We brought mirrors into our lives for various reasons.

Their reflection is what stirs something inside us. Whether it is the self-judgemental inner critic of our superficial appearance does not matter, but what that train of thought mirrors is that deep inside we want to be assured by something outside of us, that we are real, worth of being, here to imprint ourselves on the world.

Reality is about change. Mirrors have the innate ability to reflect that change in the fleeting parodies of our momentous life. Can they predict future? Now in the Anthropocene, as much as before or even more, we might want to know.

divination mirror

The Maya and the Aztecs believed in prediction through physical and mental reflection. The obsidian, and prior to them the pyrite mirrors were praised possessions by the powerful, who trusted in the magic of these “smoking mirrors”. Obsidian has a volcanic origin. This cooled lava wowed the ancient Meso-american natives in their region with an extremely high volcanic activity.

Prior to these, a natural mirror, water, was used to divine meaning and fate. One of the greatest Aztec deities was the Lord Smoking Mirror, Tezcatlipoca. He was the patron of sorcerers and magicians, the giver of life and death, of all fates good and bad, that guided the rulers on the right path not just for themselves, but also for the entire civilisation. Belief renders doubt fearless!

Optical art

The Mirror of the Irrational Future through Past

Random concurrences

Calculated hacks

Spontaneous mood swings

Unscheduled magic

Will of changing minds 

The offsprings of wishful thinking

Divined through the lips of an oracle

A psychic connected above, beyond and under

Written in bones cast by the Greeks

Rolled through the physical shape of a dice

In Chinese patterns, consulting numbers


Revealing knowledge deep within the intuitive self 

The future meets the past unclothed

Mock culture that interferes — banishing nakedness

Ancient prophesying rationalised, hoping to be undone

The bones are souls, even when turned into ashes


The soul knows

The mystical is not shrouded in secrets

Tell me, the obsidian mirror

Of the favours of the gods

Glued together with a bat’s poo

A cooled lava spurted from the Earth’s womb

A smoky entrance ticket into the underworld

The power over life and death

Shrouded in desire

A bird flying high or low

Beyond human certainty


Augury knows more about

The needs of the insecure

Joy on the waiting list

Neither here, nor now

While, the astrologers’

Planetary trysts with stars

Peering into a box of water

The ripples share the tale

In their future-bearing banter

The watery realms decipher

Waters are mirrors telling the future


There still are many distinct divination methods in use today, I learned during an online course with the Harvard Divination School. The influence of some diminished, while others are being revived. The Astragaloi bones were cast by the Greeks in the height of its ancient culture. After science explained comets, bones are left to the museums and dice is used more as a gambling tool. Curiously, the Tarot is increasingly sold from East to West at bookstores and hip concept stores next to crystals and palo santo.

spiritual crystalscrystal

The Meso-american use of mirrors to predict future fascinates me because like Tarot, this divination is not based on chance. The physical meets the psychological character in these reflective objects. Western fairy tales such as the Sleeping Beauty by the Brothers Grimm also used the mirror’s divinatory prowess to change the actual storyline. Magic sometimes reveals mystery.

divinationMeeting your shadow

Although mirrors seem to only reflect what is in front of them, they were viewed as the windows into the meaning of what is beyond here and now. Some artists play with that idea in their intriguing installations.  As interactive art grows, we have the opportunity to engage with it on a deeper level. Above, I further played the mirror of the self in an exhibition at a former monastery in Provence. What I saw was not just the shape of my jawline, my lips and the buttons of my eye pupils, I saw a poem. Most recently in Milano, the Rodin and Dance themed showing at MUDEC, stirred me and my happy to join for fun friend Lauren to dance in the front of the digitally-sensitive screen playing music according to our movements — faster as we frolicked, slowing down as we twirled our hands like east-asian goddesses. 

I love the poem Window Forough Farrokhzad in Summer 2020 Issue no. 233 of The Paris Review:

A window like a well

that ends deep in the heart of the earth

and opens out into this expanse of recurring blue kindness


Say something to me

What does one who grants you the kindness of a living body

want from you in return but an understanding of what it means to feel alive?

Say something to me

In the sanctuary of my window

I am one with the sun

Another interactive art experience connected us through a 3d motion picture shot entirely at night with the plant life in almost a psychedelic sensation (without the side effects).

Nightlife by Cyprien Gaylard examines the legacies of revolution, political resistance and resilience through the relics and ruins of modern history. His web of relations stirred us into motion with the plant life brought to multi-dimensional aliveness. the French artist lives and works between Berlin and New York. This showing bellow is at Luma Westbau in Zurich. Gratitude to my friend Polly for participating spontaneously with me!


Read more about the role of the mirrors in the ancient Mesoamerica: Olivier, G. (2003): Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God – Tezcatlipoca, “Lord of the Smoking Mirror”, University Press of Colorado, Boulder, USA. If you want to learn more about the ancient divination that the course Predictive Systems that helps classify and understand similarities and differences amongst predictive methods across time and cultures. It is used throughout PredictionX at Harvard University.

A thought-provoking question to open your mind. How different is the experience of your reflection in a  mirror or other reflecting surface like water from seeing your own shadow?