How to Construct the Shield Chart of Geomancy

Over the ten years I’ve been maintaining The Digital Ambler, I’ve written no small amount about geomancy on my blog, whether it’s about the symbols, the techniques we use for it, the magic one can do with it, the spirituality lying latent within it, or the approach of divination that one should take with the art. In fact, I started keeping up with a hand-curated index of my geomancy posts, loosely organized by topic, up underneath the About menu of my website, just for ease of reference (both for myself and others). But, of all the things I’ve written about, one thing seems to have been glossed over: how to make the Shield Chart. It’s probably bizarre to some that this is the one thing I haven’t written about, probably the first fundamental practice of geomancy (and, indeed, all geomantic practices) following how to generate the geomantic figures themselves for divination. It wasn’t always so, though; once upon a time, I had a separate page that went over specifically how to construct the Shield Chart, but I took it down years ago as part of my website redesign since I felt it was such boring, introductory-level material that you could find in every book on geomancy and online pretty much on any website that discussed it. But, it would seem, that information is sorely missed by some, and some people would rather stick to this website than go to others when it comes to geomancy (a notion which I can’t say I’m not pleased about!).

So, with that, let’s talk about the Shield Chart.

As I mentioned in my last post about how to allocate the figures from the Shield Chart to the House Chart, historically speaking, there’s really only one way to put the figures into the House Chart from the Shield Chart: the traditional method, where each of the first twelve figures in the Shield Chart is given to the twelve houses of the House Chart in the usual order of their creation. This is because, traditionally speaking both in European and Arabic geomancy, there was no distinction between the House Chart and the Shield Chart: the two charts are the same chart with the same information with the same figures in the same order, so the only benefit one gets out of the House Chart is to make it easier on the eyes for those used to horoscope charts in astrology as well as to make certain techniques used in geomancy easier to apply at a glance. But, fundamentally, there’s really only one chart in geomancy, and if one is comfortable looking at the Shield Chart, no House Chart need be drawn up separately. More than that, however, and unlike the debacle with different House Chart allotment methods, there’s only one way to draw up the Shield Chart common to all of geomancy regardless of individual practice or school.

Geomancers started calling it the Shield Chart relatively late in geomancy’s history in Europe—I can’t recall any reference to “Shield” versus “House” in any pre-modern text—because the whole thing is sometimes seen to look somewhat like a standard heater shield common in Europe, like how Robert Fludd is fond of doing:

However, not all geomancers depicted it like this; some simply depicted it like a series of recursive rectangles, like how Christopher Cattan does:

Arabic geomancers keep the same overall arrangement, but don’t usually contain the figures in the chart within an overall boundary, rather using a few lines to divide the left side from the right side. With the nature of the Arabic script, they’ll often start off the long vertical line as an offshoot of the word علم `ilm, meaning “science” (as in علم الرمل `ilm ar-raml “science of the sand”, i.e. geomancy). I’ve also seen used for this flourish the letter ص ṣād, the phrase هو العليم الخبير hū al-`alīm al-khabīr “He is the All-Knowing, the Great” or “He is the Greatest of Knowers” with the line connected to the last letter of al-`Alīm, or يا عليم الخبير yā `alīm al-khabīr “o greatest knower!”, with the line connected to `alim likewise. That’s if such a flourish is used at all (most do, some don’t), or if lines like this are used at all to mark off the chart (which is rare to see, at least in printed works).

I suppose a Western approach to the flourish would be to use the Greek word gnōsis, either spelling it uppercase (ΓΝΩΣΙΣ) and using the vertical line of the initial uppercase gamma to start the vertical line, or to spell it lowercase (γνοσις) and use the tail of the final sigma instead. I’m sure other similar words could be used instead, but this is still just an innovative flourish one could do for style’s sake, and one that I’ve never seen in any extant European text on geomancy.

Finally, the way I personally draw out the Shield Chart, I just don’t even bother with any little demarcations. Although less common in printed texts, this more casual manner is common for geomancers the world over who don’t need little boxes to put figures in.

Astute readers will note that the first two charts given above (from Fludd and Cattan) only have fifteen figures in the chart, while the Arabic ones and my own have sixteen. We’ll get to that in a moment, as the difference is just a matter of choice, but suffice it to say here that, despite apparent graphical differences and flourishes, the fundamental form, structure, and arrangement of figures of the Shield Chart is the same across time periods and cultures.

To be absolutely clear on this point, the Shield Chart is the backbone of geomantic divination, the abstract framework within which we apply all geomantic techniques; although material tools help us develop the first four figures we plug into the Shield Chart, the Shield Chart is what allows us to come up with the whole “spread”, as it were, of geomancy by applying particular mathematical operations on the four figures that we first plug in. The Shield Chart contains sixteen positions—I like calling them “fields”—for the figures, broken down into groups of four:

  • The four Mothers, the original figures produced by an outside process as the seed for the whole Shield Chart
  • The four Daughters, generated by transposition from the Mothers
  • The four Nieces, generated by addition from pairs of the Mothers or Daughters
  • The four figures of the Court
    • The Right and Left Witnesses, generated by addition from pairs of the Nieces
    • The Judge, generated by addition from the Witnesses
    • The Sentence (sometimes called the Reconciler, Superjudge, the Result of the Result, or the Sixteenth Figure), generated by addition from the Judge and the First Mother

Only the figures of the Court have special names for them (Right Witness, Left Witness, Judge, or Sentence); the other groups of figures are simply named according to their number (e.g. First Mother, Second Daughter, Third Niece, etc.). Some Shield Charts present all sixteen figures, but some (especially European ones) only have fifteen, hiding/excluding the Sentence. Where this figure is placed is up to the geomancer, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The Sentence is as much a figure as the rest of the Shield Chart, and even if it’s not explicitly shown, it should still be counted as part of the Shield Chart.

