Magic Mirrors and Mirror Magic


Etrurian MirrorMagic Mirrors – They enabled, it was said, to see the present, the past and the future.  They are of great variety, and of great antiquity.



“Then from his secret Art the Sage Vizier,
A Magic Mirror made; a Mirror like
The bosom of All-wise Intelligence,
Reflecting in its mystic compass all
Within the sevenfold volume of the World
Invol’d; and looking in that Mirror’s face
The Shah beheld the face of his Desire.”

St. Augustine (in De Civitate Dei, Ch. VII, 35) says that they were used by the witches of Thessaly who wrote their oracles on them in human blood.

Varron claims that they are of Persian origin, the Magi having used them for a method of divination called Catoptromancy.  Spartianus says that Didius Julianus used them to know the result of the battle which Tullius Crispinius fought with Septirnus Severus, his rival for the Throne. 

The persons who, in Rome, read these mirrors were called Specularii. 

In the East these instruments were called Stellar Mirrors.  Pica della Mirandola had faith in them, provided they were made under a favorable constellation, and that they should only be consulted when one felt comfortably warm, for the cold harms the lucidity of their oracle. Reinaud speaks of them in his Description of the Blacas Cabinet. He adds that the operators perfume them, fast for seven days before using them, and recite sacramental prayers at the moment of consulting them. The Chinese and the Hindus made theirs of metal, concave or convex.

Muratori tells us of a Bishop of Verona who was put to death because under his pillow a magic mirror was found bearing on the reverse the word flore which means flower, and proves collaboration with the devil, since, according to St. Cyprian, Satan sometimes appeared in the shape of a flower. A mirror of this kind was also found in the house of Calas de Rienzi. Catherine de Medici had one.

The shape of these mirrors was, as we have said, very varied. Some bore the name of their inventor (Cagliostro, Swedenborg, etc.) More recently they have been used to fix the eye of clairvoyants or mediums so as to put them into a state of hypnosis.

Cahagnet, in his Magnetic Magic, quotes the principal mirrors as follows :-

  • The Theurgic Mirror – a bottle of clear water looked at by a child and in which the Archangel Gabriel replies by pictures to his questions.
  • The Mirror of the Sorcerers – any kind of mirror or pail of water. The country sorcerer, standing near the consultant, recites a spell and shows him the reflection of the picture wanted.
  • The Mirror of Cagliostro – the bottle of clear water is on a piece of furniture, and before it a child, on whose head the operator places one hand and tells him the questions to ask, to which replies are given in allegorical pictures.
  • The Mirror of du Polet – a piece of cardboard having pasted on one side a sheet of tin and on the other a piece of black cloth. The operator magnetizes it strongly and places it a foot away from the eye of the consultant who, having fixed his eyes on it, soon sees in it the desired object.
  • The Swedenborgian Mirror – a paste of graphite mixed with olive oil is poured on an ordinary mirror and allowed to dry for a few days. The consultant, whose image must not be reflected (he stands at some distance for this reason) looks into it, whilst the operator stares magnetically at the back of his head, and vision takes place.
  • The Magnetic Mirror – a round crystal globe filled with magnetized water at which the consultant looks carefully until the desired vision appears.
  • The Narcotic Mirror – similar globe but a narcotic powder made of belladonna, henbane, mandragora, hemp, poppy, etc., is dissolved in the water.
  • The Galvanic Mirror – it is made of two discs, one of copper and concave, the other of zinc and convex, both magnetized nine times in nine days. The center of the concave is looked at.
  • Cabalistic Mirrors – there are seven, being seven globes each representing one of the seven planets of Astrology, made of the corresponding metal and consulted on the appropriate astrological day. They are:-
    • The globe of the Sun, made of gold and consulted on Sundays as to superior beings and the great persons of the earth.
    • The globe of Mercury, made of a glass globe filled with mercury and consulted on Wednesdays as to questions of money.
    • The globe of Jupiter, made of tin and consulted on Thursdays as to the probability of success and as to the devotion of domestics.
    • The globe of Mars, made of iron and consulted on Tuesdays as to quarrels, lawsuits, enmities.
    • The globe of Venus, made of copper and consulted on Fridays as to questions of love.
    • The globe of Saturn, made of lead and consulted on Saturdays as to secrets, lost articles, etc.
    • The globe of the Moon, made of silver and consulted on Mondays as to dreams and plans.


Walk backward several feet out of doors in moonlight with mirror in your hand, or within doors with candle in one hand and mirror in the other, repeating following rhyme, and face of your future companion will appear in glass:

“Round and round, O stars so fair!
Ye travel and search out everywhere;
I pray you, sweet stars, now show to me
This night who my future husband (wife) shall be.”

(Taken from Mary E Blain’s Games for Halloween, first published in 1912.)

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