England, 15th-16th century ADThe British Museum has objects associated with the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and magician John Dee (1527-1608/9).
Dee's manuscripts passed to the antiquary Sir Robert Cotton (1571-1631), and then to the British Museum in 1753. The two smaller wax discs survive of the original four recorded in the Cotton manuscripts as having supported the legs of Dee's 'table of practice'.
The larger one, the 'Seal of God' (Sigillum Dei) in Dee's manuscripts. It was used to support a 'shew-stones', the polished translucent or reflective objects which he used as tools for his occult research. All three wax discs are engraved with magical names, symbols and signs.
Annotations in Cotton manuscript indicate that one of Dee's stones was spherical, the 'Chrystallum' in which Edward Kelly, Dee's medium, saw his 'visions'. but cannot be proven or identified in the manuscript catalogues of Sir Hans Sloane's collection.
The gold disc is engraved with the Vision of Four Castles, experienced during one of Dee's 'experiments' at Krakow in 1584.
The mirror, made of highly-polished obsidian (volcanic glass), was a Mexica cult objects treasure brought to Europe after the conquest of Mexico by Cortés between 1527
Interested in psychic phenomena and, from 1583, worked with Edward Kelly as his medium. Kelly would see visions in the 'shew-stones' of 'angels' that communicated by pointing to one square after another in tables of letters and unknown symbols, which Dee and Kelly transcribed
Mirrors were associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Mexica god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers, whose name can be translated as 'Smoking Mirror'. Mexica priests used mirrrors for divination and conjuring up visions.
English antiquary Sir Horace Walpole, acquired 1771. wrote :'The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his spirits ...'. 'Kelly was Dr Dee's Associate and is mentioned with this very stone in Hudibras [a satirical poem by Samuel Butler, first published in 1664] Kelly did all his feats upon The Devil's Looking-glass, a Stone.'
The Mexica people made mirrors with cut iron pyrites and obsidian (a volcanic glass). They were sometimes used in divination and healing practices.
If a child was suffering from 'soul loss' the healer would look at the reflection of the child's image in a mirror or a container with water. If the image were clear the child would soon recover; if it were shadowy, the soul had been lost. people´ believe that 'soul loss' is a cause of illness.
Mirrors were also associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Mexica god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers. His name can be translated as 'Smoking Mirror'. In many depictions during the Postclassic period (AD 900/1000-1521) his foot is replaced by a mirror.