Divining The Future

Crystal Gazing: Then and Now

There is always a crystal ball in movies, but do you know why? Here are some fun reasons from different cultures.

“Scrying” is the technical term for gazing into a shiny reflective surface as a means of divining new information or predicting the future. Usually, it’s a crystal ball that is used to scry. Where did that originate?

There’s a part of an elite class of Celtic people, called ‘Druids’, who lived primarily in the British Isles and France during the Bronze Age. Druids used crystals to foretell the future. Even Julius Caesar also described Druid superstitious practices in his oral histories of the Gallic Wars. Druids did not limit their divination to crystals; they also use pools of water, mirrors or reflective glass.

Apart from the Druids in ancient France, China also practiced it. An ancient Chinese criminal code described Yuang-kuang-fuchou, or the magic of the round glittering that is purportedly able to show the face of the thief who stole any possession. Or there’s Khalif Mansur, who lived in the eighth century, who used a mirror to allegedly reveal whether someone was friend or foe. Or a different leader who possessed a ruby ring that could reveal faces in its surface. Folk remedies included sick people looking into a shiny pot of water to be healed, as was believed in Medina, Saudi Arabia, while other people used mirayat, or magic mirrors.

But scrying still is popular around the world. Crystal balls became fashion accessories or to ward off evil spirits in the Middle Ages, possibly because of their association with the wizard Merlin in the King Arthur legends. Nowadays, Merlin is often depicted with a crystal ball for use in prophecy. John Dee of the 16th century, an astronomer, scientist and mathematician, who was friends with astronomy luminaries and served as advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, turned to crystal ball gazing after traditional scientific methods of inquiry failed to produce satisfactory insights.

Famous crystal balls have been made out of quartz crystal or rock crystal or hand-blown glass, but today’s crystal balls typically consist of glass, lead crystal or reconstituted quartz crystal. You see them in the average fortune-teller’s shop.


Looking into The Future in Lynnwood

Over at The Psychic Shop we may not divine via the crystal ball but we do use other more contemporary forms of reading the future. Find out more when you visit us in Lynnwood.