On Orphic Hymns and Multiple Aspects of Gods

After making public my recent text on the Grammatēmerologion, the lunisolar calendar system I use for my Mathesis work, I’ve decided to go ahead and make another text for myself.  This latter text is something I don’t plan on making available, since it’s little more than a compilation of oracular verses, wisdom texts, and hymns; due to the copyrighted nature of some of the translations (even if I’m changing them heavily to reflect something I find more fitting based on alternative translations from the original Greek), I don’t think I can or should make this public, as it’d probably put me on uncomfortably thin ice that I don’t care to skate on.  If you’re interested in some of these original texts, here are some references for you to check out:

The reason for my compiling this new text is that…well, basically, I don’t like having books in my temple space.  It’s a personal quirk of mine, but if I can avoid it, I prefer to have my books on my bookshelves where the rest of them are, so that if I need to reference them, I can just reach out and grab one rather than have to enter my temple space unnecessarily.  For instance, I’ve had Dervenis’ Oracle Bones Divination stashed with my Greek stuff because it’s the text I use for astragalomancy, or Greek knucklebone divination; it’s been down there for quite some time, so it’s ended up picking up that faint incense smell common to books gotten from New Age stores.  I haven’t removed it from the Greek shrine area because I keep using it there, though at the cost of when I want to reference it, I typically put it off because I don’t like fiddling with my shrines if I’m not actually going to work with the shrines or, at least, not in a state of purity.  Now, by compiling my own text, I can print out a copy of what I need, store it in a binder, keep the binder in the temple, and move the book to its proper place back on the bookshelf.  I plan on also keeping a binder-copy of the Grammatēmerologion for much the same purpose, too.

It makes sense to me, at least.

One of the things I plan on including in this new binder-text are a selection of the Orphic hymns (Ὀρφικοί Ὕμνοι)—you remember those, right?  They’re the hymns that were commonly associated with the religious sect of Orphism in the classical age, and were further attributed to their mythological founder Orpheus.  Though they have mythological origins dating back to prehistory, it’s more likely that they were written anywhere from the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE.  Among many other esoteric, ritual, magical, and religious texts, the Orphic Hymns have withstood the test of time as an inventory of some 90-ish (depending on how you count them) prayers that invoke the various gods, goddesses, and spirits of the Greek spiritual cosmos.  I’ve used them countless times both in my magical works as well as my religious offerings, and even Agrippa has great things to say about them when he discusses the power and virtues of prayers and hymns used as incantations both for religion and for magic (book I, chapter 71, emphasis mine):

Besides the vertues of words and names, there is also a greater vertue found in sentences, from the truth contained in them, which hath a very great power of impressing, changing, binding, and establishing, so that being used it doth shine the more, and being resisted is more confirmed, and consolidated; which vertue is not in simple words, but in sentences, by which any thing is affirmed, or denyed; of which sort are verses, enchantments, imprecations, deprecations, orations, invocations, obtestations, adjurations, conjurations, and such like. Therefore in composing verses, and orations, for attracting the vertue of any Star, or Deity, you must diligently consider what vertues any Star contains, as also what effects, and operations, and to infer them in verses, by praising, extolling, amplifying, and setting forth those things which such a kind of Star is wont to cause by way of its influence, and by vilifying, and dispraising those things which it is wont to destroy, and hinder, and by supplicating, and begging for that which we desire to get, and by condemning, and detesting that which we would have destroyed, & hindered: and after the same manner to make an elegant oration, and duly distinct by Articles, with competent numbers, and proportions.

Moreover Magicians command that we call upon, and pray by the names of the same Star, or name, to them to whom such a verse belongs, by their wonderfull things, or miracles, by their courses, and waies in their sphear, by their light, by the dignity of their Kingdome, by the beauty, and brightness that is in it, by their strong, and powerfull vertues, and by such like as these. As Psyche in Apuleius prayes to Ceres; saying, I beseech thee by thy fruitfull right hand, I intreat thee by the joyfull Ceremonies of harvests, by the quiet silence of thy chests, by the winged Chariots of Dragons thy servants, by the furrows of the Sicilian earth, the devouring Wagon, the clammy earth, by the place of going down into cellars at the light Nuptials of Proserpina, and returns at the light inventions of her daughter, and other things which are concealed in her temple in the City Eleusis in Attica. Besides, with the divers sorts of the names of the Stars, they command us to call upon them by the names of the Intelligencies, ruling over the Stars themselves, of which we shall speak more at large in their proper place.  They that desire further examples of these, let them search into the hymns of Orpheus, then which nothing is more efficatious in naturall Magick, if they together with their circumstances, which wise men know, be used according to a due harmony, with all attention.

But to return to our purpose. Such like verses being aptly, and duly made according to the rule of the Stars, and being full of signification, & meaning, and opportunely pronounced with vehement affection, as according to the number, proportion of their Articles, so according to the form resulting from the Articles, and by the violence of imagination, do confer a very great power in the inchanter, and sometimes transfers it upon the thing inchanted, to bind, and direct it to the same purpose for which the affections, and speeches of the inchanter are intended. Now the instrument of inchanters is a most pure harmoniacall spirit, warm, breathing, living, bringing with it motion, affection, and signification, composed of its parts, endued with sence, and conceived by reason. By the quality therefore of this spirit, and by the Celestiall similitude thereof, besides those things which have already been spoken of, verses also from the opportunity of time, receive from above most excellent vertues, and indeed more sublime, and efficatious then spirits, & vapors exhaling out of the Vegetable life, out of hearbs, roots, gums, aromaticall things, and fumes, and such like. And therefore Magicians inchanting things, are wont to blow, and breath upon them the words of the verse, or to breath in the vertue with the spirit, that so the whole vertue of the soul be directed to the thing inchanted, being disposed for the receiving the said vertue. And here it is to he noted, that every oration, writting, and words, as they induce accustomed motions by their accustomed numbers, and proportions, and form, so also besides their usuall order, being pronounced, or wrote backwards, more unto unusuall effects.

In my work, I typically use Thomas Taylor’s 1792 English translation, which are arguably among the most well-known and are useful in magic for their rhyming and well-metered format, though Apostolos Athanassakis put out a new translation in 2013 which is arguably more literal and faithful to the original Greek.  I’ll also take the opportunity to point out that Sara Mastros of Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire is making a new set of translations, as well, which you can check out on her Facebook page.  HellenicGods.org has the original polytonic Greek texts for the hymns as well, which are useful in their own times and needs.  All the same, regardless what translation or style you use, the Orphic Hymns have power that truly have withstood the test of time; I highly encourage you to use them, if you’re not yet doing so, or at least give them a read-over a few times, as they give period-appropriate descriptions of the gods the Hellenes and other Mediterranean peoples worshiped and invoked.

