De Geomanteia Recap, and a Huge Thank You

As I mentioned last time, I completed the small little journey I set out on about five months ago to describe each of the geomantic figures and a bit about geomantic technique on my blog at the rate of one post per week.  It’s been a fantastic trip, and I hope you guys got a lot out of it; it encouraged me to dig through my old notes and meditations on the subject, as well as having spurred me to do more original geomantic research.  Since some people like things being made easy for them, I present to you a list of all the De Geomanteia posts I made, separated out into the posts on technique and the figures.

The posts on geomantic technique:

  1. On the Via Puncti and its variations in the shield chart
  2. On perfection, aspect, favorability, and affirmation
  3. On determining time and timeframes with geomancy
  4. On using geomancy and the figures in magic and ritual

The posts on the geomantic figures (not in chronological order):

  1. Populus
  2. Via
  3. Albus
  4. Coniunctio
  5. Puella
  6. Amissio
  7. Fortuna Maior
  8. Fortuna Minor
  9. Puer
  10. Rubeus
  11. Acquisitio
  12. Laetitia
  13. Tristitia
  14. Carcer
  15. Caput Draconis
  16. Cauda Draconis

Feel free to share this or any of the other posts in the De Geomanteia series.  This certainly won’t be the end of geomancy posts here at the Digital Ambler, that’s for sure, so keep an eye out for more meditations on the figures and technique in the future.

Also, I wanted to thank all my readers for making this an awesome week.  On Tuesday, the Digital Ambler crossed the 100,000 hit mark, which is a fantastic milestone.  It’s a nontrivial thing, too, since the blog has only been online for less than two years!  Between Facebook, Twitter, and other people’s blogs and sites, I’ve been getting lots of traffic in ways I wouldn’t’ve imagined a year or so ago (like from Bungie gaming forums or discussions of grimoires I’ve only dreamed of working with).  You guys are awesome for having helped me out and been with me on this fantastic Hermetic journey, and I see no signs of it stopping anywhere soon.  Keep reading, dear readers, and I hope you enjoy the future with me.

Happy geomancing and happy ambling, you guys!

De Geomanteia: Geomantic Magic (let this spell last forever)

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 (last and final) week, let’s talk about technique instead of figures. Specifically, let’s talk about how to apply geomancy and geomantic figures to magic.

Yes, dear reader, magic. That fabulous art and science of causing a change in conformity with will, the thing I talk about near non-stop on this blog.  This (yet again) lengthy post on geomantic technique will review just a few of the ways one might apply geomancy to magic, since the sky is literally the limit here (at least in terms of celestial spheres).  So get a drink and a snack, put on your robe and wizard hat, and let’s begin.

Just as the planets in astrology can lend themselves to either divination or magic, so too can geomancy by incorporating the figures and their associations in magical ritual, talisman creation, and the like.  Keep in mind that a geomantic figure is nothing more than a collection of elemental forces, where each of the four elements is either active or passive, present or missing, on or off. In one sense, each geomantic figure can be seen as an alchemical formula that reveals a particular state of the cosmos.  Further, by figuring out the ruling element of the mixture, we can divine the overall elemental nature of a certain combination of elements. For instance, Coniunctio (air and water active), with its fluidity in emotional response and mental communication, lends itself very well to the element whose primary nature is wet: Air.

In addition to their elemental formulae and overall correspondences, the geomantic figures are also associated with the planets and signs of the zodiac.  Through these, they’re tied into the ancient and well-known field of planetary magic, which can incorporate the geomantic figures as well into their rituals.  For instance, when I want to work with the darker, more destructive side of Mars, I’d probably pick Rubeus or Cauda Draconis; for wealth magic, I’d go with jovial Acquisitio.  This also ties the geomantic figures into the planetary sephiroth in Qabbalah, which is an extensive set of systems in its own right.  For instance, Coniunctio is associated with Virgo and Mercury, and through those the sephirah Hod, the number 8, the color orange, and the like.  If you’ve forgotten what those are, review the other De Geomanteia posts on the figures for their elemental, planetary, zodiacal, and qabbalistic associations, the paragraph on the “technical details” of the figures near the start and the last paragraph that describes their divinatory and magical interpretations.

Another way to understand the figures is by expanding them to entire charts.  Due to the nature of geomantic chart construction, there are 16×16×16×16 = 65536 possible legal charts used in geomancy, but subsets of them have special properties.  One set, which I call “unique charts”, is the set of all charts that make use of 15 geomantic figures without repeating (excluding the Sentence figure, which of mathematical necessity must repeat from the foregoing 15 figures, and none of the figures in the first 15 figures of the shield chart can be Populus, which would induce repetition).  There are 16 such unique charts, which makes the prospect of linking each one to the sixteen geomantic figures tempting.  One of the members on the Geomantic Campus Yahoo! mailing list (which everyone interested in geomancy should join), Frater Pyramidatus, uncovered a way to assign these 16 unique charts to the 16 figures of geomancy as a way to expand and fully capture the “essence” of the figure in a whole geomantic chart.  Though I won’t reproduce the method or the full set of charts here, the Mother figures to generate each chart are as follows (in order from First to Fourth Mother):

  1. Populus: Caput Draconis, Amissio, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
  2. Via: Puer, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  3. Albus: Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Puer, Amissio
  4. Coniunctio: Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Puer, Coniunctio
  5. Puella: Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  6. Amissio: Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Carcer, Cauda Draconis
  7. Fortuna Maior: Puella, Cauda Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  8. Fortuna Minor: Acquisitio, Puella, Albus, Fortuna Maior
  9. Puer: Rubeus, Laetitia, Caput Draconis, Puer
  10. Rubeus: Caput Draconis, Carcer, Albus, Fortuna Maior
  11. Acquisitio: Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis
  12. Laetitia: Coniunctio, Puella, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
  13. Tristitia: Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Puella
  14. Carcer: Rubeus, Laetitia, Puella, Puer
  15. Caput Draconis: Puella, Puer, Tristitia, Albus
  16. Cauda Draconis: Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Acquisitio, Cauda Draconis

Further, because of the mathematics of geomancy, whole charts can be added to each other to yield new charts by adding each figure in one chart to its corresponding figure in the other (e.g. chart 1 First Mother + chart 2 First Mother = chart 3 First Mother).  Based on this, we can obtain charts (not unique, but still significant) that similarly reflect the force of whole planets.

  1. Moon (Populus + Via): Amissio, Puer, Albus, Fortuna Maior
  2. Mercury (Albus + Coniunctio): Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Fortuna Minor
  3. Venus (Puella + Amissio): Albus, Fortuna Maior, Laetitia, Fortuna Minor
  4. Sun (Fortuna Maior + Fortuna Minor): Cauda Draconis, Acquisitio, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
  5. Mars (Puer + Rubeus): Fortuna Maior, Tristitia, Acquisitio, Cauda Draconis
  6. Jupiter (Acquisitio + Laetitia): Albus, Fortuna Maior, Puer, Coniunctio
  7. Saturn (Tristitia + Carcer): Populus, Populus, Acquisitio, Coniunctio
  8. Lunar Nodes (Caput Draconis + Cauda Draconis): Fortuna Maior, Tristitia, Rubeus, Fortuna Minor

These charts can be used as talismanic images in their own right or augmented to other talismans to represent the entire force of a particular figure or planet.  Frater Pyramidatus also managed to link up the whole system of unique charts assigned to each geomantic figure into a more overarching diagram called “the Geomantic Pyramid”, which combines the geomantic figures, elements, and notions of the Male Principle and Female Principle.  It’s an interesting read, though I haven’t found a way to incorporate it into my own practice; Frater Pyramidatus operates (I believe) in a stricter Thelemic current, so maybe students of that tradition will get more out of it.  Still, I’ll leave the interested reader to join the group above and read for themselves.