The structure of the Shield Chart is this: sixteen fields arranged in four rows, with the topmost row having eight fields, the second row having four, the third row having two, and the last row having one. The topmost row, containing eight fields, is separated out into four Mother fields and four Daughter fields (traditionally reckoned from right to left, given the Arabic origins of this art), with the Mothers on the right-hand side of the chart and the Daughters on the left-hand side. The second row is broken down into four Niece fields (again reckoned from right to left); the third row into two fields for the Right Witness and the Left Witness; and the bottom row having one field for the Judge. As noted earlier, the Sentence may or may not be shown; my own preference is to show it off to the right side of the Judge directly underneath the First Mother. Most Arabic geomancers I’ve seen, who show two figures at the bottom of the chart in the same little “divet” marked in half, will put the Judge as the left-hand figure and the Sentence as the right-hand figure, but others will either draw the Sentence off below the Judge somehow somewhere; only a minority of Arabic geomancers, as far as I’ve seen, will leave off the Sentence entirely.

Using a simple rectangular layout (like Cattan) and showing the Sentence off to the side of the Judge in the same row (which is my own practice), the Shield Chart is arranged like this at an abstract level:

Knowing these fields of the Shield Chart and what figures go where, we can now begin the process of filling in the Shield Chart.

First up, the Mothers. These are the only four figures one generates through a random (though inspired) process through some manner of manipulation of tools or numbers. Traditionally, one would draw out a random number of points in sixteen lines and cross them off two-by-two until either one or two points are left in a row, then read the remaining points one didn’t cross off downward in groups of four, but there are many other ways geomancers have used to come up with figures, any of which are good to use for this process (though I strongly urge the stick-and-surface method for beginners to the art, at least until one becomes proficient in the method). Once these four figures are generated, they’re put in order into the four Mother fields in the upper right hand part of the chart from right to left.

So, let’s say we got out our stick and surface, and through the process of generating figures that way, we produced the four figures Populus, Populus, Puella, and Via, in that order. We put those four figures in that order into the four Mother fields in the Shield Chart, from right to left in the uppermost row of the chart:

Note that each of the four Mothers are generated randomly and independently of each other, so it’s quite possible to have one figure appear more than once in the Mothers.  This is totally fine and to be expected; it can even happen that all four Mothers are the same figure.  Unlike other forms of divination where a particular figure can appear a maximum of once in a chart or spread, geomancy expects (and, in fact, requires) certain figures to appear multiple times in the chart, and many techniques make use of this repeating of figures to derive useful information.  This doesn’t just happen with the Mothers but, as we’ll soon see, can happen at many points throughout the chart as a result of the mathematical operations we’re about to apply on the Mothers to generate the other figures in the chart.  So, if you’re new to geomancy, don’t let this worry you!

Once the Mothers have been generated and put into the Shield Chart, we can then proceed with the four Daughters. The Daughters are generated from the four Mothers by reading the points of the figures in the Mothers row-wise from right to left across all four Mothers. Thus, the First Daughter is formed from the topmost (Fire) row of each Mother from right to left, such that the Fire row of the First Mother is the Fire Row of the First Daughter, the Fire row of the Second Mother is the Air row of the First Daughter, the Fire row of the Third Mother is the Water row of the First Daughter, and the Fire row of the Fourth Mother is the Earth row of the First Daughter. For the Second Daughter, one uses the Air rows of the Mothers; for the Third Daughter, the Water rows; for the Fourth Daughter, the Earth rows.

Another way to think of generating the Daughters is to think of this as a matrix of transposition, rotating the points 90° to read them in a different direction. Instead of seeing the points of the Mothers as four sets of four rows, think of them as being entries in a 4×4 grid. (This makes the most sense if we generated each row of points of the Mothers separately, like with the stick-and-surface method, where we put each new entry in this grid from top to bottom and from right to left, in that order). If we read the columns of this grid, we get the Mothers; if we read the rows, we get the Daughters. This should show that the Daughters aren’t necessarily “new” figures, as they’re composed of the same original points as the Mothers are, just in a different order, and why the Daughters are placed in the same overall row of the Shield Chart (being “roots” of the rest of the chart, as we’ll show in a bit).

Following either way of thinking, the figures we get for the four Daughters based on our earlier Mothers (Populus, Populus, Puella, and Via) are Fortuna Maior, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, and Fortuna Maior. Fortuna Maior is produced from reading the Fire rows of the four Mother figures from right to left (two, two, one, one), Tristitia from the Air rows (two, two, two, one), Fortuna Maior again from the Water rows (two, two, one, one), and Fortuna Maior again from the Earth rows (two, two, one, one). Once these figures are made, we put them into the four Daughter fields of our Shield Chart:

Now that we have our four Mother figures and our four Daughter figures, we then proceed to making the Nieces of the chart in the next row. As the structure of the Shield Chart suggests, each Niece figure is a combination of the two figures above it, such that the First Niece is a combination of the First and Second Mothers, the Second Niece a combination of the Third and Fourth Mothers, the Third Niece a combination of the First and Second Daughters, and the Fourth Niece a combination of the Third and Fourth Daughters. This process of combination that we use is what we call geomantic addition (some Arabic geomancers say multiplication, but the idea is the same either way).

