No, I haven’t forgotten my blog; it’s just that it’s only this past week that my yearly Hell Season has finally come to an end. Between three long road-trips up and down the East Coast, several birthdays (including my own!), several Lukumí initiation anniversaries (including my own!), my wedding anniversary, and at least a half-dozen feast days in various traditions, this has been a super-busy summer, guys, and made all the better by getting to meet so many of you in person. (Here’s hoping that trend continues!) Now that it’s done with, I’m finally able to get settled back into the routine of things, and also resting and relaxing.
Besides travel, ritual, ceremony, and being pleasantly-yet-uncommonly social, I’ve also been busy with writing, though more for books than posts. Not only did my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration posts earlier this year take more out of me than I expected, but since then, I’ve also been working obsessively on researching the history and practice of domino fortune-telling, and writing a book on the same; this isn’t just the most complete treatment of the subject ever written in English, but it’s also a project and topic that I completely didn’t expect to ever tackle, yet which is already nearing completion (and publication). However, now that that’s winding down, I’ve also been getting back to working more on my geomancy textbook, Principia Geomantica. It’s still a work in progress, and I’ve been doing more research and refining to it to get it to where I’m personally satisfied with it, including review of some techniques I thought were useful and showed some promise but which didn’t really play out as well as I had hoped. Much of this research also includes translating more Latin from Renaissance-era texts like Robert Fludd and Henri de Pisis (and you can find plenty of the original sources in this post listing digitized historical geomancy texts), but also from modern 20th century French works on geomancy, which offer even more insight and advice. (I also have some neat stuff to say about that body of literature, not least of which is that they advanced many of the same innovations I myself have come up with independently, along with some rather peculiar thoughts all of their own that don’t seem to be found in any other geomantic tradition I’m familiar with.)
In the meantime, however, I think I’d like to try my hand at offering online geomancy classes; after all, not everyone enjoys or is able to learn from a textbook, and I think this might be a useful thing for many of us. Not to step on the toes of the good Dr. Cummins with his wonderful geomancy classes over at Wolf & Goat, which I myself have taken and can definitely recommend, but I’d also like to offer my own training and teaching for those interested in the divinatory art of geomancy. I’d like to present as comprehensive a course on geomancy as I can manage, covering all the bases in a steady progression, just as my (eventual) geomancy textbook would cover. However, there are different ways to offer such a class, and I’ve been mulling over what might be best received by the online occult community. To that end, let me know your thoughts in this poll (but only after finishing reading the rest of this post first:
(If you’re viewing this post in an RSS reader or in a really old or badly-coded web browser, the embedded poll above might not show up. If that’s the case, please use this direct link to the poll.)
How would each of these three options play out, you might ask?
- The online live classes would be held over Zoom in a group of no more than 20 people. These would be held weekly on a set schedule. Recordings would be made, but only for people who miss a class due to schedule conflicts, and not for public dissemination. I would plan for multiple iterations of the online classes, with one or two cycles offered every year, so if you don’t get into one, you could wait a few months to get into the next. You’d pay once to reserve your seat in the class, and that payment would be a lump sum for the entire cycle. I’d be able to get this set up and established pretty quickly, once I have my idea for a curriculum and plan for teaching, so if I can get my thoughts sorted out well enough, it could be held as early as spring 2020.
- The pre-recorded videos would be, well, just that: recordings of voice augmented by visual demonstrations, either drawn out on a whiteboard or digitally with slides and images. These would be recorded once and, after paying a set fee for the bundle, you’d be given access to download them within a set timeframe, and you would watch/listen to them at your own pace. I’m not sure whether the videos would be best broken up by hour/hour-and-a-half chunks and fitting in whatever topics can be spoken about in such a time per video, or broken up by individual topic of variable duration. Except in egregious cases of error or omission, the videos would not be updated or added to. This would take a bit longer to set up than the online classes, and I’d probably be able to deliver the set by summer 2020.
- The slides or textpages, likewise, are self-explanatory, something along the lines of boring online training for one’s job or in the method of Quareia. You’d pay to get access to it, and you would work through it at your own pace, perhaps stopped by regular knowledge-checks or quizzes to make sure you understood the material enough to proceed. In many ways, this would be a sort of “textbook lite”. This would probably take the longest time to deliver, pending other writing projects, and could be finished as early as autumn 2020.
My personal guess, based on preliminary results from Twitter, is that the pre-recorded videos would be the most preferred and that the slides/textpages would be least preferred. While I like the idea of online live classes, I think pre-recorded videos makes the most sense, but I’d like to see what the potential students themselves would like.
