Another System of Elemental Affinities for the Geomantic Figures

There’s not a lot of modern geomantic literature out there, it’s true.  Most geomantic stuff written is decisively pre-modern (a good deal of which is already digitized and free to access by anyone!), and the rest of it that is modern is…well, sometimes it’s hit or miss, though there are more winners among the lot than not.  Still, compared to the endless books put out on Tarot or astrology or runes or playing cards, there’s just not a lot out there as far as geomancy books are concerned.  But, interestingly enough, it turns out that the French have been quite busy with geomancy in the 20th century.

Unlike modern Anglophone publications on geomancy, of which there really haven’t been all that any, I’ve got at least a dozen books stacked on my desk, all published in the 20th century in French, some more scholastic or academic than others, some more pop-divination or pop-occult than others.  It’s honestly refreshing in many ways, though not nearly so surprising in others; after all, the French are well-known for having colonized much of Africa and large parts of the Middle East, and I’m positive that their colonialism and imperialism fed into their anthropological and cultural studies of many of the places that they situated themselves and took over.  Without putting a silver-lining spin on it, this research does help Western understanding of African and Arabic styles of geomancy, and has led to plenty of texts being written in French on geomancy, deriving information from both the Western European tradition as well as the African and Arabic traditions of the art.

Much of the French geomantic literature is pretty standard stuff that you’d find in any other geomantic text, but there are a lot of surprising finds, too.  Some of the more outré topics I’ve invented or delved into (e.g. geomantic emblems or geomantic magic squares) were already known to and explored by French geomancers, which is an incredible relief to me—it means that I’m not the only crazy one in the room, and I don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel when I can see what else has already been written about it—or some of the really obscure finds I’ve had to piece together were already well-described and known to the French (e.g. the traditional assigning of the geomantic figures being based on an older system of associations to the lunar mansions) but perhaps the one most startling thing about many (but not all) French geomantic texts is the system of elements they use to describe the elemental rulerships and affinities of the figures.  As we all know, the geomantic figures are composed of different combinations of the four classical elements, but each figure is also generally aligned with one particular element as a whole.  Which element that would be is based on one of two systems, an older and more pervasive one that appears based on which elements are active or passive in a figure (e.g. Albus given to Water) and a slightly more recent one based on the planetary-based zodiacal rulerships of the figure (e.g. Albus given to Gemini because it’s a Mercury-ruled figure).  Heck, I’ve even come up with a theoretical association of my own, also based on the elemental structure of a figure but less symbolic and more based on what cancels out and what’s left after that (though I don’t myself use this one).

But this particular system so common in so many French geomancy texts is different.  Like the traditional elemental system and my own innovative theoretical one, this French system is also structural, but it’s not really based on which individual elements are active or passive in a figure.  Rather, it’s based on the dot patterns of the upper two lines of a figure.  Consider the qura`ah (or qirrah), the spindle-dice so commonly used in and associated with Arabic and Persian geomancy:

As I’ve mentioned before, a pair of these spindle-dice are used together to generate four Mother figures all at once: you take both, spin the blocks on each spindle, and slap them down together on the table, and you read pairs of blocks, one from each spindle.  So, in the image above, the four Mothers that would result from that particular arrangement of spindle-dice are Caput Draconis, Acquisitio, Caput Draconis, and Albus.

Geomantic figures are essentially binary numbers (base-2): you have four rows, each row having one or two dots, giving you a choice of sixteen figures (2⁴ = 16).  However, you could also consider the geomantic figures as quarternary numbers (base-4), too: rather than considering individual rows, you look at the upper two rows and bottom two rows together.  In this way, rather than a single row being one of two options (single point or dual point), you get a pair of rows that has one of four options (4² = 16: single-single, single-dual, dual-single, dual-dual).  If we break down a geomantic figure into two pairs of rows rather than four individual rows, we can consider what the symbolism of a pair of rows means.

