A scrying mirror with a candle.

Magic mirrors have been the subject of fiction for centuries. From the Evil Queen’s “Mirror, mirror, on the wall,” to The Mirror of Erised in the world of Harry Potter, mirrors have been treated as a gateway to secret knowledge.

While the magic mirrors in these stories lie squarely in the realm of fiction, they’re not too far off the mark — even Nostradamus had a scrying mirror he used to create his prophesies.

Scrying itself is one of the most popular and informative methods of divination. Rather than relying on the meanings assigned to runes or tart cards, scrying yields everything from vague augurs to intricate scenes that play out as if on a movie screen. Scrying with a specially-made mirror consecrated to this purpose, then, can yield some spectacular results.

What is Mirror Scrying?

Mirror scrying is the process of looking into a mirror for divination purposes. Scrying works best with a flat (or at least even) reflective surface, which is why crystal, water, and mirrors are such popular focuses for this method.

In this type of divination, the diviner sets a special mirror on a surface in front of them. Unlike a regular mirror, scrying mirrors are generally used horizontally, not vertically. The diviner then focuses on a question, and rests their gaze on the mirror as they enter an altered state of consciousness, akin to meditating with their eyes open.

Images, ranging from colors, to drifting smoke, to sparks, to vivid, lifelike imagery, will eventually begin to appear in the mirror. The diviner interprets these images for an answer to their original question.

How does Mirror Scrying Work?

Mirror scrying works because of the way our brains interpret visual input — or, more specifically, the lack thereof. If you’ve ever closed your eyes for a long time and begun seeing flashing lights and patterns, you’ve experienced a bit of this process.

When the visual cortex isn’t picking anything up from the eyes, the brain then starts diverting its energy to amplifying other stimuli. You might notice your vision beginning to darken at the edges, or “tunnel.”

You enter an altered mental state as your brain effectively “turns off” your vision and increases its sensitivity to other input. This heightened state of sensitivity, called the Ganzfeld effect, is where divination takes place.

Ganzfeld is German for “entire field.” This is because the effect occurs when you look at a plain, uniform area for a long enough time. Since there’s no variation or change occurring, the brain starts seeking information elsewhere.

In mirror scrying, the mirror is the uniform area. As the brain looks for and turns up other stimuli, images appear in this area.

How to Make a Scrying Mirror

Regular mirrors aren’t suitable for mirror scrying. To trigger the Ganzfeld effect, you need a plain area of a uniform color.

Regular silver mirrors are too reflective and provide too many distractions that prevent the brain from reaching the desired mental state. This is why most scrying mirrors are black — either glass painted black, or pieces of flat, polished black gemstones like obsidian.

Making a scrying mirror is relatively easy. All it really requires is a piece of glass and black paint. It’s best to glass that’s either polished on the edges or inside of a frame. This will make it easier to handle without cutting yourself or smudging the glass.

Spray paint is also more user-friendly for this project, since brush-on paints are likely to leave streaks and uneven coverage.

First, prepare your work surface. Cover it with newspapers, and make sure it’s well-ventilated.

Next, clean both sides of the glass with vinegar and water, allow to dry completely, and wipe with a lint- and dust-free cloth. This will remove any traces of dirt, oil, or other debris that might get in the way.

Flip the mirror over so its back side is facing up. Holding the can a few feet away, spray the glass with a gentle side-to-side motion to ensure even coverage.

When the first coat dries, add another. You will want at least three coats depending on the quality of the paint — you shouldn’t be able to see through the glass at all.

When all of the coats of paint have dried, turn your mirror right side up and place it back in its frame, if necessary. At this point, you can add any other embellishments you wish, and consecrate your new scrying mirror according to your tradition.

Mirror Scrying Traditions

Since mirror scrying is a fairly old practice, there are a lot of magical traditions surrounding it. Some of these include:

  • Never using a scrying mirror for anything other than scrying.
  • Keeping it covered by cloth or inside of a cloth bag when it’s not in use.
  • Never letting others gaze into your personal mirror, except for during a scrying session.
  • Never listening to music while scrying, since this can influence the images and affect the altered state of consciousness.
  • Scrying at night, during a new or full moon. This is when divination tends to work best.
  • Washing the mirror periodically with an infusion of mugwort in clean water.

Getting Started With Mirror Scrying

To start scrying, it helps to strengthen your visual imagination. You should be able to clearly picture images in your mind’s eye with your physical eyes open.

Before you begin, practice by looking at your mirror and visualizing different shapes, colors, or scenes. The more you do this, the more clearly you’ll be able to see during a scrying session.

Before you begin the scrying session itself, have a goal in mind. For most diviners, this will be a question that needs answering. Focus on this question during the session.

Prepare your working area by setting up a comfortable place to sit, and a horizontal surface that will allow you to keep the scrying mirror horizontal, and about a foot in front of you.

Make sure that there are no distracting reflections in the mirror’s surface. Dim the lights, and, if you wish, light candles just outside of your field of vision. A flickering light source can be helpful when it’s time to enter the altered state.

When you’re ready, relax your body and open your eyes. Don’t stare into the mirror — let your eyes naturally stay half-lidded, and your gaze rest softly on the surface.

After awhile, your mind will enter the heightened, receptive, divinatory state. Images will begin to appear in the mirror. These may be simple at first, like mist or sparks. Observe their colors, patterns, and any movement.

After some time, you may start to see more elaborate scenes. Even if you don’t, take the images that appeared to you and interpret them as they relate to your question. Even something as simple as mist that drifts from right to left can give you a “yes” or “no” answer.

When the scrying session is through, record what you saw. Keep a detailed journal of how you prepared, how the session felt, the question you sought an answer to, and the images you received. This will help you interpret your visions as you gain more experience.

Scrying is a bit more challenging than other types of divination because it relies on entering an altered state of consciousness at will. So, if it doesn’t work the first few times, keep trying! Divination gets easier with practice.