One of the things about the Orphic Hymns might confuse people is that there are sometimes multiple hymns for the same god; for instance, Zeus has three, Dionysos has four, Hermes has two, and so forth.  Each hymn, however, is clearly labeled as being distinct; Taylor gives the ones for Zeus as To Jupiter, To Thundering Jove, and To Jove the Author of Lightning, or in their respective traditional Greek appellations, Zeus, Zeus Keraunios, and Zeus Astrapaios.  Though these are all Zeus, what gives with the different prayers?  The idea lies in something called epithets and aspects of the gods, which was easily understood in Hellenic times but may not be as easily understood to us modern folk.  Basically, a single deity could reveal themselves in any number of ways, or take on special offices and patronage in certain circumstances that they wouldn’t necessarily take on otherwise, and each of these aspects had a different epithet to distinguish that specific instance of the god, and often had different temples as well.  For instance, Poseidōn is the lord of the seas, to be sure, but there’s also Poseidōn Sōter (who keeps people at sea safe), Poseidōn Asphaleios (the averter of earthquakes), and Poseidōn Hippios (creator and tamer of horses).  Poseidōn is Poseidōn is Poseidōn, but you wouldn’t go to Poseidōn Hippios to ask for no earthquakes in the coming year.  You can kind of think of it like how Mary mother of God is also Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Navigators, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, or any other number of titles based on specific miracles she works or in particular places where she’s appeared; another modern parallel is the notion of caminos or “roads” of the orisha in Yoruba or Yoruba-derived religions like Lukumí.

For me, the idea of having multiple aspects of a god that can be approached separately isn’t hard to understand, but what does bring up an interesting problem is how to make use of some of these approaches in a modern system.  For instance, in my Mathesis work, I associate each of the letters of the Greek alphabet to an element, a planet, or a sign of the zodiac according to the rules of stoicheia.  It would be great, then, to have a deity presiding over each letter to approach that deity specifically for the blessings and wisdom of that specific letter.  However, there are overlaps between some of these sets of attributions.  For instance, Zeus is the god of the planet Jupiter as well as (according to Agrippa’s Orphical Scale of 12 in book II, chapter 14) the zodiacal sign Leo.  Moreover, using Empedoclēs as a guide for associating the gods to the elements (clarified by the ever-wonderful help of John Opsopaus), Zeus is also given rulership over the element of Air.  In this case, we have three separate patronages under one god, which could be considered three mathetic aspects of Zeus.  Not all the gods have this quality of having multiple stoicheic patronages, but a few of them do:

  • Aphroditē: ruler of the planet Venus and the zodiacal sign Taurus
  • Hermēs: ruler of the planet Mercury and the zodiacal sign Cancer
  • Hēra: ruler of the zodiacal sign Aquarius and the element Earth (according to Empedoclēs)
  • Zeus: ruler of the planet Jupiter, the zodiac sign Leo, and the element Air (according to Empedoclēs)
  • Arēs: ruler of the planet Mars and the zodiacal sign Scorpio

Unfortunately, of these gods, only Zeus has three separate Orphic hymns, and Hermēs only has two (one of which is for Hermēs Khthonios, or Underworld Hermēs, which I find most apt astrologically to represent Mercury retrograde).  This is also complicated by the fact that some stoicheic forces are associated with multiple entities I recognize that could be approached by, some of which have Orphic hymns and some don’t (those that do are linked in the list below):

  • Earth: Hēra,
  • Mercury: Stilbōn, Hermēs (when Mercury is direct), Hermēs Khthonios (when Mercury is retrograde)
  • Venus: Eōsphoros (when Venus sets before the Sun), Hesperos (when Venus sets after the Sun), Aphroditē
  • Mars: Pyroeis, Arēs
  • Jupiter: Phaethōn
  • Kronos: Phainōn

All this is made more complicated by the fact that the footnotes from Taylor can be both helpful (in understanding the writing of the Hymns) as well as confusing (for us outside a strictly Orphic system), such as in a footnote from the hymn for :

According to Orpheus, as related by Proclus, in Tim. p. 292. Earth is the mother of every thing, of which Heaven is the father. And the reader will please to observe, that, in the Orphic theology, Rhea, the mother of the Gods, the Earth, and Vesta, are all one and the same divinity, considered according to her essential peculiarities.

From that particular footnote, I glean two things:

  1. That the notion of aspects of gods is indeed something we should respect and understand in our modern practice, and even might be considered to apply at higher levels where individual un-epitheted deities may be aspects of a yet higher one (such as Rhea, Hestia, etc. of the Earth-Mother).
  2. That my attribution of the Sphairai of the Dyad according to my Mathetic Tetractys of Life to Heaven and the Earth is a solid one.

There’s also the issue of how far I want to go in associating some of the other entities of the Hellenic cosmos to the stoicheic forces based on what’s present in the Orphic Hymns.  For instance, there’s a hymn To Fire, but this is more accurately “To Aithēr”, and aithēr is a whole lot more than just fire, both cosmically and religiously; do I want to equate the two for the purposes of stoicheic associations?  What about Water with Okeanos, or Air with the hymns to the North, South, and West Winds?  Do I want to give Pan to Spirit, along with Dionysus, or should I give that slot (or both) to Nature instead?

So what does this all mean, and where does this all leave us?  For one, I doubt that any Orphics of the classical period managed to pass on their cult to the modern day, so I don’t think we have any living experts on the tradition to clarify some of the specific purposes of the Orphic Hymns to us, especially where one deity is given multiple hymns, sometimes according to multiple epithets and sometimes not, and even where epithets are given, they’re often exceedingly obscure (but if there are any, please feel free to hit me up, I’d love to ask you some questions).  For another, I’m reminded that my ideas for associating the letters of the Greek alphabet to the Hellenic theoi and daimones still need some refining, either so that I end up with only one entity per letter, find a single epithet or aspect of an entity that has multiple letters for each letter, or a neat system that can accommodate multiple entities per letter.    For yet another, given Taylor’s footnotes, I have quite a bit to read of Proclus and some of the other Neoplatonists so as to fortify my knowledge and make better-informed decisions about some of these associations.  This isn’t to say I’m looking to set the map in stone from the get-go without deeply exploring the terrain first, but that I’m trying to plan my best first attempt at exploration based on the knowledge and resources available to me.

