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 Puer. In Latin, its name means “Boy”, but is also named “the Beardless One” in some Islamic traditions, as well as “sword” or “fighter”. If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a sword, a phallus, or a man with exaggerated testicles. (Hey, I don’t make the images up. Geomancy is a sexy, sexy art.)
First, the technical details of this figure. It’s associated with Mars in direct motion and the astrological signs of Aries; due to its Martian qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Geburah. It has the earth, air, and fire lines active with only the water line passive; overall, it’s associated with the element of Air. 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 things to be dynamic, fast-moving, and fleeting in influence. In the body, it signifies the head and its associated organs. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Albus, White, showing that this figure is not introspective, not fore-thinking, not balanced. Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Puella, the Girl, showing that this figure is not patient, not harmonious, not accommodating. Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Rubeus, Red, showing that it is similarly highly eager, easily excitable, and quick to action. Puer is a fun but active figure to work with, being very eager, excitable, and ready for action; it’s favorable for anything involving a lot of strength, muscle, activity, and directed passion (namely, war and love), but due to its rashness and overeagerness, tends to be unfavorable for most everything else.
The young man dressed in rags and armor, riding his horse, drops his armor’s visor, raises his sword, and plunges into the fight. All he’s in it for is to fight, and the fight is real, especially if he’s the one to start it (he usually is). If he’s on the right side in the fight, he’ll lay his enemies bare and clear the field to pave the way for future foundations; if not, he’ll live to fight for a hopeless and regretful day later. But that doesn’t matter to him, anyway; he lives for the fight, the struggle, the excitement, the passion, the heat, and the war that never ends for him. His visor limits his vision, cutting out peripheral vision entirely and causing him to focus on what’s right ahead of him; just so does he only care for the current day and the current battle. He’s young and without experience of victory, or even finesse in battle, his rashness and recklessness giving him all the flailing speed and power he needs, but he’s fighting not just to fight but also for that experience he lacks. And, after all, he’s fighting because there’s one thing he’s missing: someone to really fight for. Don’t expect him to be your ally when you call, but expect him to call on you or pull you into the fight.
Welcome to the fiery, flustered, fighting world of Puer. Like a few of the other figures, Puer is tightly connected and identified with its astrological counterpart, Mars and Aries, or even Mars in Aries. Pure energy, pure eagerness, pure activity and eagerness are what define Puer, and thus tag along the corresponding rashness, recklessness, and abandon that comes with them. Puer is the young adventurer setting off on his quest just after his first victorious battle: excited that he can start conquering, unaware that he can’t yet conquer everything. He rides that ego boost like his horse, not caring about the difficulty ahead, but up to the challenge, no matter what it is. His inexperience is dangerous, but he’s adventuring to fix that, as well, in addition to his ultimate objective to fulfill (whatever it is). It’s the young warrior off to find the Holy Grail, Luke right off of Tatooine ready to fight the Empire, the college graduate ready to reform the world the way he thinks it should be.
It’s that idea of fulfilling an objective that’s central to the image of Puer. Elementally, Puer has fire, air, and earth active: he has the drive and the will to fight, the mind and plan to get out and explore, and the shield and resources to keep himself going. His courage and curiosity lead him to keep moving on and around, acting on and interacting with the world, give him the overall nature of Air. The only thing he lacks is the ability to emotionally, empathically connect to others, and as a fighter, he’s focused on fighting against rather than living with others; Puer lacks water in every sense, he lacks a heart. This is contrasted to Puella, the Girl, who only abides and waits for others to come to her, taking them in and giving them purpose, but not acting on her own; she has fire, earth, and water active, but no air, no actual interaction. Cliché though it might sound, Puer and Puella make a pair: the Boy seeks the Girl for union and companionship, the Sword to be plunged into the Chalice for the Great Rite. In other words, Puer is horny for results. (This is another one of those figures that give away an old gender binary sexism, but at least the symbolism is consistent.)
Yes, extend this metaphor as far as you want, just like Puer extends his, er, erect sword. Direct, straight, and to the point, Puer is easily understood, though its associations with Air might be cloudy. Puer is a figure of Mars, which is also associated with Rubeus. Rubeus, however, is dark, feminine Martian energy, while Puer is bright and masculine. Both of these figures are ruled by Air, which is not normally associated with Mars (Fire is much more Martian in temperament and quality). However, consider that it doesn’t make any sense to be Martian except when there are others around to be Martian with: while some of the other planets are capable of existing on their own, Mars (like the other planets associated with the negative Pillar of Boaz on the Qabbalah) requires something to enforce or force on others. While Rubeus is just pure passion and energy thrown in any direction at all like a crazy lady or a tornado, Puer represents passion and drive thrust into a single direction. Anything not related to the thing that Puer is focused on will either be ignored outright or be the victim of collateral damage.
When Puer appears in a reading, get ready for action! Puer brings a lot of energy directed at a single objective, whatever it may be. Because of this, arguments and actual physical violence can happen as a result. Puer is favorable whenever energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, speed, courage, and the possibility of change are good things, though it can also bring recklessness, rashness, and volatility as well. It’s unfavorable whenever slowness, thinking before acting, planning carefully, stability, and discretion are good things, since Puer doesn’t do these very well. Anything that requires finesse will suffer, but anything that can tolerate or make use of vitality and eagerness that can make up for a lack of tact or skill will likely do better than otherwise. Things or events that require violence, fighting, or fighting for something, including love and war, are especially suitable for this young rash figure’s energies. Magically, Puer can be used to empower someone by setting a fire under their ass and getting them active again, but can also give a testy, volatile atmosphere to a place or person.