In all cases, however, I’d start some sort of searchable forum (perhaps a Facebook group or subreddit, just to make it easy?) for students to join, ask questions, post charts, and get feedback on. I’d also set up some sort of “final exam” for those overachievers who would want to prove their capabilities to me in exchange for a polyphanic certification of having learned and understood geomancy according to my standard of approval (and, hopefully, exceeding it). If I offer future classes on geomancy that go well above and beyond the already-comprehensive course of study I’m thinking about for geomantic divination, such as on niche topics within geomancy or geomantic magic, I’d insist that you first complete this course and pass the final exam as a prerequisite.
For a price point, I’m not yet decided; I’d need to think about that more after I actually come up with the material to see how it all breaks down into classes, topics, and expected durations, but the price point would probably be in the range of US$300 to US$600. The total cost here would include the classes themselves, as well as permanent access to the student forum, review of tests, providing of certificates, individual answering of questions, review of charts, and the like. Payments would be made through PayPal, as with my current services and ebooks offered directly through my website. I’m also considering, once I actually finish and publish Principia Geomantica, to throw in a half-off coupon for buying that book, but that’ll be down the road, so even if the price point seems high, I’ll try to make it worth every penny.
I’ll have this poll running for two weeks, so be sure to get your vote in no later than 11:59 pm Eastern US time, November 2, 2019. Also be sure to spread this post to all your geomantically-inclined friends, whether by link or Facebook or Twitter, so I can get as good a summary of potential students’ preferences as possible! Not only will I be using this poll to figure out which delivery method is most preferred, I’ll also be using it as a gauge of interest, both for online classes generally (geomantic and otherwise) as well as to see what delivery method might logistically be most feasible given how many people want to take it. Once the poll closes and I get a good handle of the results, I plan on setting another poll in November to ascertain what people’s existing geomantic skills are, where they feel they’re lacking, and what they’d be most interested in learning and focusing on. So, if you’re interested in a potentially-polyphanic online course of geomancy, stay tuned for giving more feedback!
I voted in your poll to indicate which option I would hypothetically be interested if I were to take the class (in my case, of those options, text would be preferred). I don’t plan on taking it, but I am very interested in buying your Geomancy textbook once it comes out, provided that you don’t price it up in the stratosphere. Thank you for the wonderful resources on Geomancy you’ve shared over the years. It’s a great service to budding geomancers.
I am curious as to whether you are familiar with the Geomancy system that John Michael Greer lays out in his book “The Celtic Golden Dawn”? It is something a bit unusual, in that– since the CGD does not use any astrology in the symbolic basis of its magic– he endeavors to present a version of Geomancy that is fully developed and gives plenty of specific information, and yet *only* uses Shield readings. Which means that there are no House readings taught anywhere in the entire program! No other forms of divination taught in the entire 3-level course (which takes years to finish), except good old Right Witness-Left Witness-Judge. No perfection, no denials of perfection, no aspects. Rather, he simply pulls out one method after another to finely develop one’s ability to intuit information from a Shield chart, including a fair few that do not appear in his other books, nor have I spotted them on this website yet– though I haven’t read every geomancy post you’ve written. (Incidentally, your idea of a “Way of Points” that involves the other elements besides fire is not precisely the same as one of his supplemental methods, but it could be considered kissing cousins.)
He also uses the Geomantic figures as one of the fundamental pillars of the magical system he presents– but he completely leaves out any astrological symbolism traditionally attached to the figures. He also presents a “Geomantic Tree of Life” which when given in its full form, I suspect doesn’t look at all like what you probably expect it will, and is rather intriguing.
Have you ever taken a look at it?
I’m thinking the book price will be about in the US$60 dollar range. Depending on the size and publishing formats available to me, it might have to be broken out into multiple volumes, but I’m trying to avoid that unless that really is the best way to go about it.
I have looked at JMG’s Celtic Golden Dawn. It’s fundamentally the same geomancy as in the Golden Dawn itself; besides some more herbalism and Celtic terminology, it’s still just the same system, but a simple one that even the oldest texts available to us in the Western system go further in. Just because there’s no astrological component explicitly mentioned doesn’t mean it’s not there. The meanings of the figures are the exact same as in the usual styles of geomancy that do involve astrological components to it, as well as his exploration of herbs and flowers for the figures; the symbolism is still there, just not made explicit. The geomancy he presents is a simple form of geomancy that doesn’t make use of all its capabilities, in my opinion, which is fine for a student of the Golden Dawn, since they never made that much use of it anyway, so JMG probably decided to simplify the geomancy content so as to spend more of the reader’s precious time and attention on more important concepts for Golden Dawn work.
