The Witch’s Mirror: the craft, lore, & magick of the looking glass by Mickie Mueller – 4.5/5
This book is a neat, approachable little technical book written in a conversational tone about magic mirrors. It gives you the basics, runs through different types, gives you DIYs and spells.
The only “eh” thing about the whole book is calling non-pagan religious folks pagan, like Hindu practitioners, who usually prefer to not be called pagan. The inclusion of their mirrors is definitely borderline, if not straight up cultural appropriation. This might be due to the age of the book or it could just be misinformation on the writer’s part. It also doesn’t specifically say “use this mirror for X reasons even though it belongs to this culture”. Instead, the book covers mirrors from all over. So it’s actually inclusive, even if the wording is dated. Because of this potential inclusive/cultural appropriation line, I feel I’m not the person to judge the issue and put this firmly in the hands of the people who are. It’s because of this potential issue that I knocked off half a star.
I’m a huge fan of scrying. It’s the first type of divination I really enjoyed doing and understood. It’s one of the few that I was able to do with results right off the bat. It’s also one of the most accessible yet flexible types of divination. Many people apparently find scrying difficult. I think this is due to how open minded and fluid of mind you need to be during the scrying session to really get results. Once you practice and practice, you’ll probably get good results too.
Magic mirrors is merely an extension of that. I have a lot of magic mirrors, some for divination purposes and some for other things. Like… a dozen or more of them. (Which is weird to think of because I don’t like mirrors when used on me, just as a magic tool).
Anyway, I’ve been staring at this book on my book wish list for a while and finally found a copy through my library. And it was worth the wait because it is gold.
The author does a good job at presenting mirror lore in an interesting and even humorous way. Not like laugh out loud funny, but honest and in a casual talking manner. I appreciate that because this is actually a technical book, in my opinion, and so often technical books can be so dry.
The book has an honest, open conversational tone to it. It was like listening to a friend who has all this knowledge that they just want to share. So you nod over your brunch while they rambled but you’re genuinely interested in their words.
The book also features little bits of text written by popular new age authors on mirrors. This serves as adding new insight and perspective, but also offering new bits of lore you might not otherwise get.
The first chapter is an introduction and history. All interesting and, to my great pleasure, none of it spewing incorrect lore or history (to my knowledge, at least). Yay!
What I really appreciated is that the author jumps right in. There’s a brief section of what magic mirrors are and the history of them, but it’s all just quick facts laid out to move onto the more interesting stuff. I’m so bored with books that spend countless pages on things most of us (A) already know (B) have, can, and will google (C) is misinformed or spreading misinformation. I totally get WHY those sections in most witchy books exist, but because this book assumes you already know what you’re doing, it doesn’t even pretend to bother with it. That’s… so refreshing. To run into an intermediate book that actually, you know, feels like an intermediate book. Plus, there’s a lot of “this is what these people do, this is what these people do” instead of “hey, this is what these people do, so let’s do that”. IE, there’s cultural folklore covered, but not in an appropriative way.
As someone who studies history and folklore, I actually consider myself reasonably well-versed in mirror based lore. As said, there’s bits of lore displayed and discussed in a way that doesn’t make you read paragraph on paragraph until your eyes want to bleed (so unlike, you know, my reviews. Ha!). I didn’t uncover any new lore in the text, but I can imagine that unless you read a lot of superstition and folklore texts for fun like I do, you probably would find some interesting folklore to enjoy. The conversational wording of it is nice for a change of pace for these sorts of things so sometimes I started to get new ideas that started like this “hm, well, if that’s true then I wonder if it’s related to this bit of lore because of the so-and-so cultural tradition I read about in that super rare academic paper or out-of-print book from the sixties.” Because apparently that’s how I roll.
The second chapter covers mirror magic in pop culture. I’m a fan of pop culture magic so I’m always pleased to see practitioners and writers consider or compare what fiction and pop culture does with magical tools. I almost wish the chapter was longer but some main pop culture is mentioned from Supernatural to Heroes from Harry Potter to Bloody Mary.
I wouldn’t consider this a dialogue on how to use mirrors in pop culture magic, but rather how magic mirrors have been used in the past through media and how that reflects on our crafts.
