I can’t remember the first time I saw my own face in a mirror, it’s become such a daily occurrence that we take for granted just how amazing and wondrous it must be to see one’s self looking back for the first time. Anyone who has ever observed babies, puppies and kittens discovering their own reflection for the first time will have some idea of what I’m referring to…it can be a highly entertaining!
Mirrors, or reflective surfaces generally have always featured in the artes of Witchcraft and magic. That’s hardly surprising given that there is something innately otherworldly about reflections. When one looks upon a reflection you are seeing neither reality nor falsehood, you are seeing the world in opposite, the mirror image. Sometimes we are happy with what we see, other times horrified but the fact is reflections never lie. I am reminded of the Wicked Queen in ‘Snow White’ as she approaches her magic mirror and asks “Mirror, Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?” The mirror simply could not lie…not even to Her!
Everything about us, our fundamental make up is designed to respond to outside stimuli, our hands and feet feel our way around the world, our skin responds to pain and changes in environment, our ears listen for sounds of danger whilst our eyes see what’s going on around us, each of our senses send signals to our brain and instructs our body to respond appropriately. None of our senses are geared toward looking inward so we often find introspection or ‘inner reflection’ challenging.
The necessity to look inward and really understand what’s going on is something we are often first taught as Witches. Observing our thought trains, observing how we respond to shifts in season, with the passing of every hour, as the moon waxes to full and wanes to dark teaches us not only about ourselves as human beings but also how and when is the most appropriate time for us to work certain types of magic. Books often stress the importance of working with the external influences our senses easily observe but seldom do they teach us to work with our inner tides of power.
To ‘Know Thyself’ is to study one’s reflection, the practise and study of many magical traditions is fundamentally about looking at one’s self ‘in a mirror most dark’ in order to facilitate development and growth, to stand before the mirror (either literally or metaphorically), is to look at one’s self with a harsh objectivity, you see yourself as if through the eyes of another, those senses designed to focus outward, are able to delve within.
Over the past couple of years I have been working with two mirrors, one ‘dark’ and one ‘light’ and I want to share some of what I have learned about each of them in terms of their practical uses and perhaps give some idea of how they may be used on a deeper more personal level.
I made the Dark Mirror a while ago now. (You can read more about how I constructed this here). The dark mirror is probably the most familiar as a magical tool, it is the traditional scrying mirror made from any black glossy surface such as glass painted black on the back, a sheet or disk of onyx or even a simple bowl filled with black ink. What I am calling the ‘light’ mirror for the purposes of this post is a simple, normal hand mirror I picked up in a chemist. ‘Dark’ and ‘Light’ in this case is simply to distinguish between two mirrors based on their physical appearance, it has nothing to do with their nature or disposition.
By working with both mirrors, one begins to understand their different characteristics and therefore their different applications. The light mirror, being a ‘regular’ mirror for all intents and purposes, reveals, it reflects and focuses light back onto the observer and anywhere else it may be directed. Some Traditions use this type of mirror to reflect the light of the stars, moon or the sun around the working space or onto specific objects or even body parts to focus (and amplify) the light of the heavenly bodies for specific ends. I have also used this mirror in works of transformation and glamour by looking at myself and using the mirror to literally change what my eyes see before me and reflect it back into the mundane world. The light mirror also has protective / defensive uses by reflecting (or deflecting) any harm or ill wish directed towards you. I have also used the light mirror to see through and behind the world perceived by our mundane sight. Mirrors have an objectivity, mirrors are not dulled by doubt or ability…they simply do what they do. Placed in such a way that you can look at something, someone or someplace indirectly but via the reflection, the mirror enables us to see differently, to see more, to see what’s ‘really there’.
Whilst this mirror has a classically reflective nature, and works very outwardly, the dark mirror seems to draw light into itself. The first time I used the dark mirror it seemed to open up, a path was laid before me which I couldn’t help but follow. The dark mirror is truly dark, even in the darkest room it appears darker still like a black hole pulling light into itself, into the other worlds. The basic function of a mirror is to reflect light, the dark mirror reflects it inward. The dark mirror, like the light, is a looking glass for seeing inward rather than out, there is something deeper more chthonic about its power. It acts as a window into the inner / unseen realms when used for scrying, it acts as a door way when used for journeying and provides a medium for spirits to appear.
A note of caution, one thing the dark mirror taught me, in a rather alarming way, was that doors and windows are seldom one way… if you can see in or pass through then it stands to reason that something from the ‘flip side’ can do the same. The dark mirror demands a degree of preparation and personal protection. Although…that being said, doors are seldom un-guarded.
Having spent time working with mirrors, I believe the sky is the limit in terms of what they can bring to one’s magical repertoire, we are limited only by our creativity. When you think about it on a pretty basic level, mirrors manipulate light by reflecting it, reversing it, focusing it, amplifying it etc. So, if you believe that all things, even the densest of matter, is made of light then really mirrors can be used for almost any purpose, to achieve any end.
If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, use the mirror to change what you see.