Scrying: What is it?

Divination is a useful discipline for most occultists, witches, and magicians, but as most of us know, it can take many forms. Today, I would like to discuss scrying, and what makes that particular technique what it is, how it differs from other methods, because there’s been some discussion recently about what it really means to scry.

The term “scry” merely means “to see.” The word is a shortening to the 16th century term “descry,” which had the connotation of seeing something distantly, in a difficult manner, yet having the discernment to realize its nature. Oddly, the word is related to an Old French term “crïer,” which implied a proclamation of what one saw. Either way, though, in the modern lexicon, scrying is generally understood as a method of divination wherein one invites clairvoyant visions, usually via gazing at a translucent or semi-translucent medium (like the ubiquitous crystal ball), though other methods exist.

Authors often disagree, though, on what exactly constitutes scrying as opposed to another means of divination. Most would agree that using Tarot cards, runes, or another similar system of sortilege does not constitute scrying, whereas staring into a still pool of water and inducing visions would indeed be such. Donald Tyson, in his book, Scrying for Beginners, succinctly defines scrying as follows:

Scrying is the deliberate act of perceiving events that lie beyond the range of the physical senses by using the agents of the unconscious mind. The scryer is separated from the things scried by distance, by time, or by levels of consciousness. Usually visual images are scried, but it is possible to scry sounds, scents, sensations, and flavors. Any impression you can pick up with the senses of your body can also be received at a distance by your mind alone through scrying.

Donald Tyson. Scrying For Beginners (p. 3). Llewellyn - A. Kindle Edition.

This definition differs considerably from that either given or implied by other authors. For example, by Tyson’s definition, a witch who stares into flames and interprets the popping and crackling of branches thrown in as a favorable omen would be divining, but would not be scrying. Cassandra Eason, Dixie Deerman, and others, though, describe such activities specifically as scrying. Thus, there’s some lowkey controversy as to what it really means to scry.

I personally hold to the definition utilized by Tyson, just because it makes the most sense to me and is most helpful in separating what I do when I scry from what I do as a diviner in other contexts. Essentially, I argue that one is only scrying if and only if the images/symbols/impressions one receives “lie beyond the range of the physical sense.” In other words, if I’m gazing at clouds and one looks like a sheep, it may have divinatory implications, but I would not have scryed a sheep, because the sheep (or at least that which resembles it) is physically present and thus received by my normal senses, just as I might glance at a Tarot card.

The test, for me, in determining whether something is “scrying” or not would be whether others present during the process perceive the same thing. If I’m with friends and we’re all scrying in a balefire, we’re likely to all receive different visions, whereas if we’re practicing normal divinatory pyromancy, we’ll perceive the same phenomena and bursts of light, though perhaps interpret them differently.

With this, too, is the question of whether one “reads” or “sees.” If you’re reading (as I do with Tarot and Lenormand, and other systems), the symbols you’re interpreting are physically present and arrive in your mind via your normal senses. If you’re seeing, as you do when scrying, you’re receiving clairvoyant information and physicality is taken out of the equation.  This definition may irk some folks, though, who might realize that, within it, things like automatic writing and closed-eye visions would be considered scrying, though there’s nary a crystal ball in sight.

To further illustrate the distinction I’m making, let’s consider two hypothetical diviners. Mary scries, whereas Amelia does not. They use similar methods/mediums and may even receive very similar information via their divination, but the techniques they’re using are quite different.

Mary and Amelia light a balefire, and Amelia reads the patterns formed by the flames, their crackling sound, and the bursts of light in search of signs for the year ahead. Mary, however, stares at the center of the flame and sees images of herself as she might be in the future. Later, the twosome burns some incense, and Amelia interprets omens within the whorls and smoke, while Mary is inundated with images arising from the smoke. In short, Mary sees what isn’t physically there, while Amelia reads what is. Both can and often do get similar impressions, but the technique is different.

In my experience, both “reading” (cards, shells, etc) and “seeing” (i.e., scrying) can be equally effective, but may not be so for everyone. Some folks will just naturally be better at one rather than the other, and this may shift over time depending on your level of practice and experience with a given method. I used to be quite adept at scrying, but my focus has shifted many times and I’m only recently regaining what I was capable of seeing before, whereas my cartomancy skills have remained steady over time just by virtue of constant practice.

