Claude glass, believed to be John Dee’s scrying mirror. Europe, undated. Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images
Scrying by Angela Voss
Ghosts, Spirits and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies ed. M. Cardin, ABC-Clio, 277-278.
“Imagination is nearer to the substance of the soul than the sense is”
Scrying has been variously defined as “the faculty of seeing visions in a smooth surface or clear deep, or both”;“an occult method for obtaining oracular visions in water, glass or crystal;” and “the deliberate act of perceiving events that lie beyond the range of the physical senses by using the agents of the unconscious mind”. As such, scrying is a form of clairvoyance or cryptesthesia, and as it would usually also involve the interpretation of the meaning of such visions, it can be considered to be a form of divination.The idea of a mirror or shining surface revealing an occult dimension—an alternative world which cannot be seen via sense-perception alone but which requires an intuitive “second sight” to reveal it—leads us to question what is being revealed, how it is revealed, and why humans have the capacity to see beyond the veil of consensual reality. The silvery, shiny and translucent surfaces of crystals, mirrors or water remind us of the moon, poetically associated with the role of mediator between the elemental life on earth and the immaterial life of the spirit. In a receptive state, it seems possible for the scryer to gain access to this other realm, which reveals itself in shapes, images and sybols to be deciphered by the conscious mind.
It is not my intention in this chapter to give a history of scrying or a description of its various techniques, as these topics are covered in other sources. Suffice it to say that its many variants have been practised at all times and in all cultures, tow of the most various exponents being Nostradamus (1503-1566) and Dr John Dee (1527-1608/9) with his medium Edward Kelley.