In a similar manner, you might also use the geomantic emblems, or sequences of 16 lines like a geomantic figure that contain the essence of all 16 geomantic figures in a cohesive, single icon.  There are 256 such emblems, which can be analyzed elementally on their own, or grouped into 16 cycles of emblems.  Each cycle is associated with a particular figure, giving whole families of emblems a particular geomantic force underlying its nature.  If individual geomantic figures, which are combinations of the four classical elements, represent different states of the cosmos, then the geomantic emblems can be used to represent whole cosmoses or processes of the universe from one state to another fluidly.  The magical uses of these emblems is still mostly unexplored, but it wouldn’t do any harm to find a particular emblem structurally associated with a particular figure you want and elementally associated with a particular stage you want in a given situation and incorporate it into talismans or subtly-occult jewelry.  The notion of order, transition, and flow within the geomantic emblems does beg more investigation, especially in terms of “universal geomantic descriptors” of the cosmos.  You might do well to check out some of my meditations on how they might be explored and understood.

I once mentioned, long ago and separate from De Geomanteia, a particular set of geomantic mudras, or shapes and gestures one can make with the hands to concentrate and meditate upon the figures.  They can also be used as magical gestures, as well: in ritual, when wanting to direct the force of  a particular geomantic figure outward, one would make the mudra with the right (dominant) hand; when wanting to direct it inward towards yourself, one would make the mudra with the left (submissive) hand.  Consider the ASL sign for “I love you”, which is the mudra for Coniunctio, or the standard gesture used for Christian blessing, which is the mudra for Fortuna Maior.  When wanting to cause destruction or to lay a curse on someone, you might use the mudra for Cauda Draconis towards the target (like the surfer shaka/hang loose gesture).  These mudras can be thrown up in formal or informal ritual to act as a focus or “geomantic weapon” in their own right, depending on the need and context.  As a rule, the mudra should be selected based on the force desired: if one wants to start something new, one might throw the mudra of Caput Draconis, but if one wants someone to cut something out, one should use that of Cauda Draconis.  Based on the ruling elements of the figures and the natural motion of the figures (fire and air tend to go upward, water and earth tend to go downward), one could hold the mudra at different heights to affect the motion of the force:

  • Fire (burns upward): held high to “catch” and pull in Fire energy, held low to “burn away” and send out
  • Air (moves around but tends upward): any height works, but similar to Fire
  • Water (flows around but tends downward): any height works, but similar to Earth
  • Earth (falls downward): held low to “catch” and pull in Earth energy, held high to “drop” and send out

Plus, due to the “pure” elemental nature of the figures Laetitia (Fire), Rubeus (Air), Albus (Water), and Tristitia (Earth), these mudras are especially powerful for invoking and working with the elements.  Due to their internal, subjective nature, mudras for figures ruled by Fire and Water are more naturally suited to the left hand, with the right hand more suited to the external, objective elements of Air and Earth.  These attributions of right and left are assumed for a right-hand dominant magician; they may be kept the same or reversed for a left-hand dominant magician.

Every time I’ve talked about a figure in this series, I mentioned how you might get a certain shape or image if you play connect the dots with the figure. That method of making images or pictures by connecting the dots in different ways to form a variety of sigils; depending on the figure and depending on the method, a number of different sigils can be devised for a single figure.  Cornelius Agrippa gives a plentiful list of geomantic sigils in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (book II, chapter 51) which can be used directly in magic or incorporated into talismans, either on their own or in conjunction with other signs and symbols, such as planetary squares, images and occult art, statement-derived sigils a la chaos magic, or qabbalistic diagrams or patterns.

Another use of the sigils, though I haven’t experimented with it personally, is to conjure the intelligence of the individual geomantic figure itself.  Beyond calling them “spirit of Puella” or “angel ruling over Fortuna Maior”, I had an idea to use the Hebrew names for the figures (based on Stephen Skinner’s Geomancy in Theory and Practice) and append the requisite -(i)el onto the end of the names.  Though I haven’t had experience with calling on these angels in relation to the geomantic figures, they should get good results, considering that their names are directly tied to those of the geomantic figures.  Instead of using these angels, one might conjure the angels ruling the zodiac signs or the planets associated with the figures (e.g. Malchidiel, angel of Aries, for Puer).  Instead of using the sigils for the geomantic figures as the seals for these angels, one might also draw out their names on their associated planetary qameas (using the Qamea of the Earth for the angels of Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis).  These are names based off the traditional names of the figures; should you contact them and get different names or sigils specific to them, let me know, because it’d be nice to have a set of standard names for these guys.

  • Populus: Qehilahiel (QHLHIAL, קהלהיאל)
  • Via: Derekhel (DRKAL, דרכאל)
  • Albus: Labaniel (LBNIAL, לבניאל)
  • Coniunctio: Chiburel (ChBURAL, חבוראל)
  • Puella: Halechiel (HLChIAL, הלחיאל)
  • Amissio: Abodel (ABUDAL, אבודאל)
  • Fortuna Maior: Elihiel (OLIHIAL, עליהיאל)
  • Fortuna Minor: Sheqiohel (ShQIOHAL, שקיוהאל)
  • Puer: Nilchamel (NLChMAL, נלחמאל)
  • Rubeus: Adomel (ADUMAL, אדומאל)
  • Acquisitio: Hashigiel (HShGIAL, השגיאל)
  • Laetitia: Nishoiel (NShUAIAL, נשואיאל)
  • Tristitia: Shefeliel (ShPLIAL, שפליאל)
  • Carcer: Sohariel (SUHRIAL, סוהריאל)
  • Caput Draconis: Rashithiel (RAShIThIAL, ראשיתיאל)
  • Cauda Draconis: Siumel (SIUMAL, סיומאל)

There are records and methods of assigning different letters to the geomantic figures, whether in the Roman, Greek, Hebrew, or Enochian languages.  Examples can be found in Golden Dawn’s use of Enochian Chess (images of the “chessboard” can be found here) as well as John Heydon’s Theomagia (book III, pp. 15-18, or pp. 323-325 on Scribd).  John Michael Greer also gives examples of assigning Roman letters to the geomantic figures in his book Art and Practice of Geomancy, perhaps based on Fludd’s or Heydon’s associations.  However, like with assigning numbers to the figures to tell time, I haven’t gotten good results in assigning the geomantic figures to letters to indicate names of people, places, or the like.  I’ve heard of others do so well enough, so your mileage may vary.

One way to incorporate geomantic divination into magical planning or geomantic magic involves the inspection of a given geomantic chart.  Say a querent wants to know whether something will happen that they really want to happen, but the chart denies the query and says “no, it won’t” (review this post on perfection, affirmation, on denial if you’re foggy on this).  By inspecting the significators of the querent and quesited, one can see what can done to “edit” the reality described by the chart to induce a perfection (though it might be best to limit this to the significator of the querent).  One might consider “adding” or “removing” elements from one’s life to change their significator into another one (such as “adding” Air to Puella to change it to Via, or “removing” Water from it to change it to Carcer), and see what effects that would have in the geomantic chart (either redrawing the whole chart from scratch or just superficially editing the house chart).  Doing the same with whole geomantic figures can also be done, such as adding Puella and Puer to form Coniunctio.

An old style of Arabic geomantic magic involves the use of taskins, or specific orderings of the sixteen geomantic figures as a kind of talisman.  One shown in Stephen Skinner’s book was used to find water, and there are references to other taskins to find treasure or similar objects.  I haven’t found very many of these, since it seems to be really old or obscure geomantic knowledge (at least as published in English or European publications), but one could use such orderings (say, four sets of four figures aligned to the four quarters based on their elements) for altar arrangements, geomantic Tables of Practice, or similar talismans.  Such orderings might share similarities with the geomantic emblems I mentioned above, but due to the dearth of information on the Arabic, African, or Middle Eastern uses of taskins in European languages, this is pretty much an unknown.  Unfortunately, until I learn Arabic or until someone who does is willing to take on a few translation projects for me, not much is going to change in this situation.  Although some taskins might be ordered by astrological principles (ruling planet, ruling sign, etc.), other takins might be derived from the unique charts above or the geomantic emblems.  Definitely something to experiment in the future with.