The third chapter gets into the basics of magic mirrors. While many practitioners like to have symbolism for every aspect of their tools, I don’t. I pick mirrors for magic based on one of two things: does it feel like a mirror or magical object I want to work with or is it the right tool for the project I’m about to do? Shape doesn’t matter to me. I care more about the energy of an object than the shape of it, you know? That being said, it’s actually quite nice to have different shaped mirrors for various purposes, if only to remember the difference between this magic mirror and that magic mirror.
However, if you do like to have symbolism in everything or you have a favorite shape, then definitely consider a mirror in that shape. It’s good to remember that light reflects off mirror shapes differently. So consider what you plan to do with that mirror. It’s a lot easier to avoid reflections while scrying in a smaller mirror than a larger one.
There is, of course, merit to the convex vs concave mirrors. I’ve owned both types and they have a very different feel to them for me as a magic mirror. They’re just different and I think that’s due to their less passive existence. They reflect things differently than a normal mirror does.
The author gives a very neat break down of mirror washes which is nice because it’s sometimes a confusing topic to read about. The chapter goes on to cover frames and finishes up with an article from a guest writer.
The next chapter has wonderful spells using mirrors or reflective surfaces. There aren’t many spells but they’re definitely useful for modern life. One to chill out, another to put negative thoughts behind you, and a neat little shield spell using reflective sunglasses. They’re the kind of spells I really enjoy – well thought out and useful for the modern witch with modern concerns.
These are spells that make no attempts at being high or mighty or too on trend. You want a spell to give yourself time to adjust to a party’s atmosphere because you’ve anxiety or you’re an introvert? Done. There’s a spell for that. And it’s such a nice, neat, simple little spell that is so helpful and useful. It shows complete understanding that not everyone’s into witchcraft for the serious business and academic pursuits.
There’s a discussion about where to get mirrors and Hexenspiegel come up. These types of mirrors are enchanted to automatically send back negative energy and so on. I’ve always used my spell based mirrors in a Hexenspiegel style and I see others do too but rarely is the name Hexenspiegel brought up. The same chapter also covers mirrored boxes, mercury glass, oeil de sorcière, Indian torans, and bagua.
I have problems with calling some of these items “witch’s mirrors”. Some of these mirrors come out of cultures that are not pagan. Most Hindu practitioners do not consider themselves pagan. Their ritual or cultural items shouldn’t be considered pagan either.
Chapter six covers how to make your own scrying mirrors. The standard “paint glass black” method is given but with lots of tips and details that are really useful if you’re trying to make a mirror. Like a polymer clay frame or adding felt to the back for protection. There’s also basic instructions on how to use the mirror. Later, there’s instructions for making a Hexenspiegel with mirror-based jewelry. Next the book covers making a mirrored box, DIY faux mercury glass, and even crafting your own oeil de sorcière.
This chapter also covers common purposes like spirit communication and dedicating a mirror to the moon or sun. Creating a negative energy trap too is described. Chapter seven (the next chapter) is referenced a lot so I question whether that chapter should have come first when creating the book.
Chapter seven offers recipes for mirror washes, cleansing liquids, and so on. I have my own recipes for these kinds of washes and they matched up fairly well. The recipes are actually quite good and can be really useful if you’re not very handy when it comes to herbal magic.
The next chapter has more mirror based spells. Return to sender spells, spirit contact and communication, garden orb prosperity spell and more. I’m quite fond of the spells in here. As said above, they’re well thought out and useful to modern people.
A discussion involving the backs of mirrors begins. Handheld mirrors usually have decorative backs but other mirrors don’t. You can change that by add blessings and spell work to the back of the mirror. The author offers some original designs as sigil for magic mirrors.
Chapter nine has meditations using mirrors. It’s actually quite thought provoking, if you’re not used to thinking of self awareness or astral travel. Those are, weirdly, topics I do think about, so this was old news, but definitely good for anyone who wants to use mirrors in these aspects of their practice.
Finally, the book closes with useful appendixes for divination purposes, a glossary, and recommended readings.
Is this the most mind-blowing technical book I’ve read? No. It’s not something you’re going to need to break out the dictionary for and set aside time to study appropriately. You can read it curled up with your favorite warm beverage and fuzzy socks. That’s not a bad thing, just don’t go in expecting to break out the graph paper to sketch out the exact measurements of historical magic mirrors or whatever. It’s not that kind of book. But that’s OK. It’s not claiming to be that kind of book and that’s actually great because that means this book is SUPER approachable.
I don’t normally add technical books to my library unless they’re spell, recipe, or reference books, but this is one that I’ve happily added to my library.