Give Yourself A Vision

Mary sat in her office alone one evening, wondering what to do about her career. As she often did when she wanted an intuitive answer, she took her crystal ball off the shelf and placed it in front of her on the desk. Her ball was a two-and-a-half-inch wide sphere cut from quartz, a rock that is clear and transparent like glass. The crystal was held about six inches above the desk by a bronze sculpture of Silenus, who was the mythic companion and teacher of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Although Silenus, with his fat belly, beard, and horse's ears, was always drunk on wine, he was very wise and gifted at divination. To the ancient Greeks he was like a god of divination.

To avoid any distracting reflections, Mary laid a black silk kerchief flat on her desk and placed Silenus holding the ball in the center of the rectangle. Then, she lit a white candle and turned out the other lights. Mary calmed herself and sat looking at the blank grayish area in the center of her crystal. This was the hard part, but she knew from past experience that all she had to do was sit and wait for something to appear. A few minutes later the space was still blank, but she calmed herself again and kept looking. Then it happened. She began to see a vision that was something like a dream but she was awake and could interact with the characters in this dream. She saw herself on a horse leading a group of men and women toward a sunrise. She was not sure if what she was seeing was in the ball or in her mind but she knew that it didn't matter. The vision ended and Mary sat back and considered what she had learned. She had never thought of herself as a leader before.


It is great if you happen to get a prophetic dream or if you meet an oracle or a prophet who can help you out with your problems, but suppose you just want some simple answers without traveling to a distant temple and spending lots of money? The first chapter discussed directing dreams through incubation, and the second chapter mentioned automatic writing, but there is another means of divination that can provide answers in a simple way while the questioner is awake and in control. This type of divination is called scrying.

Unlike many other divination terms, scrying is not Greek in origin. It is a shortened form of the Old English word descry, which means to reveal or make out. Scrying is a means of obtaining a vision by looking into a transparent or shiny surface. The most common tool associated with scrying today is a crystal or glass ball, but those objects can be expensive and unnecessary. People have used all sorts of tools for scrying throughout history, from pools of water to shiny fingernails. Have you ever sat looking at a lake and letting your thoughts drift? That

Figure 3.1 Mary's crystal ball. (Robert M. Place)

may be how scrying got started. It most likely began with prehistoric peoples looking at the surface of a pool of water. This type of scrying can also be called hydromancy, from the Greek word for water, hydro, plus mancy (Manteia, divination).

Historical accounts report Native American tribes used pools in this way to get a vision about the best place to hunt or to find lost objects. As with other forms of divination, certain people seem to be gifted at scrying and other people will seek them out. In tribal cultures they are referred to as shamans or priests, and in European culture they are called magicians. There are accounts of Polynesian priests on islands in the Pacific Ocean who, when looking for a thief, would dig a hole in the doorway of the burglarized house, fill it with water, and see the thief in the water. They believed the doorway would retain the memory of the thief passing through, and the water would reflect the memory.10 The Wicked Witch of the West in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, had a magic cauldron filled with a liquid (she did not like water much) that she would look into to see what Dorothy was doing no matter where the girl was. She was scrying. The ancient Babylonians were said to have sacred stone bowls filled with liquid that their priests used in the same way. More recently, the Zulus of South Africa had similar vessels, as did shamans in Siberia. The Egyptians, on the other hand, just poured some black ink into the palm of their hands when they wanted a magic scrying pool.

Many folk traditions instruct scryers to practice at night and capture the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water to make the viewing-water more special. Prehistoric peoples probably had sacred places that were used for water-viewing because they were more inspiring than any old mud puddle. Historic examples of this include the Temple of Ceres at Patras or Patrae, on the gulf of Patras in Greece, which had a magic fountain in front. A sick person could tie a mirror to a cord and lower it down into the fountain until it touched the surface of the water. Then he or she could look into the mirror in the

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