into a crystal ball or other reflective surface to obtain visions and insights. It requires specific conditions and techniques to be effective. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Preparation: The crystal sphere, approximately ten centimeters in diameter, is placed on a small circular support made of wood or ivory to keep it stable. A black cloth is used to securely hold the sphere on the support. Only the questioner can look at the sphere but should not touch it. The scrying session takes place in dim lighting to enhance focus.
  2. Magnetization: The practitioner can magnetize the crystal by passing their hands over it, establishing a connection between themselves and the sphere.
  3. Staring into the Sphere: Once magnetized, the practitioner gazes into the crystal ball, maintaining a passive and concentrated state of mind. Initially, clouds, colors, or waving veils may appear. Gradually, more distinct images such as figures, objects, scenes, symbols, or phrases will manifest, providing answers or insights related to the question posed.
  4. Interpretation: The interpretation of the images relies on the personal code and intuition of the practitioner. However, there are some general guidelines to consider. Cloud-like images pointing upwards indicate positive outcomes, while downward-pointing clouds suggest negative ones. Dark-colored images signify unfavorable situations, whereas light-colored ones indicate favorable circumstances. Different colors carry specific meanings, such as yellow indicating losses or bad news, orange suggesting disappointments or betrayals, and green and blue representing positive and pleasant news, respectively.
  5. Practice and Reflection: If the images are not clear, it may indicate a lack of clarity in the questioner’s mind or external influences. In such cases, it is advised to wait, encourage reflection and concentration, and then try again.
  6. Aftercare: Once the scrying session is complete, the crystal ball is carefully cleaned with water and soap or water and vinegar. It should be rinsed gently, dried with a soft cloth, and stored safely. Treating the crystal ball with care is believed to maintain its fidelity in future scrying sessions.

Modern applications of scrying

In modern times, the crystal ball is used by practitioners for various purposes and in different ways. Some common applications include:

  1. Divination: The crystal ball is employed to obtain visions or images that relate to past events, distant locations, future predictions, or symbolic messages. These images can form inside the sphere, on its surface, or elsewhere, and require interpretation based on the practitioner’s knowledge and skills.
  2. Communication: Some practitioners use the crystal ball to connect with deceased individuals or supernatural entities. They believe that the characteristics of the crystal facilitate communication, allowing them to perceive the image of the deceased or entity during the session.
  3. Magical and Religious Practices: In magical or religious contexts, the crystal ball may undergo consecration rituals before its use, enhancing its effectiveness and symbolic power.

Common questions

What is scrying?

Scrying is a form of divination where a practitioner gazes into a reflective surface, such as a crystal ball, to obtain visions and insights.

How does scrying work?

The exact mechanism of scrying is not fully understood. It is believed that the reflective surface serves as a focal point for the practitioner’s concentration, enabling them to access intuitive or psychic information.

Can anyone learn to scry?

Yes, with practice and patience, anyone can develop scrying abilities. It requires a calm and focused mind and an openness to receiving intuitive insights.

Are there any risks or dangers associated with scrying?

Scrying is generally considered safe, but individuals should approach it with respect and caution. It can be an intense experience, and some practitioners may feel emotionally drained afterward. It is essential to maintain a balanced mindset and take breaks if needed.

Is scrying connected to any specific religion or belief system?

Scrying has been practiced across various cultures and belief systems throughout history. It is not limited to a particular religion and can be incorporated into different spiritual practices.

How accurate are scrying predictions?

The accuracy of scrying predictions varies among practitioners. Interpreting the images requires intuition and personal understanding. It is important to remember that scrying is not an exact science, and the symbolic nature of the visions can make interpretation challenging.

Can scrying be used for practical purposes, such as finding lost objects or missing persons?

Yes, scrying can be utilized for practical purposes. It can be employed to gain insights into personal matters, locate lost items, or gather information about missing persons. However, it is important to approach such applications with an open mind and understand the limitations of scrying.

Are there any specific tools or items required for scrying?

The most commonly used tool for scrying is a crystal ball. However, mirrors and even water can also be used. The key is to have a reflective surface that allows the practitioner to focus their attention and induce visions.

Can scrying be done alone, or is it better to have a guide or mentor?

Scrying can be practiced alone or with a guide or mentor. Some beginners may find it helpful to have guidance when starting out, but ultimately, it is a personal preference.

What are some tips for beginners who want to start practicing scrying?

  • Choose a suitable reflective surface, such as a crystal ball or mirror.
  • Relax and clear your mind through meditation before beginning a scrying session.
  • Avoid having specific expectations or questions in mind to allow the images to manifest naturally.
  • Keep a journal to record your scrying experiences and interpretations.
  • Interpret the images based on your own experiences, emotions, and intuition.
  • Remember that practice is key to developing scrying skills and gaining confidence.


In conclusion, scrying can be an intriguing and enlightening practice for exploring one’s psychic abilities and gaining insights into the future. While it requires patience and practice, it can offer unique perspectives and guidance. However, it is important to approach scrying with an open mind and understand that interpretations are subjective and open to personal understanding. If scrying does not resonate with you, there are numerous other divination techniques available to explore.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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