Scrying

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Scrying

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The word scrying, or skrying, means "seeing" and is the term used for crystal gazing. Indeed, it can apply to gazing into any reflective surface for the purpose of divination.

In the Villa of Mysteries at Pompeii, one of the scenes depicted in the frescoes around the walls of the Initiation Room shows the neophyte scrying. As Professor Vittorio Macchioro says in The Villa of Mysteries, "The neophyte is born again in Zagreus; she has begun to live the life of the god, but terrible tests await her. Silenus seated on a double plinth shows her a hemispherical silver case on which a youth gazes in ecstasy while his companion holds on high behind him a Dionysiac mask.... The hemispherical case at which the youth gazes ecstatically is a magical mirror; (he is seeing) in the mirror a series of visions which have their center and starting point in the mask and life of Dionysus. . . he gazes on the mirror as Dionysus did, so as to become as Dionysus and die with him."

Any reflective surface will serve for scrying. Polished copper or other metal, water, a mirror, a crystal ball, even an ink blot have all been used successfully. The Cherokee and Apache use crystals, as do the tribes of Borneo and New Guinea and the Australian aborigines. The Maya used a variety of polished stones. John Aubrey (Miscellanies, 1696) suggests that a green-tinted glass such as beryl is best. Others favor an aquamarine coloring. Some use a polished obsidian ball.

In the sixteenth century, Edward Kelley gained a reputation for scrying. This reputation reached the ears of Dr. John Dee (Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer), whose own scryer, Barnabas Saul, had recently left his employ. Kelley took over the position, allowing his powerful imagination to describe incredible sights he said he received from the "great crystalline globe" that Dee possessed. By his enthusiasm and fertile imagination, he quickly won Dee's confidence and established himself as a needed associate. Dee carefully recorded all the conferences he held with the spirits, courtesy of Kelley's crystal ball gazing. In 1659 Méric Casaubon published A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits. Together, Dee and Kelley traveled around Europe amazing the nobility with what they presented.

Some of the old books of Ceremonial Magic, the grimoires, give detailed instructions for the stand that should hold a crystal to be used for scrying. They prescribe intricate sigils and words of power to be engraved on the stand. In fact, none of these is really necessary. The grimoires would again lead one to believe that a great deal of preparation is necessary before the act of scrying. Some suggest periods of fasting, the saying of lengthy prayers, and the summoning of various spirits. Again, none of these is strictly necessary. It is a good idea to do some sort of psychic cleansing of oneself and of the area before starting, however. Witches generally do their scrying within a magic circle. One then only needs to quiet the mind, relax, and concentrate on looking at the reflective surface. It is a good idea to place the ball, or crystal, on a piece of black cloth so that there is nothing in its immediate vicinity that will detract. It is also important to try to keep the mind blank, so that anything may come into the vision. The gaze should be relaxed, not an unblinking stare. Most scryers say that the ball (or glass of water, or whatever) seems to slowly fill with smoke. This gradually fades away, leaving a scene that must then be interpreted.

References in periodicals archive ?
John Dee - and not the angels, or the scryer - therefore, provided the coherence to the angel conversations.
In contrast, if a scryer was employed to realize spirits in the late twentieth century, the spirits would be capable of winging through an infinite cosmos and fighting with bolts of jagged lightning - in short, anything a Hollywood special effects director could produce for the camera.
Dee's interest in alchemy became more marked during the period when he was engaged in the angel conversations, and his scryer Edward Kelly was a key participant in the alchemical experiments that Dee undertook between 1583 and 1587.
While these inconsistencies may well indicate an imperfect knowledge of the alchemical art, these points of departure did not undermine Dee's confidence in his scryer.
59) Biblical symbolism could provide an additional symbolic system for Dee and his scryer to draw upon, for angels play a prominent role in the Bible's apocalyptic book of Revelation.
Dee alone could not rise to this level of perfection; he was able to do so only through his relationship with his scryer Edward Kelly and the angels.
Arthur, Dee's son, was used as a scryer only once on 15 April 1587 and was not adept at the practice.