They're gonna make television history?

Just like every other Sherlock fan who entertains spoilers and was following SDComicCon news, I’ve been thinking about Amanda Abbington’s comment about this season being so groundbreaking (while Sue Vertue is in the background doing the most epic eye-bug). Now, we know AA is known for blurting and ill-advised comments on Twitter, but I also think they must have prepped her pretty hard if she was the one they chose to do the cons and so much of the post-s3 publicity with them.

When you back up Vertue’s reaction with Mark Gatiss’s facial shift as BC talked about s4 and got to straying beyond the presumably safe topics of hair and coat, that does start to look like neon arrows pointing at “relationship” as the real (character arc) theme for s4.  Fans, of course, immediately jumped on the TJLC bandwagon and threw their hands up with a mighty shout of “CONFIRMED!!!”

I’m not going to parse all that we so far have gotten from the con and setlock in the light of tjlc—there are dozens of other fans just on my dash doing that. No, what I’m going to wonder about is in the other direction. Bear with me a moment here because I want to poke at things a bit.

No matter whether the s4 secret is johnlock on the screen (in whatever flavour you’re envisioning) or not, what AA said was “television history.” And I don’t see putting two men together doing [sex] as all that groundbreaking any longer: other shows, including Ben Whisaw’s recent “London Spy” have been there. Effects on a tv show? Hasn’t Doctor Who been going there for 50 years now? See, I’m having trouble finding something implicit to just making a tv show, absent plot developments, that qualifies for this. Even if they go really modernist in plotting, a la “Parade’s End”, or even further timey-wimey, these developments aren’t going to be the kind of novel that merit’s AA’s breathless gushing. And they’ve so freely admitted to the appeal of “all a speculation in the mind of Victorian!lock” that I’m fairly well convinced that they’re not going there, either.

I think she was perhaps choosing her words poorly and more likely means making Sherlockian history. And that’s a different thing.

Here, anything tjlc has plenty of room to cover new and novel ground, following on TPLOSH, certainly, but moving further to accomplish what Wilder was held back from. A big splash in Sherlockian circles, yes; I’m not sure the casuals really will be that historically dazzled but perhaps that’s a failure of the crew’s imagination in terms of popular involvement in the Sherlock canon. And I don’t really feel as though the element of surprise is of the scale that their responses merit: we all know and a huge portion of the casuals know and recognize that the relationship between our two heroes is close and the heart of the story. It’s been there since the beginning, and I’m not sure it’s exciting enough, groundbreaking enough or hidden enough to merit the reactions I’m seeing and hearing.

Parsing the writers’ comments for the true situation is like listening to the nighttime for the moment that dog isn’t barking. We have to find the negative space in the tease, because that’s where the real hints lie. Remember how they made that one comment back in s1 about not going into the whole drugs thing because that’s not the right connotation for Sherlock Holmes today? One comment, we all bought it, and we’re all still reeling from the s3 reveal of, oh no, the drugs.

I feel the same way about the family thing. Pointing us at Moriarty for the villainy that drives the mysteries but hinting at a family history hanging over both Sherlock and Mycroft is just their kind of bait and switch. One line in s1 commentary about having a childhood headcanon for the brothers’ relationship problems but that they decided not to do that…and we were again blindsided by Holmes parents in s3 and intrigued by the hints of steel in Mummy. We know they dipped into Baring-Gould for William Sherlock Scott Holmes and Sherrinford, we know that we’ll see “lots more of Mycroft,” and we know MG doesn’t mean in the fat suit. BC said that he and MG still have 26 pages of dialog to shoot together, and that’s a lot compared to all of their previous interactions summed together.

