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"Seer stone" redirects here. For the usage in Mormonism, see Seer stone .

Scrying (also called crystal gazing, crystal seeing, seeing, or peeping) is a magic practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and more rarely for purposes of divination or fortune-telling. The media used are most commonly reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals, stones, glass, mirrors, water, fire, or smoke. Scrying has been used in many cultures as a means of divining the past, present, or future. Depending on the culture and practice, the visions that come when one stares into the media are thought to come from God, spirits, the psychic mind, the devil, or the subconscious.

Although scrying is most commonly done with a crystal ball, it may also be performed using any smooth surface, such as a bowl of liquid, a pond, or a crystal.

Scrying is actively used by many cultures and belief systems and is not limited to one tradition or ideology. , the Ganzfeld experiment, a sensory deprivation experiment inspired by scrying, provides the best known evidence for psi abilities in the laboratory. Nevertheless, like other aspects of divination and parapsychology, scrying is not supported by mainstream science as a method of predicting the future or otherwise seeing events that are not physically observable.

Method of Scrying

The visions that scryers say they see may come from variations in the medium. If the medium is water (hydromancy), then the visions may come from the color, ebb and flow, or ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool. If the medium is a crystal ball, the visions may come from the tiny inclusions, web-like faults, or the cloudy glow within the ball under low light (e.g. candlelight).

One method of scrying using a crystal ball involves a self-induced trance. Initially, the medium serves as a focus for the attention, removing unwanted thoughts from the mind in the same way as a mantra. Once this stage is achieved, the scryer begins a free association with the perceived images suggested. The technique of deliberately looking for and declaring these initial images aloud, however trivial or irrelevant they may seem to the conscious mind, is done with the intent of deepening the trance state, wherein the scryer hears their own disassociated voice affirming what is seen within the concentrated state in a kind of feedback loop. This process culminates in the achievement of a final and desired end stage in which rich visual images and dramatic stories seem to be projected within the medium itself, or directly within the mind's eye of the scryer, like an inner movie. This overall process reputedly allows the scryer to "see" relevant events or images within the chosen medium...

Religion and mythology

Image of a young man appearing in the reflection of a mirror

Ancient Persia

The Shahnameh, a historical epic work written in the late 10th century, gives a description of what was called the Cup of Jamshid or Jaam-e Jam, used in pre-Islamic Persia, which was used by wizards and practitioners of the esoteric sciences for observing all the seven layers of the universe. The cup contained an elixir of immortality.


Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, used magical stones (referred to in Mormonism as "seer stones") for various purposes. Scrying through magical stones was a common practice in Smith's early 19th century New Englandmarker, and was practiced by several respected leaders at the time. During his life he had at least three separate stones that were obtained through various means (one of which he recovered by looking into a neighbor's seer stone and seeing the location). These stones were initially used in various treasure digging endeavors. Later, Smith used two stones called the Urim and Thummim, two clear stones in a bow that resembled spectacles, in his 1829 translation of the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates (although much of the translation was actually done using one of the stones that he obtained earlier in life).

Though Smith initially used his stones to see hidden things, their use later evolved into a revelatory catalyst. Smith and others claimed that God communicated to them through these stones. Two stones, believed to be Urim and Thummims but referred to as "interpreters" are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have discovered these ancient scrying rocks by aid of an angel along with the Golden Plates.

Modern Mormons believe in the validity of Smith's claimed ability to have been able to use seer stones, along with the divine revelations that Smith claimed to have received through them.

In folklore

Rituals that involve many of the same acts as scrying in ceremonial magic are also preserved in folklore form. A formerly widespread tradition held that young women, gazing into a mirror in a darkened room (often on Hallowe'en) could catch a glimpse of their future husband's face in the mirror — or a skull personifying Death, if their fate was to die before they married.

Another form of the tale, involving the same actions of gazing into a mirror in a darkened room, is used as a supernatural dare in the tale of "Bloody Mary". Here, the motive is usually to test the adolescent gazers' mettle against a malevolent witch or ghost, in a ritual designed to allow the scryers' easy escape if the visions summoned prove too frightening.

While as with any sort of folklore the details may vary, this particular tale (Bloody Mary) encouraged 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. There was, however, a chance that they would see the skull-face of the Grim Reaper instead; this meant, of course, that they were destined to die before they married.

Modern uses

  • The Ganzfeld experiment is a sensory deprivation experiment inspired by scrying. According to the small community of parapsychologists, it provides the best known evidence for psi abilities in the laboratory.
  • The Dr. John Dee of the Mind research institute founded by the parapsychologist Raymond Moody utilizes crystallomancy to allow people to experience an altered state of consciousness with the intention of invoking apparitions of the dead.
  • In the TV series Babylon 5, Telepath Alfred Bester uses a form of scrying in the episode The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father.
  • Contemporary mass media, such as films, often depict scrying using a crystal ball, stereotypically used by an old gypsy woman.
  • In Christopher Paolini's fictional universe of Alagaësia (Eragon), magic users can use scrying through shiny objects to see things they have seen before.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth (such as The Lord of the Rings), the Palantír is a stone that allows seeing what any other Palantír sees, and the Mirror of Galadriel is used as a type of scrying device used to see visions of the past, present, or future.
  • In the television show Charmed the main characters use crystals suspended over maps to scry for people. This is different from other forms because it just shows location and not a picture, which leads many people to call this practice dowsing.
  • A toy known as the 'Magic 8-Ball' which consists of a plastic ball filled with an inky solution that contains a buoyant icosahedron; each face of the icosahedron has different answers printed that appear to the 'consulter' through a small window when held upright.
  • 'Scry' was an ability used by the Scholar class in the online game 'Sock 2' at, which allowed the caster to see the actions another contestant had taken that turn.
  • A scryer named Snow is a character in the novel The Blood Confession. She foretells the future in mirrors and draws pictures of her prophetic dreams.

See also


References and further reading

  • Scrying, A Short Course in
  • Psychomanteum
  • A Symbolic Representation of the Universe: Derived by Doctor John Dee Through the Scrying of Sir Edward Kelly ~Aleister Crowley, Adrian Axwirthy
  • Crystal Gazing: Study in the History, Distribution, Theory and Practice of Scrying ~Theodore Besterman
  • Scrying for Beginners: Tapping into the Supersensory Powers of Your Subconscious ~Donald Tyson
  • Crystal Gazing: Its History and Practice with a Discussion on the Evidence for Telepathic Scrying ~Northcote W. Thomas
  • Andrew Lang, Crystal visions, savage and civilised, The Making of Religion, Chapter V, Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. 83-104.
  • Armand Delatte, La catoptromancie grecque et ses dérivés (1932)
  • Scrying and Divination Methods
  • Techniques and methods of Hydromancy

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