When I say “addition”, I kinda mean it and kinda don’t: the process of adding two figures together to get a third is, in some ways, the heart of the process of developing figures from a line consisting of a random number of points as we do in the stick-and-surface method of generating figures. When we cross off the points two-by-two until either one or two points are left in the stick-and-surface method of generating figures, what we’re doing is seeing whether the total number of points in that line is odd or even; if it’s even, the resulting row in that figure will have two points, and if it’s odd, the resulting row in that figure will have one point. When we add two figures, the same logic holds: we combine the total number of points between the same respective rows between two figures, and if it’s even (whether two or four), the resulting row of the final figure will have two points, and if it’s odd (i.e. three points), the resulting row of the final figure will have one point. Thus, consider the figures Fortuna Maior and Acquisitio:

  • The Fire row of Fortuna Maior and the Fire row of Acquisitio both have two points in each. 2 + 2 = 4, so we “reduce” four by crossing off two (using the stick-and-surface method) to end up with two points in the Fire row of the resulting figure.
  • The Air row of Fortuna Maior has two points, while that of Acquisitio has one point. 2 + 1 = 3, so we “reduce” three to one by crossing off two to end up with one point in the Air row of the resulting figure.
  • The Water row of Fortuna Maior has one point, while that of Acquisitio has two points. 1 + 2= 3, so we “reduce” three to one by crossing off two to end up with one point in the Water row of the resulting figure.
  • The Earth row of Fortuna Maior and the Earth row of Acquisitio both have one point in each. 1 + 1 = 2, which we don’t need to reduce, so the Earth row of the resulting figure has two points.

Thus, if we add Fortuna Maior and Acquisitio together, we get the resulting figure of Coniunctio:

Another way to think of this process is the logical exclusive or (XOR) function. Given two inputs that can either be true (single point in geomantic terms) or false (double point), the resulting function will output true if both values are different, i.e. only one is true and the other is false; in cases where both are true or both are false, the output will be false. In geomantic terms, the resulting row of a figure produced through geomantic addition will have two points if both the corresponding rows of its parent figures are the same (both odd or both even), and will have one point if they differ (one odd and one even, or vice versa).

With geomantic addition understood, we can make the rest of the Shield Chart. As noted above, a Niece is produced by adding together the two figures immediately above it:

Continuing our example from earlier, we add together the following figures to make their corresponding Nieces:

  • First Mother + Second Mother = First Niece → Populus + Populus = Populus
  • Third Mother + Fourth Mother = Second Niece → Puella + Via = Rubeus
  • First Daughter + Second Daughter = Third Niece → Fortuna Maior + Tristitia = Albus
  • Third Daughter + Fourth Daughter = Fourth Niece → Fortuna Maior + Fortuna Maior = Populus

With the Nieces done, we continue that process of addition to come up with the first three figures of the Court. Again, the structure of the Shield Chart should be informative here: each of these three figures (the Right Witness, the Left Witness, and the Judge) are produced by adding the two figures directly above it, such that the Right Witness is formed by adding together the first two Nieces, the Left Witness by adding together the second two Nieces, and the Judge by adding together the two Witnesses.

Thus, continuing our example from earlier:

  • First Niece + Second Niece = Right Witness → Populus + Rubeus = Rubeus
  • Third Niece + Fourth Niece = Left Witness → Albus + Populus = Albus
  • Right Witness + Left Witness = Judge → Rubeus + Albus = Coniunctio

Many European geomancers tend to stop here, as there doesn’t appear to be any more positions on the Shield Chart to fill—but they forget the sixteenth figure of the Sentence. Like the Nieces, Witnesses, and Judge, this figure is also formed from addition, but this time, by adding together the Judge with the First Mother:

Although some geomancers don’t show this figure, I strongly urge every geomancer to show it in every Shield Chart, as its importance is huge (and absolutely necessary for some techniques) yet grossly undervalued, especially in modern Western texts influenced by the Golden Dawn. My preference is to place the Sentence off to the side of the Judge underneath the First Mother, as below. Here, we have Coniunctio + Populus = Coniunctio, giving us Coniunctio as the Sentence to this Shield Chart:

And with that, our Shield Chart with all its sixteen fields is complete.

At this point, although we could jump straight into interpreting the chart or start looking at the House Chart, it’s always wise to first check the validity of the chart. Given that each of the four Mother figures are generated randomly and independently of each other, that means that there are only 16 × 16 × 16 × 16 = 65536 valid charts. While this sounds like a daunting number, we should note that if every one of the 16 figures were placed independently of all the others in the Shield Chart (e.g. selection with replacement), there would technically be over 18 quintillion possible charts; if we were to select every figure randomly without replacement, we’d still have over 20 trillion charts. We’re constrained by the mathematical process of geomancy to be limited to this proper selection of only 65536 charts, so if we have a chart that’s not in that set, then what we have is a mathematical error in calculating the Daughters, Nieces, or Court figures somewhere that we need to rectify. Mathematically invalid charts are not worth investigating; it’d be like drawing up a horoscope with a planet dyslexically put in the sixth house instead of the ninth, or getting the degree and minute parts of a planetary position mixed up; it’s just a simple error that just needs to be fixed, not interpreted as some mystical omen of terrible import. Read this post here to learn more about mathematically validating the chart, but there are three basic criteria we use to judge whether a given chart is a valid one:

  1. The Judge must have an even number of points.
  2. The sixteen figures in the Shield Chart must have at least one figure that is present at least twice in the chart.
  3. Particular pairs of the figures in the Shield Chart must all add up to the same figure:
    1. First Niece + Judge
    2. Second Mother + Sentence
    3. Second Niece + Left Witness

If any of those three conditions do not hold, the chart is invalid and needs to be inspected and corrected for errors.

