Scrying for the Modern Magician: The Basics of Scrying and Divination

An easy how-to guide into how to start scrying for the beginner magician

a magician holding dice in their hand

Scrying comes from the word “descry” which means “to reveal”. The earliest known use of scrying was in 3000 BC China where eggs would be cracked open and their contents interpreted. While the execution of the practice varies, it crosses religious and cultural boundaries, appearing in ancient Egypt as young boys would peer into vases filled with oil or the Oracles of Delphi gazing into a special spring to predict battle outcomes for their emperor. Looking to the beyond for answers is a practice deeply ingrained in the human psyche and it continues on into the modern world. If you’re curious about dipping your toes into magic, this is the place to start. One of the great things about scrying is its accessibility. It’s one of the easiest magical practices and the materials to do it can be found around your house making it ideal for the beginner magician.

Chalk question mark
The big question

What is scrying?

The basics

Scrying is the act of looking into a medium and making out messages or meanings. Where these messages come from is up for debate, some would say it comes from beings in the beyond while others say it’s nothing more than our own subconscious sending us signals. The importance is not in their origin but rather in their meaning to you. Another thing that makes scrying so unique is its open endedness. There is no exact method, almost anything that takes meaning out of chance is a form of scrying. Infact, a magic eight ball is a means of scrying, one of the easiest albeit limited. Scrying is easy to start and hard to get good at, but it can be a rewarding ability for any magician to have.

Mirror on ground
Materials for starting

What do You Need?

Materials to Gather

One of the other fun aspects of this practice is how easy it is to set up. You can use almost anything to scry, though it’s easier to start with the basics. All you need is a reflective surface and some dim lighting. Crystal balls are a good example of a medium and while a clear crystal is usually shown in popular culture, an obsidian ball or black glass is more classically used. Scrying stones are another common medium, with one polished side and one uncut side any crystal can be turned into a scrying stone. It might be useful to get several different types of crystal in a scrying stone format so you can see what works best for you before going all in on an expensive crystal ball. A black mirror, or scrying mirror is another common tool. If you want to practice scrying on a budget, then there’s nothing wrong with just using dark colored water in a bowl or dish. Wine in a chalice is a common scrying medium across religious practices. Pick a method that is within your access and ideally has some personal connection with yourself.

Playing cards
Starting scrying

How to Scry

Set Up and Starting

Set up is easy. Candles are a good tool to make the room appropriately dim, though they should be placed away from your scrying medium as to not reflect off it. If you have another way to make the room dim, then that works just as well. The room should be dim enough that reflections off the surface are at a minimum while still being able to see the objects surface. Next, you should relax. Meditating or taking a warm bath beforehand is a good way to get you into the right state of mind before scrying. Burning some incense or putting some essential oils in a diffuser can help give the room a more cozy atmosphere. You should be relaxed and comfortable, staring into the medium without concentrating too hard. Rather, you should wait for images to present themselves to you. Practice for as long as you’d like, although images do not usually start showing up for 10-15 minutes the first few times. When you’ve finished write your results in a journal for tracking.

Mirror on wall
Mirror Mirror on the wall....


What are You Looking For?

Nothing! For beginners, you shouldn’t be looking for any exact answers or interpretations. Do not try to glean meaning out of images that have none, for your first few sessions you are only trying to develop your ability to visualize. You have to learn to walk before you can run!

Person journaling
Journaling and understanding


Recording results and developing ability

Record your results after each session until you can visualize with ease. Once you’re confident in your abilities you can start to interpret them. Start writing down what you saw along with your suspected meaning, then give it a few days to fully interpret it and come back to your journal. Check if the meaning you originally interpreted matches what you now think it meant. Getting an accurate interpretation takes practice and patience, the movement you might first have interpreted as sea waves might turn out to be mountains, the image of the sun could be the moon, etc. Your interpretation of what these images mean could also be mistaken, perhaps you think an image of a flipping coin means incoming wealth, while instead it means a gamble with chance. After some time you should become more accurate with your interpretations and eventually you may even become adept enough to begin asking specific questions before your scrying sessions.

Benefits of scrying

Why Do It?

It’s a great tool for exploring your own liminal perception. Divination techniques like this also help develop your intuition and psychic abilities. Relaxing and letting images float into your awareness is good for psychometry and aura reading.

Abby Marsh

Abby is a Student at Pitt majoring in Communications.
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