On Aspects in Geomantic Interpretation

Geomantically interpreting the House Chart usually necessitates a bit of knowledge about astrology.  Even though geomancy can be interpreted completely without relying on any sort of astrological symbolism or techniques, one of the biggest innovations that geomancy developed was to incorporate these very same symbols and methods into geomantic technique.  When looked at the right way, the integration is often flawless and seamless, and a good number of techniques and ideas that apply in astrological divination apply either identically or in parallel ways to geomantic divination.  This isn’t usually the case for the Shield Chart, of course, but for the House Chart?  The more astrology proper you know, the better off you are in geomancy; geomancy has often been called “astrology’s little sister”, and for good reason.

Still, though, not all astrological tricks can be borrowed directly into geomancy, and of those that can, some may need tweaking or a complete rehaul of the technique to get the ideas behind the trick to properly apply to geomancy.  Among such techniques that astrology can lend to geomancy, what we consider to be a major, integral technique in one art can be considered a minor detail in the other.  And, of course, there are always those techniques that are barely understood at all in either system but we laud them as among the best and greatest things ever until we take a step back to actually try to understand the damned thing at all.

Bearing all that in mind, here’s a few thoughts and explanations of astrological aspect, why we use them the way we do astrologically, and how they can be applied to geomantic interpretation of the House Chart.  I suggest that you grab a drink and settle in for this.

What is an aspect?  The word comes from Latin ad+spicere, meaning “to look at” or “to regard”, but in its form aspectus it can also refer to appearances, countenances, or coming into sight of something else.  Although I suppose it’s possible that you could see any planet from any position of any other planet, considering the planets as mathematical volumeless points in the sky, only a handful of specific spatial arrangements are considered to be proper aspects based on their geometry within the circle of the Zodiac.  More properly, I suppose it’s better to say that aspects are based upon the geometry presented within the Thema Mundi, the astrological-mythological chart of the beginning of creation that is fundamental to exploring and understanding many of the basic symbols of astrology:

Thema Mundi

(No, this is not actually a real chart; note the positions of Mercury and Venus in relation to the Sun.  We know.  It’s not intended to actually represent any point in time besides Creation itself, and was an important teaching tool used in Hellenistic astrology.  Of particular importance, note how the chart starts with the ascendant in Cancer, not Aries; the natural world we live in is of a nurturing, cool nature exemplified most by watery Cancer, and not the harsh, aggressive nature of fiery Aries.)

The Thema Mundi is what establishes the planetary rulerships of the signs themselves.  Judging from a location in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun and Moon (the two luminaries whose motion only ever proceeds forward) are given to the two signs of the brightest and hottest time of the year, the Moon to feminine/receptive/cool Cancer and the Sun to masculine/active/warm Leo.  After this, we assign Mercury to Virgo, Venus to Libra, Mars to Scorpio, Jupiter to Sagittarius, and Saturn to Capricorn.  Because the planets can only ever be in one place at any one time, the other signs are left empty, but we can envision the non-luminaries to be in a “mirror world” in the signs opposite the axis formed between Cancer/Leo and Capricorn/Aquarius; thus, Saturn gets “mirrored” into Aquarius from Capricorn, Jupiter into Pisces from Sagittarius, Mars into Aries from Scorpio, Venus into Taurus from Libra, and Mercury into Gemini from Virgo.  The Sun and Moon, being two distinct luminaries already in their own signs, do not get mirrored.

Planetary Rulerships of the Signs

Now, consider the positions of the planets in relationship to the luminaries:

  • Mercury is 30° from the Sun on the right, or from the Moon on the left.  Mercury is a neutral force, blending like with like and opposite with opposite, always changing and always in flux.  The angular relationship between Mercury and its nearest luminary is that of the semi-sextile, a mutable and weak relationship that doesn’t mean or do much either which way.
  • Venus is 60° from the Sun on the right, or from the Moon on the left.  Venus is a pleasant planet, inducing joy and pleasure and which opens up the door to opportunity and happiness, though it can be fickle.  The angular relationship between Venus and its nearest luminary is that of the sextile, a relationship that tends to harmony but requires energy and action in order to keep the relationship fortunate and well.
  • Mars is 90° from the Sun on the right, or from the Moon on the left.  Mars is the planet of separation, strife, heat, anger, and war.  The angular relationship between Mars and its nearest luminary is that of the square, indicating a relationship of tension, strife, resistance, and problems that, although they can be surpassed and built upon, are not easy to overcome.
  • Jupiter is 120° from the Sun on the right, or from the Moon on the left.  Jupiter is the planet of blessing, benefice, and heavenly wonder.  The angular relationship between Jupiter and its nearest luminary is that of the trine, indicating a relationship of harmony, luck, ease, and prosperity.
  • Saturn is 180° from the Moon or the Sun on the opposite side.  Saturn, the darkest and coldest planet placed in the darkest and coldest sign, is found in the opposite sign as the luminaries in the brightest and warmest signs of the year; Saturn is the planet of cursing, curses, and being cursed, of death compared to the life of the luminaries.  Not only that, but the angular relationship formed between Saturn and its directly-opposing luminary crossed boundaries into a true mirror-world opposition, which is the relationship of extremes, rivalry, enmity, and difficulty.
  • Saturn is 150° from the Sun on the right, or from the Moon on the left.  More on this later.

Note that the relationships we care about in the list above are in particular angular arrangements such that the angle is a proper divisor of the circle of 360°: it takes twelve semi-sextiles to make a complete loop (12 × 30° = 360°), six sextiles (6 × 60° = 360°), four squares (4 × 90° = 360°), three trines (3 × 120° = 360°), and two oppositions (2 × 180° = 360°).  Additionally, since the zodiac (and the House Chart we use in astrology) is already divided up into twelve sections, an angular arrangement that does the same thing doesn’t show us anything new or more important that the simple progression of signs from one to the next, or of houses from one to the next, doesn’t also already tell us.  This leaves us with four major angular relationships, or aspects: sextile, square, trine, and opposition, each of which is exemplified best by its “thematic” presence in the Thema Mundi: Venus is the aspect-producing planet of the sextile, Mars of the square, Jupiter of the trine, and Saturn of the opposition.