I should note at this point that, although the right-to-left format of the Shield Chart is overwhelmingly the most common choice, there are a (very) few European geomancers out there (tragically, Franz Hartmann among them) who use a left-to-right method, both in generating figures using the stick-and-surface method as well as in constructing the Shield Chart. This isn’t necessarily wrong, per se, but the convention and tradition is to do everything from right to left because of the right-to-left nature of the original Arabic practices and of the right-to-left nature of the Arabic (and other Semitic) languages. If you use the left-to-right method, you’ll likely need to clarify that before sharing your charts with others; if you come across a book that uses the left-to-right method, you’ll want to bear that in mind and flip the meanings of the Right and Left Witnesses as well as remember the new order of how things get added together and where things get put. It’ll be apparent that something is wrong, because trying to read a left-to-right chart using a right-to-left approach will usually screw something up in the relationship between what would appear to be the Mothers and Daughters because the apparent transposition won’t look right.

Once we have a Shield Chart and have checked that it’s a mathematically valid one, then we can proceed with interpretation of the chart: the Ways of the Point, triads, the Sum of the Chart, and so on and so forth. But I’ve already touched on those topics elsewhere, so you know where to take a look from here. Beyond that, I hope this resolves any questions about the Shield Chart, and can give those who are just starting in this art a good understanding of the foundation of geomantic divination, upon which all other techniques and interpretative methods are built!

Upcoming appearance on the Coffee & Divination podcast!

Just a quick little thing: there’s a new podcast being started up soon, and yours truly is the guest on the inaugural episode!  I bring you the Coffee & Divination podcast:

Coffee & Divination started three summers ago, during North Wyldewood Coven’s annual retreat. As we relaxed in the sunshine with our coffee and tea, we brought our cards and runes out to the table, and started reading for one another.  As time passed, we’ve kept up the tradition in person and online, and now we’re inviting you to join us!

Divination is the art of obtaining knowledge through hidden means, and has been a part of civilizations around the world – likely for tens of thousands of years.  Divination can help us understand situations, answer questions (mundane or spiritual!) and give us insight on the threads that weave our lives together. While our world undergoes this time of upheaval, studying and practicing the arts of divination can help us navigate and plan for the roads ahead.

Each month, host JoAnna Farrer (Assistant HPS of the North Wyldewood Coven, in the Temple of the Spiral Path) will interview a different expert on divination, ranging from Geomancy, Tarot, Astrology, Oracles, Runes, and more, and we want you to be a part of the show! All podcast interviews will take place LIVE on Zoom, so you can listen in, and submit questions for our guest experts.​

I’ll be invited to talk about geomancy specifically and divination in a world that’s a bit crazier than many of us might be used to, so keep an eye out!  The podcast will be held live (in a webinar-type format) at 6pm EDT (UTC-0400) this Saturday, April 25 on Zoom, which you’ll need to register for in order to listen live, submit questions, and join the chat.  Note that attendance is limited, so please only register is you actually plan and are able to join.  Here’s hoping to see you there, and here’s hoping you subscribe to Coffee & Divination for more podcasts on divination over coffee!

UPDATE (2020-05-16): Sorry I let this slide so long! The episode is up and can be accessed here on Vimeo! Also be sure to visit the podcast’s website above and subscribe to them using whatever podcast organizer you enjoy most!

Updates to Divination Services (also, happy 10th birthday to me!)

So, first things first: happy birthday to the Digital Ambler!  As of today, the Digital Ambler is 10 years old!  This has been a wild ride, and I honestly had no idea that this is where I’d turn up, though it’s undoubtedly better than anything I could have imagined on that winter day back during my last semester of college when I started this blog as a tributary writing project for XaTuring.  From delving deep into classical Hermetic stuff to exploring the expanse of geomancy, from researching Greco-Egyptian magic to refining any number of other magical and spiritual approaches to making our lives better, I’m thrilled to have gotten this far, and I’m even more thrilled you all have stuck around for it.  Thank you, my amazing and lovely readers, for ambling along this path with me; let’s see where our path continues to take us.

UPDATE (2020-02-10): It turns out that this is my 777th post, and I’m upset I didn’t catch that when I made it.  I would’ve made something fancier had I been more aware, but of well.  Ten years and 777 posts between them; not a bad stretch!

Anyway, now that I’ve finally caught up on sleep from the gauntlet of divination readings from last month, I’ve been reconsidering how I want to continue offer divination services, and I’ve been rethinking my services and how I want to go about them.  I’m still offering them, no worries there, but I figured it’s time to get rid of the services that I don’t use and add the ones I’ve been using more as of late.  To that end, I just wanted to put out a quick update about the divination services I provide, both here on my website’s Services page as well as on my Etsy and my Ko-fi:

I’ve added a new divination service, “Domino Reading”.  This is a form of divination I’ve been experimenting with for some time since last year, and started doing readings for others through my Ko-fi as a test for client work.  I’m happy to say that I (and my clients) have been extremely pleased with the results, and I’m happy to make it a more formal thing.  The price for a domino reading is US$21 per reading, a three-bone reading that will address the situation, what to expect, what to accept, and how to conduct yourself through actionable advice both mundane and spiritual.

For reasons that will soon become clear, I’ve renamed the “Full Geomancy Reading” to just “Geomancy Reading”.  It was just the name that was changed, with the rate being the same (US$44 per reading).

I’ve taken down the “Horary Geomancy Reading” service entirely.  This was a rarely-used service, and there honestly wasn’t much need to have this up.  This style of reading is mostly an extension of the usual geomantic method by overlaying a horary astrological chart on top of a normal geomantic chart, per the method given by Priscilla Schwei and Ralph Pestka’s The Complete Book of Astrological Geomancy.  While a fun technique, it’s a lot of extra work for not a lot of extra gain, and I’ve generally encouraged people to go with the usual geomantic style of divination anyway, so I didn’t see much of a point in keeping this up.  Besides, the geomantic methods I use are already so encompassing that throwing in a halfway-horary chart doesn’t add much further detail.

