The true and strange origins of magic crystal balls

What is a Crystal ball?

Crystal balls are spheres made of glass or clear stone that are usually mounted on a base that holds them still. 

 The crystal ball is usually positioned on a table or altar and is then gazed upon for the purpose of fortune-telling and clairvoyance, in other words for scrying. This is called the art of crystallomancy.

Spiritualists describe scrying is as opening a portal into another dimension. It is said that If done properly, one could tap into the realm of the spirit world, uncover hidden secrets, communicate with the dead, and even tell the future.

This form of fortune reading is widely associated with the Gypsies, who traveled from India to Europe during the middle ages and brought their fortune-telling wisdom along with them. But is there more to crystal balls that meets the eye? 

The use of crystal balls for scrying is in fact a very old practice, dating all the way back to both the Pagans and Romans in the first century.  

Crystal balls were originally used by the Pagans, specifically by the Celtic druids in their spiritual practices. The druids were the priests of Celtic society as well as political leaders. They were nature worshipers, healers, teachers, judges, advisors, and would lead their tribes through spiritual ritual practices.

 The Romans eventually wiped out all the pagan tribes and with that died the knowledge of crystal balls that was passed down verbally by the druids.

Even though the druids were eradicated, the Romans did however continue to use crystal balls their own way. Crystal balls were referred to as “Crystallum Orbis” and as “Orbuculum” and were widely used for several hundreds of years for fortune-telling. 

Eventually, it was the rise of the Catholic church that finally eradicated the practice of scrying and crystal ball ownership for some time (as they typically did with every culture they tried to take over and eradicate). The Catholics labeled owning one as heresy and because of this, the use of crystal balls remained hidden.  

 It was thanks to the very famous Queen Elizabeth I, that crystal balls made a comeback during the renaissance. During her reign, she employed an advisor whose name was John Dee. 

John Dee was known to practice Alchemy, astronomy, geography, philosophy, and mathematics. He was known to own a crystal ball and would use it in spiritual sessions where he would communicate with Angels and Demons. 

Literature has also been found dating from the 11th century in Indian and Arabic texts. 

The Picatrix is the name of a 400-page magic and astrology book initially written in Arabic. It is a book that synthesizes older works of magic and astrology and is also regarded as a handbook for talismanic magic. Within that book, scrying, crystal ball gazing, is a legitimate form of spiritual clairvoyant practice.

In the 19th century, spiritualism slowly made a comeback, and crystal gazing no longer needed to be hidden out of fear of persecution from religion.

Today, scrying and crystal gazing is used by modern Wicca practitioners, new age, and other belief systems, as well as modern clairvoyants and fortune-tellers. 

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