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12/13/2004
science

A psychomantium (also spelled psychomanteum) is a darkened room with black walls, containing a mirror into which a person gazes and sees prophetic visions. It is commonly built in the form of a black felt tent containg a large swivel mirror tilted slightly to show only a featureless blackness of indeterminate depth. A small lamp or set of candles illuminates the space just enough to distinguish the mirror.

Rather than go into the history or use of a psychomantium, I’ll briefly go over how and why it works, then suggest links for further reading.

The psychomantium is designed to induce an open-eye trance in the viewer, allowing the conscious mind to perceive visual impressions from the subconscious and other realms beyond normal waking perception. There are several factors helping induce such a trance.

First, the room is dim and featureless. This acts as a form of visual sensory deprivation, a condition helpful to trance induction. Secondly the uniform color of the setup is a pre-requisite for creating the Ganzfeld Effect, a hallucinogenic state of trance induced by a uniform field of vision. Third, the candles or lamp are often recommended to be flickering, and strobing/flashing light is a strong catalyst for trance. And fourth, the indeterminate depth of the mirror’s darkness allows the eyes to focus outward to infinity, a relaxation that sympathetically lowers one’s state of consciousness.

An open-eye trance allows the mind to perceive visual information that is normally filtered out during waking beta brainwave activity. When using a psychomantium, brainwaves drop into the alpha and theta range, easing the generationg of hypnogogic imagery. What science calls noise or hallucination may in fact be meaningful perceptions. Just as in dreams, the subconscious can create visual symbols and vignettes that the perceiver can then remember for conscious analysis after the psychomantium session. With practice, this can be done during a session.

More interestingly, however, open-eye trance is necessary to view behind the 3D linear visual matrix. As known from quantum mechanics, observing a wave function collapses it into a single state. This single state arises from one’s highly focused participation in a chosen slice of that wave function. When the observer softens the focal point of his awareness, that slice likewise broadens or delocalizes. This allows perception of things beyond our assembled singular material reality.

Anticipation has the opposite effect, turning awareness upon the next moment in time and collapsing it, thereby shutting out any delocalization effects. This is why using a psychomantium requires non-anticipation of results. The ego being a creature of linear time and thus anticipation naturally hinders such efforts, though the very nature of trance involves temporary dissolution or forgetting of the ego.

Besides viewing images of the subconscious, a psychomantium also encourages viewing other realms and entities within them. This happens both through images in the mind’s eye overlaid upon the visual field during light trance, and vivid “hallucinatory” images during deeper levels of trance. Although I require more practice, I have seen both types – the latter type is equivalent to dreaming with open eyes. The possibility that one can view other realms through scrying is supported by the fact that it works better during new and full moons – times when the veil between realms is naturally thinner (see the Moon Phase research note further down this page).

Now, the problem with building a psychomantium is finding room to build a large felt tent and gathering the material to sew one together. Fortunately, once you know the basics of how a psychomantium works, you can optimize with alternatives:

Instead of a swivel mirror, use a black scrying mirror. These consist of large picture frames whose glass has the inner side spray painted black. This creates a shiny black surface equivalent to a standard mirror pointed toward dark felt, but is a lot cheaper to make. To induce a Ganzfeld Effect, goggles can be worn that limit the visual field to a narrow tunnel in which the black mirror can be seen. For the flicker, candles may be used with the ceiling fan turned on, though a safer alternative would involve a flickering nightlight or rapidly flashing array of LEDs. [Note: there may be something to a chaotic rhythm to the flickering, as Peruvian Whistling Vessels – when whistled as a group – produce a chaotic beat frequency that strongly induces trance. The chaos, unpredictable by the linear mind, tires its anticipatory tendencies]. And lastly, binaural beats or shamanic drum sounds can help entrain brainwaves for quicker trance state, although one must be careful about the lingering effects of such induction methods.

I’m writing this for informational purposes only. If you’re thinking about trying it, better read up on the subject as scrying out of ignorance can lead to the same problems as using a Ouija board out of ignorance. In all likelihood you’ll give it a shot, get frustrated after a few failed attempts, and give it up. But patience and non-anticipation are the only way to get results. If this intrigues you, check out the links below. (Oddly enough, in junior high I built and experimented with a scrying mirror without ever having read about such things before, and it later came up in the Cass transcripts so my interest in scrying is more than passing).

Further reading:

Mirror Scrying – from Shaman’s Cave
Making a Black Mirror
General Scrying Links
Psychomanteum