However, we don’t have to limit ourselves to talking just about degree-based angular relationships when it comes to aspects.  In fact, it’s arguably more traditional to talk about them in terms of whole signs (and, thus, houses), and the idea is the same as before.  Mercury is one sign away from its luminary for the semi-sextile aspect, Venus two for sextile, Mars three for square, Jupiter four (for trine), and Saturn six for opposition.  This is the distinction between partile and platick aspects, where partile aspects are measured by the “parts” of signs (i.e. the exact degrees) and platick aspects by the “broad areas” of whole signs at a time; while we moderns generally consider partile aspects to be what really counts (ideally exact by angle, though we allow the wiggle-room of orbs for the planets), it would have been just as valid in Hellenistic and traditional astrology to consider platick aspects based on sign relationships between the location of any two particular planets.  In the above talk about the Thema Mundi, it’s actually more proper and traditional to note the angular relationships of the planets to the luminaries based on how many signs/houses they are away rather than how many degrees of celestial longitude they are away.  If we count by signs, then we have the nifty association between aspects and sign relationships:

  • Signs in sextile share the same temperature of element (i.e. hot Fire and Air, cold Water and Earth) and different modality.  They understand what each other needs and uplift/sustain each other in their complementary ways.
  • Signs in square are of the opposite element but same modality.  They understand how each other works and work in the same way, but they have the opposite views and goals and needs.
  • Signs in trine share the same element.  They understand what each other needs and join with each other in common purpose.
  • Signs in opposition share the same temperature of element as well as the same modality.  They conflict because they operate in the same way, and share the same passion but for different goals and needs, leading to rivalry and conflict.  So different, yet so similar at the same time!

But this leads to something interesting: if there are only aspects based on whole-sign counting, what about two planets that are found in signs that have no such relationship?  We already counted differences of one sign (semi-sextile), two sign (sextile), three (square), four (trine), and six (opposition), and if it’s more than six, we can simply flip the calculation to get a corresponding opposite-direction same-type aspect.  This leaves the relationships unclear when we have differences of zero signs and five signs away:

  • If there are zero signs between two planets, then they’re in the same sign, or more ideally, at a 0° difference.  In other words, this is conjunction of two planets, where instead of there being a relationship, there is a true unity and melding of force, power, and presence.  Relationships can only happen when there is a distance or difference, but in conjunction, there is neither; thus, a conjunction is not a type of aspect, technically speaking, because there’s no “other planet” for each to look at, since they become one and the same force.
  • If there are five signs between two planets, then they’re…weird.  They have nothing to relate to each other: they’re of different elements yet not opposing elements (e.g. Fire and Earth), and are not of the same modality.  If conjunction is a complete identity of essence, then this relationship is complete dissonance, and is called inconjunct; the angular relationship of 150° is called the quincunx, but the idea is the same.  This is the complete lack of relationship, which in traditional astrology was considered worse than any relationship at all (no matter how bad).

In addition to the complete dissonance bit of the inconjunct, there was a notion of certain places being “unseen” from any particular place in the House Chart.  From the ascendant, consider that houses VI (illness) and VIII (death) are inconjunct with house I (life).  While being close to the aspect (“seen”) of opposition, they are just out of range of vision, just off to the side of focus.  It’s like when you’re staring at a particular distant point: you have that point in complete view, but things just off to the side?  You can’t look at them the same way, things slide out unnoticed, or change without being seen.  This “just off to the side” quality of the inconjunct lends them to “being unseen”.  Similarly, we can say the same thing for houses XII and II: while there is technically an aspect for these (semi-sextile, 30° or one sign away), house XII (enemies) is inimical to house I (life) in the same way houses VI and VIII are, and worse, house XII is “right behind” house I, and thus is also unseen.  House II (property) isn’t usually considered negative, but it is similarly “unseen” because it is too close, too under-the-nose, to be properly regarded as an aspected house.  This leaves the relationships of one sign away and five sign away as anti-aspects, or more properly, averted.  Aversion indicates an anti-relationship: a lack of communication or awareness, a disability to understand and be understood, and a lack of control in either direction.  This is why, for the sake of astrology, the 30° relationship is at best trivial and meaningless, and at worst is as bad as the 150° quincunx.

Okay!  So much for an introduction on aspects.  Where does that leave us?  Well, we have particular angular relationships that, for the sake of both traditional astrology and geomancy, we can determine based on how far two particular things are in the House Chart based on how many signs/houses come between them:

  • Sextile: two houses away, the relationship of Venus.  Luck, opportunity, happiness, fickle fortune.
  • Square: three houses away, the relationship of Mars.  Strife, fighting, conflict, construction.
  • Trine: four houses away, the relationship of Jupiter.  Blessing, ease, harmony, prosperity.
  • Opposition: six houses away, the relationship of Saturn.  Rivalry, enmity, enemies, tension.

And, in addition, we have three non-aspects:

  • Conjunction: same house in the same location, the identification of the two luminaries as one light.  Two forces that become one.
  • Semi-sextile: one house away, the anti-relationship/aversion of Mercury.  Being too close to properly see or control.
  • Inconjunct: five houses away, the anti-relationship/aversion of Saturn.  Being just out of sight to properly see or understand.

In geomancy, we can use aspects to better understand the relationship between two particular figures in the House Chart, or the effects a given figure has on another figure based on the angular house-based relationship between them.  The naïve and simplistic way of doing this is to take any particular figure as your significator, and interpret the figures two, three, four, and six houses away as being in aspect to the significator.

Just to make things a little more exciting, let’s add in two more distinctions to our expanding set of aspects, shall we?  In geomantic interpretation, not only is it the number of houses away that matters for an aspect, but also the direction of the aspect, or dexter and sinister aspects, which are ultimately based on the natural motion of the planets as seen from the Earth:

  • Dexter aspects (literally “right”, as in “right-handed”) are counted clockwise around the House Chart from the aspecting figure to the aspected figure.  For instance, the trine formed by House V onto house I is a dexter trine, because the aspect is made going clockwise around the chart from house V to house I.  Dexter aspects go against the natural flow of the signs of the Zodiac, or said another way, against the usual counterclockwise numbering of the houses.  These are considered to be more direct, effective, obvious, blatant, or vigorous.
  • Sinister aspects (literally “left) are counted counterclockwise around the House Chart from the aspecting figure to the aspected figure.  For instance, the trine formed by House IX onto house I is a sinister trine, because the aspect is made going counterclockwise around the chart from house IX to house I.  Sinister aspects go with the natural flow of the signs of the Zodiac, or said another way, with the usual counterclockwise numbering of the houses.  These are considered to be more subtle, hidden, weak, slow, or indirect than dexter aspects.

Thus, consider the following geomantic House Chart:

If we were to consider house IV (Tristitia) as our significator, then we find the following figures in aspect with it:

  • Dexter sextile: house VI, Cauda Draconis
  • Dexter square: house VII, Amissio
  • Dexter trine: house VIII, Fortuna Minor
  • Opposition: house X, Cauda Draconis
  • Sinister trine: house XII, Coniunctio
  • Sinister square: house I, Via
  • Sinister sextile: house II, Acquisitio

Note that opposition, because it is six houses away, is always on the opposite point of the House Chart.  Therefore, it is only ever an opposition, and cannot be dexter or sinister.  Also note that we don’t count semi-sextiles or quincunxes here; although we can technically mark these as aspects, given their “unseen” nature, it’s better to say that there is no relationship between house IV and houses V, IX, XI, and III.  For similar reasons, because only one figure can only ever appear in any given house, there is no notion of conjunction in the geomantic House Chart (outside of perfection, of course, but that’s a different topic that I’ll bring up in a bit).