What these French geomancies do is give a different elemental association to the points found in pair of rows:

  • Single-single (shaped like a vertical line, :, e.g. the upper part of Fortuna Minor): Fire, a single flame burning upwards.
  • Single-dual (shaped like an upwards-pointing triangle, , e.g. the upper part of Puella): Water, something that pours out and expands downwards.
  • Dual-single (shaped like a downwards-pointing triangle, , e.g. the upper part of Caput Draconis): Air, something that rises and expands upwards.
  • Dual-dual (shaped like a square, , e.g. the upper part of Albus): Earth, the stability of the level plane.

EDIT:  Okay, I don’t know what’s going on, but apparently the dot patterns don’t show up in text right on all computers.  On some computers it displays as described, but on other computers it displays where the Earth four-point square is set to Air, the Water upwards-triangle is set to Earth, and the Air downwards-triangle is set to Water.  I don’t know how to resolve that or why that happens.  The content of the post is right, but the dot characters here may not be depending on your platform, browser, etc.

Some texts go further and try to relate these point-arrangements to the I Ching—which I don’t agree with due to a lack of any significant connection historical or otherwise—saying that single-single Fire is given to old Yang, dual-single Air to young Yin, single-sual Water to young Yang, and dual-dual Earth to old Yin.  Whatever.  I don’t agree with a Chinese or I Ching-based origin of geomancy, as there’s already plenty of evidence suggesting that geomancy originates in Arabia, and even if not, I’d still favor a north African origin anyway.  What connections there are between geomancy and I Ching, I find, are entirely superficial, and it didn’t help that European missionaries didn’t know what else to call fēng shuǐ besides “geomancy”, leading to centuries of misnaming and misunderstanding.  Just like with the pips of dominoes and the points of geomancy (as I brought up a bit ago), just because things look kinda similar doesn’t mean that they share a common origin.

Back to the topic at hand.  This is an interesting way to adapt the four-element symbolism to the simple shapes produced from two, three, or four points put together.  Admittedly, I find it a little weird, since I’d normally be inclined to give the single-dual upwards-pointing triangle to Air and dual-single downwards-pointing triangle to Water, but I get where this symbolism is going from; after all, Water is associated with downwards motion and Air with upwards (or at least sideways) motion, and I’d want to look at the shapes these points make from the perspective of direction rather than expansion, but I get it.

That’s the whole basis for this elemental symbolism.  To find the elemental association of a particular figure, simply look at the upper two lines of a figure, and that point arrangement gets you the ruling element of that figure.  That’s all there is to it.  Thus:

  • Fire figures (upper two lines single-single): Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Fortuna Minor
  • Air figures (upper two lines dual-single): Caput Draconis, Coniunctio, Acquisitio, Rubeus
  • Water figures (upper two lines single-dual): Puella, Amissio, Carcer, Laetitia
  • Earth figures (upper two lines dual-dual): Fortuna Maior, Albus, Tristitia, Populus

Far less common than this, though, some texts will also look at the bottom two rows of a figure in the same way to get a sub-element, such that Via is Fire-on-Fire, Albus is Earth-on-Water, and so forth, but that’s super uncommon—but, then, so is the notion of sub-element or secondary elemental rulers in general (even if I make heavy use of such symbolism).  Most texts simply leave the association at one element based on the upper two rows, and that’s about it.  Still, because I’m fond of tables and charts, we can come up with a simple such table that plots out which figure belongs to which primary (upper) and secondary (lower) elemental structures:

Via Caput
Puella Fortuna
Acquisitio Carcer Tristitia
Puer Coniunctio Amissio Albus
Rubeus Laetitia Populus

I suppose the symmetry of the figures would be better preserved if I swapped around the Air and Water rows and columns, but I rebel at that, personally, so whatever.

As far as how to use such a system of elemental affinities and rulerships, I mean, it’s the same as any other: they can be used as a basis for meditating upon and contemplating the figures, understood in relationship to other figures, compared in terms of elemental strengths or weaknesses based on what’s around it or where it’s placed in a chart, and the other usual uses; in that, it’s just another system of elemental rulerships available for the figures, just like any other.  What I can’t really figure out, however, is where this system came from.  It doesn’t appear in any older European or Western text I’m aware of, and only seems to appear in most (but not all) French texts, suggesting a common language-bound origin—and, given the French history of colonialism and imperialism in areas where African and Arabic traditions of geomancy were practiced, might have just such an origin.  Plus, the use of pairs of rows in a figure does neatly echo the use of spindle-dice, which were historically only found in the Middle East and South Asia, further suggesting an Arabic practice—though maybe not an utterly ancient one, since the spindle-dice were not there from the beginning of the practice and I don’t recall seeing any row-pairwise analysis of figures brought up in any of the texts I’ve glanced over.