Arabic Geomantic Talisman

To give an example of geomantic magic, say Jane Doe wants to marry John Smith in the next year.  Marriage can be benefitted magically from a number of figures, but Coniunctio is probably the best.  So, to achieve her desired goal, Jane might do any or all of the following:

  • Make a talisman of the figure Coniunctio with associated mercurial, Virgoan materials and timing, since Coniunctio is a figure representing union, a coming together of forces and people, and marriage; such a talisman might have a sigil of the figure on one side and its associated unique chart on the other.
  • Conjure Chiburel, the angel watching over Coniunctio, perhaps under the guidance of the angel of Mercury Raphael, to invoke and manifest the forces of Coniunctio between herself and John.
  • Intone the vowel epsilon (associated with Mercury) in a day and hour of Mercury over an image of her and John put together, with a sigil of Coniunctio drawn over them, perhaps incorporated with yet other sigils a la chaos magic.
  • Throw the geomantic mudra for Coniunctio (which looks a lot like the ASL sign for “I love you”) around in John’s presence, perhaps visualizing a sigil for Coniunctio directed or “thrown” at him.
  • Make a small hemp or chain bracelet tied or knotted in a manner that makes use of the geomantic emblem for Coniunctio, starting at the position where Caput Draconis appears, repeating a short incantation to lure, tie, and conjoin John to her.
  • Cast a candle spell that uses six candles set out in the dot pattern of Coniunctio in a day and hour of Venus, placing a picture of her between the candles of the earth line and a picture of John between the candles of the fire line.

Assume for a bit that a geomancer throws a chart to see whether it’s possible that they can be married in the next year; the chart comes up with a negative answer, with Tristitia as the significator for Jane and Fortuna Maior for John.  There’s no perfection, but the structures for Tristitia and Fortuna Maior are similar, differing only in the water line (i.e. Tristitia has water passive, Fortuna Maior has water active).  Jane might consider “adding” the elemental force of water to her own self and life, perhaps by reaching out emotionally to connect with John more than she is or swimming more and being surrounded by blue and watery things, which would have the effect of transforming Tristitia to Fortuna Maior, which would induce perfection by occupation, turning the negative answer from the chart into a positive one.  The same could be accomplished by working with the figure Albus similarly, since Albus and Tristitia combine to form Fortuna Maior, perhaps by being more reflective and in touch with oneself, or by working with the angel Labaniel to make one more watery and spiritually deep.

At their core, the geomantic figures are another set of symbols that can blend or bind with other symbols in magic.  You might incorporate the geomantic figures into sigils, or use the sigils of the geomantic figures themselves, in a sigil web.  Drawing the geomantic figure on consecrated paper or scrolls to keep as talismans, or using candle arrangements in the form of geomantic figures, would be good ritual uses of the geomantic figures.  Conjurework and hoodoo might also benefit, by using the geomantic figures as talismans on paper or clay, burning or crushing them up into dust, and mixing them in with other powders to lay over someone as a target/victim/beneficiary.  The ability to use geomantic figures and geomancy in magic is as wide and varied as the kinds of magic out there entirely, so feel free to experiment and use the geomantic figures in whatever way might seem useful or interesting.

As a rule, before performing any magic working (geomantic or otherwise), it’s suggested that the magician perform a divination to make sure it’s both advisable and feasible to use magic to a particular end.  In other words, the magician should always ask “can I use magic to attain my goal?” before actually using magic as a part of planning.  To understand these charts, see whether the Judge is favorable to the working and whether perfection exists with the proper house.  Magic is related to four houses in geomantic charts:

  • Sixth house: magic you ask others to do on your behalf as a service
  • Eighth house: magic you do generally, e.g. those that involve lesser spirits, demons, witchcraft
  • Ninth house: magic you do with celestial, theurgic, divine, or philosophical forces, e.g. astrological talismans, prayer to attain a desired end
  • Twelfth house: magic done by others against you, especially without your knowledge

Additionally, you might want to inspect the seventh house (anyone working with you, a partner, a consultant, a spiritual worker, etc.) and the fourth house (the end result of the magical operation) to get a feel for other factors in magic-related situations.  The Part of Spirit, or Index, often indicates spiritual considerations related to queries and their resolution, which is doubly important in questions of magic.

And that concludes my 20-part series De Geomanteia, a weekly series of posts on the sixteen figures that constitute the alphabet of geomancy as well as four posts on geomantic technique. This series was a lot more fun to write than I expected it to be, and you guys gave some really good feedback during the whole process both on the blog and off.  Thank you, dear readers, for sticking it through with me, and I hope you learned at least a bit about this venerable and ancient divination system, if not inspired to use it in your own work. Would you guys have any other questions, queries, quandries, or comments to make about geomancy?  Or would you have anything to share in addition to what I’ve posted, especially about incorporating geomancy with magic?

De Geomanteia: Tristitia (give up on this don’t give up on us)

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, let’s talk about this figure:

Tristitia

Tristitia

This is the figure Tristitia.  In Latin, its name means “Sorrow”, but also has the names of “upside down” or “relapsed” in some Arabic traditions, as well as the names of “damned” or “diminished”.  If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a stake, a pit, or a collapsed building.

First, the technical details of this figure.  It’s associated with Saturn in direct motion and the astrological signs of Aquarius or Scorpio; due to its Saturnine qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Binah.  It has only the earth line active with everything else passive, and so given to the element of Earth.  It is an odd figure with seven points, relating more to internal states of the subjective mind than external states of objective reality.  It is a stable and entering, showing it to be slow-moving and long-lasting where it appears.  In the body, it signifies the lower legs, ankles, and circulatory system.  Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Cauda Draconis, the Dragon’s Tail, showing that this figure is not quick to change, not prone to end, not externally calamitous.  Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Laetitia, joy, showing that this figure is not happy, not free, not open or easily-seen.  Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Caput Draconis, the Dragon’s Head, showing that it is similarly slow-moving, stable, and able to continue in a single direction for a long time.  Tristitia is about going down or going south in any way, including lowered spirits, depression, depressed health, lowered expectations, and getting stuck in a rut.  It often refers to an internal state of failure or self-crossing, as opposed to an external incarceration or being cursed from outside, and is generally unfavorable.  However, it is helpful for anything related to land, subterranean or chthonic matters, and keeping things secret or stable.

Rock climbers can have it tough, especially when they feel obliged by their hobby to scale behemoths of mountain that, no matter how far they ascend, always makes them feel like they’re stuck at the bottom of an infinite height.  It’s slow and rough, too: he has to clutch to any crevice he can find, if he can find one at all.  Any slip or mistake, and he falls, falls, falls, and no matter how much he pretends the distance below him is trivial, he feels like his own progress up the mountain isn’t getting him anywhere at all.  Driving a nail into the rock face (ting, ting, ting) is slow work, and has to be done over and over again to support him.  He has to take out his old stakes, and successfully pulls one out at the cost of tearing a few feet of rope; he yells in a brief shot of fear, though he secures himself just afterward.  His heart sinks with every mistake and mishap he makes, but with every mistake he makes a bit of progress, though not on the mountain itself.  Despite the cold wind whipping around him and feeling desolate and deserted, he has no choice but to continue.  With his only choice to go, go, go, he has to continue toiling to do anything.  Right now, it sucks, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.  He will survive and succeed and surmount this cliff, but not before a long, and hopeless journey first.

Climbing Great Sail Peak

Like its reverse figure Laetitia, Tristitia is another emotional figure that represents pretty clearly what its name signifies: sorrow, grief, sadness, depression, malaise, malcontent.  It’s nothing particularly good, and what’s worse is that it takes time for it to pass.  Unlike cheerful, easy-come easy-go Laetitia, Tristitia lingers even when it’s not nailed down.  Happiness is often found in passing while doing things proper to one’s nature, but Tristitia prevents actions from being done due to being in a depression.  It’s tough to deal with, but it too shall pass.  However, the image of Tristitia as a stake or nail also give it the implication of support, structure, stability, foundation, and construction, in all of which Tristitia is fairly favorable.