I wonder if the real surprise is that they are going to give us what no one really has before: the childhood of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes and what made those men what they are in canon and in every adult rendering in popular productions. And it’s going to be shocking and horrible, because that’s what’s going to make Sherlock growing up into that better-balanced, caring man we already know from canon all the more triumphant. I don’t know if it’ll mean making Mycroft the actual Big Bad (I sorta hope not) or killing him off or in cahoots with The Moriarty; I don’t know if it’ll mean that someone is a twin with Sherrinford (but I think that “never twins” line has an absolute ring of promise to it) or who and what Redbeard is. But I do think that if there’s something they’ve been tiptoeing towards all these years while desperately pointing in any other direction, I think it’s more likely to be this than just two men finally getting together. I think that if the two men get together in this show, it’ll be backgrounded, uncommented, simply accomplished as another production detail while our attention is on the foregrounded story about what made Sherlock Holmes.

I think that just might make a bit of history, even though I think that it’s still likely to be of more interest to Sherlockians than to the history of television itself. But also, pretty damned smart.

anonymous asked:

jisoo, our pretty, beautiful noodle, has great arms

oh hell yeah he does….

he freakin does …………….. 

Scrying Methods: The Sky as Mirror

Originally posted by banshy

Though Tarot and other forms of cartomancy tend to be discussed more, scrying is a useful skill for any witch, diviner, or magical practitioner. If you’re not familiar with the concept, scrying is the art of inducing visions by fixing one’s gaze on a surface or object. When most people hear the term, they think of the old cliche where someone gazes into a crystal ball in order to foretell the future, and that’s indeed a form of scrying, though there are many. Many famous magicians and clairvoyants employed scrying, such as John Dee, Edward Kelly and even the infamous Nostradamus. 

There are many guides floating around online and in print regarding scrying with a solid object like a mirror or crystal. To me, both of the latter are reliant upon the element of Earth, though, and while many witches favor that, the other elements can be used in scrying, as well. Today, I’d like to discuss a particular method of scrying involving the element of Air. I feel that air scrying is an oft-neglected and practice that presents excellent opportunities, with strengths and weaknesses that make it equally appealing to a diviner or witch when compared to other methods.

When most of us think of the element of air in a magical context, we likely have an image of incense somewhere in our mind. This is because incense usually represents air within many modern witchcraft circles. When talking about air scrying, many would likely have the idea of watching incense rise and gazing into it in order to induce a vision. Indeed, many diviners and witches do just that, but today, I’d like to discuss another method, equally effective but requiring nothing at all in the way of tools, and no burning of incense. 

This is particularly a useful technique for those whose practice must remain hidden, or those who haven’t the ability to scry with air using the common incense method. As you might expect, this is a great method for scrying in order to communicate with the forces of air/wind themselves, as well as spirits in general. It may be confirmation bias on my part, but it always seemed to me that, when scrying with air, it’s exceptionally easy to get noticeable results rather than just vague impressions, though the meaningfulness of what you see/experience will vary dependent upon the scryer themselves. I will say that I’ve found it extremely effective for contacting place-related egregores or what you might call “nature spirits,” i.e., that which New Agers often erroneously call “devas.”

I call this method “Mirror in the Sky.” With it, you essentially use the sky itself as a scrying mirror. Please note that this differs from certain other sky-based forms of divination such as looking for patterns in the clouds, which, while effective and useful for some, aren’t technically scrying. This is because the images you see and interpret in those methods are formed from physical phenomena visible to all, rather than arising from the diviner’s subconscious or appearing only to them from another source. I’ve written a bit about my views in this direction here.

How To Do It

To begin scrying the sky, find a place and situation where a medium-sized (at least) patch of sky is visible to you. You might get different results, but for me, the larger the area, the better. It should be an uninterrupted patch of visible sky, not marred by power lines, tree branches, or anything else. Naturally, if you’re in the city, as I am, a relatively small bit of sky framed by buildings can work well. As a rule, I would say you want a view of the sky that gives you the sensation of spaciousness when you gaze at it, regardless of its objective size. 

As I describe this, the idea of lying on your back in a park or field might seem ideal, but a (relatively high) window with the sky visible through it over rooftops worked well for me, so don’t feel compelled to wander around looking for the perfect place if you haven’t the time. Really, let me reiterate that all you need is a relatively unobstructed view of the sky.

