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 continue this little series of posts on geomancy, “De Geomanteia” (On Geomancy). This week, let’s talk about this figure:
This is the figure Caput Draconis. In Latin, its name means “Tail of the Dragon”, also the name for the South Node of the Moon, but is also named “outer threshold” in some Islamic traditions, as well as “going out of fortune” or “stepping outside”. If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like leaving a home or a trail leading off into the distance.
First, the technical details on this figure. It’s associated with the South Node of the Moon, the place where the Moon’s orbit around the Earth crosses and sinks below the ecliptic of the Sun, or further into the southern celestial sphere; it’s one of the two places where eclipses happen (the other is the North Node of the Moon). Due to its malefic nature, it’s associated with Mars and Saturn, and due to its transitory nature, it’s associated with the sign of Sagittarius. The closest qabbalistic association that can be drawn, having effects only on the sphere of the Earth, is with Malkuth. It has the fire, air, and water lines active with only the earth line passive, and is overall associated with the element of Fire. It is an odd figure with five points, relating to subjective, inner states of the soul and experienced reality rather than objective, independent, or external situations. It is a mobile and exiting figure, showing it to be dynamic, fast-moving, and fleeting in influence. In the body, it is associated with the left arm, when associated with the body at all, but can also be associated with the excretory functions of the body. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Tristitia, showing that this figure is not slow-moving, not openly sorrowful, not lasting. Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Caput Draconis, showing that this figure is not beginning, not favorable, not open to dealing with possibilities. Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Laetitia, showing that this figure is similarly fast-moving and widely effective though fleeting and ephemeral in nature. Cauda Draconis is a figure representing endings of all kinds, and shuts the door to anything new happening. Like Fortuna Minor, Cauda Draconis doesn’t bode too well for upcoming adventures and undertakings, though is good for wrapping things up and getting out of a situation; it tends to be bad with good figures and good with bad figures, and is unfavorable for starting or beginning anything new.
Picture in your mind’s eye, if you will, an ending. Doesn’t matter to what, dear reader, just picture an ending related to whatever it is you’re doing. Semester finals, towers falling, turning in a finalized project report, finishing an annual race on a cloudy day at dusk. Picture the feelings those images bring: relief that it’s over, regret over things done or left undone, a faint hope for a beginning that one doesn’t have time for yet. Cauda Draconis is one of geomantic figures whose meanings is really simple: it’s an end. It doesn’t matter to what, dear reader, it’s just an end. Nothing more can be done or said about it. But that wouldn’t make for a very interesting blog post, so let’s continue.
The thing about endings is that they happen. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and there’s very little in the cosmos that doesn’t have a beginning (really, just One Thing). Still, people tend to get used to things being around and, you know, not stopping being around. Things coming to an end usually has a bitter, sour, or just bad taste to it: we don’t want vacations to end, we don’t want to move from our childhood home, we don’t want to break off relationships, we don’t want businesses to sell out when they go south, we don’t want people to die. Then again, there are things that we do want to end or come to an end: we want to get rid of illnesses, we want to end wars, we want to to leave bad jobs. Ending something can be both good and bad, but even in the good times, there’s usually some amount of bad (leaving a bad job means, more often than not, a period of unemployment, and ending one war often involves huge battles or leaves resentment on one side ripe to start another). The stage in the great cycle of things is that an ending is just that: one stage in a cycle. One thing ends, another thing begins.
While the process of something ending can take a while, the end itself happens in a flash. There is no sloth or slowness with Cauda Draconis, and this is related to its elemental structure and ruling element of Fire. There’s no earth in the figure’s structure, nothing to weigh it down, contain it, or give it any lasting form. It has the instability of Water, the flow of Air, and the volatility of Fire, all things that move, all considered the elements that act on Earth to mold and shape it. But without Earth, these other three elements fly apart into their own separate spheres. This explosive nature is what gives Cauda Draconis its association with Fire, and also its astrological correspondence of Sagittarius (being the mutable fire sign). This is in direct opposition to Caput Draconis, which is much slower and all about the buildup to something, which focuses on Earth and resource-gathering.
One of Cauda Draconis’ names is “outer threshold”, as in the outer stoop of one’s home facing outward. This is shorthand for the notion of fortune, luck, or opportunity leaving one’s domain, unable or unwilling to enter. In that case, if one took pairs of active lines from Cauda Draconis (fire, air, water) to make individual geomantic figures, one would have Fortuna Minor (fire and air) indicating that no more can be done on one’s own, Coniunctio (air and water) indicating that a change in direction and decisions are needed, and Amissio (fire and water) indicating that what’s gone is gone and no more can be obtained. Cauda Draconis is, next to perhaps Via and Rubeus, the most mobile or flighty of all the figures, and it being associated with Fire gives it a disastrous, calamitous force. Relating it to the malefic planet Saturn, the planet of limitations and definitions that define the end or terminus of something, it’s the kind of boundary that blocks things off from growing, from importing, or from improving. What you have is what you have, and that’s all there’s going to be.
When Cauda Draconis appears in a reading, get ready for things to wrap up unless you want them wrapped up for you. Again, the keyword here is ending. Things are coming to an end one way or another. If things are good now, prepare for a good dose of BS and nasty crap to deal with before it’s over; if things are awful now, cheer up because they’ll be brought to a sweet close. In matters of health, Cauda Draconis indicates a change for the worse, and can potentially indicate death if the first and eighth houses indicate similarly in an astrogeomantic chart. Speaking of the first house, “traditional” lore says that if Cauda Draconis appears in the first house (representing the querent), the chart should immediately be destroyed and the reading abandoned, at least temporarily. While it’s certainly not the most favorable of omens, it’s nothing that bad; it usually indicates that the querent has already made up their mind and won’t be open to any new ideas or possibilities, in effect rendering the reading worthless instead of sinister. In magic, Cauda Draconis is fairly malefic and combines the forces of Saturn and Mars, very good for cursework, banishing, or clearing nasty stuff out.
Hi, isn’t this figure mobile and exiting? Otherwise great posting once again, thanks!
Ack, good catch! I thought I left something wrong from inverting the qualities from Caput Draconis. Thanks!
I was wondering on why Cauda Draconis is similar to Laetitia and then it occured to me that the fleeting happiness of Laetitia is caused by an ending: the end of desire. So Cauda Draconis and Laetitia are similar (endings) but different (feeling of loss and relief vs. feeling of fulfilment).
In my meditations, I actually get the reverse: Laetitia is an image of celebration and planning, a looking-forward to what can be and what may be, like a community settling down in a new place and laying foundations for a new town. We’ll get to that when I get to those posts, but the similarities between Laetitia and Cauda Draconis (to me) indicate that they’re both similar in motion and power, but not in the kind or direction of motion or power. YMMV, of course.
I may just need to spend more time on Laetitia and look into the elemental correspondences of both figures. :) My first visual interpretation of Laetitia is a rainbow – it makes you very happy when you reach its end.
That could also be it; I’m not discounting your interpretation, but it’s not one I’ve arrived at before. The names of the figures in geomancy is probably one of the best keys to go by; here, Laetitia really does mean joy in any way in any cause. It may not be a deep-seated eternal equanimitous peace with the cosmos, but it’s still a fun, fleeting thing.
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