In the 8th century, the priestess of the Oracle at Delphi was named the Pythoness.
During rituals she would enter a frenzied state induced by poisonous vapours rising from the ground and speak gibberish, which was translated by the temple priests into the prophecies of the god Apollo.
Her hair coiling loose around her like snakes, her naked feet pounding the ground in a wild dance and her eyes turned up so that the whites showed, she must have been an awesome and terrifying sight to the elaborately-robed priests who pressed close around her to hear and transcribe every precious word that fell from her foam-flecked lips.
It was with this scene very much in mind that we arranged to attend the Psychic Night at the Three Hammers pub in St Albans.
What wonders would be revealed to us – what marvels might be unveiled? The combination of the availability of cheap booze and the presence of a pythoness – the title still attributed to a woman possessed by a familiar spirit or higher forces and able to foresee the future – was irresistible.
The journey there felt full of portents and omens- after all the platform lights going out and being replaced with electric lanterns at Watford Junction, the train ran via Bricket Wood station, famously the filming location for perhaps the best film ever made – “The Night of the Demon”.
I passed through the station on the way to St Albans Abbey where the line terminated, only for the train to mysteriously reverse after the last unannounced, unlit stop, taking me back as if to my fate – to Bricket Wood.
Dark, deserted, and without even an electronic ticket barrier to note my arrival, it was quite a Gothic moment.
Owls hooted in the windy treetops as I texted my husband to give him the low-down on my location – just as he happened by pure chance to be driving past the station on his way to meet me.
When we entered the cosy interior of the pub, we found a whole area dedicated to prophesy. Four pythonesses had laid out their instruments before them, guarded by a veritable Argus Panoptes of a man. Much like the 100-eyed Greek giant of Old Times, he kept watch and arranged access. As he booked me in, he threw in an ad-hoc interpretation of my Tiffany key pendant, which was nice of him.
This specific combination of flower and key means that I am emotionally available, which…..well, is hard to argue with actually.
I opted for a tarot reading, so after I had crossed her palm with banknotes, Jane took the pack of cards I had shuffled, and began divining their meaning. I was hoping for a tip-off regarding a tall, dark stranger or a journey over water but no such luck.
It’s reassuring that I have so many power cards indicating the success and financial rewards to come in 9 months time, though. Not too long to wait, and then it’ll all be jam and sausages which I am totally looking forward to.
If you wish to explore your own psychic potential and Draw back The Veil, try scrying. This is quite safe for home. Scrying is the practise of gazing into a suitable medium in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions.
Looking into a dark mirror (captromancy) or crystal ball (crystallomancy) are the usual methods that leap to mind, but the favoured medium of Nostradamus was hydromancy, or scrying into water.
The method I will be exploring here uses a dark liquid, which you can thriftily imbibe when you are finished. It is called liquoromancy.
1 shot Black Kraken Spiced Rum
1/2 shot Dark Chocolate Liquor
Dark Chocolate Bitters
Combine rum, coca-cola and liquor in a chilled glass, and dot with bitters. Swirl 3 times widdershins or anti-clockwise.
You will need a quiet dark room, two candles, and a notebook
Turn out all the lights apart from the candles, which you place on either side of the glass, at a safe distance.
Allow nothing to reflect in the drink’s surface. It should appear as a dark tunnel or window.
Before you start, create a safe space to work within. Visualize the area surrounded by white light and protection from false or dangerous influences.
If you have a personal guardian or spirit animal, say their name 3 times and ask them for protection.
Sit comfortably in front of the drink.
Close your eyes and ground yourself, clearing your mind of all thoughts but your purpose.
When you are ready, open your physical eyes and gaze into the drink; remain relaxed. Blink. Let your eyes defocus. After a while, the surface of the drink will become misty, and shapes will appear. Your inner eyes will now open, and the journey into the dark begins. Remember that the inner eye sees inside the mind. Most people when scrying do not see the images appear with the physical eyes on the surface but see through the dark, in the mind’s eye. The drink acts as a gateway.
When you have completed your journey or work you set out to do, focus and come back to your everyday self. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all you saw and felt during the scrying.
Write it all down straight away, drinking the drink as you do so.
You can then interpret your findings at your leisure.
“Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?” – Edgar Allan Poe