That said, though, you won’t necessarily be able to start right away. Given that this method of scrying uses the sky as its medium, you need to be mindful of the weather. Unless your patch of sky is visible through a window (as mine is, these days), you won’t really be able to do this if it’s raining, because the rain will likely distract you. 

Beyond that, it’s best (especially for your first time) to wait until the sky (or at least your designated patch of it) is a uniform color and unmarred by clouds. As mentioned earlier, some witches and magicians practice a sort of divination where the shapes of the clouds are interpreted, but that’s not really what we’re going for here, and any break in the uniformity of the sky will likely distract you. Remember - the goal is to use the sky like a scrying mirror or crystal ball, and if you’ve ever used either of those with a blemish in them, you know it’s slightly more difficult than if they’re smooth and even.

Beyond that, weather requirements are minimal - I’ve made this work in most seasonal weather patterns provided the above-mentioned conditions were present. This is possible in all light conditions, ranging from the first bursts of dawn to an afternoon haze. Even pitch black will work, provided there’s a least a little overcast of clouds so that stars don’t enter into the picture and compete for your attention. Again, just wait until a time when the sky looks relatively uniform and unbroken, then begin.

The first steps towards scrying the sky in earnest are really the same as you would use with any scrying medium. If you have a ritual you use prior to scrying with a mirror, bowl of water, or other medium, you may well be able to adapt that to this particular technique. I myself like to put myself through some mental or physical exertion prior to scrying, but other witches might just enjoy a cup of mugwort tea and try their best to relax. 

One thing that many find helpful is to initiate a verbal dialogue with the medium itself, in this case, the sky. This can be spoken, whispered, or vibrated within your mind. Just simply ask the sky to show you what you need or want to see. If you’re like me, and find the notion of elemental spirits useful (perhaps just as a metaphor), you would want to address this request to the sylphs - the archetypal air spirits. 

If you’ve got a specific entity you’d like to communicate with via scrying, such as an egregore or the spirit of the place where you’re located, then address it towards the “airy” part of the entity. This takes some finesse and a dollop of self-knowledge, as you’ve got to have worked out your own cosmological metaphor for how these things work, but can definitely be helpful.

Next, with an appropriate calmness of mind and heart, fix your gaze on your patch of sky. I find it helpful, at this point, to focus and unfocus my vision until the muscles responsible for that act become a bit tired, and focus is naturally lost. On that note, light sleepiness can help achieve this, too. The sky may appear to ripple. Some witches who’ve seen this say the ripples are a type of “energy,” but in reality, it’s a highly common optical illusion. In this case, though, experiencing it often presages the beginning of a vision/scrying session, so don’t shy away when and if you see this phenomenon.

Small shapes and colors usually appear first, and it can be difficult to sort out what’s being seen physically (or due to eye strain) as opposed to merely appearing in the mind’s eye, more so than with other types of scrying. This is not usually a problem, and I’d recommend just taking the images as they come and being as receptive as possible, regardless of their apparent origin. 

Most suggestions you’ll see in books and websites regarding how to interpret what you’d see within a scrying mirror or crystal ball apply here, but I’d caution against the use of symbol dictionaries, no matter how comprehensive. It’s much more useful to just focus on what emotions an image stirs within you and what preexisting personal associations you have for it. 

For example, if you see a dragon, and a symbol dictionary suggests it represents greed, but your personal experience with dragons has been positive from watching dragon cartoons as a child, your association for the image might be something like “innocence,” rather than anything standardized from a book. This is perfectly okay, normal, and useful, and really makes it obvious why diviners and witches need to know themselves first and foremost, and that you’ll have a much easier time interpreting what you experience if you keep context in mind. 

Fine-Tuning This Technique

Just as you can change what you’ll see using a scrying mirror, bowl, or sphere, so you can achieve similar fine-tuning with sky-scrying, as well. For me, the easiest way of doing this is to change the time at which one does the scrying, choosing a time of day that is auspicious in terms of your needs or the subject you’d like to receive information from or about. If the weather is suited for it, this isn’t difficult at all. 

Any scrying you do via this method will naturally have a primary elemental attribution of air, since air is the medium you’re using, but you can add a secondary correspondence by choosing a time of day associated with an elemental (or other) force you’d like to connect with. 

