Scrying: How To Develop This Ancient Divination Skill

Scrying is a type of divination performed by gazing into a smooth surface to receive messages, guidance, or visions from the spirit world. The practice of scrying is an old tradition going all the way back to ancient Egypt when people would use a drop of oil on their thumbnail and look into the smooth, shiny surface to their nail to receive spiritual wisdom.

You’ve probably seen a stereotypical fortune teller leaning over a spooky crystal ball, calling out the cryptic images he or she is seeing in the stone. But you don’t have to be a professional psychic to experiment with scrying in your spiritual practice. This form of divination is absolutely accessible to anyone.

You don’t need any fancy tools and you don’t need to wait until you’re a more experienced witch to practice scrying. As long as you follow a few simple guidelines, you’ll be able to safely use the practice of scrying to deepen your connection to your intuition and to the spirit realm.

How To Protect Yourself While Scrying

Because you’ll be tapping into unknown energies and receiving messages from the spirit world, it’s important to take a few safety measures before you begin scrying.

First, perform some kind of grounding meditation to prepare your energy for this practice. There are many ways to do this, but my personal favorite is a “Red Roots” meditation. To do this, sit in a comfortable position and bring your awareness to the places you are touching the ground. Then, in your mind’s eye, visualize red glowing roots sprouting from those places. See the roots grow longer as they weave through the dirt and rock until they reach the center of the earth. When you feel a sense of relaxation and stability (whatever that means for you), you can open your eyes.

Next, perform some kind of protection spell to keep you safe for the duration of your scrying ritual. Again, you have a lot of different options. I use a white light meditation but you can also set up wards or cast a circle.

Setting The Mood For Scrying

You can set the mood however you want for your scrying ritual. The basic principle here is to add elements then enhance your experience and make it seem special—whatever that feels like for you. Experiment with these different tools and see which ones give you the best results. This is highly personal and will vary from witch to witch.


Some witches prefer to scry during the day. Some witches only scry at night. You can try scrying in a dimly lit room or outside on a sunny day. Either way is valid but you’ll probably discover over time that the amount of light in your space affects the mood and possibly the kind of messages you receive.

I love to light 7-10 candles and turn off all the lights when I scry. It gives me enough light to see, but it’s dark enough to make my space feel secretive and sacred.


Music can instantly change the energy of a space. I love putting on a mystical-sounding instrumental playlist while I scry. It sets the mood without distracting me. You don’t have to go with instrumental tunes. Maybe pop music or white noise playlists work better for you.

Incense or Essential Oils

Cedar incense or Frankincense resin are known for enhancing psychic abilities or connecting to the spirit world. The scent and smoke drifting through the air can raise the vibration of your space. Lavender and Jasmine essential oils can also be helpful for this kind of work. Add about five drops to the water in your essential oil diffuser, or use a cauldron with a tea light underneath. Again, the smells and the steam rising into the air can energetically prepare you for divination.

Moon Phase

The full moon is known for aiding witches with divination work making it an excellent time to scry. You perform your scrying outside directly under the moon, using the moonlight to illuminate the visions you see or scry by a window if the weather isn’t ideal.

How To Record The Messages You Receive

You’ll likely be in a deep meditative state while your scrying, so you might not consciously remember everything you see when you’re done. It’s similar to how you sometimes forget your dreams after you wake up.

A way to make sure you don’t lose any of the messages is to record your scrying session with your phone or another recording device. Describe aloud the images and messages you receive as they come up, and listen to the recording after you’re done.

You can also keep a journal nearby to jot down notes during or immediately after scrying, but you may have to look away from your scrying surface to write.

Tools For Scrying

A Crystal Ball

This is the most obvious choice, but it’s definitely not the most cost-effective way to go. Specialty crystal stores may carry different sphere-shaped stones. Clear quartz, rose quartz, smoky quartz, obsidian, or selenite are popular options. You can also find crystal balls online from retailers like Etsy or Ebay. Some witches choose to keep their crystal ball covered with a dark cloth when not in use. Whenever you can, set the crystal ball near a window or outside during a full moon to energetically cleanse it.

Note: If you use a clear or glass scrying ball, keep it covered when you aren’t using it! These can act like magnifying glasses in the sun and will start fires if left out.

A Polished Crystal

This is similar to a crystal ball, but it doesn’t have to be round or very large. You can use any crystal that has a smooth surface for scrying.

