All of the techniques described below employ a black mirror or other obscured reflection device and hand held candles, and all include a formal relaxation sequence and/or something akin to a self-hypnosis induction followed by an initial period of gazing with a meditative focus (i.e. without specific a specific thought pattern), as described in this basic instruction for black mirror scrying.
One of the most common applications of the magick mirror in folklore is as a divinatory device, employed to gain insight into the unseen dynamics in and around a specific situation, such as a court case, a workplace issue, a business arrangement, a personal relationship, etc. Folk tale imagery suggest that one simply looks into the mirror, asks a question, and waits to see/hear an answer, but then, most commonly the attitude implied in such tales is that the magick resides in the mirror rather than the practitioner, a notion that is not being promoted here. In fact, looking into a mirror and asking or concentrating on a question is not a particularly effective technique, and instructions to that effect tend to lead early-stage practitioners to frustration and discouragement. Here is an instruction for a technique that is quite effective, and will work for virtually anyone who applies it well. Like all magical techniques, however, the steps required to make it work are considerably easier to describe than they are to master. The most difficult of these steps, however, generalize well to many magical techniques, with or without a black mirror.
Black Mirror Divination
This technique is not a quick, extemporaneous means of gaining insight into a sudden problem. It requires at least a couple of days of preparatory work, so is probably best used for substantial, relatively long-standing issues rather than for short-term, immediately pressing problems.
1. For a day or two prior to the working, think about the question often. Pay particular attention to your feelings when you think about the relevant issues that are known to you. As much as possible, avoid trying to think of ways to solve the problems or obstacles associated with the subject. Also, try to avoid thinking about why things are the way they are, how things got to be this way, etc. Think rather about the problems themselves as the are in the present, in as purely a descriptive manner as you can manage, and again, notice how you feel when the issues arise in your mind. This descriptive mode of thinking will not feel natural at first. It will require practice but it is a skill that anyone can develop with enough effort. See Developmental Journaling for a related instruction and this theoretical essay on descriptive thinking.
2. Make a pictorial representation of the question. There are any number of ways to do this. The following instruction on sigil making may be of use, but the reader is encouraged to think about and seek out many methods, to experiment, and to find methods of symbolizing a question (or goal) that are personally satisfying.
3. The day of the working, set up the area as described in the basic instruction. Refrain from eating or drinking (moderate water intake is okay) for about 6 hours prior to the working, unless you have a medical reason to eat more frequently than that, in which case, simply avoid doing the working on a full stomach. If using a black mirror or other solid reflective device, draw the pictorial representation of the question on the scrying surface with a grease pencil, or use a small paintbrush dipped in an essential oil or vegetable oil. If using a bowl of water or ink, place the symbol near the scrying device so that it sits in the outer reaches of your peripheral vision when gazing at the scrying surface.
4. Do the basic relaxation, etc., and begin to gaze with a meditative focus. Specifically, avoid focusing on the question during this period. Rather, keep an open mind and let whatever happens happen. When specific ideas, of the question or anything else occur, let them come then let them go. Once your face begins to morph, make a mental effort to stabilize the reflection. When you feel that what you see is substantive, ask the image, with your mental voice or just by feeling, to show what it has to show, or tell what it has to tell1. When you feel the session should end or has ended itself, set the candles down and do a little light stretching to return to a relatively normal state.
5. Write down everything you can remember from the working as soon as possible and in the purely descriptive manner described in Developmental Journaling. It is not important at this point to articulate a solution to the problem or an answer to the question. This may feel unnatural at first, and resisting the urge to voice an answer as soon as possible takes some practice. It is, however, an essential element of the technique that you merely describe what you saw, heard, and especially how you felt during your scrying session, specifically without deciding what any of it might mean in relation to the question at hand.