Having only the earth line active and all others passive, Tristitia is ruled and assigned to the element of Earth.  According to Cornelius Agrippa (book I, chapter 3), Earth is assigned the qualities of being dry, cold, thick, dark, heavy, and quiet.  Earth’s natural motion is downward, since it’s the weightiest and heaviest of the elements, and is also the most mutable and the basis for all other things that exist in our world (pure elements only exist in their respective realms).  Put into human terms, Tristitia is pure work, focusing strictly on material results, but has the effect of bringing melancholy or depression (downward spirits) into one’s life.  Plus, with Earth being the most stable and most rigid of the elements, the effects of Tristitia (and, similarly, toil and depression) last for a long time as well. 

This is closely associated with its association with Saturn, being the slowest-moving and darkest of the planets, also being the Greater Malefic and usually pretty awful to work with.  Saturn rules over pain, trouble, being harassed, melancholy, depression, paucity, scarcity, and sometimes even mortal trouble.  However, Tristitia is associated with Saturn in direct motion, indicating that it’s actually proceeding in matters and accomplishing something, as well as with airy and bright Aquarius.  Though Tristitia represents downward motion, if not the bottom of the barrel, it can also be said that when you’re at the bottom the only way out is up.  Aquarius, unlike rigid Capricorn, is eager to develop new methods of tackling and ruling the world, and so uses its melancholy as a base to build new structures to rise back up.  In this case, Tristitia is like the dark of a tunnel one is wandering through, guided only by the barest glimmer of light, or the promise of a ledge for a weary rock-climber to eventually rest on.

Tristitia has interesting connections with the other two figures ruled by Saturn, Carcer and Cauda Draconis (its inverse figure).  While Carcer represents external delay and obligations, Tristitia represents internal obligation and getting stuck in a rut.  It’s the difference of where the issues of delay and force come from: Carcer indicates outside forces imprisoning one usually due to displeasing or misunderstood aims (fire and earth active), while Tristitia shows an internal depression dragging one down from achieving any good (only earth active).  On the other hand, Cauda Draconis indicates a lack of support and that things are ripe for ending (everything but earth active), while Tristitia represents a lack of support but with no other choice but to continue on (nothing but earth active); having opposite elemental structures, their end goals are different, but they manifest similarly.  Cauda Draconis also indicates someone actively laying a curse against a victim, while Tristitia can show being crossed or being blocked or held down by one’s own choices.  Tristita is a deeply internal figure, showing problems caused or continued by oneself even though the external world may have nothing to do with it.

In geomancy readings, Tristitia means decrease, though not necessarily loss; any amount, health, support, or concordance will be put under strain and often wane under the influence of this figure.  It’s good in matters of acquiring or owning land, agriculture, construction, or keeping things hidden, dark, obscured, secret, or underground in any sense.  Otherwise, Tristitia is pretty unfavorable in most matters, sometimes indicating demotion at work, tightness of funds, a decrease of respect or recognition, and so forth.  Tristitia in magical use is probably best suited to keeping things hidden or secret, and also to keeping things fixed or stable for a long time; inscribing Tristitia on cornerstones or on foundation stones would be very good uses, as well as using it on talismans for agricultural fortune and fecund harvests.  Used maliciously, Tristitia is excellent for inducing lethargy, depression, or malaise in victims, being an offensive and outgoing source of Saturnine energy.

De Geomanteia: Carcer (on the inside of this marble house I grow)

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, let’s talk about this figure:

Carcer

Carcer

This is the figure Carcer.  In Latin, its name means “Prison”, which is pretty common in many traditions, but also called “constriction” or “bound together”.  If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a ring, a cell, or two people facing away from each other.

First, the technical details of this figure.  It’s associated with Saturn in retrograde motion and the astrological signs of Capricorn or Pisces, depending on whom you ask; due to its Saturnine qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Binah.  It has the fire and earth lines active with air and water passive, and so given to the element of Earth.  It is an even figure with six points, relating to objective situations rather than internal or subjective events.  It is a stable and entering, showing it to be slow-moving and long-lasting where it appears.  In the body, it is associated with the knees and bones.  Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Coniunctio, the Conjunction, showing that this figure is not decisive, not transient, and not sociable or in contact with others.  Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is the same, Carcer itself, showing that this figure is the same from all points of view.  Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Coniunctio, showing that it is cyclical, pausing, and foundational.  Carcer is fairly negative as far as geomantic figures go, often indicating delay, restriction, obligation, and isolation from one’s desires.  One is often held back or restrained from contact or completing one’s works when this figure appears, even literal imprisonment; however, due to its isolation, it also indicates stability and security.  It is favorable when one wants to maintain or enforce a given situation, but generally poor otherwise.

The inner temple, the inside of a large pyramidal structure, empty and barren, the floor covered with sand.  The ancient large door, once bright and intricately engraved, has been sealed shut long ago, nobody able to open it; the sand eroded its carvings, the dust covers what color remains.  The whole chamber echoes, all softly aglow from the dust.  Light pours in through a single aperture high up on the apex of the pyramid, far out of reach for any contact or assistance.  The only thing present in the entire chamber is an old man, long ago incarcerated in this prison.  He angrily puts around his prison endlessly, forever stuck, forever sealed away, reaching down into the sand with a clenched fist and throwing it at the light in frustration and acrimony, screaming in fury.  He has much to say and much to do, having been planning for years, but has no way to enact what he wants; all he can do is think and wait, held back by the walls that enclose him.  He has no means to interact or to connect with others; he can think of things only so much, and nothing deep due to the lack of inspiration, religion, and philosophy to draw on.  He is both physically, intellectually, and emotionally starved.  All he thinks about are plans; scribbles on the walls and in the sand guide him, shifting here, erasing there, reincorporating old ideas there.  Without anyone to see him, help him, or value his plans, he can do nothing.

Jail Cell

Carcer is a tough figure to deal with, not gonna lie.  As a figure of Saturn, Capricorn, Earth, darkness, and stability, Carcer takes all that symbolism and runs with it in the most concrete way geomancy knows how.  The name itself, meaning “prison”, is again indicative of its significations: something is trapped, held back, restrained, delayed, or refrained from accomplishing or interacting with others.  Then again, this idea of resolute, impermeable structure has its upsides, too.

In the geocentric model of the universe (pretty reliable when it comes to Hermetic philosophy and cosmology in general), where the Earth is at the center of the cosmos, the rest of the planets revolve around the Earth in concentric “shells” or spheres.  Above the Earth, we have, in order, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, then the background fixed stars, and beyond that we have, essentially, the Divine Source.  Saturn is the last planet, the last distinctly formed thing, separating the manifested world from the manifesting and unmanifest world; going the other way, Saturn is the first planet where form is possible, coming from the Source of manifestation doing its job, and allowing Matter to afterward fill the outlines of Form that Saturn provides.  Saturn is about limitations, boundaries, walls, and definition, and so is a natural ruler of prisons, obligations, responsibilities, and being held to something.  It represents the guiding forces that show us “up to this point and no further”, indicating where we need to expand and by how much, and often how.

Further, by having set boundaries, one can keep one’s identity and sphere safe from the outside.  Prisons may keep what’s inside from getting out, but they also keep what’s outside from getting in.  Still, outside influences can determine the shape of those boundaries, often in the form of social obligation and restriction, which the prisoner inside must follow; this is where the astrological signs of Capricorn (indicating social responsibility and obligation to goals) and Pisces (being with others and having to fit into a given definition and role) give Carcer some of its astrological symbolism.  Either sign works, but in my experience, attributing the social pressures of Pisces and the need or obligation to fit in and follow through with others works better with the image of Carcer.