Now, back in the days from the old Geomantic Campus Yahoo! Group days, I swear I saw some image of some North African instance of geomancy that gave these same row-pairwise associations of the elements (like there was a tarp up in the background of a reading being done with some diagrams, including linking the four elements to the Tetragrammaton), but looking back through the group (before the old archives of all Yahoo! groups vanish in a few days), I can’t seem to find anything along those lines, so maybe I saw such a thing somewhere else.  I know I’ve come across such a thing a long time ago, but at the time I didn’t think much of it, so I don’t have any notes or references to such a system.  (If anyone knows the picture, direct me to it, as I’d be greatly appreciative.)  And, as I’ve said, most—but not all—of these modern French geomancy texts seem to share this system, and it really only seems to be French geomancy texts that do this.  To me, this indicates a single, common origin that spread outwards from there within the Francophone geomanticulture (hey, we have “occulture”, why not “geomanticulture” too?).  Happily, many French geomantic texts include a bibliography, so it’s not terribly hard to track down such texts.

From what I can see, this system of elements likely happened at some point between 1940 and 1986.  I give these two dates because these are the years of publication for the famous French occultist, Mason, and Martinist Robert Ambelain, who published La Géomancie Magique in 1940 and La Géomancie Arabe in 1986; in the former, he gives the usual older European (pre-Agrippa) form of elemental assignments to the figures, but in the latter, this row-pairwise one.  However, earlier texts than La Géomancie Arabe use this system, too, like in the 1978 La géomancie: un art divinatoire by Alain le Kern.  So, probably somewhere around the 1950s, this new method of assigning elements came into the French geomanticulture (the word’s sticking with me now), and may well have an Arabic origin or, more likely, a North or Northwest African origin.  Beyond that, I can’t currently tell.

Still, it’s a nifty system.  Another method to think about, for those who find a logic in it.

Four Coin Divination of Hermes

So, between geomancy, grammatomancy, and astragalomancy, as well as a working knowledge of astrology both horary and otherwise, my divination needs are pretty much set.  I can determine what’s going on with a few throws of bones or letters or geomantic figures, and all these methods have served me well.  The problem is that, often, these oracles give me too much information when I don’t need anything more than a yes or no answer.  Geomancy is definitely geared for that with its inherent binary structure, but drawing up a full geomantic chart can sometimes be a little too much for something that needs a quick answer or confirmation from the spirits.  Although simpler than geomancy, grammatomancy and astragalomancy provide too much to interpret.  For instance, if I want to know whether a bottle of wine is sufficient payment for asking Hermes to help me out with something, getting “The one on the left bodes well for everything” is a little too vague and unclear for me.

Yes/no divination is one of the simplest forms of divination that can be done with tools.  You don’t need much more than a coin to flip, after all, but that seems a little too basic, and I do appreciate a bit of nuance.  I mean, imagine how body language, intonation, and subtle gestures can change a “yes” or “no” from your parents.  I suppose I could use whether the isopsephy of the letter or the sum of the astragaloi is odd or even for yes or no, but that seems like reaching a bit.  That said, I actually do have a divination system perfect for this, that of nkobos, a set of four cowrie shells I use in my ancestor and ATR work.  In it, you take four cowrie shells that have the “lump” shaved or cracked off so that it can fall on one of two sides; you ask your question to the spirits, throw the shells, inspect how many fall with the natural mouth up or down, and get your answer based on that.  This is identical to the use of chamalongos, or coconut shells, as used in Santeria and Palo and several other ATRs.  While I have a set of fed and prepared cowrie shells I use when working with my ancestors and spirits in those traditions, it always seemed weird to me to use them with other spirits, even though they provided a very useful tool in answering yes/no divination questions.  After all, cowries weren’t especially used in Greece or Europe generally, nor were coconut shells.  Add to it, I always kept getting hints that the methods of reading shells with ATR spirits was a little different from the theoi and other spirits I work with, like a different manner of interpretation was needed.

