A Brief Note on Reading Geomantic Charts

So, recently, I’ve been teaching geomancy in one-on-one classes with a friend.  (No, I don’t plan to do this very often, and if I do, I won’t be taking on more than one student at a time.  I’m still pretty new to this.)  He’s already very bright and skilled with other forms of divination, and his aptitude for logic and theory lend itself very well to the study of my favorite divinatory art.  He brings up lots of questions that give me pause to think them over, answering based on the theories of geomancy developed in the literature as well as in my own practice, and there’s plenty to talk about between his and my use of the art.  However, I’ve noticed something in the course of our discussions, and the discussions I’ve had with others, that I think should be said very explicitly.

In Western (or European) geomancy, we often divide the geomantic reading into two charts: the Shield Chart (the “constructive” chart with 16 “houses” for the Mothers, Daughters, Nieces, and Court) and the House Chart (the astrological chart with 12 houses).  Much of Western geomancy is devoted to the interpretation of the geomantic figures in the astrological House Chart, and somewhat less to the interpretation of the figures in the Shield Chart, usually focusing on the combinations of Witnesses and Judges.  Heck, even in my own posts on this blog, I’ve talked more about perfection and how to use the 12 houses of a geomantic House Chart to answer queries.  To be fair, the process of understanding the Court figures isn’t that hard, and it’s easy to extrapolate any number of ways to interpret them once you understand the gist of that.  It makes sense that more would be written about the more complicated and involved methods of interpretation, but this should not be misinterpreted that the Court figures are less important than the House Chart methods.

So, without further ado, let me make my point very clear:

The Court figures (Witnesses, Judge, and Sentence) form the answer to the query.  The Court says what will happen.  Everything else in the chart, in both the Shield Chart and the House Chart, describe the details of how things happen.  Thus, the Court always come first and provide the heart of the answer to any and all geomantic queries, and of the Court, the Judge figure is the most important.  Everything else should be interpreted in light of the Judge figure.

I find it incredibly confusing that someone would disregard the Judge and the rest of the Court, skipping ahead to the House Chart before even considering what the Court figures mean.  I consider it bad form to ask a query, construct the Shield Chart, then immediately look at the House Chart to find perfection or what-have-you to get a “yes” or “no” answer.  The Court, and the Judge especially, always provide the answer to the query, and more than that, the context within which the entire rest of the chart must fit.  All the other information one can obtain out of a geomantic chart—speed of resolution, perfection, quality of being, actors and actions, and everything else—is ultimately meaningless without a context to make sense of them.  The Court gives you that context and describes what will happen regarding the query put to geomancy.  Everything else just gives details and is, essentially, unnecessary for interpretation.

After all, the Shield Chart and House Chart aren’t really different charts.  The House Chart is just a reorganization of the Mothers, Daughters, and Nieces in the Shield Chart into a more cyclical presentation rather than a procedural or additive presentation that the Shield Chart encourages.  Of the latter, we have the triad system (First Mother + Second Mother = First Niece, etc.), which is composed of four triads of figures; these same twelve figures are those used in the House Chart.  However, it bears remembering that these same twelve figures, whether laid out procedurally in the Shield Chart or cyclically in the House Chart, boil down to the Witnesses, Judge, and Sentence.  Thus, the Court figures encapsulate everything that has gone before, and really provide both the overall answer and the heart of the matter within itself.

Quick example.  Consider a query where someone wants to know whether they’ll be able to find a lost object.  The Judge is Amissio, and the House Chart perfects.  If you just look at the House Chart, then yes, you would say that the querent would find their lost object and all will be well (despite the fact that perfection and favorability are two different things that cannot be answered with one technique).  However, Amissio is the Judge, which indicates loss.  Beginning geomancers would be befuddled at this, thinking that the Judge is saying one thing and the House Chart says another, and would consider the chart too confusing to interpret.  However, remember that the Judge is the ultimate answer here and provides context for everything else.  Thus, ultimately, the querent will not have all they hope for, but depending on the rest of the details, we could extrapolate several interpretations of this combination of Judge and Houses:

  • The original item will not be recovered, but a replacement can be obtained.
  • The item will be recovered, but damaged to the point of worthlessness.
  • The item will be recovered, but at an overall loss of time, money, or resources to the querent.
  • The item was never lost, but the item will be of no use or otherwise accessible to the querent.

Note how, in these interpretations, the central idea of “loss” is present in all of them, none of them good for the querent’s original query.  However, there’s still some manner of recovery or possession that fit into the Judge’s context of loss which doesn’t ultimately change the answer to the query.  Yes, it may take some creativity and intuition to figure out how to put together seemingly-conflicting contexts and details, but that’s part of the art and skill of a geomancer that must be practiced and honed in order to properly use geomantic divination.

So, remember kids: always, alwaysalways look at the Court first in a geomantic chart.  Those figures there will tell you what’s going on and what will happen.  Everything else just fills in the details, but it’s the Court that set up the answer.

4 responses

  1. Oh YES!

    Yeah I used to be guilty of this. I think it’s a rookie mistake, actually, to blow past the court and check out the houses. And sooner or later, you have a chart that you interpret positively based on the house, and the shield smacks you upside the head.

    And then you reconstruct and rethink and re-imagine your practice.

    And for me, the other major reconstruction I’ve done has been to refuse to read a chart at all for anyone, myself included, when Rubeus/Red (Coch in the druidic system I practice, too) is the First Mother. A half-dozen charts of my own, and four charts for others, finally convinced me that reading a chart with that warning sign is a bad idea.

  2. Pingback: On the Geomantic Triads | The Digital Ambler

  3. This has been my problem since the start of this endeavor. I haven’t found the Court figures to be as helpful as the previous 12, particularly the first Mother. I am starting to wonder if the particular figures mean different things for different people because the Lesser Fortune and Conjunction figures almost always mean “no” as Judges in my charts although they are supposed to be beneficial. The Via and Carcer figures as Judges are the only ones that I’m really sort of understanding of at the moment. And I’m still trying to get the hang of the Witnesses and Sentence part.

    I guess more practice is needed…

    • Sometimes geomancers can overly focus on the House Chart and neglect the Shield Chart generally, or the Court specifically. The Court is always important, because it always gives the complete answer in and of itself; all the other techniques and practices we have serve to elucidate and clarify what the Court says, because the Court gives The Answer, albeit at a high level. It definitely takes practice, but definitely try to give the Court at least a decent attempt at understanding before looking at the rest of the chart, because the Court sets the context and semantic boundaries for all the other techniques and whatever they may answer.

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