Elementally, Carcer is an Earthy figure, but is probably better described as “dry”, having both the dry elements of fire and earth active without the moist elements of air or water present.  Moisture is the quality that allows forces to mingle, flow, and actively interact with each other; Carcer has neither of these.  The natural motions, how the different elements tend to move in their pure states, don’t help the image here, either: Fire burns upward, Earth falls downward, both moving away from each other.  The elemental structure of Carcer implies a total disconnect and separation from other forces, without any sort of emotional or communicative interaction to bridge the gap between them.  One can have all the plans and specifications in the world and all the resources to execute them with, but without a method to bridge the two, one will just be drawing in the sand unable to accomplish anything.

The shape that the figure Carcer makes is a circle, which itself has some valuable information for the geomancer.  Circles are lines with no beginning and no end, completely demarcating a whole area from the rest of the world. As such, circles are often used in magic to separate, isolate, seal in, or shut out, and many conjurations or rituals make use of circles for protection of the magician or for isolation of a spirit to be summoned.  Circles can also be indicative of repetition and getting trapped in a loop, indicating delay, such as when a spirit tries to escape and gets caught in a loop ’round and ’round the circle.  Chain links and wedding rings, both circular, also keep one locked into a given situation for better or for worse.  Without any change in situation, Carcer is a stable figure, and without any change in direction or in perspective from the outside, Carcer is also liminal.

When Carcer appears in a geomancy reading, it’s going to indicate restriction and delay, no matter where it appears.  As Judge, it indicates that the status quo will be enforced, likely due to obligations or a set regulation that must be followed by multiple parties; elsewhere, it indicates stress or tension without chance for resolution, having to put up with something for the time being and dealing with any obligation or responsibility one’s been tasked with.  Being Saturnine, it can often indicate sparseness, poorness, paucity, and having precious little of something.  It’s good when things need strictness, isolation, security, or stability, but otherwise, it tends to be a pretty dour figure.  Carcer is helpful in magic when one wants to lock something down or keep things fixed in a certain situation, such as keeping one’s job when others are being given pink slips, it’s also good when wanting to induce paucity or greed in others’ lives and spheres, if not outright disconnecting them from sources of help or assistance they might otherwise rely on.

De Geomanteia: Acquisitio (I got a 15 million dollar contract coming my way)

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, let’s talk about this figure:

Acquisitio

Acquisitio

This is the figure Acquisitio.  In Latin, its name means “Gain”, which is pretty common in lots of other traditions, but can also be named as “grasping” or “incoming fortune”.  If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like a bowl collecting money or an old-style bag of money.

First, the technical details of this figure.  It’s associated with Jupiter in direct motion and the astrological signs of Sagittarius or Aries, depending on whom you ask; due to its Jovial qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Chesed.  It has the air and earth lines active with the fire and water lines passive, and is overall associated with the element of Air.  It is an even figure with six points, relating to objective situations rather than internal or subjective events.  It is a stable and entering, showing it to be slow-moving and long-lasting where it appears.  In the body, it signifies the hips, thighs, and liver.  Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Amissio, Loss, showing that this figure is all about gaining, getting, obtaining, amassing, and having things stay within reach as opposed to loss or losing things.   Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is also Amissio, showing that there is no other kind of state between loss or gain except loss or gain.  Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is itself, showing Acquisitio to be unique in how it expresses its geomantic symbolism.  Acquisitio is all about gain in every way, from getting more money to catching a cold; as a figure of Jupiter, it’s extremely favorable except in any case when one wants to lose, get rid of, or avoid something.

In my meditation on Acquisitio, I found myself walking down a cold city street swathed in grey: grey buildings, grey skies, grey windows, all very elegant but all very uniform.  All around me, people are walking in black suits and clothes, and I can’t see anyone’s face.  Out of nowhere, a hand presses a gold oblong coin into my own; though I can’t find who gave it to me, it’s the only thing with color here.  It doesn’t really affect my mood and I don’t feel attachment to it, but it does feel nice to have the wealth; it’s still just a coin, a symbol of value.  Walking past the shops, no two alike but all busy yet bleary inside, I find another coin, and then another on the sidewalk.  It’s nice, but it’s really just a distraction from all the loud non-communication non-interaction going on around me.  I spot a bit of color amidst the grey at the end of the street: a toy store or a pawn shop, with people inside smiling and laughing and interacting with each other.  I see everything that I could possibly want, and settle on some books, inks, pens, and parchment; the jolly shopkeeper, asking me playfully what took me so long to get there, readily accepts some of the coins as payment and follows me over to the table where I start drawing: plans, code, blueprints, layouts, whatever.  He looks over my results, trades me another gold coin, and wishes me good luck and a good start.  I leave; the skies are blue, and I find an empty lot on which I make my own building and storefront.  People come in steadily and pay me for services I perform for them, giving me even more of the gold coins.  Eventually, I leave, and sell the building and lot to another customer, and keep on moving.

Bleeker Street, New York

Like its inverse figure Amissio, Acquisitio is a fairly straightforward figure, implying all that its name implies.  Acquisitio, meaning “gain” or “within reach”, represents obtaining, increasing, taking, getting, receiving, and finding things.  In all cases and in every place in a geomantic reading, Acquisitio means gettin’ it.  Whether this is a good or bad thing, however, depends on whether you want to get it or not.  Generally speaking, people like augmenting, increasing, or getting stuff, so Acquisitio is solidly set in the more favorable of geomancy figures, behind Fortuna Maior and Caput Draconis, though they have their own difficulties, as well.

Acquisitio is a figure of Jupiter in direct motion, Jupiter at its strongest and most beneficial, as well as its most expansive.  Being so powerfully Jovian in nature, Acquisitio reflects these in the most concrete way possible: good luck and good earnings.   Jupiter is the Greater Benefic in astrology, being one of the most fortunate planets (at least when fortunately placed), and is often used in magic for expansion, increase, wealth, and fortune.  These qualities of Jupiter are ancient even in worship, and he was often supplicated for all the good things and benefits in life, especially those of a material nature.  Quoth the Orphic Hymn to the god of Jupiter:

Source of abundance, purifying king,
O various-formed from whom all natures spring;
Propitious hear my prayer, give blameless health,
with peace divine and necessary wealth.

Acquisitio is all about transactions and goods.  It has the focused and material elements of air and earth active, with emotional water and spiritual fire passive, and is overall associated with Air.  As such, Acquisitio is a figure that indicates a need for interacting and working with others.  While wealth can simply be found on the street or by happenstance, which is always nice, wealth and benefits are more reliably and regularly found in working with others, giving so that you can get in return.  This is how businesses turn a profit, after all; all service-providers require someone to serve, all producers require consumers, and nobody works in a vacuum or on an island.  When there’s no interaction, there can’t be any real exchange, and without exchange, material goods just sit there motionless without any use or value.  Even money is a symbol that needs to be exchanged and used in order to be useful; amassing a Scrooge McDuck-like vault of money won’t do you any good unless you actually use it.  Again, this has distinctly Jupiter connections (itself a planet associated with Air): just as grace is a gift freely given, we only find ourselves in grace when we give it to others.  Then again, keep in mind that money alone won’t buy you happiness; without water or fire in Acquisitio, it’s strictly a figure for worldly fortune and gain without any deeper help.

Still, Acquisitio isn’t always favorable.  There are lots of times in life when losing something is much more helpful, especially when one is overwhelmed.  Consider a walled garden: with the proper planning and layout, the entire garden can be covered from one side to the other, filling the entire place with rich, lush, productive, healthy plants.  However, try to plant more than that, or let the garden grow on its own uncontrollably, and it starts to cause problems like fighting over resources, luring pests or rodents in, and having things die off without the proper attention and care being paid to them.  Expansion is good but only to a certain point, after which things become too much to handle.  And even then, sometimes contraction and cutting stuff off is still helpful; when one wants to clear away the extra, trim off the fat, or make do with less, Acquisitio is not helpful.  Saturn, too, has his role to play (we’ll get to those figures next).