Thus, I decided to give up my cowrie shells and use them only with ATR spirits and ancestors, and make a new form of divination with the gods and spirits I normally work with generally and Hermes specifically.  I took the nkobo style of divination, modified it according to the hints I’ve been getting, and ended up with a four-coin divination method in honor of Hermes.  With no further ado, I present to you Οι Χρησμοι των Τεσσερων Νουμισματων, the Oracles of the Four Coins!  Though it is named after him, I’m making a deal with Hermes so that I can use this divination system not just with him but with any spirit with Hermes as ερμηνευτης and αγγελος, interpreter and messenger, between me and the other spirits I work with.

For this method of divination, you will need four coins, small enough so that they can all easily be held in the hand.  Four pennies are perfect for this, for those who live in the US.  Since I work near the Postal Museum in Washington, DC, the museum has one of those penny stretcher-impresser machines with four designs (Ben Franklin, Inverted Jenny, Inverted Train, and Pneumatic Tube stamp designs), so I went there during a recent monthly feast day for Hermes and got them, etched a Mercury symbol on the back, then consecrated them later that night.  You might also get four small gambling tokens, four Mercury dimes, four foreign coins, four ancient Greek coins, four flat stones with each side colored white or black, or other similar objects.  So long as you can establish which side is heads and which is tails, you’ll be set.

The process of divination is simple: ask your question, shake the coins up, cast them down onto a surface, and inspect how many are heads and how many are tails.  The order doesn’t matter; just count how many fall on which side.  In this manner, there are five possible results, and if we assume an ideal coin, they each have a 20% chance of falling (but, of course, the result is decided by the gods).  The meanings of each throw are generally as follows:

  1. All heads (Αγαθα, Blessing): Absolute yes.  The blessing of the gods.  Ease, swiftness, and success.  The gods are pleased with you and you have their aid.  You are acting on the blessed path in line with the will of the gods.  A yes from the heart.  The most positive of results.
  2. Three heads, one tails (Αναβασις, Ascent): Tentative yes.  Rephrase the question to be more specific.  The gods have already spoken.  Don’t ask what you already know.  Propitiating the gods may be helpful.  You may be missing something.  You may need further action to ensure success.
  3. Two heads, two tails (Τετροδος, Four-Way Crossroads): Simple yes but becoming “meh”.  All ways open.  Anything is possible.  You can do it if you so choose, or not if you don’t want to.  It doesn’t matter.  Freedom in any and all directions.  Keep asking more questions.  The gods don’t particularly care whichever way you choose.
  4. One heads, three tails (Καταβασις, Descent): No, perhaps reluctantly.  The situation is not going in that direction.  You’re barking up the wrong tree.  Nothing’s working against you, but it’s just not going to happen.  The gods have judged the matter against you.
  5. All tails (Ατηρια, Evil): Absolute no, a spiteful or angry no.  Don’t ask and stop asking.  Major problems impeding you from your situation.  The gods are angry at you.  You may be cursed, crossed, or stuck in too much miasma.  You need purification, fasting, and propitiation.  You plan or ask about unlawful and amoral things.  Don’t get yourself involved.  The most negative of results.

In a way, this is a lot similar to how I had originally planned the use of my two ten-sided dice divination.  Instead of it being heads or tails on four coins, I rolled 2d10 using a standard tabletop gaming set of dice.  In that system, 99-80 would be associated with Agatha, 79 through 60 with Anabasis, 59 through 40 with Tetrodos, 39 through 20 with Katabasis, and 19 through 00 with Atēria.  That, too, was also based on shell divination, but it was mostly a means by which I could use all seven of my RPG dice in addition to the grammatomancy d12 and geomancy d4, d8, d20, and d6.  Ah well, live and learn.