I’ve also taken down the “Mini-Divination” service entirely.  Like with the “Horary Geomancy Reading” service, it was rarely-used, and, to be completely honest, that’s probably for the best.  This was a sort of mixed dice reading, using polyhedral dice (much as one would use for tabletop RPGs a la Dungeons & Dragons) to combine grammatomancy (Greek letter divination) with a short form of geomancy.  It’s a nifty technique, and while it was useful for a nudge in the right direction, that’s all it was really good for, either as follow-ups to earlier divinations for clarity or for a quick pointer in the right direction.  In the future, I may bring something like this back as a proper grammatomancy reading, but I haven’t yet decided.  While I adore the use of grammatomancy, between geomancy and dominoes, there are just better systems to use for almost all cases in general.  For now, I’ll keep grammatomancy with astragalomancy as part of a more devotional approach to Hellenic works; if this interests you, contact me and we can see about working something out.

So, with that, I offer two forms of divination readings: Geomancy and Dominoes.  In that light, what sort of reading would be best for particular circumstances?

  • Geomancy readings are the most complete form of divination I provide, and go into depth on a particular situation, choice, or event in your life, whether making a single choice or for a whole forecast.  These can be fairly involved, but also discuss matters put to divination in depth and at length with a high level of specificity.  This is my classic form of divination that I have the most expertise and study in, and it’s rare that I would recommend anything else to top this.  Whether you want to start small or start big, starting with geomancy is always a good idea.
  • Domino readings are the closest I get to card readings, and for the price, can’t be beat as far as bang for your buck if you’re strapped for cash.  They’re fast and easy to do, and though they can get pretty in-depth, it doesn’t have the absolute specificity that geomancy provides.  Still, they can be pretty up-front (sometimes with an amazing bluntness and frankness) with the details regarding a situation, the causes of it, and how to proceed with it.  A three-bone reading is both a good prognostic as well as diagnostic tool to determine what will happen and the best way of approaching it.  The traditional rule is that one should not have more than three bones read for oneself in the space of a month, and while I’m still feeling out that rule, it sounds like a safe one to go with.  Since my style of domino reading uses three bones in a single sitting, this means that it’s best to space out your concerns—though, if we find that we can break those concerns down into several topics, we could also do one bone per concern, which still manages to get a wealth of detail and information for this.

As a reminder, I charge each reading per query, not per session or time-block; some readings can take five minutes, some take fifty or more, and while I do my best to give as much detail as necessary and as desired, I don’t like throwing in a lot of filler to waste time or bandwidth.  As a result, each reading is charged per query—but, because of that, I also dedicate some time ahead of the reading working with the client to review, understand, and (if necessary) to refine the query, both for my sake so I understand exactly what the client would like to know, but also for the client’s sake to make sure the query is clear, concise, and concrete enough while also able to touch on as much as possible.  In the case where the client has multiple concerns or queries, we can rephrase and refine the query a bit to try to cover as many bases as possible so that I can touch on or address as many concerns as possible in my report, but things that are too unrelated to our chosen approach may best be put aside for a separate reading afterwards.

Also as a reminder, how the reading process starts will differ based on what medium you get it from:

  • If you get a reading directly through my website’s Services page (with PayPal as the only payment option, but using whatever other payment options PayPal themselves provides you), I’ll reach out to you at the email address used for your PayPal account and we’ll go from there.
  • If you get a reading through my Ko-fi page (with PayPal or Stripe), put your query in the commission request box when you make the commission, and when I receive the request, I’ll send you an email at the email address used for the commission request, and we’ll go from there.   Be sure you actually make a commission and not a donation; donation messages are generally publicly visible!
  • If you get a reading through my Etsy store (with all the forms of payment that Etsy accepts), Etsy will automatically send you a PDF download “ticket” to your email address with instructions on how to contact me and with what information.  Once I receive that information from you, we’ll go from there.

As always, if you get a divination reading from me, feedback is always deeply welcomed, whether up front or after the fact, and if you feel like you have something nice to say, feel free to leave a review for me on my Facebook page or by sending me an email and letting me know you have a review you’d be okay with me sharing.  If you find that my services are undercharged, you’re always welcome to leave me a tip through my Ko-fi, whether as a once-off donation or on a monthly basis, all of which helps keep my webhosting and other tools paid for as well as keeping my services’ prices low for those who need them most.

Thank you again, everyone!

Musings after a Marathon Month of Mancy

So, funnily enough, as it turns out?  72 hour-ish-long geomancy readings, eight domino readings, four video consultations, three planetary adorations, one New Moon celebration, one consultation done for myself, and taking two online classes?  All on top of the usual full-time job (surprise, I became the lead developer of a high-profile project with low-profile resources!) with three hours of commuting three days a week, daily practice, and managing a household?  It might, just might, have been a bit too much for me to handle with my usual amount of comfort and flair.  Yet, here I am, somehow alive after it all, thanks be to God and the gods.  I’m tired, my back and arms are sore, but I managed to get all my yearly readings done (and quite a bit else) before January was out, and for that, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.  It’d be nice to have a weekend to relax, but there’s always more Work to be done—as well as a few out-of-town trips that needed making, as well.  Oh well; no rest for the wicked, I suppose.