When Acquisitio appears in a reading, it generally indicates gain, increase, and good fortune.  It often indicates patience and prudence in character, and it signifies success when trying to find lost or missing objects, goals, and people.  It’s not great in matters of health, often indicating catching some disease or other, but unless the rest of the chart is dour, it indicates strength as well.  Needless to say, it’s favorable in the houses of ownership and finances: second for money and movable possessions, fourth for real estate, fifth for gambling and speculative ventures, sixth for pets and small livestock, eighth for inheritance, tenth for career, and twelfth for large livestock and wild animals.  When found with the Part of Fortune, expect easy access to resources, whatever you may need.  Magically, Acquisitio is awesome for wealth and financial magic, especially in money drawing or money holding rituals, as well as trying to find lost or misplaced things.  It may have the side effect of gaining weight, but then again, that’s Jupiter for you.

De Geomanteia: Laetitia (hands up and touch the sky)

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, let’s talk about this figure:

Laetitia

Laetitia

This is the figure Laetitia.  In Latin, its name means “Joy”, which is pretty common in lots of other traditions, but can also be named as “healthy”, “upward motion”, or “bearded”.  If you (quite literally) connect the dots, you might come up with a figure that looks like an arch, tower, or rainbow.

First, the technical details of this figure.  It’s associated with Jupiter in retrograde motion and the astrological signs of Pisces or Taurus, depending on whom you ask; due to its Jovial qualities, it’s also associated with the sephirah Chesed.  It has only the fire line active with all others passive, and thus is corresponded as a whole to the element of Fire.  It is an odd figure with seven points, relating more to internal states of the subjective mind than external states of objective reality.  It is a mobile and exiting figure, showing things to be dynamic, fast-moving, and fleeting in influence.  In the body, it signifies the feet and fat of the body. Its inverse figure (everything this figure is not on an external level) is Caput Draconis, the Dragon’s Head, showing that this figure is not lasting, not prepared, not focused on the physical.  Its reverse figure (the same qualities of this figure taken to its opposite, internal extreme) is Tristitia, Sorrow, showing that this figure is not sorrowful, not stuck, not self-limiting.  Its converse figure (the same qualities of this figure expressed in a similar manner) is Cauda Draconis, the Dragon’s Tail, showing that it is similarly fast-moving, intent-driven, and has the capacity for change in radically new directions.  Laetitia, true to its name, represents joy, happiness, and elation in all its forms.  It’s an emotional state, and a fleeting one at that, but it’s readily apparent for all to see and quite uplifting and contagious to everyone involved.  It represents upward motion (lifted spirits, promotions, looking upwards), and so isn’t great for keeping secrets, keeping things tied down, or making things stable; otherwise, it’s fortunate and cheerful, though fast-moving.

A band of settlers, weary from the long roads and tired of being alone and separated from their town of origin, finally find a new place to settle down.  At first blush, the land is clear and clean, with easy access to green grass, nearby forests, and local streams, and so they at long last decide to hitch their wagons down and claim the land as their own.  They immediately start celebrating, most of the settlers focused on ending their journey, looking forward to their new-yet-unplanned home, and celebrating.  With the exception of a handful of elders and engineers, the whole group is more focused on having fun and relaxing rather than being productive or actually setting stuff up for later.  Children run around playing, freer than they have been in months; the adults start tapping the best of their ales and roasting their fattest hogs to celebrate the choosing of the site for their new town.  Nothing is built yet, but that doesn’t matter: things are good, and they’re going to enjoy that goodness for today with lots of partying, drinking, looking forward, and joy.

Yi peng sky lantern festival

Much like Amissio, whose name (Loss) describes the figure pretty well, Laetitia’s name of “Joy” is pretty straightforward.  It’s about happiness, it’s about joy, it’s about having fun, it’s about looking up and keeping your chin up.  It represents the emotion of happiness in every way, from passing and ephemeral giddiness to the deepest states of spiritual enlightenment.  In any context, it represents good times, though not necessarily long-lasting ones.  It’s definitely one of the more favorable figures of geomancy, and it’s not hard to see why: everyone likes happiness and people who are happy, who make them happy themselves.  It’s pretty simple when it comes to that.

Laetitia has only the fire line active, with all other forces in the figure passive.  As a result, Laetitia is associated with the element of Fire, indicating the drive, the will, and the mind to actually do something.  It’s been said that happiness isn’t found as the goal or result of an action, but found in the process of doing something; when we start to work our wills on the cosmos, we start doing what’s right for us, which has one effect of making us happy.  Will is the force associated with the element of Fire, and reflects that Laetitia is an expression of happiness through action, actually doing stuff in the world.  However, as a mobile and exiting figure, Laetitia’s effects are not long-lasting at all, which also tie in well with its fiery nature.  Events and actions are processes that last for only moments at a time, changing their state from moment to instantaneous moment, and without anything actually produced to cement that action in the material world, without any other party involved to work with to continue the action, and without any emotional involvement to contextualize and understand it, the passing elation and activity of Laetitia will remain for only a short while and burn up in itself.  After all, fire needs some kind of fuel to burn in order to keep going.

Despite its fiery nature, Laetitia is also assigned to the beneficent Jupiter and Pisces astrologically, which are more airy and watery than Laetitia would imply.  Pisces, to me, speaks of nebulousness and mistiness, able to accept and reflect while clouding and uplifting.  Pisces, being the final sign in the zodiac, leads one to wander out of one cycle and into the next, being a figure of transition and change that is neither ending nor beginning; it’s a figure of the imagination, being associated with the traveling feet of the body, as well as of illusion, being too caught up in its own dreaminess and clouds.  However, it’s this lack of clarity and ability to dream, and thus to plan and will things into existence, that gives one an ability to feel joy and optimism.  People often find happiness in the what-ifs and plans just being made, though enacting these plans might be difficult later on when the harsh realities of the world come into play.  However, the luck and grace of Jupiter, though turned retrograde and nocturnal for Laetitia, help keep spirits and minds buoyant at the world, come what may.

Laetitia is a pretty awesome figure, though its benefit is limited.  The shape of Laetitia resembles an upwards-pointing arrow, often like a tower or an arch, and from this derives its secondary meaning of “uplifting” or “upwards motion”.   Whether it’s a promotion (going up at work), better health (lifted vitality), or just general happiness (high spirits), Laetitia signifies going up.  It signifies any high place, especially any well-lit or cheerful place, often in view of all people due to its raised stature.  Because of that, Laetitia is not good when one wants to keep things hidden or secret, since something is in the view of everyone, and because gossip spreads like wildfire.  Due to its fiery and flighty nature, Laetitia isn’t good for long-term involvement or stability, especially anything that involves actual hard work and sorting out details.  Magically, Laetitia helps increase or improve the mood or general good feeling of anything, and can help with giving someone hope or opportunity, but also to uncover secrets and keep things active enough to keep moving.

De Geomanteia: Geomantically Calculating Time (so slowly for those who wait)

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 geomantic methods of calculating time and when a queried event will happen.

Just like last time, this is gonna be another doozy of a post, so you might want to grab something to sip and something to munch.  Ready?  Good!

All arts of divination exist to do one thing: answer questions.  In theory, they can answer any kind of question, and any method divination can answer any other question that any other method of divination can.  However, a comparison of divination methods with computer programming languages can be helpful: any programming language that is Turing-complete can program anything that any other Turing-complete programming language can (long story short).  However, as any programmer will know, there are huge differences between any given pair of languages: C, LISP, FORTRAN, ML, Ada, Brainfuck, Malebolge, and even lambda calculus are all Turing-complete languages, and any one can theoretically program the same thing, but the methods they represent the program, its data, and its output can differ radically.  Just so do divination methods differ: while any method of divination can answer the same question, the method of doing so and the type of answer received may differ.  Geomancy, as a divination system, can answer anything that horary astrology, Tarot, runes, or the like can answer; however, the methods it uses will not be the same, and the method of asking can be different in order to get a comparatively-the-same answer.

