Besides the witch stirring her cauldron and cackling to herself, the next most iconic image of a witch has to be her staring into a crystal ball and speaking in riddles about the future. Although the crystal ball may be most associated with witches, it is used right across the pagan path as a means of divination. Nor is the crystal ball the only tool witches use for divination – tarot cards, water divination, reading tea-leaves, black mirrors, astrology and palm reading are all other popular methods.

The practice of gazing into a crystal ball to see the future is called crystallomancy.


Most crystal balls on the market today are actually made of glass. The TV image of the witch seeing the future played out within the crystal ball is not necessarily true – often the visions appear in the mind of the seer. The crystal ball serving merely as a point of focus, one that aids the seer to clear and still their thoughts sufficiently to allow visions occur. In that sense, the crystal ball holds no more power than any other object. However, the status attributed to the crystal ball by the seer and the manner in which they care and look after it (e.g. keeping it wrapped in cloth when not in use) could be a stimulus to obtaining the correct frame of mind when they decide to undertake crystallomancy. For practical purposes the crystal ball should be kept covered anyway – the ball can act like a magnifying glass and focus the rays of the sun to potentially start a fire.


Depending on the tradition followed, practitioners can bless and consecrate their crystal balls and attempt to imbue them with energy. Some crystal balls are handed down generation to generation and do not leave the family. There is no evidence that such crystal balls are in any way more effective than one purchased in a store and their worth seems to have more to do with age and sentimental value.

Outside of witches, Dr. John Dee, astrologer and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most famous magicians to use the crystal ball.


When purchasing crystal balls be aware that many on the market are tiny – a 50mm diameter ball is 5cm which is about the average width of a tea bag and will fit comfortably in the palm of a hand. That doesn”t mean that such balls are useless, I merely include the warning as many expect a huge crystal ball to arrive in the post only to be disappointed when something that fits in the palm of a hand arrives. Of course, the larger the ball, the more it will cost.


Not all crystal balls are transparent and perfectly formed. Those made of glass usually contain no air bubbles and are clear (some may be artificially colored). But if a crystal ball is made from crystalline stone, it may be cloudy, colored, contain air bubbles or traces of other minerals. It is up to the practitioner to decide which is more suitable for him or her.


Carrying out divination using a crystal ball


To undertake a divination find a quiet room or place where you can focus undisturbed. Dim the lights or darken the room and undertake the reading by candlelight. Relax for a few moments or meditate if you are familiar with the practise until you achieve a calmstate of mind. If you are looking for answers to a particular question of event, fix the question firmly in your mind prior to gazing into the ball.


The seer normally aims to fall into a trance and that is achieved by gazing into the ball for a sufficient amount of time. As you become more practised, the amount of time taken to reach a trance state will diminish. Obtaining a trance state is not necessary according to some. Be aware that there is no right or wrong way to crystal gaze. Do what feels right and comfortable and don”t be afraid to experiment with different lighting, positions, backgrounds and symbols (placed underneath the ball).