Nov 30, 2013

Hydromancy and water scrying

The desire to know, and thus affect the future, or even attain information about past or present through spiritual means, has spawned so many forms of mantic arts, or divination methods. People have always been ( and still are ) trying very hard, to see clearly  he truth, using spiritual methods,  to get precious information about future, guidance, and read omens, all to increase the quality of their lives and uplift themselves.

From  a silly teenage girl, doing one of them sappy love divinations to find out If that guy likes her,  over  that  guy gazing into a bowl of water that reflects the full Moon in order to foresee the upcoming events, to a notorious  necromancer invoking ghosts to get information from them,  divination is what they  all are engaging in.

I’ve already written about how to use playing cards in divination method  known as cartomancy before, and today we will focus on a more “spiritual” method. Divination using the element  of water, also known as hydromancy.
Galadriel and her magick "mirror", a speculum made with water

Hydromancy and hidroscopy

Hydromancy, often also referred to as Hydroscopy   is an art of divination using water as  a medium, scrying surface or tool. Term hydromancy ( Old Greek “hydros” – water and “manteia” divination  )  was more often used for those methods that were more “mystical” in nature , and “modus operandi”,  such as let’s say water scrying.  The term Hydroscopy ( Old Greek “scopein” – to observe ) was rarely ever used, and when it was,  it was used to describe  those methods which had more scientific   procedures about them, like the methods with ring pendulum and glass, or casting stones on steady/calm water surface  to cause ripples.

In Renaissance magick, Hydromancy  came to be one of the seven “artes magicae “ or “artes pohibitae”  that is one of the “seven forbidden arts”, according to canon law , as expounded by  J. Hartlieb  in 1456th [1]

Water is an element associated traditionally with feminine, intuition, psychic powers, emotions, and Moon  ( among other things ) , hence it makes an ideal medium for spiritual work known as divination. It’s also associated with Archangel Gabriel, harbinger of  important news, and holder of mystical  knowledge and   secrets,  as well as Archangel known to guide people  and advice them. 

So other than observing the water behavior itself, and effects it caused on other objects, water was seen as  one of the ideal scrying surfaces,  which meant that gazing  upon in, in near-trance-like state would give practitioners visions  and  symbolic insight.  Therefore, we can  freely say that water scrying , or gazing was what inspired catmoptromancy, or divination by mirror reflections, for water surfaces were the first mirrors  available and known to humans. Later the two were even often combined in divination, like in example described by Pausianias, an second century Greek traveler:

Before the Temple of Ceres at Patras, there was a fountain, separated from the temple by a wall, and there was an oracle, very truthful, not for all events, but for the sick only. The sick person let down a mirror, suspended by a thread till its base touched the surface of the water, having first prayed to the goddess and offered incense. Then looking in the mirror, he saw the presage of death or recovery, according as the face appeared fresh and healthy, or of a ghastly aspect” [2]

Various ( both ) diverse and similar methods of hydromancy spin the globe. 

In Ancient Greece, there was a custom where one would hold a mirror just bellow to water surface, on the “holy” oracle hill  of Zeus in Dodona ( 14th century BC ), though it’s wise to note here that the Zeus mentioned was not the Olympian Zeus, which came considerably later. [3] 

Divination observing the mirror or the water surface, was common practice in Ancient Egypt, and was  dedicated to their goddess Hathor,  who was reputed to had possessed a magickal shield or mirror  which had been able to show to true nature of any person or object, and was  hence a feared item, for few were ready to deal with what they would see in it.  What more, legends say that Ra’s “holy”  eye was given in custody to Hathor ( or even “in form of goddess Hathor” ) and that using it she was able to see anything in the world.  It’s no surprise then, than in  Heka, it was/is customary to  observe water surface  placed in orange bowl , which reflected flame or the Moon ,   while burning Rose  incense and petitioning Hathor for inspiration and visions . 