In addition to getting quick yes/no answers from Hermes on a variety of topics, one of the reasons why I developed this system of divination is so that I can interact with all of the Greek gods and goddesses and heroes and demigods in order to ascertain their wishes and will.  Yes, the coin divination method belongs to Hermes proper, but remember that Hermes is the messenger god who goes between gods and men and is a friend to them both.  The coins can be thrown to ask any spirit and any god what their will is through the intercession and messages of Hermes, who communicates between us and them.  I find this a very valuable thing in my work, although I may resort to other forms of divination such as reading omens or, should I ever develop a proper hand at animal sacrifice, haruspicy.

Theoretically, this is similar to making a geomancy figure: all we need is a way to get a binary result four times, then compare how many of each binary result we get.  You could draw four lines of random dots each (odd or even), pluck up four potatoes and count how many eyes are on each (odd or even), roll a die four times (odd or even), pull four playing cards (red or black), or the like.  That said, I prefer using coins for Hermes since, after all, he is a god of commerce and coins are one of his symbols.  Plus, keeping four coins in your pocket is rather convenient and easily disguised.

Since this is a coin-based divination method, a variant of sortilege, I suppose the proper term for it would be numismatomancy, literally “divination by coins”.  And, since we’re able to make a well-formed word ending in “-mancy”, why not make some ritual numismatomancy?  Honestly, I could write up new rituals for all this, but after describing ritual astragalomancy and the consecration rituals and how to ask a query of the gods, you may as well just review that and adapt it accordingly for the coins from the knucklebones.  Similar rules for how the coins bounce and fall and their relative positions of how they fall can be devised, as well, to get even more nuance out of a single throw of the coins.

As I mentioned, the order the coins are thrown in don’t matter, just how many fall heads or tails.  However, if you draw a distinction between the coins or note the order in which they fall, you could also do geomancy using these.  If you have coins A, B, C, and D, then coin A would relate to the Fire line, coin B to the Air line, coin C to the Water line, and coin D to the Earth line; a throw of heads would mean that line is active, and a throw of tails means that line is passive.  However, the idea came to me that, well, if there are 16 possible combinations of these throws, and if the divination system is assigned to Hermes, then why not take a clue from astragalomancy and assign each combination to a different aspect of Hermes?  It’s not unreasonable to do this; astragalomancy has certain throws relate to Hermes Tetragonos (Hermes Four-Sided, i.e. Herm), Hermes Diaktoros (Hermes the Leader), Hermes Paignios (Hermes the Playful), and Hermes Kerdemporos (Hermes who Brings Gain in Trade).  Besides, I’ve seen Sannion do something similar with his Net of Orpheus, where he links different throws of coins to the different members of the pantheon of the Thiasos of the Starry Bull (though he also has his own Coins of Hermes divination method that I know nothing about, the jerk!).  I may approach Hermes and see how he feels about such a method, and if he likes the idea, which epithets he’d like to ascribe to which throw.  For instance, the throw of tails-heads-tails-heads, which in geomancy would be given to the figure Acquisitio, could be given to Hermes Kerdemporos based on the similarity between the geomantic figure and the epithet of Hermes.  It’s an idea for me to explore.

Speaking of Sannion’s divination system, he mentions the following when describing his Net of Orpheus, which he made as an Orphic variant of the Chain of Saint Michael, a Sicilian/Italian derivative form of geomancy using a series of four Saint Michael medallions in a chain, not unlike the opele chain of a babalawo (diviner priest) of Ifá.  Sannion says:

That said, I do feel a little culturally appropriative since it comes from a living and lineaged tradition (Italian folk Catholicism) which I am not a part of (despite my heredity: my mom was as thoroughly Americanized as they come) but on the other hand I’m not claiming any such thing or the cachet associated with doing so – I’m being perfectly upfront that I found this system and modified it for my own uses, so I kind of hope that cancels that out. (On the other hand Orpheus had a reputation for traveling around and stealing people’s religious tech, as does Melampos the other founder of Bacchic Orphism, so I guess that just means I’m keeping the tradition alive!) Plus, while I think it entirely within the realm of possibility that this technology developed independently in the Mezzogiorno and nevertheless respect the lineage of those who are working with it now – there are some striking similarities between it and Ifá and Mẹrindínlógún, to the point that I’m a little suspicious of its antiquity.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s that big a deal.  Yes, I am deriving a similar form of divination as he was from a similar-ish source.  That said, the Sicilian Chain of Saint Michael is a variant of geomancy, as I see it, just with the association of particular saints to the figures (which is a helpful correspondence for Catholic or conjure-minded geomancers to know).  Every form of geomancy as well as Ifá, Mẹrindínlógún, Nkobo, and Chamalongos all come from Africa and all share a binary system of attaining occult knowledge.  Then again, the system itself is so simple and direct that it’s not inconceivable that other cultures in other eras and areas could have devised similar systems on their own, like the Chinese system of jiaobei.  I see no harm in appropriating and modifying a system to “make” a new one of my own, especially if it can help ascertain the will of the gods better and more clearly.  If I can’t tell whether Hermes wants one bottle of wine or two, or whether he wants me to drop off a particular offering at a crossroads or just throw it in the trash, nobody is going to be particularly happy with the results.

