When one mentions Divination to a non-believer, they often picture a stereotypical so-called fortune-teller hovering over a crystal ball. We, of course, know there’s much more to Divination than that! However, a crystal ball is one Divination item used for Scrying, which is the branch of Divination done by gazing into an object.

Scrying can be done with a variety of reflective or translucent objects:

  • Crystal ball
  • Mirror
  • Water
  • Wax
  • Clouds
  • Smoke
  • Eye

In general, to practice Scrying, you must achieve a state of relaxation. Every Seer does this in a different way, but some suggestions are to light candles, play soft music, sit on a comfortable cushion, turn out the lights, and focus on your breathing. Achieving a state of relaxation may take some time, so you must be patient. Your goal is to clear your mind and feel peaceful yet alert. As you enter this state, you should allow your eyes to remain slightly out of focus.

Once you’ve achieved a state of relaxation, you’re ready to begin Scrying. In general, gazing is a flexible type of divination; you may have a question in mind to be answered, a topic that you’d like some insight into, or an open mind seeking information about the present or future.


Catoptromancy is a form of Scrying that involves gazing into a mirror and making predictions based on its reflection. Although Catoptromancy is an ancient method of divining, some Seers still practice it today, and it’s quite easy to do so! Supplies for Catoptromancy could be purchased in Diagon Alley as recently as 1991 in the store Janus Galloglass, but any mirror will do. A seer practicing Catoptromancy starts by achieving a relaxed state, then catches the reflection of the moon in their mirror while surrounded by darkness so that the moon’s reflection is the only light. They would gaze at the mirror and observe any shapes and symbols that may appear. If their eyes are truly relaxed, the symbols may change over time.


You may be able to guess by the Greek root hydro – in this method, a seer gazes into water. However, while Catoptromancy uses moonlight to form shapes in mirrors, Hydromancy involves observing shapes within the water itself. Different seers prefer slightly different methods of water-gazing; some gaze into running water or a puddle or basin during rainfall. However, for those gazing into still water, dropping pebbles or hanging a ring or key on a thread creates ripples in the water that can be observed. Regardless, a seer practicing Hydromancy starts by achieving a relaxed state, then gazes into the water until images or symbols appear.


The most well-known form of Scrying, crystal-gazing involves peering into a crystal ball in order to observe and interpret images. Crystal balls are typically around 4 inches in diameter and can be any color, but genuine rock-crystal is preferred as it provides the crystal swirls which will be studied. In some ways, Gastromancy is easier than the other methods of Scrying mentioned as it does not require certain conditions of the moon or water, but it requires a seer own a crystal ball. A seer practicing Gastromancy will first achieve a relaxed state and then will gaze at the crystal ball until images or symbols appear.


Once you find an image in any of these methods, you’ll need to interpret the symbols. The following are some websites that offer meanings for common symbols; you’re also welcome to do your own research and consult other websites, but please list them as sources if you do.


Choose one of the following activities to complete.

Option A: Rewrite

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron, Harry, and Hermione have the pleasure of learning about crystal-gazing from Professor Trelawney (chapter 15). Rewrite the scene from the perspective of another student in the class (other than the trio). Be sure to include details about Professor Trelawney’s observation as well as that character’s own experience with crystal-gazing. Don’t stress much over staying within canon; my focus is more on the symbols you see and the predictions you make based on them. 40 points

Option B: Relax

You heard me right! Achieve a state of relaxation. Clear your mind and relax your eyes. You don’t necessarily need to gaze into one of the objects described in this lesson, but you’ll want to have something to look at/observe once you achieve this state in order to understand what a seer experiences when gazing. Write a paragraph or two (roughly 200-300 words) describing your experience. 40 points