A Cauldron or Bowl of Liquid

A dark cast iron cauldron is a perfect tool for scrying. If you don’t have a cauldron, any bowl will work just fine. Fill it with water and gaze at the smooth surface of the water. If available, use water that has been charged by the energy of the full moon. Another variation is to add a few drops of food coloring and watch as the color spreads through the water.

Some witches prefer to use oil to scry instead of water. Others will add oil into their bowl of water and scry by watching the oil interact with the water.

Another method is to pour melted wax into a bowl of water and notice the shapes that form.

A Sheet of Glass

This can be any kind of flat glass, but picture frames work very well for this. Cut out a black sheet of paper and place it in the frame. Scry using only the picture frame, or place a candle in front of the picture frame and gaze at the glass as it reflects the dancing light of the candle flame.

A Candle Flame Or Any Other Form Of Fire

The flame of a candle can be used for scrying. Gaze at the base of the flame, or just to the right or left of the flame (so the flame is in your peripheral vision). This can help protect your eyes. Fires in your cauldron or bonfires are also excellent mediums for scrying.

A Mirror

Some witches specifically prefer a black mirror, but a regular mirror works, too! Set the mirror on the ground and look into it, or set it up on your altar or wall, and light a candle in front of it.

A Calm Body of Water

This is thought to be the oldest form of scrying. If you have access to a calm body of water, consider using it for scrying. Ocean water is ideal for messages regarding abundance and love.

Your Fingernails

Buff your fingernails until they shine, or paint your nails with a high gloss polish. Look into the shiny surface of your nail just as you would any other scrying surface. This could be a good method if you’re waiting in the carpool line at your child’s school or sitting at the DMV. It’s a fun way to fit magic into a busy schedule.

Phone or Computer Screens

These everyday devices have smooth black screens and can be used for scrying. Keep in mind is that you use these devices frequently so they probably hold all kinds of energy. Make sure you cleanse your device first.

How to Scry

Once you’ve energetically prepared yourself and your space for scrying, you can choose your medium. Pick any of the tools listed above, or try a more unconventional tool if you want.

Set Your Intention

If you’re new to scrying, I recommend setting a very broad intention. You’re not sure what you’ll see if you’ve never done this before, so setting a more specific intention could block important messages from coming through.

A good intention could be:

“I open my heart to any messages or visions that will guide me towards my highest potential.”

An intention like that is broad but communicates that you specifically want positive or constructive messages regarding your life.

If you’ve been scrying for a while, you may want to ask for guidance on specific issues such as your love life or your career path.

A more specific intention could be:

“I open my heart and mind to receive any constructive messages regarding my current relationship.”

Receiving Messages While Scrying

Gaze into your scrying surface, and allow your body to relax. Don’t forget to breathe. Deep steady breaths will help you slow down your mind and help you keep your thoughts on your magic.

Soften your gaze by letting your eyes become unfocused. Once this happens you may begin to see shapes, people, or symbols on your scrying surface. Give the images time to appear, often it can take 5-10 minutes of gazing before you see anything.

When you’re first learning how to scry, you might second guess yourself. You might think that you imagined something or that you’re trying to force yourself to see something that isn’t there. That’s totally normal! Just state aloud whatever you’re receiving no matter how random it is. Some of the things you see won’t be relevant, especially when you’re new to this practice. But just because you don’t understand what you see, doesn’t mean it’s not a message. Perhaps it’s a message you’ll benefit from later on.

The messages may come in the form of thoughts, mental images, memories, or actual things you see on your scrying surface. Be open to all of these different ways the spirit world may communicate with you.

If you go through all the steps, and you don’t see anything while you’re scrying, don’t get down on yourself. Scrying is a skill. Like any skill, you’ll improve with practice. Sometimes all you need to do to get better results is to change your medium or your environment. If you’ve been using a mirror, try a crystal. You can even practice by looking at the shapes and movement of the clouds in the sky.

Your Scrying Practice

Approach this practice with a sense of experimentation. This is is one of the most personal forms of divination because all of the information is coming from your perception. Make sure you take care of yourself and rest when you need to. Though scrying may seem difficult at first, you’ll discover your own personal method that will bring you the guidance you desire.

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Scrying: How To Develop This Ancient Divination Skill by The Traveling Witch

Updated on August 20, 2023 by Avery Hart


  1. Love this easy to understand article. Finally, an easy starting point for me to understand a bit about scrying and how to move forward with you. Thanks so much, Avery. Love your insights.

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