In early French traditions it was customary to use spring water  for divination, poured in a dark bowl. Saffron was burnt as an incense, and the  sprigs of Ash, along with flowers of Verbena or/and Wintergreen were placed all around the bowl, which was then used as a speculum. When the  scrying was completed, and needed information gained, the contents were poured on the  ground, to  preserve the link with the Earth. [4] It is said that Nostradamus often practiced hydromancy, and that he had a brass vessel with water, placed on metal tripod,  used for such occasions.

Calm lake  surfaces are often, by Pagans , called Diana’s mirrors, and are used to gaze upon, and entice visions ,   in nights when they reflect  Full or waxing Moon.  Lake Nemi, in Lazio region in Itally, nearby the town also called Nemi, is sacred to pagan goddess Diana. It’s a  beautiful, small volcanic lake,  that ,  in  times of Ancient Rome , was where  the festival called Nemoralia ( 13-15th August )   had taken place.  The lake was called “speculum Diani”  ( lat. Diana’s mirror ). Ancient Roman priests that would conduct  readings , using mirrors and water surfaces for   divination were called “speculari  .

Often, other substances  such as ink ( traditionally in  India, and some other  Eastern cultures ), dyes, or oils, like done in Italian  folk magick , were added to  help entrance the mind and the eye of beholder, and form ominous symbols.  In Italy, one of the methods of diagnosing  evil eye's effects presence in someone’s life, was to pour olive oil in bowl with water, drop by drop, while   reciting incantations,   until certain, auspicious symbol would appear,  most commonly an eye.

In Enochian magick,  Angels are often evoked, to appear in the glass with water,  using prayers,  incantations and words of power,  after which they would provide  guidance. Archangel Uriel is traditionally evoked this way, and in some methods “innocent child” is required to  perform part of the ritual.

Ceromancy ( divination  by  using wax, most often candle wax ) if another method often combined  with   hydromancy , in which case the candle wax was dripped , from a burning candle, into a vessel  with water, and  the symbols and shapes forming,  were interpreted.

Here  are  a few practical methods You can use to divine using water :

Water ripples technique

Best done outdoor, it requires  but a few pebbles and a  steady, calm water surface. Lakes were  most preferred for this, though  really, a small pond, a fountain, even a puddle could do.

The diviner asks the question, aloud, but not yelling. Some say three times.  The question should be formulated /phrased in such manner that it can  be answered with either yes, or no, or “positive” and “negative” outcome.   Then one is to cast a small pebble and count  the number or the ripples.   Odd numbers were considered a “yes” or “positive outcome” answer,  and naturally, even numbers were interpreted as a “no”, or “negative outcome” answer.  Splashes, strange intense sounds produced when casting the pebble, also indicated “explosive” , swift development.    Long distance between the ripple circles,  or absence of the same was a call to caution, warning about obstacles on someone’s path, or slow development of  the things that were to unfold in future. Plainly put, it often meant, the  diviner, or the one whom the reading is being given, should take charge of things, they question about.

The Jesuit M.A. Del Rio  ( 1551-1608 )  describing several methods of hydromancy [5],  said that three pebbles are to be used for this method, in which case You could either sum all the ripples  You’ve gotten, or interpret each as “yes” or “no” answer , and the definite one being the one  that appears twice.

Ring and glass method

This is the method most teenage girls know J   It’s a simple, yes or no answer-giving  method, that requires :

·         A vessel with water, preferably a tall  narrow glass
      ·         Ring hung on a string, like a pendulum
      ·         Water to fill the glass, naturally J

The diviner is to place the glass with water in front of themselves,  dip the ring in it,  wait until it becomes steady. Then, the diviner asks the  question, and then gently swirls the vessel couple of times.  Number of times the ring hits the side is indicative of yes, or no, answer, same rule  applied to water ripple technique ( the previous one that was suggested )  goes here as well.  Loud strikes of the ring, were considered  to foretell a   negative  outcome, whereas the quiet, and / or dull strikes were   ominous of an desired, positive way the issue  would unfold. 

