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Scrying Stones

For hundreds of years collections of small objects have been used as a tool by people with psychic talent to answer questions about the hidden nature of a problem or situation.  Such items as bones, shells, and nuts—left in their original state—are thrown and read.  In Obi and Diloggun divination cut cowrie shells are used for the same purpose.  Sangoma diviners from the Zulu tribe use bones and other items in a large set which is thrown using a bowl.  The Mongolians use four sheep bones known as astralaugus or knuckle bones in a system called shagai.  Each side has its own particular conformation and so creates thirty-six possible answers for each query. American hoodoo/rootworkers use small bones along with other small objects;[1] Santerians use cowrie shells or coconut pieces.[2]


   Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner’s second High Priestess, describes the method: 

 English witches use as lithomancy, or divination with stones.  A witch must collect her set of pebbles herself and may do so using astrological times and days if she desires.  Valiente’s own set was made up of thirteen stones: seven of them represented the astrological planets from the old Chaldean system, that is, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus. The remaining six represented Life, Luck, Love, News, Home,and Magick. [3]


   Most of the stones’ names are self-explanatory; the Magick stone represents the ruling factor in the reading, the most important aspect.  Valiente indicates that the stones are cast within a circle made using the witch’s Cord coiled on top of the reading cloth.  Light a candle placed by the cloth.  Sit comfortably and hold the stones in your hands and chant, “Ada Ada Io Ada Dia.”  Valiente did not know what it meant, but she did say it was an old divination chant which she thought was Celtic in origin.  She preferred to consecrate the circle set for the divination before settling in to chant and then cast the stones into the circle.  The stones are then read in accordance to how/where they have fallen.[4]

   While I was a Grove student with MoonFire Coven I learned their expanded method based on Valiente’s description.  The astrological stones included the modern planetary discoveries and the remaining stones represented the Querent, Home, Love, Health, Magick (which meant an area where you can exert influence), Focus (where you are applying your energies), and Antagonism.  This meant using seventeen stones rather than thirteen.  The coven recommended collecting the required number of pebbles, then painting the appropriate symbol on each: Astrological symbols for the planet stones, and an appropriate symbol for the remaining seven (here you can get creative).  Other options include purchasing semi-precious or precious gemstones which correspond to the divinatory meanings.  The set, once completed, is consecrated in the Full Moon, preferably on a Monday, when the Sun and Moon are in the appropriate astrologicalsigns.[5]


   I used a wicker plate, the sort that can be purchased at a grocery store and used to hold paper plate at picnics, as my casting tray.  I lined the interior with black velvet and quartered the rim with paints in the four colors of the Quarters.  I did not use Valiente’s chant and I still don’t, as I don’t find it necessary for myself.  MoonFire’s divination method includes the meanings of the Quarters, so by casting the stones on the tray their meanings and juxtapositions had to be blended with the Quarters’ attributes.  Any stone that fell away from the tray altogether would not be included.[6]

   Such a method requires not only knowledge of astrology and each stone’s meaning but each Quarter’s magickal energy and being able to blend it all together.  As I am not an astrologer such meanings are not prominent for me.  Practitioners who have an emphasis in astrology in their studies may find such information comes easily to them in divination.

   That being said, currently I have two scrying stone sets: one consists of found pebbles which do not include astrological stones, and a set made of semi-precious tumbled stones which does include the planetary designations.  I use astrological information in a basic manner, i.e., less emphasis on astrology and more on corresponding occult meanings.  My pebble set is thrown on the ground and used as a teaching tool.  My larger set is used for readings for other people and is cast on the reverse side of a rabbit skin.  I don’t use a News stone—Mercury covers that area nicely in the larger set—but the Magick stone, to me, means an area where hidden influences are at work.

  The best way to build a scrying set is to do so one pebble at a time.  Look for a stone which represents a particular energy.  For example, if I want a stone to represent outside influence, I go looking for it while keeping that meaning in mind.  Something usually “jumps out” at me to catch my attention.  That is the stone that I obtain for that particular meaning.  I learned from experience that deciding on a particular stone because I want it for a certain aspect in my set ends up being wrong.  As the saying goes, let your intuition guide you.


   If you decide to go with a gemstone set, be sure to cleanse and consecrate them to their purpose.  When you have your complete set, put them in the bag you have made (or obtained) for them, then sleep on them for two weeks from the Full Moon to the New Moon and carry them on your person during the day.  Doing so allows your set to become attuned to you completely.  If you use your set for self readings only, do not allow anyone to see it or touch it.

  I keep my sets in hand-stitched chamois bags.  The larger set also stays in a lovely little Chinese box.  Valiente used a suede drawstring bag for her set and cast them on a piece of black fake fur.[7]

   Scrying stones, whether they are found pebbles left plain or painted with symbols, or gemstones tumbled or cut and polished, all have one thing in common: Each stone has a clear and definite meaning to the diviner who found or purchased each stone.  A piece of rhodocrosite, to me, might represent love.  To you, however, a rose quartz stone says “love”.  The energies in the stone resonate with the reader’s psychic ability/energy, and their perception will connect with each stone to help cast a reading that is dependable and accurate.



1.  Retrieved from“ Bones_and_Reading _Other_Natural_Curios” from the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers.  Retrieved Nov. 21, 2014.

2.  Kenaz Filan, The Haitian Vodou Handbook, p. 232. Destiny Books, Rochester, VT  05767. 2007.

3.  Doreen Valiente, Witchcraft for Tomorrow, pp. 93-4. Phoenix Publishing Inc., Custer, WA  98240. 1978.


4.  My Grove Workbook, ca. 1981.


[1]   Retrieved from“ Bones_and_Reading

_Other_Natural_Curios” from the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers.  Retrieved Nov. 21, 2014.

[2] Kenaz Filan, The Haitian Vodou Handbook, p. 232. Destiny Books, Rochester, VT  05767. 2007.

[3] Doreen Valiente, Witchcraft for Tomorrow, pp. 93-4. Phoenix Publishing Inc., Custer, WA  98240. 1978.

[4] Ibid, pp. 95-6.

[5] From my Grove Workbook, ca. 1981.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, pp. 94-5.

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Lady Eva Michenet has been a practicing Witch for more than thirty years. She has authored articles for various publications including SageWoman's newsletter, the eZine Rending the Veil, two Pagan Writers Community Sabbat anthologies, and Witches' Voice.


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