6. Have a little something to eat, then engage yourself in something else. Ruminating over the events of the operation at this point is generally unproductive and can become self-defeating, especially if one feels they can't help it. To combat this tendency, plan ahead, and jump right into unrelated activities that require a high degree of mental focus and sustained attention as soon as possible after the working. Then, when thoughts of the working intrude, don't worry about it, just let them come and go and keep doing what you're doing.
Past Life Exploration
There is some evidence of a Hindu tradition of using mirrors as a means of examining past lives, for the purpose of better understanding how and why ones current circumstances came to be what they are. Whether or not this is a traditional use of mirrors in the East, modern black mirror scrying is perfectly suited for this general purpose, and can be employed by anyone, regardless of beliefs about reincarnation and Karma. That is, past life experiences (not necessarily involving mirrors) is a relatively common report in various cultures throughout recorded history and is fairly common today. We can therefore assume that the experience lies within the range of human capacity, so anyone can have such an experience under some circumstances.
What the experience means to any given individual may, at first flush, seem to rely on the person's beliefs, but in fact, the range of interpretation is probably fairly narrow regardless of beliefs. If we accept the notion that we have lived many lives before, then it stands to reason that our accumulated experience shapes and informs our current circumstances, to some degree at least, and the gaining knowledge of past lives can help us understand our present life. For the more agnostic or skeptical folk, the experience is just as accessible and is equally informative. Rather than assuming that the experience represents literal lives lived in the past, one may instead understand the experience in metaphorical terms. Either way, the effect is the same: one becomes better informed of what underpins their current circumstances.
The following instruction uses the typical language of past life regression, but the reader should feel free to consider that language either literal or metaphorical, as suits their own proclivities. So long as one follows the instructions as given, it won't matter either way.
Black Mirror Past Life Regression
Decide when you're going to perform the operation a few days in advance. On the days leading up to the operation, rehearse recall the events of your life in reverse order. Start with some very recent memories, then touch on something from a couple of years back, a couple of years before that, etc., until you reach some of your earliest childhood memories. At each point, when you are ready to move back to your next earlier memory, take in a deep breath, hold it in for a moment or two, and as you exhale, feel yourself slipping back in time, so to speak, in your mind's eye. Pay attention to how you feel as you transition from later to earlier time frames. When your done, imagine that you're watching your life on a video recording that you have fast forwarded, up to the present time.
On the day of the operation:
1. Set up your work area as usual.
2. Perform your relaxation sequence, light the candles, and begin to gaze.
3. When your face begins to morph, make an effort to see yourself as you are now. Don't be surprised to find that it's somewhat difficult to keep an image that closely resembles your current reflection in a normal mirror. It isn't necessary to keep a crisp or stable image in that form. Rather, assume that morphing flashes of various features reflect undercurrents in your current life.
4. When you feel comfortable with the image of your current self, take a deep breath, hold it in a moment, and recall the feelings you developed during your rehearsal sessions as you transition to an earlier memory. Then make an effort to see yourself at that age and in that time reflected in the mirror. Again, don't be surprised that the image reflects both familiar and unfamiliar features, and assume that the unfamiliar features represent the undercurrents of your life then. Pause at this stage until you feel comfortable with the image.
5. Continue back to an earlier memory/time in the same fashion, drawing in a deep breath, holding it a moment, then recalling that unique feeling of slipping back in time as you shift to the next memory. And pause at each stage until you feel comfortable with the image.
6. Once you've reached the stage of your earliest memories, take in a deep breath, hold it in a moment, then as you exhale, feel that transition feeling again. The next image you see will be a past life image. Treat this image in the same fashion. Strive to stabilize it somewhat (again, you may continue to get flashes of undercurrent images), and pause there until you feel comfortable with the image you're getting. What you do at this point is largely a matter of inspiration. Suffice it to say that this is the time to explore.