As a facile way of using aspects in geomantic interpretation (though it is useful when learning how to interpret aspects!), we could find every figure that makes an aspect to a particular significator and interpret them to get a whole lot of details about all possible things that are acting upon, influencing, or impelling the significator to act a particular way.  However, I find this to be a whole lot more than I care to deal with, and often provides more confused data than usable information, so I typically limit the use of aspects in my own geomantic practice to only two significators at a time, and even then, only when either one or both of the significators pass.  Consider that two houses may already be in a “fixed” aspect relationship by virtue of where they are.  Marriage, for instance, is always going to be represented in house VII, so in a query about marriage, it’s trivial and useless to say that the significators of querent and quesited are in an opposition aspect (houses I and VII), because opposition is inherent to the house of marriage, and therefore is more a subject for philosophical introspection on the subject in general rather than helpful divination and guidance in a particular matter involving the subject.  We can’t use the “real houses” of the significators for determining aspect alone, so we must use something else.

In the case where one of the significators passes elsewhere in the chart, it may form an aspect to the other significator based on the house the significator passes to in relation to the “real house” of the other significator.  Consider in the above House Chart a case where we’re investigating the topic of marriage, so we have house I (Via) representing the querent and house VII (Amissio) representing the marriage or spouse-to-be.  Via in house I and Amissio in house VII, in their own “real houses”, don’t make an aspect, but Amissio passes from house VII to house IX.  House IX is in aspect with house I, so we can say that Amissio (significator of the quesited in house VII) makes a sinister trine to Via (significator of the querent in house I) by means of house IX.  Thus, we can say that the spouse-to-be and the querent are in a good relationship together, characterized by quiet peace and modest harmony, possibly involving matters involving academia, spirituality, or foreign travel, especially on the part of the spouse-to-be and how they incorporate the querent into their own life.  The aspect here reveals what their relationship is like; how each of them are individually is determined more by the figures themselves.

So, in this more limited, exacting, and useful way of interpreting aspect in the geomantic House Chart, we can determine the relationship between two significators if one of them passes to a house that aspects the other in its own “real house”.  If one of them passes but into an averted house (a house that is one or five away from the “real house”), then there is no relationship, which can be interpreted either not at all (modern) or in the more dire unseen, uncontrolled, incommunicable way (traditional).  What happens if both figures pass elsewhere in the chart?  Say we have an example where, for another chart about marriage, Coniunctio in house I passes to house IX and Amissio in house VII passes to house III.  There are two aspects here: the significator of the querent makes a dexter sextile onto the significator of the quesited (house IX onto house VII), and likewise, the quesited makes a dexter sextile onto the querent (house III onto house I).  In this case, both significators pass, and there’s a third aspect being made here: the opposition between houses III and IX!  This aspect doesn’t involve either real house of the significators, but is still another relationship between the significators that needs to be accounted for.  This is where yet another dichotomy can come into play for us:

  • Direct aspect: an aspect made by one significator that passes elsewhere in the chart onto the real house of the other significator.  Indicates the direct, known, or intended effects one significator has upon the other.  Direct aspects (with the exception of opposition) will be either dexter or sinister, using the real house being aspected to as a point of orientation.
  • Indirect aspect: an aspect made by both significators from the houses each passes to onto the other, not involving the real houses of either significator.  Side effects that result from the actions and interactions of the significators, or emergent properties of their relationship that are unknown or unintended by either party.  Indirect aspects cannot be considered dexter or sinister since there is no direction inherent to them, since both figures pass equally.

Thus, in this relationship where Coniunctio and Amissio both have direct dexter sextiles upon each other with the indirect opposition between them, the querent and quesited generally get along pretty well as each opens up new doors for the other and provides glee and luck for each other, but there’s this nagging tension that seems to result as they get closer, this weird difficulty that leaves only a soft echo in the dark corners of their minds; their friends don’t seem to get along the longer they hang out, and there’s this weird unspoken division that both of them subconsciously work around.  That’s what an indirect aspect is: an emergent property or a side-effect of the actions and interactions of both parties acting upon each other.  It’s not always the case that an indirect aspect can be formed when both significators pass, but when one can, even if it’s a subtle or minor thing, it’s usually important enough to note because of how easy it is to overlook in the real world.

What about if one significator passes to multiple other houses, each of which aspects the real house of the other significator?  In this case, despite the confusion, it’s actually pretty straightforward: there are multiple aspects, so first interpret each one separately then see how they’re all connected and fit into a bigger picture.  In such a case, can the same significator make indirect aspects with itself?  No, it cannot; when considering two or more significators, an aspect must be made between two different significators so as to indicate a relationship.  A relationship indicates two distinct parties to relate to each other; just as a significator passing to another house cannot aspect its own real house, a significator passing to multiple houses cannot form an indirect aspect amongst its passing houses.  Rather, it’s better to analyze what that same significator is doing in so many houses, and how they’re all connected and fitting into the same overall or overarching action or set of actions, and how they all impact or influence the other significator both separately and in unison.

That’s what I do to use aspect in interpreting geomantic house charts; the technique is fairly straightforward, though there is a bit of nuance between dexter and sinister as well as direct and indirect.  So, why do I use aspect?  Aspect indicates a relationship between two significators that results in their actions one upon the other (not necessarily “upon each other!”) which can affect a particular situation as a whole, or offer more details into the specific nature of the two parties acting on their own or interacting with each other.  The keyword here is “relationship”; aspects indicate the existence and nature of relationships, if any, between the significators and, if one exists, how it plays out between the two significators.

What I do not use aspect for is as a type of perfection.  Perfection, as I’ve written about before, is a method of geomantic interpretation that uses the motion of the figures in the House Chart to determine whether a particular situation will happen (if the chart perfects) or won’t happen (if the chart denies perfection).  Both perfection and aspect utilize the passing of the significators with and around each other, but to my mind, I find that they are distinct techniques that answer fundamentally different questions of the geomantic chart.  This is something I disagree with JMG on; in his “Art and Practice of Geomancy”, he says that aspect functions as a weaker kind of perfection alongside the usual occupation, conjunction, mutation, and translation.  If the chart denies perfection, such that none of the four major kinds of perfection are present in the chart, then JMG says that beneficial aspects that are made between the significators can be used to affirm the chart, and negative aspects (along with no aspects, along with the outright denial from proper perfection) can be used to reinforce a denial in the chart, or to weaken another perfection.

