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 Via. In Latin, its name means “Road”, which is pretty common in lots of other traditions, but can also be named as “journey” or “candle”. If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a straight road leading off into the distance, a walking-stick, or a single solitary person.
First, the technical details of this figure. It’s associated with the Moon waning and the astrological signs of Cancer or Leo, depending on whom you ask; due to its lunar qualities, it’s associated with the sephirah Yesod. It has all elements active, and no elements passive, being the most dynamic, changing, and forceful geomantic figure of them all; due to its extremely changeable nature, it’s given as a whole to the element Water. It’s an even figure with four points, the fewest possible number, relating to objective situations rather than internal or felt events. It is a mobile and exiting figure, showing things to be dynamic, fast-moving, and fleeting in influence. In the body, it signifies the stomach and digestive organs of the body. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Populus, the People, showing that this figure is not stable, not plural, not motionless. Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is the same, Via itself, showing that this figure is the same from all points of view. Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is also Populus, indicating that it is cyclical, internally whole, and representative of whole systems. Via is the most dynamic figure in all of geomancy, and changes everything around it, from bad to good and good to bad, mobile to stable and stable to mobile. It’s complete and utter change, represented by journeys and travels that do the same thing to those who wander them, and is fortunate whenever change, speed, travel, and journeys metaphorical or literal are desired. Via is unfortunate when one desires stability, maintaining the status quo, keeping in one spot, and resting in known comforts.
Via is the ultimate symbol of change: from light into darkness, from brilliance into gloom, from joy to sadness, from freedom to despair, from truth to falsehood, from contentedness to terror, and all back again. Via is our infinite reminder that nothing is without opposites or opposition, that everything that exists has two sides, two faces. Imagine a road that goes on into the vanishing-point distance at infinity, with day on one side and night on the left, clear skies on one and storms on the other, fertile grasslands on one and barren rocks on the other. The road is but a thin line that divides both, teetering on either side, partaking of both and being of neither. All forces are in balance, constantly shifting, constantly taking from each other, constantly taking over at the expense of others; it is a complete and stably dynamic system, where change is the only constant.
Via was historically considered to be the most powerful and significant of all the geomantic figures, especially in Arabic systems of geomancy, because Via is the only figure with all the elements: there is no passivity in Via, no receptivity, no motionlessness. Via represents the combination of all forces, complete in itself, and is the most active and mobile of all the figures. The pure force contained within Via creates a type of controlled chaos, a self-contained microcosm containing all forces constantly at work with and against each other, taking from the others while giving back to them. Via is pure dynamic dynamos, power and upheaval in all ways.
Keep in mind that when two figures are added, the active element in one flips the activity or passivity in the other element, much as the XOR (exclusive or) function in logical systems. Via, being entirely active, transforms entire figures into their logical opposites, or as I’ve been calling this whole time, their inverse. Via plus Puer, the Boy, transforms him into Albus, the Old Man; Via plus Fortuna Maior, the Greater Fortune, transforms it into Fortuna Minor, the Lesser Fortune. Via is the figure of complete change, and because of this, has been noted to be good with bad figures and bad with good figures. After all, if you like or are used to how something is, you probably aren’t going to like its opposite. It’s not a terrible figure, though, especially when such complete change is needed or desired. Because of this power to completely change any figure (or state of the universe) into its diametric opposite, Via is seen as a powerful figure indeed.
The fluidity and dynamic motion that Via provides associates it closest with the element of Water. Despite that Via has all elements active, its nature is complete change and transformation. Fire burns up, Air flows outward, and Earth contracts inward, but only Water flows down and through itself (when it moves at all). The constant change and motion that Via represents associates it with the water of rivers, historically used as major transportation routes and called “roads” themselves. After all, when using such transportation, one can quickly change everything from one’s surroundings, states of being, plans, and emotional senses of self in short time. Even the river itself changes; quoth Heraclitus, “you could not step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you”.
That said, the way and courses that roads lead to never change. Although all roads lead to Rome, that’s all all they ever do: lead. It’s the traveler and itinerants themselves that must go on the roads and change themselves, taking the suggestions from Via to transport and alter themselves along the road. It’s up to the traveler to decide when, how, and where they change, living the change themselves. What roads they take, which exits or forks they choose, when they travel, which people they travel with, which things they carry with them or leave behind, these are all choices travelers take when embarking on their journey, all of which will have repercussions on their journey, their surroundings, their destinations, and themselves. In this case, it’s similar to the Moon, the planet that rules over Via: although the Moon is always the same and her course around the heavens, her shape continuously changes based on her state in her travels. It’s a cyclic, controlled change, but it’s never the same, never stable, and never constant.
Via in a reading indicates change, often a reversal from what has normally been the case, a complete upheaval from the status quo of a situation. Via often indicates traveling to obtain or carry something out or obtain something, especially if it also appears in the third house (local travel or commutes) or ninth house (distant travel, out of state or abroad). Whenever change or journeying, in any sense, is desired, Via is fantastic; it’s a poor figure to find when keeping things the same or stable is desired, including one’s own position physically. Via is good with bad figures and bad with good figures, but also indicates that things are unclear or are in the process of change so much that no clear or confident answer can be given. Magically, Via can be used to induce chaos or change into a system, and is a good figure to make use of when traveling around and want to ensure that a trip can actually be made, though perhaps not with a fixed destination in mind.