Sunday 28 October 2012

Guest Post: An Armchair Medium's Guide to Scrying by The House of Velvet and Glass author Katherine Howe.

Just in time for Halloween I have this great Scrying Guide to share with you courtesy of Katherine Howe, author of The House of Velvet and Glass. 

From Wikipedia: Scrying (also called seeing or peeping) is a magic practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and less often for purposes of divination or fortune-telling.

So, who's going to try this for Halloween?!


The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: September 13th 2012
Ages: Adult.  

Katherine Howe, "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" returns with her dazzling new historical novel, "The House of Velvet and Glass", set against the backdrop of the sinking of the Titanic. 1915, and the ghosts of the dead haunt a wealthy Boston family...Sibyl Allston is devastated by the recent deaths of her mother and sister aboard the Titanic. Hoping to heal her wounded heart, she seeks solace in the parlour of a medium who promises to contact her lost loved ones. But Sibyl finds herself drawn into a strange new world where she can never be sure that what she sees or hears is real. In fear and desperation she turns to psychology professor Benton Jones - despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past...From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the upscale salons of high society, Sibyl and Benton are drawn into a world of occult magic, of truth and lies, and into a race to understand Sibyl's own apparent talent for scrying before it is too late. Katherine Howe's "The House of Velvet and Glass" is a harrowing story of darkness and danger vanquished by the redemptive power of love.

Guest Post:  The Armchair Medium's Guide to Scrying

 Most of us at one time or another have wished that we had the ability to see something that was hidden from us, or to learn some tidbit of information that is impossible to know. Maybe we played with a Ouija board at a slumber party when we were kids, or made a paper fortune teller to guess what would happen to us when we grew up. In this way we are no different from people living one hundred years ago, many of whom experimented with different means to see the future or the past. The techniques that they used were fairly simple, and are easy enough to try at home. All it takes to try scrying for yourself are a few specific tools, a quiet evening, an open mind, and a sense of humor. 

To scry really just means to see. But scrying is a specific kind of seeing. When we watch a movie, we are seeing still frames of light projected in quick succession on a screen, which our minds then interpret as moving images with references in the real world. Scrying is much the same, except that the images we might see some from within our own minds. We gaze on a reflective surface, which provides a blank screen over which images from our mind's eye can play. Then we interpret those images in whatever way makes the most sense to us.

What you will need:

1. A dark, quiet room, preferably with a table and chair. The chair should be comfortable enough that you can sit in it for awhile, but not so comfortable that you get sleepy. 

2. A candle, scented or not, according to your preference. If an aroma will help you to create a setting that is special and different from everyday life, then give it a try. If it will distract you, then go with unscented.

3. A small reflective object. If you're feeling lavish, try a clear rock crystal ball, about an inch in diameter. Crystal can be expensive, though. The next choice is a blown glass orb. In a pinch, you can use a mirror, even a small pocket mirror will do. Some writers have suggested that objects used for scrying have associations with the moon, with coolness, darkness, and reflectiveness. For this reason, and because it helps to be in darkness, it's best to try your scrying experiment at night.

4. Black cloth. A square of velvet is best, but any dark material will do, even a soft black sweater. The idea is for the material to absorb excess light.

5. Like aromas, music is optional. If it will help you to step out of your everyday life for an hour or so and put your everyday worries to the side, then give it a try. If it will distract you, then go without. If you choose to play music in the background, it should be soft and repetitive, so that it won't take away your attention.

6. Also optional, but potentially more fun, are some like minded friends who might wish to join you.

What to do:

 Light the candle at the edge of your table, and turn off the other lights in the room. Have your scrying object nearby, resting on top of whatever black material you have handy. Settle yourself in your seat and enjoy a minute of quiet. 

 Concentrate on your breath. 

 Feel your breath moving in and out of your nose. You may wish to breathe more slowly, maybe counting to five on each inhalation and exhalation. While you are doing so, feel the top of your head grow warm and tingly. Allow the tingling sensation to travel slowly down the back of your neck, into your shoulders, down your arms, along your body, all the way down to your feet. 

Allow your gaze to come to rest on your scrying object. If you are using a crystal or glass ball, let your eye settle on the interior of the ball, rather than on its surface. If you are using a mirror, have it lie flat on the table so that you can't see yourself reflected in it. Try to look through the mirror, as if you were gazing into a pond looking for fish, rather than at the surface. The candle light might sparkle a little on the surface of your scrying object, but let that happen at the edge of your consciousness, without looking at it.

Allow your mind to soften. Just rest, and don't look with your eyes. Let your mind drift wherever it feels like going. Take your time. There is no hurry. You have nowhere to be.
 Some nineteenth century writers on scrying say that you might first see clouds or mist, which will contain different changing colors. They suggest that after a few practice sessions, those mists will part to reveal images. Theories differ on how to get the best results. One optional technique is to focus your attention on an object in the room where you are sitting, then turn your gaze to the glass and try to picture the object inside the glass. Most writers agree, however, that looking too closely with your eyes will cause the images to disappear. Relax, smile, and see what happens. It's quite possible that nothing will happen, and you and your friends will burst out laughing. But at very least, you will have spent an evening feeling what it was like at the beginning of the twentieth century.

There are many contemporary books about scrying, but my favorite is a book published in London in 1910 called Crystal-Gazing and the Wonders of Clairvoyance, Embracing Practical Instructions in the Art, History, and Philosophy of this Ancient Science, by John Melville. It provides a window on how people in England and America during the 1910s thought about scrying, and what it meant to them. 

 Find out more about Katherine Howe:  Website  ||   Facebook


  1.  I'm really looking forward to it. I had hoped to fit it in as a Halloween read, but didn't get to it!

  2. What a fun post! I love the cover of this book; I'll have to check it out! There's nothing like a good Halloween read, especially since I am stuck indoors during this horrible hurricane!

  3.  I hope you stay safe in the hurricane. It looks so scary! I think you'd really enjoy this book - it sounds like something we'd both enjoy!


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