In my experience, however, I haven’t seen this to be borne out, and so I don’t consider aspect-as-perfection as useful.  I’m familiar with the fact that perfection in horary astrology (which is where the whole idea of where perfection came from) uses aspects in order to accomplish its types of perfection: aspect made between the two significators, translation by a third faster-moving body making aspects to both, or collection by both significators making an aspect to a third slower-moving body.  However, we’ve departed from this by “tweaking” the understanding of perfection for the purposes of fitting it into a geomantic system; in this case, we really only consider conjunction (in the sense of one “body” identifying with the other, as in perfection by occupation, or going to meet another, as in perfection by conjunction or mutation).  We’ve broken the identification of perfection and aspect by limiting ourselves to a non-aspect type of passing.  Plus, although horary astrology has a number of ways where perfection can be denied based on the motion of other planets to interfere with the aspects being made or other astrological mishaps, there’s no such idea in geomantic perfection; the only way a geomantic chart can deny perfection is the absence of the four types of perfection.

While an argument can be made that “because perfection comes from astrology, and astrological perfection uses aspects, we should use aspects in geomantic perfection”, I would counter that since we’ve effectively come up with a new set of geomancy-specific rules that we only call “perfection” because although it accomplishes much the same aim in astrology, the methods are completely different and follow a different logic.  Perfection inspects how the figures pass irrespective of angular relationships between the significators, and is almost always sufficient to accurately answer the query.  If the chart perfects, the thing inquired will happen, and if the chart denies perfection, the thing inquired will not happen; that’s the end of the statement.  Perfection, as I’ve said before, only answers whether something will or won’t happen and, if it will happen, how it will be accomplished.  Aspect, on the other hand, answers to the existence and nature of relationships between different parties/events/situations.  Perfection answers the “what will happen” and “how”, while aspect answers “where” and “what kind”; aspect is well-suited to talk about the goodness or badness of something, but not to determining whether something will happen or not.

It can often be helpful to interpret perfection and aspect alongside each other to get a better grasp of the nature of a situation:

  • Perfection, no aspect: The situation will happen, but beyond the involvement of the parties in the situation, there is no other action being taken by either significator, or there are no side-effects or other intentions, or there are no other worlds/circles of work being pulled into the situation
  • Perfection, aspect by the quesited onto the querent: Will happen, and the quesited is producing an effect or engaging in a relationship with the querent
  • Perfection, aspect by the querent onto the quesited: Will happen, and the querent is producing an effect or engaging in a relationship with the quesited
  • Perfection, aspects by both significators onto each other: Will happen, and both significators are engaging in a relationship with each other, possibly with side-effects or emergent properties that they are unaware of
  • Perfection, good aspects: Will happen, and will turn out favorably for the significator(s) having good aspects made to it
  • Perfection, bad aspects: Will happen, and will turn out unfavorably for the significator(s) having bad aspects made to it
  • Perfection, both good and bad aspects: Will happen, but the result will be a mixed bag depending on the different effects and acts made upon the significator(s)
  • No perfection, … : All the above goes for all the “no perfection” situations, except the thing inquired about will not happen

In other words, this is just a fancier, aspect-specific version of the following chart I’ve used before when discussing perfection vs. favorability:

Good figures Bad figures
Chart perfects Will happen,
situation will turn out well
Will happen,
situation will turn out badly
Chart denies Will not happen,
situation will turn out well
Will not happen,
situation will turn out badly

Perfection and aspect are both useful techniques in geomancy, but I see them as answering different kinds of questions within a given chart.  If what you want to know is how good or bad something is, where a certain party is acting from onto a given situation or person, or what kinds of influences are upon a given situation or person, then aspect is a fantastic way to deduce the nature of relationships between different parties, if any should exist at all.  If what you want to know is whether something will happen or not, perfection is excellent.  Both can be combined to yield a well-rounded, detailed, and thorough answer, but I caution against confusing “niceness of a situation” with “accomplishment of intention”.  Just as I warn against confusing perfection with favorability, I warn against misusing or confusing aspect into saying something it may not be equipped to say.  While I understand why aspect can be used as a type of perfection, I find that it doesn’t often say anything that perfection already hasn’t said when it comes to the “will/won’t” question, and that it has much better and more detailed applications answering the questions about relationships between the significators, both on its own and alongside the technique of perfection.


De Geomanteia: Affirmation and Fortunateness (be careful what you wish for)

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, just to keep things exciting, let’s talk about technique instead of figures.  Specifically, let’s talk about the seemingly-simple difference between affirmation and fortunate in a geomantic chart.

And boy, is this ever going to be a talk, so get a soda and a snack.  I can wait.  You ready?  Good!

When a querent asks a query to a geomancer, they’re probably wondering about how something will go, whether something will happen in the future that is not here yet, whether something possible actually did happen in the past, or so on.  All these queries ask something along the same lines of “will my present reality and hypothetical reality X sync up?”  In other words, I want to know whether some event (from hypothetical reality X) will or has happened (in my present reality).  Asking whether one will end up in a relationship with a specific person, whether one will lose their job at their current workplace, or similar questions all follow this pattern, and they’re all perfect for geomantic divination because, like its internal structure, it delivers a binary answer: yes or no.  It’s the geomancer’s job to find out whether the querent’s reality and their quesited reality are going to merge.

In a geomantic chart, specifically the astrological or house chart, different factors in a situation relevant to the query are assigned to one of the twelve figures in the chart.  These special figures are called significators, figures that signify the querent (the person asking the query) and the quesited (the thing asked about in the query).  For instance, if a querent asks whether they and some other person will be married, the querent is assigned to the first house (the house showing the querent) and the quesited (the other person and being married to them) is assigned to the seventh house (the house showing relationships and marriage).  In a sense, these significators show the different realities the querent is asking about; the querent’s significator shows their reality, and the quesited’s significator shows the hypothetical reality.  More generally, the same figure can appear in more than one place; this contrasts with astrology, where a planet can be in only one place (house, degree, sign, etc.) at any given time.  When the same figure appears in more than one house, that figure is said to “pass” from one house to the other.  A figure may not pass at all, or can pass to every house of the chart (e.g. when all four Mother figures are Populus).  Houses that share the same figure as a significator often show that features and things related to the nature of that house are tied up with the nature of the significator and the circumstances of the query.

