Since I haven’t been doing much lately, and since I feel bad for depriving my oh-so-neglected and dearest readers of whimsical occult fuckery, I figure that I may as well commit myself to a series of posts they might enjoy. Since one of my most favorite topics in occultism and magic is divination, specifically the divinatory art of geomancy, why not talk about that? I know a lot about it, and not many do, so let’s go with it. If nothing else, you’ll come away slightly more educated, and I’ll come away with something looking like productivity. With that in mind, let’s start this little series of posts on geomancy, “De Geomanteia” (On Geomancy).
To start this series of posts and discussions on geomancy generally, it might be a good idea to start with the sixteen geomantic figures, the “alphabet” of this divinatory system. This week, let’s talk about this figure:
This is the figure Albus. In Latin, its name means “White”, but is also named “the Bearded One” in some Islamic traditions, as well as “laughing” or “happy”. If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a chalice or goblet set upright, or a high-backed chair.
First, the technical details on this figure. It’s associated with Mercury in direct motion, the astrological sign Cancer, and the sephirah Hod. Having only the water line active with all other lines passive, this figure is closely associated with the element of water. It is an odd figure with seven points, relating more to internal states of the subjective mind than external states of objective reality. It is a stable and entering figure, showing it to be slow-moving and long-lasting where it appears. In the body, it signifies the throat, lungs, and mind. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Puer, the Boy, showing that this figure is not rash, not bold, and not dumb. Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Rubeus, the Red One, showing that this figure is not superficial, not angry, and not quick. Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Puella, showing that it is similarly calm, introspective, peaceful, and accepting. It is generally favorable but weak, except in matters dealing with speed or enthusiasm, and is better for things requiring slow thought and planning than immediate action.
The best metaphor or image to describe Albus is that of the old bearded man in the woods. Imagine, dear reader, a stereotypical sword-and-sorcery high fantasy novel or short story: you have the evil overlord, the frightened townspeople, and the brazen youth off to conquer the dark masters and save the damsel in distress. He can’t do it alone, of course; that’d make for too easy and short a story, and he’d end up probably being an abusive boyfriend to the newly-rescued damsel being an over-testosteroned dick. No, our young hero has to get help first and learn how to fight, act, and train himself before even daring to fight the powerful forces of darkness terrorizing the land. So, he goes off to find a wizened, old sage in the forest, safely removed from harm but having lived it all beforea long long time ago in a
galaxy country far far away. This old man has the advice, skills, and knowledge the young hero needs to succeed, although the old man cannot himself fight anymore.
By this point, dear reader, you can probably rattle off a dozen or so characters from as many stories that fit the bill of this wizened, old sage: Merlin, Mr. Miyagi, Jackie Chan’s Uncle, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Gandalf, and Albus Dumbledore (whose name is not entirely a coincidence). They all have the old man gimmick down, which relates to the names of this figure quite well: an old, bearded, white-haired man. Age often signifies wisdom and experience, and Albus certainly has it. However, the price of having gotten this wisdom and experience is often the inability to use it by oneself: old age takes its toll on the body, and though an ancient swordmaster may know all the tricks and tips to defeat an entire army single-handedly, his joints and body simply aren’t up for it. To make up for their loss of physical prowess, they bump up the mental aspect of it all, reveling in the mind and letting thought and whimsy play out their battles and strategies.
This, however, is not always helpful. When one gets lost in one’s own thoughts, they lose track of the real world outside their head, and can easily forget what’s actually possible in the world instead of what they can simply think up of. It’s this disconnect from the outside world that can show Albus to be a little on the crazy side, since what he thinks isn’t always practical or applicable. In other words, it’s as if the old man has lived alone in the forest for so long that he can only remember what things were like back in the old days. In a sense, it’s a strong image of the ivory tower that academics can so easily find themselves trapped in: without keeping in mind real-world applications of their work, an academic or researcher can become obsessed more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about absolutely nothing. Without keeping themselves active in the real world and letting the mind alone dominate one’s world, Albus can just as easily signify a bastion of experience as it can a dungeon of dementia.
This is the result of combining the forces of Mercury (speed of thought, words, arguments, logic and logical conclusions, mental imagery, possibility management) with the forces of Water (memory, reflection, emotion, intuition, sinking and downwards motion). By getting wrapped up in reflection and immersing oneself in one’s own thoughts, one can figure out new truths of the cosmos just as much as they can get lost in a maze of twisty little thoughts, all alike. Mental processing is fantastic, but we can’t live just in our heads and neglect the rest of ourselves, much less the rest of the cosmos. That’s why the old man becomes such a vital character in those sword-and-sorcery stories: he has the key of wisdom and knowledge that the young hero needs. Without him, the hero would fail, but he cannot act on his own because he is neither interested in the problems of the real world nor able because of his age and frailty. His strength lies in the recesses of mind and memory, and the young hero traveling through the ancient forest to find the old sage is another level of imagery describing the same.
Incorporating the force of Albus into one’s life is both simple and dangerous, but like the rest of the figures, as necessary as anything else. Albus is the quintessential “look before you leap” figure in geomancy, proposing forethought, planning, careful deliberation, meditation, reflection, and consulting wisdom and past experiences (either of oneself or of others) before making any kind of move. It is helpful, but much like the old sage to the young hero, can act only indirectly on a situation since Albus itself cannot actually do much; the action and implementation of Albus’ plans are left to stronger, more eager hands. However, planning too much and trying to knock out every detail possible of every situation possible can lead to a downward spiral of “what ifs” and being overwhelmed by what amounts to no more than passing thoughts exploded into overimportance. When working with Albus, don’t work alone; be sure you always have a grounded output to vent at and talk shop with, someone to both help you explore mental avenues of thought without getting lost inside the city of the mind.