The crystal ball is as pervasive as it is mysterious. It’s displayed in the window of your local psychic; it makes an appearance in movies, books, and pop culture. But how it earned its seductive presence is less clear than the pasts and futures it purports to predict.
The History of the Crystal Ball
People have been scrying using reflective surfaces for centuries in a wide range of times and places, with examples ranging from the ancient Greco-Roman world to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. With that said, the most popular line of speculation on how the crystal ball came into existence seems to be the druids.
For those who are unfamiliar, the druids were a social class in certain Celtic cultures in Gaul and the British Isles, which was responsible for various tasks such as lorekeeping, practicing medicine, and adjudicating disputes between different parties. The evidence suggests that the druids were literate, but for reasons that are not wholly clear to us, their knowledge was never written down, meaning that we have no written records from their perspective. As such, the idea that druids were the first to use crystal balls is based on a line in a Roman text that can be interpreted thus, though there is sufficient ambiguity that other interpretations are also possible.
The crystal ball was thought to be used throughout the medieval period by Anglo–Saxons as both a means of magic and a flashy fashion accessory—a type of Middle-Age bling, so to speak. Some folklore historians even suggests that the mythical magician Merlin chose to tote around a beryl ball for those times King Arthur needed an emergency reading.
How Did the Popular Image of the Crystal Ball User Come into Existence?
As for the modern image of the crystal ball user – turban-clad and hunched over the ball, that comes from a combination of two sources. First, the booths can be traced to the Romani people, who have been known to set up fortune telling booths on their stops. Second, the turban can be traced to the stage mentalist Claude Alexander Conlin whose image has passed into the popular consciousness because of the sheer success of his marketing campaigns. Whenever and wherever someone sees a picture of a turbaned man with a crystal ball, chances are good that it can be traced back to Conlin’s influence on the concept.
The Power of Crystal Ball
Whatever visual associations one might have related to a crystal ball, the overall understanding is similar – a crystal ball can help see the future or access the past.
The crystal ball was not the only tool used to access hidden info. Almost all natural elements – especially fire and water – were used to open windows into another dimension. Unlike fire and water, though, (which need special circumstances to be activated for a seer’s purpose), the crystal ball can become a powerful, lifelong tool for the skilled practitioner; always available to help.
In feng shui crystal balls are used to bring a harmonious, calming energy to any space. If a house has many arguments, a clear quartz crystal ball will be placed in the living room to soothe and clear the energy. Crystal balls can also be used in a business setting to smooth the edges of chaotic, competitive energy and make it more productive.
Clear Ball Only?
Most crystal balls are made of glass, but you may be surprised to know that a good crystal ball doesn’t have to be clear – you can also use crystal balls made of obsidian, Himalayan salt or indeed any other gemstone of your choice. How does this work, you might wonder when you’re supposed to see images in the ball? Well, it works because the images you see will be in your mind’s eye, not in the ball itself – a ball is merely a tool for focusing your mind and freeing your third eye.