Astro-geomantic charts make finding out whether there’s a connection between these different realities simply by showing whether there’s a physical or symbolic connection between the two figures in the chart.  This method, called perfection, relies on the movement or passing of figures around the chart; if the two significators appear next to each other or have a similar physical link, then the different realities will link up and the chart affirms the question (i.e. the answer is “yes”); if the two significators have no such link, the different realities will remain split and the chart denies the question (i.e. the answer is “no”).  The concept of perfection was taken from horary astrology, which used the motion of the planets as significators to determine whether something was possible or not; the earliest reference to perfection in geomantic practice I know of comes from Pietro d’Abano’s “The Method of Judging Questions” written in the late 13th or early 14th centuries, but may have been incorporated earlier as geomancy was being blended with astrology.

There are four main methods of perfection, each giving a “yes” answer to the query asked but with different hints at how that “yes” will come to pass.

  • Occupation: the same figure appears as both significators.  This is the strongest method of perfection, and shows a complete agreement and natural harmony between the querent and quesited from the initial mindset down to the physical approach to the situation.
  • Conjunction: one of the significators passes to a house neighboring the other significator.  This is the next strongest method of perfection, and shows that one party is going to work more for the end result than the other.  There are two kinds of perfection by conjunction:
    • Conjunction from the querent to the quesited: The querent’s figure passes to the house just before or just after the quesited’s house.  The querent will be the primary force in bringing about the situation, putting in the most work.
    • Conjunction from the quesited to the querent: The quesited’s figure passes to the house just before or after the querent’s house (i.e. the second or twelfth houses).  The querent won’t have to do much to bring about the “yes” situation, since the quesited’s side will work more for it.

    Besides noting what figure passes into conjunction with the other, the house the passing significator passes into also is important:

    • Significator passes into the house before the other: Work will be done behind the other’s back, in secrecy, or without the other party’s knowing.
    • Significator passes into the house after the other:  Work will be done in clear sight of the other, in open knowledge, or with acceptance and agreement between the two.

    Note that if the significator of the quesited is the one right before or after the significator of the querent (e.g. house 2 or house 12, considering that the house of the querent is in house 1), then the rules for conjunction change a little because of the close proximity of the significators.  If we look at houses 1 and 2, perfection by conjunction can only occur if the significator in the first house passes to the third (into conjunction after the significator of the quesited) or if the significator in the second house passes to the twelfth (into conjunction before the significator of the querent).  Same goes for any other pair of neighboring houses.

  • Mutation: both significators appear next to each other but not in their own houses.  This shows a random or casual happenstance situation where the two parties end up in the right place at the right time to bring about the situation; neither of them are in their proper or usual places, but are present elsewhere in unexpected or unusual ones.  This random happening of fate will then bring about the situation asked about.  The specific houses the figures pass to will give a clue as to how this might be brought about.  Because both figures pass elsewhere in the chart, it can be thought of as a conjunction where both parties need to put in work or need to be out of their own comfort zones in order to bring something about.Mutation can also occur as part of a conjunction.  If we’re looking at houses 1 and 7 for a particular query, if the significator in house 1 passes to house 6, this is a conjunction from the querent to before the quesited; if the significator in house 7 passes to house 5, this along with house 6 forms a mutation, because both figures are still found next to each other but outside their own houses.  Same goes for other mixtures of conjunction and mutation for different houses.
  • Translation: a third figure neighbors both significators in their own houses.    In this case, neither the querent nor quesited will have an active role in bringing about the inquired situation, but a third party will step in to bridge the gap between the parties/realities.  In a sense, translation is like conjunction, only with a third party taking up all the work instead of the querent or quesited.  As with conjunction, the houses that the translating figure passes between has potential implications:
    • Before the house of the querent and before the house of the quesited: The third party operates in relative secrecy or behind both parties backs.
    • Before the house of the querent and after the house of the quesited: The third party is working closer or in tighter or explicit alliance with the quesited than with the querent, behind whom the third party works in secrecy or without their knowing.
    • After the house of the querent and before the house of the quesited: The third party is working closer or in tighter or explicit alliance with the querent than with the quesited, behind whom the third party works in secrecy or without their knowing.
    • After the house of the querent and after the house of the quesited: The third party operates with the open, explicit, and willing agreement of both the querent and quesited, or with their full knowledge and acceptance of doing so.

It is possible that a geomantic chart may have more than one method of perfection, showing that the situation inquired about will come around in several ways or with the possibility of happening in several ways, depending on the course of action the querent can take.  For instance, it can happen that there’s both a translation and mutation between the querent’s and quesited’s significators, showing that a third party is instrumental in achieving the situation asked about and that the querent and quesited will need to be out of their own comfort zones or will randomly achieve things together; adding these, we might infer that the third party will help the querent and quesited meet up, facilitating their fortunate meeting without their direct involvement in setting things up.

So long as at least one method of perfection is present in the chart, the chart perfects and affirms the query with a “yes”.  If the chart has none of the above methods of perfection, then it’s said to lack perfection entirely, also called denial.  In this case, the chart denies the query, giving a “no” answer.

Consider Jane Doe asking the query “will I marry John Smith next year”.  Let’s look at the different ways perfection might answer this question, taking the first house to represent Jane and the seventh to represent John and the possibility of marriage to him:

  • Occupation: The same figure appears in houses 1 and 7.  Both Jane and John want to marry each other and will both naturally head towards that situation, working equally and probably effortlessly in bringing it about.
  • Conjunction from the querent to before the quesited: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 6, before the quesited.  Jane is the real pusher in this situation, and sets things up behind John’s back to get all the paperwork, social contacts, and financial situations on board before getting him to agree with it.  She’s using more of her resources and skills than his, because she’s still trying to operate behind his back.
  • Conjunction from the querent to after the quesited: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 8, after the quesited.  Again, Jane is the primary force in getting married with John, but she’s operating with John’s full knowledge and maybe a bit of his help, and probably making use of his resources, as well.
  • Conjunction from the quesited to before the querent: The quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 12, before the querent.  Similar as conjunction from the querent to before the quesited, but this time it’s John working for marriage instead of Jane.
  • Conjunction from the quesited to after the querent: The quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 2, after the querent.  Similar as conjunction from the querent to after the quesited, but this time it’s John working for marriage instead of Jane.
  • Mutation: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 10 and the quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 11.  Neither John or Jane really expect or have a clue as to how the marriage might be brought about, but by random or fortuitous happenstance, they end up married all the same.  Since Jane’s figure passes to the tenth house (house of career, public life, government, social standing) and John’s to the eleventh house (house of social contacts, colleagues, friends, patrons), they might bump into each other frequently in the public eye, in the workplace, or amongst colleagues and friends.  (Note that I’m only using houses 10 and 11 here as an example, mutation might occur elsewhere as well, with the interpretation changing depending on the houses in question.)
  • Combination mutation and conjunction: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 6, before the quesited, and the quesited’s figure in house 1 passes to house 5.  Although Jane is the real pusher in this situation, and sets things up behind John’s back, John finds himself wound up with Jane through random happenstance and works with her through an easy-going or sexual means to accomplish the marriage.
  • Translation before the querent and before the quesited: The figure in house 12 before the querent appears in house 6 before the quesited.  A third party, perhaps some of their friends, will set things up between Jane and John so that they’ll be married, though both Jane and John aren’t necessarily aware of it.
  • Translation before the querent and after the quesited: The figure in house 12 before the querent appears in house 8 after the quesited.  A third party, probably in league with John or one of his friends, will set things up between him and Jane so that they’ll be married.
  • Translation after the querent and before the quesited: The figure in house 2 after the querent appears in house 6 before the quesited.  A third party, probably in league with Jane or one of her friends, will set things up between her and John so that they’ll be married.
  • Translation after the querent and after the quesited: The figure in house 2 after the querent appears in house 8 after the quesited.  A third party, perhaps some of their friends, will set things up between Jane and John so that they’ll be married, perhaps both of their friends working together closely and in alliance with each other and with Jane and John together.
  • Denial: There’s no occupation, conjunction, mutation, or translation in the chart.  Jane and John will not be married in the next year.

Now, here’s the big thing: in a binary (yes/no) query, perfection does not determine whether something is good or bad, helpful or harmful, fortunate or unfortunate.  Perfection only affirms or denies whether an inquired situation will come to pass, whether something is possible or impossible, either “yes, X will happen” or “no, X will not happen”.  This is one of the biggest misunderstandings to novice geomancers, and I can’t emphasize it enough that perfection affirms or denies a query, not whether it makes it positive or negative in its influence.  To determine how fortunate a chart is, the geomancer must look at the figures in the houses themselves and how they relate to the query (along with other things like aspect, joy, the elements, and the like).  When not interpreting a binary query (e.g. “when” queries or forecasts), perfection indicates a connection or link between significators, and can be fortunate or unfortunate depending on whether the link is desired or not.

  • Perfection with favorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will come to pass and will be good for both the querent and quesited.
  • Perfection with a favorable querent’s significator and an unfavorable quesited’s significator: The situation will come to pass and will be better for the querent than the quesited.
  • Perfection with an unfavorable querent’s significator and a favorable quesited’s significator:  The situation will come to pass and will be worse for the querent than the quesited.
  • Perfection with unfavorable significators of the querent and quesited:  The situation will come to pass and will suck for both the querent and quesited.
  • Denial with favorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will not come to pass but will be good for both the querent and quesited.
  • Denial with a favorable querent’s significator and an unfavorable quesited’s significator: The situation will not come to pass but will be better for the querent than the quesited.
  • Denial with an unfavorable querent’s significator and a favorable quesited’s significator: The situation will not come to pass but will be worse for the querent than the quesited.
  • Denial with unfavorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will not come to pass and will suck for both the querent and the quesited.

For instance, in Jane Doe’s query above, let’s say that Puer is found in house 1 (her significator) and Tristitia is found in house 7 (John Doe’s significator).  Puer is favorable in matters of love and war, and shows that she’s highly intent and set on marrying John.  Tristitia is unfavorable in matters of love, and intimates that John is not in the mood or mindset for marriage.  If the chart perfects, then Jane will ger way though John may not feel too sanguine about the marriage; if the chart denies perfection, then they won’t marry and Jane may just be set on being his boyfriend or unmarried partner or some such.  On the other hand, if Jane is represented by Amissio and John by Fortuna Major, then both of these figures are fortunate given the query (Amissio, ruled by Venus, is favorable in matters of love); if the chart perfects, then John is married to a woman who loves him dearly and Jane is married to a successful and constant husband; if the chart denies perfection, then Jane will likely pine away for a bit before regaining her senses, while John will go on his own and resume life independently, weathering out this emotional storm.

Again, perfection only says “yes” or “no”, while the figures themselves say “good” or “bad” and for whom.  This is probably one of the most important differences to keep in mind when evaluating an astrological geomantic chart that involves these kinds of queries.  When a query doesn’t involve a “yes” or “no” answer, such as in a location reading or a geomantic forecast, perfection isn’t as much help but is still useful in showing what’s directly affecting or being affected by other factors in the chart, or where one’s sphere of influence is strongest in affecting other parts of reality.

The same rules above go for when there are multiple significators beyond just the querent and quesited.  Just to show how complex a geomantic reading can get with a few simple rules, consider a query relating to a disease and potential treatment for it.  In such a medical chart, several houses come into play: the first house refers to the querent, the sixth to the disease or condition, the seventh to the doctor, and the tenth to the regimen or treatment.  If there are favorable figures for the querent and doctor and unfavorable figures for the disease and regimen, with perfection between the querent/doctor, doctor/disease, querent/disease, querent/regimen, and doctor/regimen, I could say that the querent and doctor are getting along well and amicably and the querent understands the nature of the regimen the doctor is able and willing to provide the querent; however, the regimen is nasty and distasteful, and won’t have an effect on the disease in question, which is known to the querent and doctor but is painful or awful to deal with.

Some geomancers (John Michael Greer, notably) like using aspect to indicate perfection or denial thereof; if one significator passes into trine (four houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 5) or sextile (two houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 3), this means affirmation, while a square (three houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 4) or opposition (six houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 7) indicate denial.  I haven’t found this to be helpful in determining perfection or affirmation of a chart in my own practice.  At best, sextiles and trines indicate opportunity or ease in accomplishing something, but fall short of a “yes” answer on their own; squares and opposition indicate difficulty or rivalry in accomplishing something, but fall short of a “no” answer on their own.  I keep aspects in the category of techniques that indicate fortunateness and favorability, and separate from perfection proper.  In a pinch, I’ll take a favorable aspect to indicate a very qualified “yes” or a potential for a “yes” and an unfavorable aspect to indicate a very qualified “no” or a potential for a “no” answer, assuming a favorable influence is what the querent is looking for, but this is without any other kind of perfection going on to give me something more certain to go by.

I understand that this can get a little complex, though with a little guidance and practice, the rules of perfection will be pretty easy to understand.  If you have any questions or examples you’d like me to help sort out what’s perfection and what’s not, please feel free to post them in the comments.  (The same goes for any post I write, but just making this explicit here.)