Since getting four pennies is easy for me to obtain, as is getting those stretched pennies from the Postal Museum (which is as much a temple to Hermes Angelos as I’ll ever seen one), I’m considering getting a bunch of these together, consecrating them, and selling them on my Etsy, or just taking custom commissions for them.  What do you think?  Would you be interested in such a set?  Lemme know in the comments if you do, and if the response is strong enough, I might make a permanent listing on my Etsy page for consecrated coins for the purpose.

Search Term Shoot Back, September 2013

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of September 2013.

“visualize offerings water light incense flowers”  — Visualized offerings are good for some spirits, or for complex astral rituals.  However, for most purposes, why not actually get the physical offerings themselves, and offer actual water, candles, incense, and flowers?  They’re more concrete and, if the spirit is “low” (i.e. an elemental spirit, genius loci, shade, etc.), they’ll be able to benefit more directly since they’re closer to the physical realm.

“munich manual english” — As far as I’m aware, there is no full translation of the Munich Manual into English, though I have translated some excerpts from it (which you can find under the Rituals menu above).  That said, it’s been suggested I take that on as my next big translation project, and I think I’ll oblige.  No idea when it might be ready, but it wouldn’t be unwelcome, as far as I can tell. 

“blessing the sator square” — It’s unclear how the SATOR Square was actually used, only that it came up time and again since the early Roman empire as a kind of memetic charm.  One theory is that it acted as a sign for hidden Christians, since reorganizing the SATOR Square can yield a different arrangement of two PATERNOSTERs intersecting at the N, with two As and two Os leftover (alpha and omega).  As a charm, I believe that the mere construction of the SATOR Square suffices to “bless” or charge it, though other consecrations can be added on top of it (cf. the second pentacle of Saturn from the Key of Solomon).  Depending on the purpose used, you’d consecrate it as you would any other talisman, charm, or tool.

“eskimo fucking” — I assume that’s how eskimos happened in the first place.  (Also, what…?)

“geomantic designs for capricorn” — You’d want to go with the geomantic figures for Carcer or Populus and their associated geomantic sigils.  Carcer is linked to Capricorn through its association with Saturn retrograde; Populus is directly associated to Capricorn in Gerard of Cremona’s system of astrological correspondences (which I use personally in my geomantic work).

“if i write de name of ma boyfriend n put it in de annoiting oil n pray over it can it makes him love like crazy?” — First, I’m honestly impressed people write unironically in an eye-dialect like this; after all, written communication is meant to help spoken communication cross time and space in a way that sound vibrations can’t, and writing as one speaks is certainly not a wrong way to do it.  As for the question itself, the answer is (as it often is in magic) that it depends.  Writing his name on a hoodoo-style name paper, and using something like “Come Here Boy” or another love-drawing/love-forcing oil on it with a prayer or repetition of a psalm over it, it can certainly induce love or love-craziness.  Caveat mage, though; Jason Miller has a story about someone who did this on a particular girl, and not only did the girl fall head-over-heels in love with him, but she ended up becoming an overzealously jealous, codependent, clingy stalker that the dude only wanted to get rid of after, like, two weeks.  Be careful what you wish for, my readers.

“how to kssss hole body” — I hope you wash that hole first.  I also hope you can tell me what exactly you were looking for.