7. You may repeat step 6 as many times as desired, regressing to earlier incarnations, however, it is advisable to limit the first session to one past incarnation. The operation may be repeated another day, regressing back to the incarnation visited the first time briefly, then moving on to an earlier place/time for further exploration. You will find that each time through the process you are able to move through your current life and through incarnations previously visited with increasing ease and evermore quickly.
8. When satisfied, run back through the sequence that led you to the regressed state but in the forward direction, as if watching a fast-forwarded video recording. End your session as usual, with a little light stretching and a little something to eat.
The black mirror technique related in the basic instruction was initially developed as an aid for Goetic evocation by Carroll "Poke" Runyon. That particular form of magick is too intricate and expansive to address here, but the reader is encouraged to research it in service of a well-rounded education. That as it may be, the basic black mirror technique generalizes well to spirit communication of just about any sort, so the following general procedure is presented and may be adapted to more specific aims as inspiration dictates.
But first, a word about spirits in general. Just as the past life work described above needn't be bound to any particular cosmological frame to occur or to be useful, so too can spirit work be of good use to anyone, regardless of their specific beliefs about spirits, even to the point of full disbelief that spirit beings even exist. The simple fact of the matter is, like past life experiences, the experience of what people usually describe as ghosts or other sorts of spirits is a relatively common human phenomenon and has been so for time immemorial. So it stands to reason that anyone can have such experiences under certain circumstances. One thing the following procedures do is to promote circumstances that can facilitate the experience of what for all practical purposes presents as sentient but non-corporeal beings, capable of doing and saying (relating in one way or another) unexpected and surprising things. But more to the point, some of these unexpected and surprising things can be quite useful in equally unexpected and surprising ways.
The aspirant is therefore free to consider the spirit beings experienced in this way from any cosmological point of view they find pleasing, including an agnostic or even downright skeptical view. So long as the procedures are followed, spirit communication is likely. The value of the experiences can only be discovered by having them, so as is so oft repeated, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The general procedures below are pretty much the same for any operation aimed at evoking and communicating with spirits. Most of the differences between types of evocations are in the preparations in the days and weeks leading up to the operation itself. A few suggestions for specific applications follow the general procedures.
General Procedures for Spirit Evocation
1. At least a few days prior to a planned working, create a Seal to represent the targeted spirit (see sigil making for instructions or use any preferred method). If a name is known, use the name as the basis of the Seal. If no name is known, devise the most concise statement of function you can (try to limit it to no more than two or three words at most) and use that as the basis of the seal.
2. Spend the days running up to the operation contemplating the Seal and thinking about the nature of the spirit, as much as you understand it. If you know nothing of the nature of the spirit, instead contemplate what you hope to gain by the communion. As part of the contemplation process, always begin with a basic relaxation sequence, gaze the Seal, and focus your attention as described above. When extraneous thoughts occur, acknowledge them the let them pass, redirecting your focus to the task at hand.
3. On the day of the operation, set up your equipment as directed in the basic instruction, Draw or paint the Seal onto the surface of the black mirror with a grease pencil or an appropriate oil (vegetable oil, an essential, etc.).
4. Perform a relaxation sequence, light the candles, and gaze. At first, gaze without focusing on any particular thought or idea, keep an open mind. Gaze at your own reflection until it begins to morph. Once the morphing starts, stretch out with your feelings and summon the target spirit. There is no set way to describe what "summoning" feels like, beyond the obvious: you should really want to contact that spirit. Let that wanting consume your being while at the same time trying to stabilize the image in the mirror.
5. Once you feel contact has been made, what you do is largely a matter of inspiration or intent. You may ask questions, and answers may come in the form of verbal-like communication or images in the mirror, etc. While some people report hearing an audible voice during this kind of procedure, many if not most report that verbal-like communication is primarily an "inner-voice" phenomenon. The "voice" of the spirit in this case can be difficult to distinguish from your own inner voice, though the telltale sign of spirit communication, regardless of form, is that the spirit will communicate unexpected and surprising things.
