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 Rubeus. In Latin, its name means “Red”, which is pretty common in lots of other traditions, but can also be named as “burning” or “danger”. If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like an overturned goblet.
First, the technical details of this figure. It’s associated with Mars in retrograde motion and the astrological signs of Scorpio or Gemini, depending on whom you ask (though the connections with Scorpio are much stronger no matter what); due to its Martian qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Geburah. It has only the air line active with all others passive, and thus is corresponded as a whole to the element of Air. 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 mobile and exiting figure, showing things to be dynamic, fast-moving, and fleeting in influence. In the body, it signifies the sexual and reproductive organs, as well as the excretory systems of the body. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Puella, the Girl, showing that this figure is not patient, not harmonious, not accommodating. Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Albus, White, showing that this figure is not introspective, not fore-thinking, not balanced. Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Puer, the Boy, showing that it is similarly highly eager, easily excitable, and quick to action. Rubeus is a difficult figure to deal with, very fast-moving and hectic to the point of confusion and flailing. It’s all about being impassioned at a superficial level, leading to excess, indulgence, intoxication, and violence. Because of this, it’s generally unfavorable except for the situations where these things are good or desired.
Picture in your mind’s eye, dear reader, that you’re at another of the swanky social parties at the house of some noble in Renaissance Italy, perhaps at some palace of the Medicis or Albizzis. They happen tolerably often, and the host and his lovely wife are chatting with different groups, wandering from clique to clique, livery and leggings and gold in abundance. The clinking of goblets, the soft chatter of the partiers, the soft tunes of viols and lutes fill the air and abruptly comes to a disgraceful crash when all attention goes to the wife of the host. Apparently, some poor sap made a social misstep, which the paranoid hostess took as a gross insult; despite the lavish and high-class people around her, her face goes from a pretty pale to a dark, raging blush. The dude made no more than a light jest at someone across the room, but the hostess took it as a slight against her own noble self, and she starts going crazy at him for having maltreated her so: threatening him with the multitude of daggers she has hidden in her bodice, spitting invective, even going so far as to throw her glass of dark wine in her victim’s face. Just as soon as it began, it ends, and she walks off fulfilled, getting another glass of wine to sip while she resumes flitting from clique to clique. The rest of the guests try to continue their evening as normal, as ever normal can be around her, and the host just shakes his head and lets it go.
If you were to describe the common negative traits of the astrological sign of Scorpio—its craziness, its excess, its passion, and its danger—you’d also basically describe the geomantic figure Rubeus. The name itself, “red”, is one that has stuck from ancient Islamic and African traditions of geomancy up to its late European cousins lineages. Red is the color of life itself, the color of red earth, red meat, red fruit, or red blood, but it’s only when life is in danger or needs to be really brought to the surface does the redness of it all really come to play. Times when we get angry, we get passionately involved in something, when we’re hunting or being hunted, or when we’re injured: these are the times when the redness of life sets off a red light as a warning, when we see red for some reason or another. Rubeus as a figure is connected with the indulgent, abusive, and exploitative nature of Scorpio and Mars, taking advantage of anything at its disposal just because it can. That includes drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, arguing, and anything else that can give a superficial rush of life without any deeper meaning or need.
Rubeus is a figure that represents passionate involvement in something, but only as long as it stays involved. It thrives on the here and now, on getting the most out of everything and more besides, but without any lasting committment or treatment or method in order to keep things that way. It’s like a tornado: quick to arise, quick to dissipate, but while it lasts it gets into and wrecks everything, sucking everything in and tossing it out just as fast. This befits its elemental structure of having only Air active, and Rubeus being an airy figure. Without Water to keep it connected to anything else, without Earth to ground it out and contain it, and without Fire to direct it or illuminate it, Rubeus is basically the “monkey mind”, the mind thinking for thinking’s own sake, but on a massive scale. Internally, this leads to confusion and a lack of depth in the mind, with thoughts being thought and then distracted immediately onto the next thought. Externally, this leads to one flitting around from group to group, activity to activity, situation to situation, drug to drug, cock to cock (or vaj to vaj, or either to either depending on your tastes); whatever’s here and now is most important to Rubeus, and it doesn’t care how far it goes so long as it’s there to partake in it.
Contrast Rubeus, then, with the detached-but-thoughtful Albus: while Rubeus is only Air, Albus is only Water. Albus is reflective, thoughtful, meditative, and pensive, but at the expense of being communicative, active, outgoing, and connective to others. Albus reflects upon itself, since there’s nothing else for it to involve itself with. Rubeus is only empty communication, vain activity, and outward going without the ability to connect on a deeper, more lasting, or profound level. Also contrast Rubeus with Puella, its elemental inverse: while Puella is the ideal hostess, calm and abiding and harmonic with all her guests, whose only goal is to entertain and enliven the partiers, Rubeus is the bitchy crazy hostess who lives for only the parties. Puella sees past appearances and works accordingly, but appearances are all that Rubeus sees without a realization of subtlety or deeper need. While Rubeus might be crazy whirlwind undirected passion, Puer (the other Martian figure and the converse of Rubeus) is directed passion, focused on a single topic and objective. Puer actually accomplishes something by plunging right into the heart of it, either with his cock or his sword (the same thing, really, but for different ends), but Rubeus flits around grazing only the surface of something and everything around it.
One medical association of the four elements connects them with the four humours, the idea that the regulation of the body and its functions are governed by four fluids in the body: yellow bile (choler, Fire), black bile (melancholy, Earth), phlegm (Water), and blood (Air). Rubeus, the only geomantic figure with only Air, is representative of the nature of the sanguine humour, and both share one important characteristic: they’re both red. They both live on circulation, going hither and thither, doing one thing then another then another, never sticking around long enough to do anything else. When blood, thoughts, and actions are kept superficial and light on the touch as they should be, things go well: organs get just the oxygen they need and the blood goes on to recirculate, thoughts can easily look at a broad situation to get a first-glance point of view, and people open themselves up to new experiences at the drop of a hat. When they get stuck for too long in one place, though, things often go poorly: blood can clot and cause strokes or other issues, thoughts can keep getting distracted when they should be focused on something or can dwell for too long on something that isn’t any deeper than it actually is, or people can indulge in too much too soon without much of a need at all.
In geomantic readings, Rubeus is usually a negative figure, if only because it indicates superficiality and excess when we least want them; one good keyword to go by for this figure is “hectic”. It’s often found to be favorable when excess, indulgence in experiences like drink or drugs or sex, or being quick-to-come and quick-to-go is a good thing, and this often is. It’s also a symbol of secrecy and trickery, often of confusion or compulsion rather than earnest deceit. Beyond this, though, Rubeus is all about being a whirlwind of energy and activity that usually bodes poorly for something, since it also indicates violence, abuse, or utter confusion as a result from not being able to contain those energies. At a high level, Rubeus is only fortunate for matters involving indulgence in sexuality, intoxicants, and violence, and little else besides. Be careful when it appears in the sixth house, since it might indicate STDs and other reproductive or excretory issues, though it could just as easily indicate hypochondria. Magically, Rubeus is associated with malefic Mars and dark Scorpio, and can be good for wrapping someone up in a confusion of their own thoughts, tipping something over into excess, or giving a good blast of energy and activity from nowhere in particular all at once.