crystal gazing

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crystal gazing

the act of staring into a crystal globe (crystal ball) supposedly in order to arouse visual perceptions of the future, etc.
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A clairvoyant looks into the future through a crystal ball. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Crystal Gazing

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Crystal gazing is one of the oldest forms of divination. It falls under the general heading of scrying (or skrying), which covers the use of any and all reflective surfaces. The word scrying means “seeing;” pertaining in particular to seeing the future. There are also a number of specific terms under that heading; for example crystallomancy is working with crystals in general, be they balls or rough minerals, while spheromancy is the use of a crystal ball, specifically.

Crystal gazing is one way of promoting clairvoyance. However, a possible problem is that the practitioner may come to rely on the crystal and not be able to make contact without it. This is because of externalizing the visions rather than producing/receiving them inside the head.

For best results, a crystal or glass ball should be of about three to four inches in diameter and as clear as possible (e.g., free of bubbles or other defects). If a ball cannot be obtained then it is possible to proceed using a tumbler of water filled to the brim. This should be a clear, non-patterned glass. Ball or glass, it should stand on a piece of black cloth (velvet is best) so that there is nothing immediately around it in the field of vision that will draw attention and distract. The crystal ball should rest on a table at a comfortable height, though if preferred, the ball may be held it in the palm of the hand. With this form of clairvoyance it is a good idea to start by working in a quiet, semi-darkened room, with any light being behind the practitioner.

The eyes are closed initially and the mind made blank. Then, after a few moments, the eyes are opened to gaze into the crystal, with the mind still kept as blank as possible. The practitioner should try to look into the very center of the ball, rather than at the surface. The eyes should not be kept open and unblinking—just blinking naturally when necessary. One of two things will eventu ally happen. Someone or something may be immediately seen in the ball or else the ball will seem to start filling with white smoke. If it is the latter, then the smoke will fill the ball before gradually dissipating again and leaving a scene of a person or thing. The smoke filling the ball is known as “clouding.” Gray or even black smoke is no call for panic.

Many people get nothing at all the first time they try this. Initially, no more than ten minutes should be spent looking. Much longer than that will merely strain the eyes, so the experiment should be given up and tried again the following day. Some people see images right away but many more have to try for days or even weeks before getting results. The secret—if there is one—is as with so much in psychic development: do not strain to get results; just relax and let it happen.

The scene that does appear is akin to looking at a miniature television screen. It will usually be in color, although a few people do see only in black and white, and may be a still picture but is more likely to be moving. Anything might be seen, probably with no control over what comes at first. As progress is made, what or whom had been mentally asked for will appear. As in all mediumship exercises, it’s a good plan to try to contact a spirit guide before trying any scrying.


Besterman, T.: Crystal-Gazing. London: Rider, 1924

Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004
DaEl (Dale Whanging: The Crystal Book. Sunol: The Crystal Company, 1983
Grand Orient (A.E. Waite): The Complete Manual of Occult Divination: Volume 1—Manual of Cartomancy. London: William Rider, 1912
Harold, Edmund: Focus on Crystals. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986
Lane, E.W.: An Account of the Manners & Customs of the Modern Egyptians. London: C. Knight, 1856
Spence, Lewis: An Encyclopedia of the Occult. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1920