Today we shift our focus away from the tarot deck and to a new form of divination: scrying. Scrying refers to the practice of gazing into a crystal or another shiny object or surface to obtain a clairvoyant vision. The object used in scrying is often referred to as a speculum, and exactly what that speculum is varies widely. There is, of course, the famous crystal ball, though it seems that very few pagans use these as they are awfully expensive (and larger ones are wickedly heavy!). Solid glass balls that look like crystal balls are less expensive, but not too many pagans are drawn to them. Those who opt for a glass speculum might actually choose hollow balls with a shiny, reflective surface, such as the 19th-century Witch Balls pictured below. In her book, An ABC of Witchcraft, Doreen Valiente suggests that this type of mirrored globe might also be called a watch ball, and notes that their specific attraction is like scrying: “if you watched them long enough the mirrored scene in them would fade out and change into a visionary picture”. In her entry on scrying, Valiente also notes that “Witches in sea-coast towns particularly liked” the “beautiful dark green or blue glass” globes fishermen used as net floats for their speculums, and that many other witches–such as “the famous Irish witch, Biddy Early”–used blue glass bottles filled with water for their speculums.
Another very popular scrying tool is some form of a black reflective surface, which can be easily achieved by filling a black ceramic bowl with water. In some of the very earliest classes I attended in Hartwood Grove, we practiced scrying with a wide black bowl that our High Priestess filled with water, then added a silver coin to. She then darkened the water with charcoal. I’m more of a fan of this speculum than I am of any other, but today Roderick would like us to construct a “magic mirror”, which is simply a piece of glass whose backside is painted black.
Doreen Valiente has some pretty specific requirements for such a speculum. The mirror, she writes, should be made with “a round, concave piece of glass” and “some good black enamel”. This mirror “should be made in the increase of the moon, and given three coats of black upon the back of it; that is, upon the convex or upward-curving side. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. Then the mirror needs to be framed according to the worker’s own ingenuity.” Valiente does, however, note that her mirror is set into a box with a lid that can be closed, which she appreciates “because no speculum should be exposed to bright light, especially direct sunlight, as this can completely upset its sensitivity.” (She does however, note that moonlight is positive and charges the speculum with power.) Whatever speculum is created by the witch, Valiente says that witches should consecrate it on the full moon and keep it in a special case or wrapped in black silk when it is not in use.
If following Valiente’s guidelines is appealing to you, one of the more easy ways to find a concave piece of glass is to shop for a selection of clocks. Very often, a clock’s face will be covered in a piece of convex glass. You might very well be able to remove the clock innards, flip over the glass, and reframe it in the clock’s frame, too.
I, however, am not that invested in this project since I’m not big on scrying in the first place and am not really big on mirrors in the second. So I got myself a regular old picture frame at the Dollar Store and scored some free black spray paint from a housemate. I highly recommend the use of spray paint. Three light coats will definitely give you great, even coverage, and each one dries in just a few minutes. I think I spent maybe 10 minutes on this whole project. Simply pop the glass out of the frame, make sure the surface you are going to paint is clean and dry, then lay it onto a surface you don’t mind getting overspray on. Shake up a can of black spray paint and give it a light coat of paint, taking care to use even strokes and not lingering on any one area too long. Let it dry and repeat twice more.
If you are going to follow Roderick’s recommendation of adding psychic condenser herbs (mugwort, star anise, poppyseed, yarrow, cinquefoil, hemp) to the mirror, make the third coat of paint a little heavier and immediately sprinkle your chosen mixture onto the wet paint. When the paint has dried, shake as much of the extra herb from the mirror (do not pick or wipe it as you may mar the gazing finish), and replace the glass back into the frame with the unpainted side facing out of the viewing opening. Reattach the frame back and you’re all set!
Roderick recommends setting our unconsecrated mirrors in a windowsill tonight so that it can absorb and reflect the moonlight.