“what to ask during geomancy” — Anything you want, really; geomancy is another system of divination, and divination exists to answer questions.  That said, it helps to ask questions that are clear, concise, and concrete: vague, open-ended, undefined questions tend to work badly with geomancy.  A good question in geomancy often takes the form of “will X happen with conditions Y?”, with X and Y clearly defined and stated.

“how to convert geomantic figures into binary” — Pretty simple, actually.  The method I use is to use a four-bit number, interpreting a single point (active element) as 1 (logic high) and a double point (passive element) as 0 (logic low).  The first bit in the number is the fire line, the second bit the air line, the third bit the water line, and the fourth bit the earth line; in other words, if you read a four-bit number from right to left, it’d be the same as reading a geomantic figure from top to bottom.  Thus, 0101 is Acquisitio, 1000 is Laetitia, 1101 is Puer, 1111 is Via, 0000 is Populus, and so forth.

“how long can you keep holy water in a bottle” — It depends on the type of holy water, and for what.  From a religious standpoint, the blessing may “wear off” over time, or may be depleted if anything unclean contaminates the whole bottle.  Any liquid can get physically contaminated over time without proper preparation, so it helps to make sure the bottle you’re using is thoroughly sanitized and that the water is used in a short time, often no longer than five days.  Using holy water that uses herbs like basil or hyssop can also easily get contaminated, and you’ll see a wispy web-like growth in the bottle over time.  For this reason, I make my holy water with just purified water and salt that I boil for twenty minutes and pour it into only sanitized bottles I’ve washed out with boiling water and soap.

“house blessing preparation” — Get a few white candles, incense that stings the eyes and nose, incense that sweetens the air, holy water, some clean white clothes, and a book of religious texts or prayers of your choice.  Wash yourself thoroughly and ablute in the holy water, meditate and focus yourself, dress in the clothes while praying for protection and light for yourself, light a candle in each room of the house, pray in each room of the house for protection and guidance in the house, waft the sharp incense in each room of the house, pray that all evil and defilement be removed from the house, sprinkle holy water in each room of the house, pray that all impurity and filth be washed from the house, waft the sweet incense in each room of the house, pray for happiness and joy to fill the house, pray to offer your thanks and for the assistance received, relax. 

“howtoinvokeadonai” — Youusehisnameinaprayer,begginghimforhispresenceandaidtohelpyouinyourlife.Youdon’thavetobeJewishorChristiantocallonADNI,butyoudoneedtohavefaithinhispowerandbeabletoanswertotheresponsibilityofcallinguponhim.AnynumberofprayersintheSolomonicandHermetictraditions,goingasfarbackasthePGMatleast,usethenameADNI,sohaveatandexplorewhatusesyoumightcomeupwith.  Also, please never type like this ever, even if you’re on a lot of DMT.

“hermetics most feared adversary” — I think it’s sloths, for some reason, but I’m unsure why.  Alkaloid herbs may have been involved, or so I’m told.

Geomantic Mathematics

Generating a complete geomantic chart can be a little daunting for people new to the art of geomancy.  I think it’s simple enough to learn, but there’s a fair bit of calculation involved.  It’s definitely more difficult than Tarot, where you just shuffle some cards and lay them out wherever you damn well please, but not as difficult as doing an astrological chart by hand (but then, who does that anymore?).

Still, there are fewer possible geomantic charts one might get than there are Tarot spreads ((78-10)! or (156-10)!, depending on whether you use reversed cards, and that’s just for the Celtic Cross) or astrological configurations (big big big big number, even if you limit yourself to just the seven traditional planets and whole degrees).  Since the four Mothers essentially define the rest of the chart, and since each Mother can be one of the 16 geomantic figures, there are only 16×16×16×16 = 65536 possible geomantic charts.  Any chart not in this set of charts are invalid and impossible to properly calculate.  How might you determine whether a given geomantic chart is valid?  There are three rules to validate a chart:

The Judge must be an even figure.  It is impossible for a well-formed geomantic chart to have an odd Judge; evenness is often called “impartiality”, and Judges as well as judges must be impartial in deciding a case.  Judge figures must be even due to the formation of the Daughters from the Mothers.  The Daughters make use of the same points from the Mothers, transposed so that they’re arranged in a different direction; thus, the number of points in the Mothers are the same as those in the Daughters.  Any number duplicated yields an even number, and the process of adding figures (or distilling them from the Mothers/Daughters to the Nieces to the Witnesses) preserves this kind of parity.  Thus, the Witnesses must be either both odd or both even, and in either case must add to an even figure.  The Judge is the only figure in the chart where this rule must apply.

