Scrying is the name of the method of getting psychic information of the past, present or future through images in a reflecting surface such as a crystal balls, mirrors, water, etc. This practice has been prominent since the ancient times of Assyria, Persia, Egypt and China. The practice has since spread all over the world into practically all countries and continents.
A form of scrying in which a psychic gazes into a crystal ball until images appear is called crystal gazing. In more ancient times this was referred to as crystallomancy. A crystal ball is generally a small sphere although sometimes it is six sided, from three to five inches in diameter, made of quartz and usually colored white, yellow, green or blue though today you can find them in practically any color imaginable. Some crystals were in the shape of pyramids or cylinders and often small pieces of crystal were embedded in rings or other objects. In ancient times, it was common to lower the crystal into water before staring at it.
In his Encyclopedia of Occultism, Lewis Spence suggests getting a crystal ball that is without flaws or spects and perfectly shaped, highly polished and on a stand made of ivory, ebony, or boxwood. Other scryers recommend that the ball be kept clean at all times and that no one else be allowed the use of the sphere except the scryer that does the reading. A dark background with no distracting reflections from other objects is preferred use for setting the crystal ball against or the ball can be held in one's lap or hands, or placed directly on a dark cloth. Total darkness in a room is not advisable but, instead, a dim light used that is to the rear of the reader. The ball should be held about the same distance away from oneself as a book would be held.
The scryer's state of mind should be relaxed but the attention should be focused on the ball and the gaze focused into the crystal for as long as possible before a vision appears and the eyes tire.
When a vision comes into the ball, what first happens is that the ball begins to cloud over and the images will start to appear. At first they may be very tiny in size or they can fill the complete surface of the ball. The scenes can be black and white or colored. There have been instances where the crystal ball itself seems to disappear and the life size images fill the room.
The rational explanation for what happens during scrying is that the psychic's subconscious mind projects images, symbolic representations, personal problems or fragments of forgotten memories. One of the founders of the British Society for Psychical Research, Frederic Myers, believed it was a conveyance for the subconscious mind to send messages to the conscious mind. This theory foreshadowed the view of Freud and later psychiatrists. The subconscious mind keeps a mental store of objects and events that we may never be consciously aware of. This happens because the subconscious mind which not only controls, but is responsible for all sensory input, also picks up messages and impressions through its extra sensory perception.
Ms. Goodrich Freer, whos studies of the crystal ball have given us much of the information we know today of how the crystal ball works, once conducted an experiment with a crystal ball by first sending a friend into the dining room where there were unlit candles on the table. She then mentally projected the scene into her crystal ball and "lit" the candles in her vision. Her friend immediately called out to her exclaiming that the candles were already lit. The physiologist that investigated every phase of paranormal phenomena imaginable believed that only 1 out of every 20 may have this ability; however others have the potential to develop the skill through meditation, techniques and practice.
Any reflecting surface can be used for scrying- a mirror, a river, spring, polished glass, the blade of a sword, etc. There is even a reported incident of a young girl who saw a death scene in a door knob that many months later played exactly as she saw. The mirror itself has been used as a source of information for thousands of years and was depicted in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". This practice was called catoptromancy. The Greeks used a form of catoptromancy and hydromancy (seeing visions in water) at the Temple of Cerae at Patrae. A sick person would lower a mirror suspended by a thread until it touched the surface of the water. Then his image in the mirror would show either death or recovery. Native American Indian tribes also used a form of scrying such as this where those who were ill stared into the water until images of the appropriate food or medicine that would cure them would appear.