Over the past month, I’ve done probably the most divination I’ve done in a single month’s worth of time, and this was one of the busiest and among the most challenging months I can ever recall having (as well as one where I’ve slept the least).  It’s gauntlets and marathons like this that give us a chance to learn, not just about the things we do but about ourselves, and I wanted to share some of the observations, realizations, and concessions I’ve come to terms with from all this work this past month.  To be sure, I learn more and more about geomancy with each and every chart I cast, but I want to focus on some of the bigger and broader things than mere technique.

First, and probably most practically, I don’t think I’ll be doing a special for yearly divination forecasts again.  I’ve done them for three years now, and while it’s great practice for my own divination skills and a great thing for us all to do at the start of a new year (depending, of course, on when your new year starts), and while everyone loves a good deal, let’s be honest: I don’t charge enough for my usual reading rate (US$44 per geomancy reading) to make a special worth it.  Each yearly forecast takes about 60 to 90 minutes to do, and that’s after my usual reading ritual process of preliminary preparation and prayer, to say nothing of how much it takes out of me to do such a widespread and all-encompassing reading, including typing a 2000-to-3000 word report on it individual for each person.  While the energy spent on divination isn’t exactly repayable through money, it certainly helps, that’s for sure, and…well, let’s be honest, I know I undercharge for my divination services.  I consider them fair prices for me, and I would prefer to err on the side of caution to avoid any risk of gouging my clients while also ensuring that such divination can be accessible to those who need it.  I do not claim that my prices are inherently better than others, and those who charge more often have very good and necessary reasons for doing so, and I charge what I can because I can afford doing so (this is just my side gig, with my full-time job paying the real bills) without it impacting my actual skills and ability to do the work asked of me.  I charge what I charge because I think it’s fair, and I plan to keep them fair.  If people want or feel obliged to pay more, either out of appreciation for the work done or to ensure that my prices stay low for the sake of others who need it most, then you’re always invited to tip your diviner—such as through my Ko-fi account.

So, while I won’t be doing yearly specials for this type of reading anymore, that’s not to say I won’t be doing yearly forecasts.  If you find yourself, dear reader, wanting such a forecast done for you for the new year (using whichever New Year date you choose), you’re more than welcome to book a reading with me, just at my normal rate as I would for any other query.  However, towards the end of this year (and in the future, if this year works out well), I do plan on compiling a list of all the diviners, astrologers, readers, and seers among my colleagues and those I trust and look up to who do plan on doing yearly specials, for those who are looking for something specific from another reader.  It’s something I want to try out, especially to share good business with good people.

Also, besides tipping your diviners (if they deserve it or if you feel it’s appropriate to do so) and taking note of other diviners who do good work?  It’s absolutely, super important for us to get feedback on our work we do, and it’s so rare that we ever actually get it.  Retrospective feedback is like pure gold for us, because while we always stand to learn from books or teachers, learning from experience is at least as important (and in many ways is even more so), because retrospective feedback is what helps us refine our techniques, learning what actually works in practice or what doesn’t, realizing what a given omen actually meant in retrospect, and the like.  By postdicting our predictions, we can make better predictions, and that helps us all.  In-the-moment feedback is important to us, too, because that helps us navigate the energies, flows, and currents of power and fate during the divination itself, but that’s silver to the gold of retrospective feedback.  So, be kind, rewind: after you get a divination reading from someone, and after the event or situation inquired about comes to pass, take another look at the reading you got, see what matches and what didn’t, see what was precise and what wasn’t, see what was accurate and what wasn’t, and go back to your diviner and share your results.  I promise you, they’ll be ecstatic with this, even if they fucked things up, because it’s a chance for them (and all of us) to learn and improve.

Oh, and another thing?  Reviews!  For many people, the best way to advertise is simply through word-of-mouth, or leaving a good comment about someone whose work pleased you with their skill, precision, accuracy, and approach.  I know I don’t and won’t pay for advertising (in fact, I actively pay for webhosting to keep ads off my platforms as much as possible) and would rather let my work speak for itself, but I certainly won’t mind others speaking for me, either.  Diviners are still professionals, and professionals need to be able to profess their skills, otherwise they’re no professionals; if you found that such a diviner (whether me or anyone else) did a good job, consider leaving a comment on their blog, or telling others about them.  I’m not exactly greedy for more clients, but I won’t deny that I’d like to have a few more regulars or a bit more activity in that area of my life, and reviews are great for that.  Also, not gonna lie, getting a good review really just makes us as diviners feel good, and sometimes, that makes all the difference in whether we continue practicing publicly at all.  If you’d like to leave a review for me, feel free to simply mention my website on social media, leave a review on my Facebook page, or send me an email and let me know that it’s a review that I can share on my blog (and, if I get enough of them, I may even put up a whole testimonials page to collect them all).

As for getting more clients and business along the lines of divination, I think it’d be good, but the past month…well, it was hell for me to get all the work done on time.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t already working a full-time job, but as it is, and given how much else I get up to, this month has really impressed upon me that (a) more people actually come to me for divination than I anticipated and (b) my time is far more limited and constrained than I had thought, and I had been taking the flexibility of my schedule for granted.  While it was great to do four or six divination readings a day, it got old real fast when it was day after day of it while also trying to juggle household affairs and work concerns, both of which took a hit due to the time and energy I couldn’t devote to them as I should, along with the stability and quality of my sleep.  This marathon month of μαντεια showed me that, barring making this my full-time job (which would necessitate a significant price increase to make ends meet) instead of my stable software engineering job, that I just can’t do this kind of work at this rate, and that I need to both throttle the work I do as well as get better at scheduling it.  In the future, I plan to limit myself to 10 to 12 divination readings, consultations, or other client tasks a week, depending on what else is going on, compared to the 16 or more I was doing this past month.  There is a possibility that this may increase wait times for some clients, but I already specify an up-to-two-week turnaround time for my services, which I was (somehow) able to keep up with this month (and January is my absolute busiest month for divination readings), so I think that this possibility is fairly small in reality.