At least one figure must be repeated in the chart.  As it turns out, no complete Shield chart with 16 geomantic figures can have all 16 distinct figures; there must be at least one repeated figure in the chart somewhere.  It may be possible that the first 15 figures (Mothers, Daughters, Nieces, Witnesses, and Judge) are distinct, but then the Sentence must of necessity repeat one of the other figures.  Consider that the Judge is formed from the two Witnesses, which themselves are formed from the four Nieces, which are formed from the eight Mothers and Daughters combined.  The Judge has eight separate roots, which may very well be distinct.  However, the Sentence is formed from adding the Judge to the First Mother.  Because the Judge also relies on the First Mother (via the Right Witness and First Niece), you’re essentially adding the First Mother to itself, which yields Populus; Populus, when combined with any other figure, repeats that figure.  Because of this “hidden repetition” in the chart, there’s bound to be at least one figure repeated in the chart somewhere, even if it’s just the Sentence.  That said, there are only 16 charts that have the first 15 figures unique, but that’s a topic for another day.

The inseparable pairs must add to the same figure.  This is an idea picked up from the Madagascan tradition of geomancy of sikidy, and shows the validity of the internal structure of the chart.  The idea here is that certain pairs of figures in the chart must add to the same figure: adding the First Niece to the Judge, the Second Mother to the Sentence, and the Second Niece to the Left Witness all yield the same result.  Similarly, the Left Witness added to the Sentence, the Right Witness to the First Mother, and the Second Niece to the Second Mother also yield the same result.  This is because the “units” that add up to any child figure (First and Second Mothers for the First Niece, or all the Mothers and Daughters for the Judge, or all the Mothers and Daughters for the Sentence with the First Mother duplicated) are the same within these groups of inseperables.  Any set of addition of “units” where two figures are repeated cancel each other out, forming Populus; the remaining figures add up to a particular figure that the other inseperables must also add to.

So, as an example, say that we have the following chart, where we have Via, Acquisitio, Coniunctio, and Laetitia as the Mothers.  Carcer, Cauda Draconis, Amissio, and Fortuna Minor are the Daughters; Amissio, Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis, and Coniunctio are the Nieces; Rubeus and Tristitia are the Witnesses, Acquisitio is the Judge, and Amissio is the Sentence.

Example Geomantic Tableau

The Judge is Acquisitio, which is an even figure, formed from two odd figures; this is good.  There is multiple repetition in the chart (Acquisitio, Coniunctio, Cauda Draconis, and Amissio are all repeated somewhere in the chart), which is also good.  The two sets of inseparables add up the figures as below:

  1. First Set (sum of Third and Fourth Mothers with all the Daughters)
    1. First Niece + Judge = Amissio + Acqusitio = Via
    2. Second Mother + Sentence = Acquisitio + Amissio = Via
    3. Second Niece + Left Witness = Cauda Draconis + Tristitia = Via
  2. Second Set (sum of the Second, Third, and Fourth Mothers)
    1. Left Witness + Sentence = Tristitia + Amissio = Puella
    2. Right Witness + First Mother = Rubeus + Via = Puella
    3. Second Niece + Second Mother = Cauda Draconis + Acquisitio = Puella

Since the two sets of inseparable pairs add up to the same figures, respectively Via and Puella, this also checks out.  We can now rest assured that our geomantic chart is valid and proper for reading.

Do I do all these checks every time I calculate a geomancy chart?  Lol nope.  When I calculate a geomancy chart by hand (I sometimes use a program I wrote for this to automatically give me all the information I want from a chart), I’ll often just check the parity of the Judge and leave it at that.  Still, learning these rules and how the internal structure of the shield chart works is important to geomancy, since it underlies not only the mechanics of getting the divination system to work but also indicates important spiritual and oracular connections between the otherwise disparate symbols used.