Water scrying

This is a simple and traditional method, calling for a simple vessel of water, and some dye, or ink. I like to use Indigo ink, or Dragon’s blood, but  virtually any ink will too. Furthermore, I found that certain tea infusions, like that of green/black tea,  which appear with that oil-shiny  active components  layer, on the surface, can serve as well. 

In any case, preferred time is  night, or sunset. A dark glass bowl is filled with water, and placed so that it  does not reflect the diviner, but instead,  reflects some light, be it natural, like  that of the Full Moon, or a candle’s flame. From there, there are various variations of the technique.

·         One can add few drops of ink, after they have asked the question, observing the shapes that will the ink form in contact with water .  In India, the pour the ink on their palm, and then let it  drip from the palm into the  bowl.

·         One can add drops of  oil  in similar fashion, and interpret in similar fashion.

·         One can observe the  clean water surface, fixing on it, gazing. After a while one closes the eyes and opens them again, looks at the water in the bowl, and starts blinking swiftly. The images will appear, and other than their shape and symbolism , the diviner observes how do the images move and where do they appear. Images that appear to be approaching  to the diviner, speak of event or person appearing in near future. If the picture is moving away from the diviner,  it’s about something that had already taken place, or someone who’s slowly   going away from  their life, or  some past issue that is still bothering person in question.  Images appearing on the left speak  about concrete things, money, possessions and so on.   Those appearing on right speak    in symbolism.    If the images appear near the surface, they speak of the issues that require quick action, and those appearing “bellow” the surface , or near the   rims,  are considered “not so urgent”. Larger images  are considered of , obviously,  larger importance.

Any of the methods mentioned can be cunningly combined. What most of the water scrying methods have in common is  that they should be done in darkened rooms, illuminated by only candlelight, sunset or moonlight to  get the best  or the reading. Also, the  diviner should take care not to  let their own  image  get reflected in the bowl with  water.

I place  a print of “Sigilum Dei Aemeth” bellow the bowl/s I use for scrying, so any  seal that has to do with truth, clarity, prophecy and similar, can be used to “empower” the ritual even further. 

Herbs, powders and crystals are also sometimes arranged around the  bowl/vessel with the water, things like Verbena, Sage, Clarity powder, Amethyst or Quartz crystals, and so on.

Water agitation method, or “Resonance” method

As described on another site:

In some rituals people use a wand made from the branch of a bay tree, hazel tree or the laurel. The end of the wand should be covered in dry tree sap or resin. Dip the end of the wand into the water until it becomes wet. Wet the rims of the bowl. By gently drawing the rim of the wand around the bowl it will cause it to resonate. The action of the resonating basin will cause circular ripples to form in the basin. The water may seem to breathe with the sounds.” [6]

I’ve heard this being done with a crystal point, and even with a finger. Loud and unpleasant noises would indicate  negative outcome, and vice verca,  gentle and melodic sounds would  foretell  positive outcome. Disturbed and uneven ripples   are ominous about some danger or urgent issue, harmonic, and  even ripples foretell about period of wealth, and  luck, or speak of success which comes from hard work.

It would be extremely interesting to me to experiment  adding  few drops of Indigo ink when using   this method. J
NOTES:  This article was written and composed by myself. If You wish to use any part(s) of it elsewhere  online, feel free, but add credits: Shadow of Shadows magick place,  or   a direct link to this post.

[3] more about Dodona and Zeus’ oracle and sanctuary You can read here:
[4]  Eason , Cassandra, Encyclopedia of Magic and Ancient Wisdom: The Essential Guide to Myth, Magic and the Supernatural , pages 137th, and  138th
[5] according to  information given on here:  

IMAGE CREDITS:  The first image; Galadriel’s mirror image is from used here for illustrative and explanatory purposes, without any ill will, and same goes for the second image, which is from   edited  digitally, by myself , for posting here

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