Alternatively or in addition, you may direct the spirit to aid you with your magical goals, etc. Any number of other things are possible, so keep an open mind, and if inspired during the session, the best thing to do is to go with it.
6. When satisfied that you have accomplished as much as you can, it's customary to thank the spirit and bid it farewell. Intentionally sharpen your the focus of your vision and you will once again see a clearer reflection of your own face, which will signify that the spirit has departed. End the session with a little light stretching and a little something to eat.
Animal and Other Nature Spirits
One application of this technique is to contact a personal animal spirit, a Totem Animal, etc. Other nature spirits, such as the Spirit of Rain, the Spirit of Oak (or the Spirit of a particular medicinal plant)… even the Spirit of ones own garden may be evoked. A Seal may be made of words like, OAK SPIRIT, or MY GARDEN, etc. Follow the basic procedures described above, but in the days or even weeks prior to the working, spend time thinking about the target object/concept, and if possible, in physical contact with it. Because the target in this case relates to natural phenomena, a good deal of information will be available. So do as much relevant research as possible into the nature of the subject of interest. Finally, spend some meditative time imagining that you are the thing in question, or that you are directly participating in it. Then, when the time comes to do the operation, recall how you felt as the thing in question while developing the summoning attitude.
Many traditions seek to draw guidance and wisdom from ancestral spirits. To prepare for this sort of operation, contemplate the evolution of your people, and/or your family as is appropriate to your goals. Study relevant histories and folklore, make a genealogy chart, etc…. generally engross yourself in your origins as much as possible. Spend at least a few meditative sessions imagining what life was like for your ancestors, how they lived, the challenges they faced, the obstacles they overcame, and even their failures where they are known. Pay particular attention to the feelings you develop as you imagine yourself as one of your own ancestors. And when the time comes to do the operation, engulf yourself in those feelings as you summon them.
Family and Friends that have Died
There are many reasons that people seek to commune with those who have passed away ahead of us: advice, wisdom, resolution of unfinished business, etc. Whatever the goal, the basic preparation is the same: spend time imagining the person as they were, and as you knew them. Start by recalling their face, then the rest of their body, their posture, their mannerisms. Recall the sound of their voice and common phrases that would say. And most importantly, remember events you shared with the person, and especially remember how you felt, about yourself and about everything else, when you were around them. Be as honest about it as you can be, neither romanticizing nor demonizing them. Don't shy away from negative memories or feelings if they were part of your experience of the person when they were alive but take care to avoid exaggerating them, etc. Make a Seal using their name as the basis, and do the operation when you feel you've sufficiently reviewed their life and how their life related to yours. When it's time to summon them, focus especially on the feelings that came up during your contemplations.
The Personal Spirit Guide
One may use the general evocation procedure with the intent of contacting a personal spirit guide and may well be successful. A detailed instruction, based on a classic Medieval/Renaissance working aimed at contacting a personal tutelary spirit that teaches the aspirant advanced magical techniques, has been adapted for the modern practitioner and is available here: The Personal Tutelary Spirit: An Abbreviated Abramelin Operation. The entire procedure was designed to take 6-18 months. The version presented here take about a month, but be aware that this procedure is not easy to carry out. In many ways the procedure and its conclusion fills the functions of Initiation within certain mystery schools. Readers are encouraged to read the entire instruction in advance, and to carefully consider the operation before entering into the prescribed work.
Two-way communication with black mirror images, regardless of the specific technique, is a tricky business. The visual images generated by the facial reflection-distortion technique are relatively unambiguous because they are viewed through the physical eyes, but verbal-like communication takes place within the mental landscape of the scryer, through an inner voice, and can be difficult to discriminate from ones own thoughts. The hallmark of successful communication is simple: the presence will convey something wholly unexpected, but even after something unexpected happens, feelings of ambiguity are common. How such ambiguities are best addressed is a matter of trial and error. Let your intuition guide you, and consider developing methods for testing the veracity of information gained during scrying sessions.