Something else I’ve learned is that, as it turns out, I do a lot of typing.  (Surprising, I know.)  In the past month, I’ve banged out about 80 divination reports on top of all the other notetaking, programming, and writing I do, and that adds up to about 160,000 words—far more than even what I typed out for my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration thesis-length blog project last summer (only about 100,000 words).  My arms, wrists, and hands are tired, y’all, and I’m starting to feel the pains of work and pangs of age the more I do this, especially since my full-time job is already so heavily typing-based.  I’ve been using a standard 104-key mechanical keyboard this whole time, a sturdy and lovely thing, but it was getting to the point where I had to take more breaks than ever between typing/divination sessions, and that only slowed me down further.  With the proceeds from all these divinations, I splurged and got myself a nice split-keyboard for ergonomic and power-computing use; although it’s taken me some getting used to using it, typing feels so much better and more relaxing, which is only a good thing for me. For those who are interested, it’s the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which some of my more technologically-inclined friends might have seen ads for online on various social media platforms.  This is, hands down, the most elegant, amazing, and productive bit of computer input technology I have ever had the pleasure of using, and though it costs a pretty penny (especially with some of the add-ons which are still in development), I am super, super happy that I got this thing.  Not only does typing no longer hurt, but I can do so much more right from the (eminently and easily customizable) keyboard that I couldn’t do with my old keyboard.  (I do miss having a separate numpad, and I’ve been having a hell of a time replacing that, but I can still just use extra inputs on this “60%” keyboard as it is without it just fine, even though that too takes getting used to.)  If you’re interested in one of the finest and well-made keyboards out there, whether or not you need it for ergonomic reasons, then this is the keyboard to use.  (Also, despite my love for the clacky-style Blue mechanical switches, I decided to go with Brown switches for this keyboard.  It turns out that, even though I love the sound and feel of banging out words like several machine guns going off at once, it’s somewhat more annoying for my coworkers, clients, and interviewers who have to listen to it on phone calls or recordings.  Brown switches still feel nice, at least, and have a much calmer sound.)

Switching gears from logistic and physical concerns, there were a bunch of other spiritual realizations that I made, too, during this month that affects or enhances my divination practice.  Probably the best lead-in to this is how truly fundamental daily practice is for me.  Yes, I’ve harped on it before for years now, as have countless other magicians, Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery among them, but having a daily practice really is the bedrock of a magical and spiritual life, and if you don’t have that, then you’re building on sand.  For me, my daily practice is my anchor-point for the day, and I have a rule about it: if I don’t do my daily practice, I cannot do anything else spiritual for the day.  I mean, consider: if I skip my daily practice because I’m so fatigued or so unwell to not be able to do 40 to 60 minutes of meditation and prayer, then I necessarily don’t have the energy or health to do anything else, right?  And if I don’t have time to do my daily practice, then I must likewise not have time to do anything else on top of that that day.  Otherwise, if I have the energy and if I have the time, then I have no reason to not do my daily practice, and if I can’t manage my daily practice out of sheer laziness, then I have no business trying to claim anything else that day, because I don’t feel appropriate working for others if I don’t do the work I need to do for my own well-being and spiritual maintenance.  My daily practice is essential for everything else I do, and even if I use some of the same prayers in divination readings as I do in my daily practice, my divination readings are not part of my daily practice, yet still build on it.  I feel like this is a good rule to have for those who need to stick to a daily practice and have other things planned, like divination readings, consultations, conjurations, or the like, and it’s one I force my students to keep, too.

Related to prayers, doing all these divination readings day after day has been a wonder for three other things:

  • Memorizing prayers.  I have a particular ritual process that uses several prayers that I precede and conclude divination with, and though some of them I’ve memorized, there were others that I was struggling to for the longest time.  Doing this same ritual day after day after day, saying the same prayers day after day after day, has finally helped me to memorize them without dedicating extra time just for memorization, because I’m still engaging in repetition of the same prayers.
  • Hygiene.  As part of that ritual process, I precede everything with ablution, which for me is flossing/brushing my teeth, saying a prayer, washing my hands and arms and face and feet, and then concluding with another prayer.  I like going into spiritual work cleaned from physical concerns or worldly “dust”, since this helps me focus better on the work to be done.  Yes, I start every day with a thorough ablution (i.e. a shower), but if it’s been more than a trivial amount of time between that and doing divination or other ritual work, or if I’ve had to get significantly involved in worldly or decidedly non-spiritual stuff, I perform a lesser ablution as above to reset and refresh myself.  More than that, though, doing divination for so many people in succession is itself…I don’t want to say dirtying or sullying, but such frequent ablution helps keep me going without getting too dragged down in a spiritual morass.  I did, of course, also finish up the month with a full spiritual bath on top of ablution to really reset myself, and I probably should have been taking weekly baths during the month to keep myself cleaner and fresher than I was, so I’ll make a note of that for future times when I’m swamped with divination work.  All that said, my teeth have never been so clean, and my dentist would be proud.  However, I was guided by my HGA to focus especially on my eyes and mouth when doing pre-divination ablution for the obvious spiritual symbolism: clarity of vision to see, purity of speech to communicate.  Ablutions, too, can be tweaked for broader spiritual purposes.
  • Anointing with oil.  Though it’s not an essential part of my divinatory ritual process, I do like anointing myself with a special oil prior to engaging in divination.  Though I could certainly just use holy oil, I rather prefer to use Quadrivium Oil‘s special Vision oil, currently only available as an alcohol-based spray.  Quadrivium is one of my oldest colleagues in the Work, and her oils have been a mainstay of parts of my practices for years, and her Vision blend (which I helped test for her back in the day!) is a wonder for me.  While it’s not necessary for me to use it, I greatly enjoy doing so and enjoy the boost it gives me.  Also, it turns out that anointing myself with this oil day after day after day, combining it with my usual anointing prayers, doesn’t just help me with divination skills, but has also had rather interesting effects on the quality, frequency, and semantic content of my dreams, too.  That was a side effect I hadn’t anticipated, but which I’m happy about all the same.

