Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Properly the art of seeing distant or future images in a crystal ball – such as the Wicked Witch's in The Wizard of Oz (1939) – scrying has come to be a loose generic term for visual Prophecy and farseeing using Mirrors, fires, pools, smoke or any reflective surface. (Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness [1969] uses the term even more loosely, to describe haruspication – divination using entrails.) In Genre Fantasy scrying is often no more than a rather inefficient, soundless equivalent of the sf "vidscreen"; more imaginatively employed, it becomes a vehicle not only for images but for personality and magical overtones. The showings of Denethor's palantír or scrying-stone in J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) are manipulated by the Dark Lord to emphasize his power and induce despair; John Crowley's Aegypt (1987) opens with a scryer's numinous Vision of Angels; the Magic Mirror in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is probably today the most famous scrying focus of all. [CB/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.