Flipping through my copy of the CGD, I don’t see much in it that I haven’t discussed technique-wise; I’ve talked about the triplicities before, though I prefer to call them “triads” instead. If there’s something you think isn’t mentioned, please let me know, and I’ll see if I have something about it written somewhere. The only thing I don’t care about is the “geomantic Tree of Life”, since I don’t much care to use Qabbalah anymore and find connections between it and geomancy to be highly inventive and innovative.
Apologies if this is a double post. My previous attempt to reply to your comment doesn’t appear to have gone through.
Just because there’s no astrological component explicitly mentioned doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Yes, that’s a good point, and I wasn’t trying to imply otherwise, so much as say that I found it interesting that JMG would choose to try to take a non-astrological approach to its furthest reach. I understand your point that he was probably just simplifying to fit what was necessary into a single course; still, there’s more to it than just that. I think one reason was the fundamental symbolism of RW LW and Judge aligns so perfectly with the Druidic symbolism of the three rays of Awen, where the middle ray resolves the apparent conflicts of the outer rays and all three present the whole truth.
Beyond that, though, there was something appealing about the notion of stripping geomancy down to its essentials in its initial training. It stresses relationships with the figures above all else. Perhaps this approach is analogous to an athlete who builds muscles with body weight exercises contrasted with another who builds their body using lots of weights and lifting apparatus. It’s not that one form is objectively better as exercise (though the latter is certainly more fiddly and complicated), and they both build you an impressive body. But shape of that impressive body will look vastly different at the end of 5 years of training, depending on which method one specialized in.
Re: the things that I hadn’t yet seen you write about (though you may have). One is the special meanings for figures that appear multiple times in a chart. I may have just missed that post if you did.
More fundamental is the extra emphasis JMG puts in the CGD on intuiting *specific information* about elements of the situation from the elemental structure of the figures. “[RW Coniunctio] Cyswllt has air and water active, while fire and earth are passive; air corresponds to communication and the intellect generally, while water corresponds, among other things, to the social ties that connect people to one another; the figure thus advises that our Ovate would be wisest to concentrate on these elemental patterns in his search and leave fire and earth alone. Air is the one active element common to the two Witnesses, and it refers to the querent’s desire for the knowledge to be found in the book;” [(which location is the quesited)] “water is the one active element shared by the Right Witness and Judge, and it suggests that it is by means of his social and personal contacts with other people that his quest will succeed.” I found this approach very thought provoking. Since there are no house relationships to refer to give one a lot of instant information, it trains a different form of attention.
Finally, there is the “Generation of the Geomantic Figures” material. It seems to me that these could be extremely fruitful to meditate through at some point (though I have not done so), even if they are divorced from associations with the Tree of Life. The system of generation is purely mathematical, not Qabalistic. It seems possible to me that this part of it, he may have taken from another source– indeed, even that you might have written about it before. If you have, I certainly am interested in reading it, and by all means point me to it.
One issue I take with a lot of geomancers (especially modern ones, but it does seem to be prevalent in Western geomancy from the get-go) is largely ignoring or forgetting the 16th figure, which I and a good deal of French geomancers call the Sentence (to fit with the rest of the Court imagery) but which is also called the Reconciler, Auxiliary Judge, or the like. This figure has been in geomancy since its Arabic starts and I find to be far more important than many geomancers tend to give it credit for; it also completes the chart to have 16 figures (which matches with the rest of the four-fold nature of the rest of the art), yet doesn’t match up well with JMG’s Awen three-based link there.
Sure, there is appeal in simplicity, but complexity isn’t necessarily a bad thing (so long as things are no more complex than necessary), and much of the fine nuance that arises out of it isn’t really because everything is just so complex, but because nuance arises out of simple rules applied that cause things to develop. I definitely keep the figures in the forefront of my mind, but geomancy is a lot more than just sortilege and looking at symbols in particular places (runes, Tarot, and much else does just that). It’s the mathematics of geomancy that permit figures to move around in a chart, perfect, aspect, add up, separate, and the like that gives it a fine power indeed. Geomancy is more than just a set of symbols you draw.
