By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Copyright Visionary Living, Inc.
Mirrors are one of the simplest and yet most effective tools for developing psychic skills for divination and magic. Mirror work trains the inner eye to perceive the unseen. By doing the exercises in this article, you can sharpen your psychic skills.
The power of mirrors – or any reflective surface – to reveal what is hidden has been known since ancient times. Gazing upon shiny surfaces is one of the oldest forms of scrying, a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. The Thessalian witches are supposed to have taught Pythagoras how to divine by holding a magic mirror up to the moon. Romans who were skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.
Throughout history, mirror gazing, or scrying, has been used to look into the future, answer questions, solve problems, find lost objects and people, and identify or find thieves and criminals.
“Scrying” comes from the English word descry, which means “to succeed in discerning” or “to make out dimly.” The tool of scryers, called a speculum, can be any object with a reflective surface. Scryers stare into the reflective surface until they are in light trances, and they see visions or otherwise “know” the unseen.
The oldest and most common speculum is still water in a lake, pond or dark bowl. Ink, blood and other dark liquids were used by Egyptian scryers. Medieval European adepts used mirrors, bowls of water, polished stones and crystals. Nostradamus did his scrying with a bowl of water set upon a brass tripod. The inside of the bowl was painted black. He would dip a wand into the water and anoint himself with a few drops, then gaze into the bowl until he saw visions.
Other specula are glass fishing floats, polished metals and stones, crystal balls and precious gems. John Dee, the royal magician to Queen Elizabeth I, used a crystal egg and a black obsidian mirror; his mirror is on exhibit today at the British Museum in London. Early Arab scryers used their own polished thumbnails.
In folklore, mirrors have a dark power – they are held to be a soul stealer. A widespread folk belief calls for turning over the mirrors in a house when someone dies. If a dead person sees himself in a mirror, his soul will become lost or have no rest, or he will become a vampire. The power of mirrors to suck out souls is illustrated in the Greek myth of Narcissus, who sees his reflection in water and then pines and dies.
In Russian folklore, mirrors are the invention of the devil because they have the power to draw souls out of bodies. In other lore, seeing a corpse reflected in a mirror puts the living at risk for having one’s soul carried off by the ghost of the dead. Seeing one’s own reflection in a mirror in a room where someone has died means one’s own impending death.
Folklore also has it that mirrors should be removed from a sick room because the soul is more vulnerable in times of illness. It is considered unlucky for the sick to see their reflections, which puts them at risk of dying. Breaking a mirror is bad luck; since it holds the soul, a broken mirror will damage the soul.
It is also considered unlucky to look into a mirror at night or by candlelight, for one will see ghosts, the devil or a portent of one’s own death. In Persian lore, ghosts may be seen in a mirror by standing in front of it and combing the hair without thinking, speaking or moving.
The inability of vampires to cast a reflection in mirrors, and their desire to avoid them, is an invention of fiction, and is attributed first to Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel, Dracula. Count Dracula avoids mirrors, calling them objects of human vanity. Jonathan Harker notices that there are no mirrors in the count’s castle, and he accidentally observes that Dracula casts no reflection in his mirror while he shaves. The count, seeing Harker watching, breaks the mirror. Later in Stoker’s novel, Professor Abraham Van Hesling forces unpleasant confrontation with the count by shoving a mirror in front of him; the vampire recoils violently.
Stoker was aware of superstitions about mirrors and adapted them to suit his fictional purposes. Dracula, as a soulless creature, also casts no shadow and cannot be painted or photographed; his likeness cannot be captured.
It’s good to know the history and lore of mirrors. When properly used in the spirit of the highest good, mirrors are a great magical aid, not something to be feared.
Badly placed mirrors are sometimes a factor in hauntings. Mirrors should not be placed at the foot or head of a bed, for occult lore holds that they may provide a doorway for spirits to enter the room. One should not see one’s self in a mirror while in bed for the same reason. Mirrors should never face into each other, which warps space in peculiar ways. Most of the time, mirrors are not going to pose a paranormal problem. However, if haunting phenomena is present and persistent, and takes place in the bedroom, consider moving or removing mirrors.