Some techniques call upon the scryer to verbally report what the presence says, to a third party transcriber (or tape recorder, etc.), which is also fairly tricky. The act of vocalizing can break the trance-state, or can make the trance-state difficult to maintain. Most people can learn to do it with practice. Even so, it should be noted that not all communication is limited to visual images on the reflective surface or to mental impression of a verbal-like nature. Often, communication is transmitted on a purely emotional level and can be difficult to verbalize in any case. In all cases, discerning the content of the information coming through during the session is a matter of practice and experience. The key is to keep an open mind, to generally resist the urge to decide that you know what something means until long after the facts have played themselves out, especially while learning the techniques and developing the skills. The Developmental Journaling instruction is a good method for adopting a productive, open-minded mental attitude toward interpretation of magical events, and is strongly encouraged.
Finally, one of the primary effects of work of this nature is to hone ones intuitive senses to goal-relevant dynamics as they unfold in the practitioner's life, and a key to fully exploring these effects is to learn to trust in ones intuitive signals enough to act on them as and when they occur. That's an easy thing to say, but is not as easy a thing for most people to do. There are no useful instructions to impart in this regard, beyond stating the obvious: pay attention to your gut feelings and act on them when you experience them. In other words, never assume that what you know is limited to what you know you know.
Making a Black Mirror
Whether you're making a Goetia-style circle-in-a-triangle design, or some other design, you'll need at least two things: a piece of glass the size and shape you want for your reflective surface and some flat black spray paint. Be sure your work area is well ventilated.
Outdoors is probably best if possible, but not if it's dusty and windy. Lay the glass (removed from any frame you plan to use) on a several sheets of newspaper or a drop cloth, with the side you intend to use as the viewing surface faced down and back side-up, clean, and dry. Shake the spray paint per directions on the can. Then spray the paint with a sweeping motion from side to side across the surface of the glass. Start at the top and sweep across, move down a little and sweep across again, etc., till the entire surface is coated with paint. Allow to dry for at least two hours, and then apply another coat. Some people apply as many as 13 coats of paint, but 2-3 is usually plenty. Leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Pick it up and carefully clean off the front (viewing) surface. The glass is now ready to be framed or mounted.
A common method of making a magick mirror is to buy a non-reflective picture frame and use the glass that comes with it. The mirror surface can be any shape but oval or circular is most common. A square frame with an oval or circular matte is not uncommon.
Goetia-style ala Runyon/Kraig
The method developed by Carroll "Poke" Runyon (also published by Donald Michael Kraig) entails cutting a triangle out of wood and painting it with names and symbols (usually from Goetia), and then mounting a circular black mirror on it.
The glass may be mounted a number of ways. L-shaped mirror mounts will work well, but talk to people at the hardware store about the smallest size that will securely hold the weight of your mirror. The triangle can be set on an easel on a slight angle. Alternatively, you could install a prop on the back to make a table-top model (look at any table-top picture frame to see how that's done).
Size should be determined by how much space you have, and your desires (if you prefer to stand or sit, etc.), however, you want to avoid reflecting the candle flames in the mirror surface, which can become a problem if the mirror is too large.
As an alternative to glass, you could use any dark, reflective surface, including polished black marble or onyx, a dark ceramic dinner plate, etc., which could be set on a bookstand on a table. The general idea is to avoid the sharp reflection of a regular mirror. A soft, somewhat obscured reflection is the goal.
While neither traditional nor easy to make at home, an innovation is to etch a design that suits the magick system in use into the back surface of the glass before coating with black paint. The example below (left) was designed for use with Neuromagick's own system of magick, and the other (right) is etched with the classic Goetic Triangle d'Art design. The circle in the middle of the design is big enough to serve as the entire mirror, but the whole mirror's surcace can still be used, as the etching does not interfere with the facial reflection-distrontion technique, or most other scrying methods.
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