Built on binary mathematics, geomancy is well-suited to answering binary queries, especially those of the “will event X happen given condition set Y?” variety.  Instead of asking “when will event X happen?”, geomancy is often better suited to asking “will event X happen by date Y?” or “will event X happen within timeframe Z?”, which are both binary questions that give a yes-or-no answer.  In that case, one just has to rephrase a “when” query into a “will” query with an appropriate time condition, and look at the normal methods of perfection and determining a yes-or-no answer.  This can be done multiple times to whittle down and refine the timeframe inspected: if we know something won’t happen until time period A but will happen by time period B, we can set a midpoint between A and B and see whether it’ll happen before or after then.  This is by far my most preferred method of answering time questions, and the one I find to be the most reliable and direct.  However, this can only really work when the querent is willing to guess at the timeframe or time boundary, which they may not always be willing or able to do.

When the querent insists on asking a geomancer a “when” query, all hope is not lost; there have been many methods of finding out how soon or how far off an event will happen or has happened using geomancy.  One old method of calculating time is by assigning general timeframes to the figures.  When one is asked a “when” query, check out the significator of the quesited.  The figure there determines the rough span of time it’ll take for it to occur:

  • Hours: Coniunctio
  • Days: Amissio
  • Weeks: Cauda Draconis
  • Months: Puella, Fortuna Minor, Populus, Via, Puer, Rubeus
  • Years: Fortuna Maior, Acquisitio, Tristitia, Carcer, Laetitia, Albus, Caput Draconis

Probably the most common method of calculating time is to assign a set of numbers to the figures, much as any other correspondence or association they’d have.  Assuming one has a specific unit of time in mind (e.g. hours, days, weeks, months, years), look at the figure in the house of the quesited for a “when” chart.  If the figure and chart is favorable to the querent (a favorable Judge, aspects figures make to the significators, the chart perfects or denies according to the querent’s wishes, etc.), use the more favorable number; if unfavorable, use the more unfavorable number.  For instance, if the querent wants something to happen quickly, but the quesited’s significator is unfavorable to the querent and the situation, use the larger number.

Figure Greater Number Lesser Number
Populus 7 5
Via 5 2
Albus 12 5
Coniunctio 10 4
Puella 82 6
Amissio 6 6
Fortuna Maior 66 56
Fortuna Minor 41 1
Puer 120 79
Rubeus 19 9
Acquisitio 79 13
Laetitia 25 11
Tristitia 58 30
Carcer 43 30
Caput Draconis 11 3
Cauda Draconis 8 2

A note on perfection here: the last post on technique stated that perfection is not a factor in favorability, which is true, but only in terms of “yes/no” or “will/won’t happen” types of queries.  “When” queries are distinct from that, when perfection itself doesn’t answer the query (“when” can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”), but is instead treated as another favorable or unfavorable influence in the chart, according to the querent’s wishes.  For instance, if the querent doesn’t want something to happen, but the chart perfects (implying that it will), then this is considered an unfavorable influence, even if the figures themselves are favorable, and especially if the figures themselves are unfavorable.

A similar method to the above comes from the English occultist Robert Fludd, who uses three sets of numbers to determine lifespans or other similarly long timeframes.  In this case, it goes more by planet, with Caput Draconis taking on the values for Venus or Jupiter and Cauda Draconis taking on the values for Mars and Saturn.  When looking at someone’s life chart, or for the longevity of something for a certain unit of time (normally years, but can be used for days, weeks, etc.), look at the house representing the thing asked about (the first house for someone’s lifespan, or another house for another kind of long-term timeframe):

  • If the house of the significator is cardinal (houses one, four, seven, or ten) and doesn’t pass elsewhere, or if the significator passes to a cardinal house, use the maximum number.
  • If the house of the significator is succedent (houses two, five, eight, or eleven) and doesn’t pass elsewhere, or if the significator passes to a succedent house, use the medium number.
  • If the house of the significator is cadent (houses three, six, nine, or twelve) and doesn’t pass elsewhere, or if the significator passes to a cadent house, use the minimum number.

Fludd occasionally gave two numbers for a given value, and no method to choose between them, so one might do well to average them or use them both as equally good estimates.

Figure Maximum
Number
Medium
Number
Mininum
Number
Populus 108 or 101  76½ 25
Via 36 25 8
Albus
Coniunctio
 68 30 8
Puella
Amissio
82 45 8
Fortuna Maior
Fortuna Minor
120 69 9
Puer
Rubeus
 60 40½ 15
Acquisitio
Laetitia
 75 or 59 55 or 45½ about 12
Tristitia
Carcer
57 43 30
Caput Draconis see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
Cauda Draconis see the hours of
Mars and Saturn
see the hours of
Mars and Saturn
see the hours of
Mars and Saturn

The use of figuring out whether a figure passes to a cardinal, succedent, or cadent house is also applicable to the other two methods above by splitting the individual timeframes into thirds.  If the figure passes to a cardinal house or is naturally found in a cardinal house without passing, it’s in the first third of the timeframe; if succedent, the second third; if cadent, the last third.  Alternatively, it could represent something happening extraordinarily fast if cardinal, middling or on schedule if succedent, or slow or delayed if cadent.

The issue with the above numerical methods is that I can’t find any basis for assigning the figures the numbers they have.  They’re certainly not found in the old texts, and I can only start to find them in the late Renaissance period onward; though the planets in astrology have some numerical attributions similar to this, I haven’t had much experience working with them.  Fludd and other geomancers may have found them out through sheer experimentation and noting down things in their experiments and readings, but I can’t find any rhyme or reason why the figures have these numerical associations and not others (like, say, numbers based on their binary structure).  Moreover, the numbers they have are limited to denote extremely large periods of time. and though that can be tweaked slightly to allow more flexibility (more on that later), they’re still drastically limited.  To that end, I don’t like using these numerical methods of finding out when questions, and though I’ve heard of other geomancers getting decent results with them, I haven’t had much luck getting them to work in my own practice.

Instead, when doing “when” queries, I prefer to use the tried-and-true astrological associations of the figures to figure out times of events.  Like the method above, the querent should select a different “unit” of time, such as a zodiac sign, weekday, or planetary hour.  By asking “in what zodiac sign/weekday/moon sign/planetary hour will event X happen?” the geomancer would inspect the house of the quesited and give an answer based on the astrological associations of that figure.  Since there are two figures for every planet, each with a direct/retrograde or increasing/decreasing association, we can fine-tune the planetary hour association with each figure’s planet by assigning it to a diurnal hour or nocturnal hour of the day.  Keep in mind that there are two major zodiacal attribution systems to the geomantic figures, one given by Cornelius Agrippa and one given by Gerard of Cremona.  I prefer the latter, but so long as you stick to one system, you’re good to go.

Figure Planetary Hour Weekday Zodiac Sign
(Agrippa)
Zodiac Sign
(Gerard of Cremona)
Populus Moon
(daytime)
Monday Cancer Capricorn
Via Moon
(nighttime)
Monday Cancer Leo
Albus Mercury
(daytime)
Wednesday Gemini Cancer
Coniunctio Mercury
(nighttime)
Wednesday Virgo Virgo
Puella Venus
(daytime)
Friday Libra Libra
Amissio Venus
(nighttime)
Friday Taurus Scorpio
Fortuna Maior Sun
(daytime)
Sunday Leo Aquarius
Fortuna Minor Sun
(nighttime)
Sunday Leo Taurus
Puer Mars
(daytime)
Tuesday Aries Gemini
Rubeus Mars
(nighttime)
Tuesday Scorpio Gemini
Acquisitio Jupiter
(daytime)
Thursday Sagittarius Aries
Laetitia Jupiter
(nighttime)
Thursday Pisces Taurus
Tristitia Saturn
(daytime)
Saturday Aquarius Scorpio
Carcer Saturn
(nighttime)
Saturday Capricorn Pisces
Caput Draconis North Lunar Node
(Venus and Jupiter)
Friday or
Thursday
Virgo Virgo
Cauda Draconis South Lunar Node
(Mars and Saturn)
Tuesday or
Saturday
Sagittarius Sagittarius

Speaking of planetary hours, there exists a derivative of them specifically for geomantic figures, the geomantic hours.  As far as I can tell, this was a fairly late innovation in geomancy, and the only Renaissance literature I can find this in is John Heydon’s “Theomagia”, though it’s been said that it can be found in at least one other geomantic work of the time.  Generally, one assigns each planetary hour to a figure that planet is associated with, with the Dragon’s Head and Tail being thrown in here and there, but either it uses a very obscure method to assign which figures to which hours that I can’t discern, or it actually is as haphazard as it looks.  It’s helpful as a geomancy-specific refinement, though I prefer the simpler and more regular planetary hours that work just as well for me.