As for “special meanings”, I tend to stay away from pre-written sets of meanings for the figures in particular contexts. Saying things like “this figure in this house means X and Y and Z” is something that I’m averse to, because (a) so many books do just that (b) it’s easy to neglect to actually learn the figures themselves on their own terms (and yours) in favor of memorizing prewritten lists written by someone else (c) that very trend is what led geomancy to neglect and disfavor because it devolves the art into a set of look-up tables. Instead of relying on prewritten lists of interpretations and house delineations, I rather suggest learning the world of the figure on its own then seeing how everything the figure brings to a reading takes form and shape where it does in the context of the query in the moment. The same figure in the same place in the same query, asked by two different people, can have completely different answers (but with the same underlying logic and symbolism) because the reading as a whole is fundamentally different, and every figure in a chart is there because of every other figure in the chart; to isolate a single figure and give it a one-size-fits-all-rule is not an optimal approach, in my view.
I like JMG’s method for discussing the individual elements within a figure, as that’s also in his “Art and Practice of Geomancy”. But there’s only so many ways to say a thing without just copying it, and he explains it well enough in his books, so I don’t see a need to bring it up here on my blog. But I have talked along those lines, though, in my posts on the geomantic figures themselves (cf. my De Geomanteia series of posts).
As for the Qabbalistic stuff, well, that’s his thing for his Golden Dawn work. I’m neither a qabbalist nor a Golden Dawn magician, and (strictly and historically speaking) any connection between geomancy and qabbalah is an artificially imposed one. Some may find it useful, but I don’t, nor do I see a point in it, so I don’t see a need to talk about it. For his “generation of the geomantic figures” tree, building up the figures row-by-row, it’s nifty, to be sure, and other authors have talked about it before, but it’s also not a historical or useful way of understanding the figures; I prefer to look at the figures as “units” unto themselves (with differing elemental qualities) rather than “built up” in this way, as there’s no meaning to a one-, two, or three-row “figure”.
In the end, JMG has his views and opinions on geomancy, and he’s definitely someone to listen to and trust (Lord knows I do!). However, geomancy isn’t a monolithic tradition (nothing ever really is), and I have my own takes on particular subjects and topics within the art, guided by my own research and experience. Plus, in addition to our own opinions, we also have our own agendas in how we want to explore and rationalize them. ;)
Also, for some reason, your comments do keep getting caught up in the spam filter, for some reason. Dunno what that’s about; just keep posting until you get through, I guess. Sorry for the weirdness there!
Thank you for the spirited reply!
It’s true, JMG doesn’t seem to give much importance to the Sentence in general. Actually I see it as a bit of a missed opportunity, as at least from my perspective as a low level student, I feel it *does* fit in with the Awen symbolism– it’s the link that unifies the Individual (Querent/House 1) with the entirety of creation (the Judge, the sum of all the parts).
But again, just as with the astrologically derived House System, JMG doesn’t deny the validity of the Sentence, or any other forms of information available through Geomancy– he just chooses to train the beginning student with a simpler version filtered through resonating symbolism (e.g. 3s rather than 4s). It’s not that 4s are “wrong” or “invalid”; it’s that the course is building your spirit up in 3s. This is also why, for instance, the meditation is taught with a threefold instead of a fourfold breathing system. Anyway, considering that within the first year of training comes the page where he recommends at that point going to other sources to learn more about Geomancy, I think this was a valid choice.
The fact that Geomancy is more than sortilege is a point well taken. To be fair, I think this comes across even in the simplified CGD system, it just doesn’t spin your heard with the dizzying complexity of it all like staring at a House chart with 12+ relationships all going on at once. Which is probably a good thing in the beginning stages, when it comes down to it.
I don’t recall JMG using individual elements of the figures to derive quite that level of specificity in a reading in The Art and Practice, but I’ll go back and take a look. If the faculty to read that way really can be trained to that kind of useful level (as opposed to that example reading being merely a literary creation for instructional purposes that’s impossible to do accurately in practice), it’s pretty gobsmacking. Although I’m not honestly sure yet where it *is* possible. I’d like to see in more in practice.
OK, you’re not into the Tree of Life– that’s fine! Regardless, the fact that the “generation of the geomantic figures” tree comes near the end of the entire course, at the point of most mystical connection– and of course knowing that JMG is both a heavyweight and a reliable teacher, and made an incredibly compact manual here with no fluff as far as I can see– makes me willing to take on faith that, in fact, meditating on the meaning of 3, 2, or even 1 row figures and experiencing corresponding guidance in vision may in fact give some kind of deeper wisdom as to the underlying forces of creation of the elements. However not having done it, I don’t have a good feel yet for what this understanding might be.