Something I want to remind people about when it comes to yearly readings specifically, and all forecast-type readings generally, is that forecasts are just that: forecasts, descriptions of high-level trends that cover some specified length of time.  While super big things that are planned to happen during that timeframe can likely be described or accounted for in forecasts, in general, it’s not a good idea to read too much into forecasts, especially long forecasts that extend over a month, and definitely like those that go on for a year or more.  A number of clients this year had super-specific queries that they wanted investigated in the yearly chart, and I had to remind some of them that a yearly forecast only reliable describes high-level, long-term influences that describe the year as a whole, and trying to read specific things into that is clumsy and misguided at times.  This isn’t to say that I can’t and don’t get super-specific with these forecasts, as many of my clients can attest, but the specificity of abstract trends is not the same thing as the specificity of concrete events.  When in doubt, if you’ve got something actually specific to ask, it’s better to get a separate reading to investigate that.  That goes not only for forecast-type readings, but for any other reading, too, depending on how many things you want to know.  I know that some geomancers, especially of an Arabic or Persianate bent, feel confident in reading all sorts of unrelated queries from a single querent within the one and same chart, but that’s not an approach I feel comfortable doing, not because I can’t, but because I find that there’s just too much crosstalk in a chart that’s put to too many queries at once.  Rather than having to sift through the crosstalk, I find it easier and cleaner to just do one chart per query, which also increases the reliabilty of the readings, in my opinion.  I do try to work with the querent to reframe and rephrase their queries so that it covers everything they want to know as much as is possible, given the mechanics and techniques of geomancy at my disposal, but sometimes, some queries are just so unrelated that they’re best broken out into separate charts.

Along those same lines, I want to also emphasize that it’s so often important for us as diviners to understand the context of the query, not just what the querent is asking with their communicated words, but how and why they’re communicating it, as well.  While some diviners make a point of having the querent not ask their query as a proof of the diviner’s own psychic ability (or ability to read between the lines along with body language), I don’t make the claim that I’m outright psychic.  (I mean, I reasonably could, but I don’t.)  So much of the divination I do is done online by email or over Zoom or Skype, and it’s hard to get a good read on the immediate energetic feel for people without spending a lot more time and energy than I want to to tune in; I find it easier to rely on the words themselves, especially because geomancy is such a literal oracle: as opposed to other divination systems that answer the query you should be asking, whether or not you phrased it that way, geomancy answers exactly the query you ask, no more and no less.  Although there are some styles of divination where you let the oracle speak for itself as it answers a query only it knows, I don’t find geomancy to be one of those oracles, and I find it helpful for us geomancers to have a reasonably complete understanding of the query, not only so that we know exactly what the querent wants to know, but also so that we know what techniques to use and what to look for in the chart going into the divination.  Besides, there was one time earlier this past month (not using geomancy, I might add, and trying to use a more context-free form of divination) where I got burned by not really spending as much time as I otherwise have done with the querent in understanding what was going on leading up to the reading.  The reading was still eminently helpful, but my manner of delivery was shit and ended up hurting more than I wanted it to.  It was all sorted out in the end, but I still feel bad about that.  Knowing more of the context and reading more between the lines would have prevented that, and it’s a lesson I won’t soon forget.

And that leads to perhaps my biggest and most important realization about divination: divination is an act of intimacy.  In fact, I consider it one of the most interpersonally intimate things we can do as human beings with spiritual capacity.  Normally we consider physical sex to be the height of physical intimacy—the nudity and literally baring it all before someone else, letting them feel you from the inside, letting them know what makes you tick and pulse—but consider that divination goes so much further beyond that.  With divination, a querent lets me see their past, their present, and their future; with divination, a querent lets me see their hopes and dreams, their fears and anxieties, their envies and jealousies; with divination, a querent lets me see them more fully, even through a glass darkly, more than any parent, any doctor, any lover ever could.  It’s because of this intimacy that both diviner and querent need to take care, the diviner to keep a good measure of distance to avoid bias as well as spiritual pollution or contamination from the querent, and the querent to find a diviner they trust with finding out anything (or everything) about them.  This is why it’s so important for diviners to learn to keep readings confidential, just as lovers wouldn’t blab about the kinks of their partners or the lushness of their genitals, just as doctors wouldn’t gossip about the hilarious or depressing health problems their patients get into, just as parents wouldn’t air the dirty laundry of their children to the world.  Divination is intimate, and I’m somewhat embarrassed I’m only just now realizing the full import of how this intimacy truly takes form.  In that light, I want to extend my deepest appreciation and thanks to each and every one of my querents and clients for allowing me to divine for them, for trusting me to take care of them when and how they need care.  Thank you.

Alright, that’s enough for one night; it’s time to relax, especially after two separate out-of-town trips and another online lecture taken care of this past weekend.  Haha, just kidding; I’ve got plenty more to take care of this week, but at least things are going to ease up a bit, and I’m going to do my best to make sure things stay good and proper for me as much as it is my clients.  But I am definitely going to call out one day soon for a well-deserved trip to the local Korean spa and bathhouse.