Hour Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1  Fortuna
Maior
Via Rubeus  Albus Laetitia Puella Tristitia
2  Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Minor
 Populus  Puer  Coniunctio  Acquisitio
3  Albus  Laetitia  Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Minor
 Via  Rubeus
4  Populus  Puer  Albus  Laetitia  Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
5  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Via  Puer  Albus  Laetitia  Puella
6  Acquisitio  Amissio  Cauda
Draconis
 Fortuna
Maior
 Populus  Puer  Coniunctio
7  Rubeus  Albus  Acquisitio Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Minor
 Via
8  Fortuna
Minor
 Populus  Puer  Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Amissio  Carcer
9  Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Maior
 Via  Rubeus  Albus  Laetitia
10  Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Populus  Puer
11  Via  Rubeus  Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Puella  Tristitia  Cauda
Draconis
12  Tristitia  Fortuna
Minor
 Populus  Rubeus  Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Amissio
13  Laetitia  Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Minor
Via Rubeus Albus
14  Puer  Albus  Laetitia  Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Via
15  Fortuna
Maior
 Via  Rubeus  Albus  Laetitia  Puella  Tristitia
16  Amissio  Cauda
Draconis
 Fortuna
Maior
 Populus  Puer  Coniunctio  Acquisitio
17  Albus  Laetitia  Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Minor
 Via  Rubeus
18  Populus  Puer  Albus  Acquisitio  Amissio  Carcer  Caput
Draconis
19  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Via  Rubeus  Albus  Laetitia  Puella
20  Acquisitio  Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Populus  Puer  Coniunctio
21  Rubeus  Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Puella  Tristitia  Fortuna
Maior
 Populus
22  Fortuna
Minor
 Populus  Cauda
Draconis
 Coniunctio  Acquisitio  Amissio  Carcer
23  Puella  Carcer  Fortuna
Minor
 Via  Rubeus  Albus  Laetitia
24  Coniunctio  Caput
Draconis
 Amissio  Carcer  Fortuna
Maior
 Populus  Puer

Another method of finding out when something will happen within a day’s time is to use the zodiacal attributions of the figures and look at the figure in the first house, the house of the ascendant.  One can use this method to determine the sign on the ascendant  of when the event will actually come to pass.  Again, be sure to pick one system of zodiac attributions and stick to it.

To recap, there are a number of ways to determine when something can happen using geomancy.  Say a querent wants to know when she and her fiancée will marry (a query for the seventh house).  Lots of methods abound:

  1. Rephrase the “when” query into a binary query.  The querent might ask instead “Will I and my fiancée be married within the next year?” or “Will I and my fiancée be married by the end of 2016?”.  Follow the rules of perfection, favorability, and the like as normal to get a yes-or-no answer; repeat until satisfied, refining the timeframe or time boundary as desired.  If we use the latter question, and the chart perfects between the first and seventh houses, we can say that the two of them will be married by the end of 2016.
  2. Use the lesser or greater number of the figure with a unit of time, depending on how favorable the chart is to the querent.  The chart perfects (a favorable sign) with a favorable court and the figure Laetitia appears in the seventh house.  Since she’d like to marry her partner sooner rather than later, look at the lesser number of the figure; in this case, assuming the querent phrased the query in terms of months, we might say that they’ll be married in 11 months’ time.
  3. Use the maximum, medium, or minimum number of the figure with a unit of time, depending on whether the figure is found in or passes to a certain kind of house.  Use the maximum number if the significator passes to a cardinal house or is naturally in a cardinal house without passing, the medium number if succedent, and the minimum number if cadent.  The figure in the seventh house, Laetitia, passes to the ninth house, which is cadent.  Assuming the querent phrased the query in terms of months, we might say that they’ll be married in about 12 months’ time.
  4. Use the astrological correspondences of the figure to determine the planetary events going on (Sun sign, Moon sign, ascendant, planetary/geomantic hour, etc.).  We might have to draw several charts to figure this out, perhaps in conjunction with the binary query conversion method above.  The figure in the seventh house, Laetitia, is associated with Pisces or Taurus, either late winter or mid-spring (I’d go with the late-spring, since I prefer Gerard of Cremona’s attributions, but your mileage may vary).  The first house contains the figure Via, which is associated with either Cancer or Leo (I’d go with Leo), so we can say that the sign on the ascendant will be one of those, leading to an answer of about midday (when Leo would be rising, implying Taurus would be near the midheaven, middayish).

However, there’s one caveat I need to let you know, dear reader: before every “when” query, do a preliminary query asking whether or not the event or situation asked about will happen at all.  It doesn’t make sense to do a reading for a “when” query if the thing asked about won’t actually happen, and most of the above methods of answering “when” queries don’t take that into account!  All the work you do to get the most exact timing possible might be for naught if you neglect to figure out whether or not something is feasible, possible, or liable to happen.  A lot of querents and clients ask about when something is going to happen, taking that it’ll happen for granted; geomancers and diviners of all kinds would do well to examine all assumptions lying in such queries first before answering the query itself.  So, should a querent ask whether or not they’ll marry their partner in a year’s time, first do a reading to figure out whether they’ll get married at all; answer the “when” query if and only if the chart affirms the “will” query.

There’s one last trick about determining time can be used for all charts, regardless of the type of query asked.  This first comes from Pietro d’Abano’s work on geomancy, and involves the “sum of the chart”, the total number of points found in the sixteen figures of the shield chart (four Mothers, four Daughters, four Nieces, four Court figures).  If you take the number of points from the sixteen standard geomantic figures, you end up with a total of 96 points; by comparing the number of points found in a shield chart to this standard number, we can determine whether or not something will happen faster or slower than expected, than it usually does, or as it’s planned to occur.

  • If the sum is less than 96, the situation will resolve faster than expected: things will complete ahead of schedule or will already be done when asked, etc.
  • If the sum is more than 96, the situation will resolve slower than expected: things will be delayed, pushed back, forgotten about, or never done at all, etc.
  • If the sum is exactly 96, then things will happen on schedule, as expected, in due time, etc.
  • The magnitude of the difference determines the magnitude of the speed or slowness.

For instance, if the sum of a chart resolves to 95, which is only a little less than 96, we can say that things will be proceed about as fast as they would normally, if not a little faster.  If it’s closer to 118, we might say that things will go extremely slow, and things might need doing, redoing, or reminding to do them in order to get anywhere at all.  One time, a querent had asked me whether or not her family would find her lost cat; I got strong indications that they would, with the sum of the chart being in the mid-80s (about the minimum a chart sum can get).  Unbeknownst to her, her family had already found their cat, but hadn’t had the time to tell her just yet.  In this case, the low chart sum and strong answer indicated that the matter had already been resolved!

In addition to using this technique on its own, it can also be used to fine-tune the results given from the methods above that rely on numerical attributions of the figures.  In this case, divide the sum of the chart by 96 to get a ratio, and multiply it by the number obtained from one of the methods above.  Say a person does a query and wants to know how many weeks it’ll be before they start dating someone they really like, and we get Acquisitio in the seventh house (house of relationships and romance).  The chart is overall favorable to the querent, so we look at the smaller number of Acquisitio (say the person’s been single for a while and really wants a relationship badly).  Acquisitio’s lesser number is 13.  The sum of the chart is 104; 104 divided by 96 is 1.083, and 1.083 multipled by 13 is 14.083.  So, we can say that they’ll start dating in a little over 14 weeks from the reading.