Working with Mirrors in Magic and Psychic Development
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
c. 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.
History and folklore of mirrors
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 scryed 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 un pleasant 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.
Psychic development exercises
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. Inner eye exercises with mirrors are easy and can be done on your own. The following exercises will help strengthen your third eye faculty. Do the exercises in dim light, which will keep you mentally alert.
Do not try to anticipate or force results. Do not worry if nothing seems to happen immediately. You may get your intuitive flashes later.
Prepare yourself as you do for all magical work: set your sacred space and invoke the desired spiritual presences.
Exercise #1: Faces in the Mirror
In a dimly lit room, sit in front of a mirror. Center yourself and use your breath to relax the body and expand your energy field into the space around you. If you visualise the breath as light flowing down through the top of your head and out through the soles of your feet, you will be open to higher planes and grounded to the earth.
As your eyes adjust to the light, regard yourself in the mirror. Focus on your face. Observe as much detail as possible–the contour and shape of your features, the angles of the face, the way your hair falls on the skin, and so on. Be detached, not judgmental. This is not an assessment of what you like or don’t like, but a neutral observation of what is. In the dim light, your features will not be sharp and clear. Just observe.
Then pull back your perspective from detail to the whole. Look at your whole face. Hold the gaze as long as possible. When the image begins to blur, allow it to do so. If your thoughts wander, refocus on your face. Become aware of your breath. Continue the focus.
At some point, your awareness will shift. It may be sudden and marked, or it may be subtle and steal upon you. Your face may begin to change in the mirror, altering in shape or features. In fact, you may look completely different. The mirror may reveal hidden aspects of yourself. It may show the faces of the people you were in past lives.
You may see other visions in the mirror, such as scenes, people and objects. You are likely to see these better with your averted or peripheral vision. The visions may appear to the inner eye only. Information, or an awareness, may come along with these visions that will help you to understand why they are being shown to you. Take mental notes.
You may see nothing in the mirror except your normal reflection, but instead have a flood of intuitive thoughts, inspirations, ideas or knowledge. You may hear things distinctly with the inner voice, which may sound audible.
You will intuitively know when you are ready to stop the exercise. You will feel “full” or you will be tired. Re-center and ground yourself by focusing on your breath flowing through your body and out the soles of your feet into the earth. Then record your experience in your magical journal or book of shadows.
Exercise #2: Third Eye Gazing
Sit comfortably in front of a small mirror. You can position a little mirror on a table top or dresser, or hang a small mirror on a wall at eye level. Dim the lights in the room. Relax and center.
Look into the mirror and focus your attention on the third eye, the spot in the forehead that is in the center of, and slightly above, the brows. Imagine a diamond of light there. Become aware of your breath, and feel the breath pulsing as energy through the third eye. Let thoughts dissolve.
Maintain the focus for as long as you can. The diamond of light may change shape or grow in size. Be aware of other imagery that may appear around you, or intuitive thoughts or words.
When you are ready to stop, recenter and ground yourself with the breath. Record your experience.
Exercise #3: Scrying for Answers
Now that you’ve practiced seeing with the inner eye in mirrors, try your expanding psychic ability on specifics, such as getting answers to questions and seeing into the future. Compose a question such as “Will I…” “Should I…” “Will Plan A be a success?” and so on. You can also ask questions about timing: “When should I…” Be very clear with yourself. If you’re uncertain what to ask, your answers will be vague.
Choose either the method in either Exercise #1 or Exercise #2. After you have settled in front of the mirror and relaxed, ask the question. Then focus your attention on the mirror. Keep the question foremost in your mind. Repeat it several times silently.
What response do you get? What doe you experience in images, thoughts, sounds and feelings? When you have the answer, you will get a distinct signal, such as an aha! feeling, a tingling of the skin, or a warm feeling in the abdomen.
If you receive no answer while gazing into the mirror, remain confident that it will come at the appropriate moment.
Record your experience.
For a variation of this exercise, try another scrying tool. Polished stones, crystal balls, witch balls, and silver bowls or trays all serve nicely. Copy Nostradamus by painting the inside of a small bowl black and fill it with water. Gaze into it. A mirror with its back side painted black will do the same job and is more convenient to carry and store.
You may find you get the best results if you look at the shiny surface at an angle so that you cannot see your own reflection. This leaves an open space for visions to appear.
Exercise #4: Mirror of the Future
You can ask the mirror to show you the future.
Follow the steps for Exercise #1 or Exercise #2. As you gaze into the mirror, say, “Mirror, by the power of Alkahest, make the future manifest” or “Mirror, by the power of Alkahest, make the future of ______ manifest.” Keep gazing into the depths of the mirror as you repeat the incantation.
“Alkahest” is a term coined by the adept Paracelsus for the “universal solvent” in alchemical transmutation. Alkahest has many complexities in alchemy. In its simplest use in an incantation, it clears away fog and obstruction.
The mirror may respond with visual images, or you may receive a “knowing” within. Record your experience. Note any dates or time periods that you can check later against the accuracy of what you are given. Remember that divination sees a probable or possible future that is the outcome of forces presently in motion. Make sure you are not projecting your own wishes into your experience.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable in a mirror-gazing experience, then stop. You may simply be tired or not in the right frame of mind. But if discomfort continues, it is important to find out why. If you fear what the mirror might reveal, you should not work with mirrors. Doubts and negative energy must be cleared, or work will not be productive. Consult your spiritual teacher as needed.
Review your notes periodically to look for patterns of what works best and least for you, so that you can continue to improve your skills.
Adapted from Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s books Breakthrough Intuition, published by Berkley Books, 2001; The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, published by Facts On File, 1999; and The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters, published by Facts On File, 2004.
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