What is Scrying?

Fortune teller looking into crystal ball, close-up
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You may see the word “scrying” used on this site. In general, the term is used to mean staring into something—often a shiny surface, but not always—for the purpose of divination. Visions that are seen are often interpreted intuitively by the person who is scrying. It’s a popular method of divination and can be done in several different ways.

Did You Know?

  • Scrying is a form of divination that involves staring into a reflect surface.
  • Practitioners look at a mirror, fire, or water in hopes of seeing images and visions.
  • The visions that are seen during a scrying session often provide hints of things to come in the future.

The Crystal Ball

We’ve all seen images of the old fortune teller woman peering into a crystal ball, hissing, “Cross my palms with silver!” but the reality of it is that people have used crystals and glass for scrying for thousands of years. By focusing on the ball, which is usually made of a clouded glass, a medium may be able to see visions that foretell not only the future but unknown aspects of the present and past.

Alexandra Chauran, over at Llewellyn, says,

"The crystal ball exercises the part of you that sees your intuition expressed in a visual form, while keeping a safe boundary between your psychic practice and your everyday life... As you practice, you may find that the actual tiny flecks that inspire you to see shapes in the crystal ball allow you to see other fleeting visions within the crystal ball itself that are more akin to real visions right before your eyes."

Most practitioners believe that seeing things while scrying is possible for anyone, because everyone has some latent degree of psychic ability. Once you learn basic techniques of scrying, and what to look for, it becomes second nature.

Fire Scrying

girl staring in fire
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Fire scrying is exactly what it sounds like—staring into the flames of a fire to see what sort of visions might appear. As with other methods of scrying, this is often very intuitive. By relaxing your mind and focusing only on the flames, you may get messages telling you what it is you need to know. 

Watch as the fire flickers and flashes, and look for images in the flames. Some people see clear and specific images, while others see shapes in the shadows, mere hints of what is within. Look for images that seem familiar or for those that may repeat in a pattern. You may even hear sounds as you watch the fire—and not just the crackling of wood, the roar of larger flames, the snapping of embers. Some people even report hearing faint voices singing or speaking in the fire.

Water Scrying

A very popular method of scrying involves the use of water. While this can be a large body of water, such as a pond or lake, many people simply use a bowl. Nostradamus used a large bowl of water as a scrying tool, and put himself into a trance to interpret the visions he saw. Many people also incorporate the reflections of the moon into their scrying—if you're someone who feels more aware and alert during the moon's fullest phase, this might be a good method for you to try!

Water scrying is sometimes referred to as hydromancy. In some forms of hydromancy, the practitioner has a bowl of water in front of them, and then touches the flat surface of the water with a wand to create a ripple effect. Traditionally, the wand is made from the branch of a bay, laurel, or hazel tree, and has resin or sap dried upon the ends. In some practices, the dried sap is run around the edge of the bowl, creating a resonating sound, which is incorporated into the scrying appearance.

Mirror Scrying 

Handcrafted Venetian mirror on a green glass table inside a room
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Mirrors are easy to make, and easily transportable, so they’re a very practical scrying tool. Typically, a scrying mirror has a black backing on it, which allows for better reflective properties. Although you can certainly buy one, it's not hard to make your own.

Author Katrina Rasbold says,

"When you have relaxed completely, work to still your mind from mundane thoughts. See them as tangible objects whirling around you that stop and drop to the floor, then disappear. Make your mind as blank as possible. Focus on the surface of the mirror and the reflections you see from the candlelight and occasional wafts of smoke. Do not strain your eyes to see anything or work too hard. Relax and let it come to you."

When you are finished gazing into the mirror, make sure you have recorded everything you saw, thought and felt during your scrying session. Messages often come to us from other realms and yet we frequently don't recognize them for what they are. It's also possible that you could receive a message that's meant for someone else—if something doesn't seem to apply to you, think about who in your circle could be the intended recipient.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "What is Scrying?" Learn Religions, Aug. 29, 2020, learnreligions.com/what-is-scrying-2561865. Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 29). What is Scrying? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-scrying-2561865 Wigington, Patti. "What is Scrying?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-scrying-2561865 (accessed May 30, 2023).