Crystal Balls

Where did the idea come from that gypsies us crystal balls to predict events or tell fortunes? Does it have something to do with the bending of the light? Is there any hallucinogenic effect produced? Or is it that this is all an invention of popular Scooby Doo cartoons? Cecil, the answer lies with you (makes mysterious gesture with hands over top of computer).

Jane Fairfax

I think crystal balls are just a form of scrying, which is trying to see the future in relected images. Ancient fortune tellers used dishes of water, or silver plates, or whatever else would cast a nice, spooky relection. Now that I think about it, those gold mirrored balls people put in their gardens would suit this purpose nicely.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

hey, so what’s the real reason?

What, you don’t believe me? Crystal balls are also called “spheres of scrying”. Scrying is the art of reading futures through reflected images. At least according to Time Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown books.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

My Magic Eight Ball ™ brand sphere of scrying device says “Reply hazy - try again.”

I think that I may have worded the question wrong. I believe all the scrying stuff, but it does not address my true concern. To begin anew:

Is there any reason, psychologically, that people would look into some reflecting object, like a crystal ball, to discern images of the future? Does the light cause the people to hallucinate? Is there any concrete reason why?

I think the reflected light from a goat’s entrails causes certain people to hallucinate visions of the future, but I cannot put my finger on a concrete reason for this, either.

Well, and bear in ming that this is a total guess, but I know that crystal skulls have mystifued for ages, and still do. Maybe this is somehow related to that, as a crystal ball is round and not nearly as hard for artists / sculptors / shamen to manufacture, especially in the times where it would all be done by hand with crude tools.

Please, no flames; I’m just throwing it out there as a hypothesis.

If I’m wrong, it would be a Scrying shame…

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

ICQ# 35294890
AIM Scrabble1

Remember that episode of B&B where they go to a fortune teller and Beavis sees a refraction of the TV (which is playing a war movie) through the crystal ball? He starts excitedly describing the apocalyptic visions that he sees in the ball. That was a cool episode.
“Huh huh… settle down, Beavis!”
"Ayyyy, he hazz ze gift!

Yeah, um, I sure love that episode.

Just to make sure that this question stays up there, I’m replying. Any guesses? I’ve heard some stuff about mirrors producing hallucinogenic effects, so I thought there might be some carry over, but this is only something I’ve heard. As someone very interested in the brain, I still pose the question: Why do they (or do they at all?) work. Does something like it work and popular image has made this a crystal ball?

Jane Fairfax

[[My Magic Eight Ball ™ brand sphere of scrying device says “Reply hazy - try again.”]] Nickrz
The Magic 8-Ball is not a scrying device – it consults “sources.”

A crystal ball gives you something to look at while you make up a good story for your mark.

Seriously, if you’re trying to focus your mind, it helps to look at something…could be a candle flame, could be a bowl of water, could be a crystal of some sort. I’m an atheist, and I often find it helpful to watch a candle if I’m trying to Think Deep Thoughts.

Lynn the Packrat

Why does it help you concentrate? Why would these objects, as opposed to, say, the glint of shiny metal handcuffs be any different?

Hey! I want some answers here!

Well I can’t speak for anyone else, but the glint of shiney handcuffs most certainly sets my mind a’reelin :wink:

Here’s how scrying ‘works’ without getting into a metaphyisical discussion of energy projection across planes of conciousness: have you ever been walking alone at night on a long dark road? (or you can try this in your bathroom with the light off for that matter). Did you ever get the feeling you were being watched along that dark road? Ever THINK you saw something that wasn’t there? The intention of scrying is to use some object as a focus for your mind’s energies (yes, if you’re reading this, your brain will have some electrochemical energy). AS your brain relaxes, and your eyes start to look for objects to focus on, the objects of focus often take the form of clouds or a haze- stare at the monitor/tv for a long time without blinking too much… now look away, there’s the haze. Your mind goes into a meditative state in which it is HIGHLY succeptable to suggestion and outside influence. Ever wonder why you feel compelled to buy a set of Personal Wonderment and Well-Being tapes at 3AM? You’re in that state of mind. The ‘theory’ is that the images seen in the crystal ball/black mirror/ candle’s flame/ blank tv screen (yes, I’ve heard of these being used for scrying), etc. are images that your mind is cultivating anyway about the question you’re supposed to be focusing on. Everybody does this (minor hallucinating)- scrying is just more of a concious effort, and then the scryer(?) attempts to make some meaning out of what s/he saw.
WHY it works: I guess that the human desire to find patterns in everything and make sense of everything allows scrying, divination, etc. to work. Also, there’s a certain amount of belief involved. If you believe that staring into a crystal ball and focusing on the light inside, and then focusing on the haze and shadows, will tell you who shot Kennedy, or who your next lover will be, then you WILL find a way to make the images fit into your preconcieved notions.
Try the bathroom thing though- it’s kinda freaky in a cool sort of way.

Ah, forget all that hogwash. A crystal ball was at one time a very rare, wonderful and extremely valuable object. Anyone who owned and displayed one in a fortune-telling scam was already lent credence by the ignorant locals by the simple fact they owned one.

The dazzle and sparkle was not for the benefit of the conjurer, you nuts, it was to entrance the feeble eyes of the mark while he was stuffing all those unmarked kopeks in to the plain white envelope.

Anyone who believes that nonsense deserves a good fleecing at the hands of Madam Lasonga, imho.

I dunno, my brother was pretty accurate with one -

nailed my other brother right upside the head with it.