I didn’t think I’d ever have to write a post on this particular topic, as I thought it was so obvious as to go without explanation. However, as usual, the good people of the Internet have proved me wrong, and I’ve noticed a trend in my search hits that have prompted this post. Uncharacteristically, it’ll be a short post, since there’s really not much to explain, but here goes:
The system of geomancy is incompatible with the notion of a fifth element, also called the quintessence or the force of Spirit.
It’s evident from the get-go that geomancy uses and relies on the four classical elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The structure of the geomantic figures themselves lend themselves well to this: a geomantic figure has four rows of either one or two dots, each row associated with a particular element, with one dot signifying that element as active or present and two dots signifying that it’s passive or absent. The binary structure of geomancy, in addition, relies upon the exponentials of two, so 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. This allows for four elements, not five, as five has no place in this system. Going further, if you want to bring astrology into this, astrology likewise relies on four, not five, elements, just as it relies on twelve, not thirteen, signs of the Zodiac. (No, Ophiuchus is not a zodiac sign. Get over it.)
I’ve seen a trend of Tarot decks that have five suits instead of the traditional four, with the fifth suit dedicated to the force of Spirit. I’ve also seen people try to incorporate a fifth element into systems that have no room or need for one, and geomancy is one such system. It does not belong, especially as Spirit is not an element by nearly all forms of Hermetic reckoning, Golden Dawn material and derivatives notwithstanding.
I will certainly agree that Spirit is a force, absolutely, in the same sense that the elements and planets are forces, but I will not go further than that. Spirit is something that is either or underlying all the other forces, a kind of ideal form of a force, or it is something that is lower than a planetary force and higher than an elemental force, something that separates the Spheres of the Elements from the Spheres of the Planets and Stars. Yes, one can work with the force of the quintessence directly, although it is a different type of working than an elemental or planetary one, and its effects are realized through other forces that are already present; I’ve found that workings involving pure quintessential force magnify the other forces pertinent to a talisman, conjuration, or the like, but is nothing on its own in isolation from others. This is a mystery that leads to very divine workings, yes, but in terms of manifestation magic or most Hermetic workings, Spirit isn’t a thing. It’s not mentioned in Solomonic writings or the PGM or any number of other texts, including astrological and geomantic ones, because it’s not a thing like the other forces.
Okay, ending my curmudgeonly rant for the day. Carry on.