Magic Mirrors

Magic Mirrors

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In a popular children’s story, the wicked and vain queen satisfies herself of her own status by gazing into a mirror each morning and saying the words of incantation, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” As the story progresses, the mirror alters its normal affirmation of the queen by both affirming Snow White’s beauty and telling the queen her location. The story reflects a common mundane understanding of magic mirrors.

In fact, neither magic nor mirrors ever operated as portrayed in the story, with people asking questions of a mirror with the expectation that a voice would come forth from it offering information, as though from the mouth of a knowledgeable person. Rather, mirrors were shiny objects that were one type among many used by mediums and others to place themselves in a trancelike state that allowed them to contact the spirit world or other levels of consciousness.

In ancient times catoptromancy, or scrying, was a designated way of divining (obtaining divine knowledge not commonly available to mere mortals) by focusing attention on a shiny object that reflects light, such as the surface of a lake, a polished metal surface, or crystal. Concentrating on such reflective surfaces often produces images and visions that may then be interpreted. The use of a magic mirror was thus analogous to the use of a crystal ball, another popular object used when scrying.

Relevant to understanding scrying was the relatively late discovery of the use of the metallic coating applied to the backs of sheets of glass produce the modern mirror. Such mirrors only came into common usage in the twelfth century and remained quite expensive until the nineteenth century. Thus, over the centuries, those who practiced magic and divination by the use of “mirrors” designated a host of different items as forms of the magical mirror—various glass objects filled with water, polished stones, etc. Those who practiced Cabalistic (Kabbalistic) magic developed a set of seven “mirrors” that fit a complicated system of astrological correspondences and were appropriate for use on the seven days of the week. The mirrors for each day were Sunday (gold), Monday (silver), Tuesday (iron), Wednesday (mercury), Thursday (tin), Friday (copper), and Saturday (lead). Wednesday’s mirror had to be made of glass filled with liquid mercury.

Sources:

Clogh, Nigel R. How to Make and Use Magic Mirrors. London: Aquarian Press, 1977.
Neale, Robert E. The Magic Mirror: Reflections on the Nature and Relevance of Magic. Seattle, WA: Hermetic Press, 2002.
Reed, Uma. Developing Your Intuition with Magic Mirrors. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 1998.
Tyson, Donald. How to Make and Use a Magic Mirror: Psychic Windows into New Worlds. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1990.
References in classic literature ?
I see trouble ahead for all of us," muttered the old witch, after glancing into a magic mirror she carried in her pocket.
The magic mirror had been for about a year in the Prince's possession, when one day a new subject of disquiet seized upon him.
As to Haidee, these terrible reminiscences seemed to have overpowered her for a moment, for she ceased speaking, her head leaning on her hand like a beautiful flower bowing beneath the violence of the storm; and her eyes gazing on vacancy indicated that she was mentally contemplating the green summit of the Pindus and the blue waters of the lake of Yanina, which, like a magic mirror, seemed to reflect the sombre picture which she sketched.
30pm, Show 4pm, [euro]23, Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Eyre Square
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