Dawn tends to be associated with air, noon with fire, dusk with water, and midnight with earth, at least within certain parts of occidental magick. Beyond that, you might be interested in using planetary hours to time your sky-scrying, as well, choosing an hour based on which planet is most associated with what you’d like to experience while scrying.

Strengths and Weaknesses

As with any magical/divinatory technique, this one has both strengths and weaknesses. Your success in scrying the sky is pretty dependent upon the weather cooperating. This is a drawback compared to less mercurial methods like a crystal ball, which is always going to be there, and relatively the same, regardless of what’s happening. It’s also a little difficult getting used to scrying the sky over and over, as it’s bound to look different every time you gaze at it, even if it’s the same patch over and over. 

As noted, though, it’s remarkably easy for even the inexperienced to get results of some sort via this method - I put that down to its association directly with the element of air and communication. And, as far as air-based scrying goes, this is a lot easier than scrying in smoke, as it gives you a larger canvas on which visions can be projected. It’s also a good method for scrying if you need to keep your divination/witchery a secret. Whereas having a crystal ball around or even a scrying bowl raises obvious questions, merely relaxing while gazing at the sky is common enough to not cause alarm. 

I hope you found this tutorial interesting and informative, and I do have more planned with regards to elemental scrying techniques, as well as other topics. If there’s something you’d like me to write about, don’t hesitate to send me a message or ask, but please read my FAQ and master page beforehand to see if your question has already been answered. And finally, if you enjoy the content I produce, please consider donating to fund further endeavors. Thanks for reading! 


Get To Know Me Meme: Favorite TV Shows [1/10] The Mentalist

“/’men-tə-list/ noun. Someone who uses mental acuity, hypnosis and/or suggestion. A master manipulator of thoughts and behavior.“


I was talking to @omgericzimmermann about Holsom AU ideas, and then I saw this post about a guy reading Harry Potter to a dog in Central Park and my first thought was “It’s Holster!” and then this happened. Please imagine our favorite giant blond dork surrounded by his pack of elderly literacy dogs. They get story time every day, even if they’re not working an event. He insists they have to keep in practice. (They’re currently working on The Raven Cycle for their at-home reading. The Adam and Ronan characters remind Holster of these two bickering idiots on his college hockey team.)

A new Youth Services librarian* had started at the local library over the summer, and he was enthusiastic about his outreach programs. Adam didn’t think he’d ever had someone try to hard-sell him on doing a literacy event before. It was like the guy didn’t believe he could take yes for an answer.

Adam held his hands up to try to stem the flow of words. “Mr. Bittle–”

“Oh, Eric, please!”

“Eric. Seriously, just tell me the dates and I’ll be there, I swear! With as many dogs as you think the library can reasonably accommodate. I’m honestly thrilled at the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to the possibility of this being a regular thing.”


“Yes, really, I promise. This is exactly the kind of community visibility I’ve been trying to build since I started. Your predecessor was just, uh…” He searched desperately for something tactful to say.

“More traditional in her approach,” Eric offered.

“Sure, let’s go with that.”

Eric grinned at him and handed him an already drawn up schedule for the day. “So it won’t be until October, because I still have to coordinate a bunch of other stuff, plus I wanted to have flu shots, because they’re really so important, and I’m not just saying that because I’m the one who has to work with the adorable little germ vectors all day, but I’m really looking forward to having you there! If you want to come by sometime in the next several weeks, we can figure out the best place to have the dog reading stations that are kind of isolated in case there are people with allergies, which I really hope won’t be too big of a problem because this is such a great way to encourage literacy, it really is, and…”

“Whoa, whoa, I got you, it’s fine. Several of my dogs are even poodle crosses whose families gave them up after they realized even designer hypoallergenic dogs weren’t for them. It’s a thing I’m prepared for, believe me. Plus, for kids who are extra allergic and don’t want to be left out, I have a betta fish.”


“Really. He’s super colorful, and he swims right up to the side of the glass when people are around. He’s the most dog-like fish I could have imagined.”

“Oh, I’m so glad. This is going to be great! I’ll see you soon!”

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