A Follow-up on the Chaplet of the Eight Dragons

After I put up that post not too long back about the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons”, I’ve been trying to figure out more about it.  There’s really not a lot out there, and even after making a pair of them for myself and my shrine, it’s a pretty mysterious thing.  Happily, we did have a lead for more information: from Francis Warrain’s 1968 Physique, métaphysique, mathématique, et symbolique cosmologique de la Géomancie we get to the 1949 text De l’Architecture Naturelle, ou Rapport de Petrus Talemarianus sur l’établissement, d’après les principes du Tantrisme, du Taoïsme, du Pythagorise et de Cabale, d’une «Règle d’Or» servant à la Réalisation des Lois de l’Harmonie universelle et contribuant à l’accomplissemenet du «Grand Œuvre» (or, in English, Natural Architecture, Or, a Report by Petrus Talemarianus on the Establishment of a “golden Rule” According to the Principles of Tantrism, Taoism, Pythagoreanism, and the Kabala, Serving to Fulfill the Laws of Universal Harmony and Contributing to the Accomplishment of the GreatWork).  This book is pretty hard to find, but with the loving-kindness of my friends who let me use their academic institution interlibrary loan benefits, I was able to get a copy of the thing—and in an English translation put out in 2007, no less!

It is a cinderblock of a book.  And…well, it’s certainly eclectic and syncretic in its approach to everything, that’s for sure.  It’s a dastardly slog of a read, and it flips back and forth between topic to topic to topic.  The prefaces done by the translators describe much about the text:

Véga’s publication of [this book] in 1949 was another act of positive defiance.  The extravagance and gigantic size of the book, its superb typography and hundreds of illustrations, and the declared intention of teaching architects how to build houses and palaces, churches and temples with natural materials, in accordance with natural laws, were as contrary as possible to the drabness and shoddiness of the postwar world

The whole atmosphere of L’architecture naturelle seems in accord with its authorship by an aristocratic recluse, who chose as a pseudonym a Latinization of his ancestral home, while [Alexandre] Rouhier, the pharmacologist-editor, inserted the incongruous references to the personalities and interests of the Wronksian circle.  There is evidently room for further investigation of this enigmatic character.

The text truly is beautifully illustrated, blending elements of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, European, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and other architectural disciplines along with no end of alchemical references.  Disappointingly, however, the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons” only appears once in the entire book: that of the printer’s mark itself, which in the translation is the very last image in the entire book:


Likewise, the only reference to the thing I could find in the book was in the addenda, which offers notes and observations about some of the minor illustrations in the book, namely the frontispiece, various prayer beads used to line the table of contents, and other small decorative but symbolic details about the book, finishing up with a bit about the printer’s mark itself:

The geomantic necklace or rosary which surrounds the printer’s mark is constituted by the juxtaposition, end to end, of 8 rosaries, each formed of 16 rows of beads, 8 even and 8 odd, i.e. of 24 (= 8 × 3) beads.  The whole necklace therefore comprises 192 (= 8 × 24) beads, which is a third of the number of lines which constitute the 64 hexagrams of Fou-Hi.

These 8 rosaries, constituting one larger rosary, are linked together according to positions which can be variable but which are always strictly ordered and precise.  On this rosary, which forms a closed circuit, the alternation of even and odd rows is such that, if taken in successive groups of 4, progressing by one rank each time, one obtains in each smaller rosary the 16 elementary figures of geomancy, without any figure ever being missing or repeated.  The order of succession of these 16 figures varies with each of the smaller rosaries.

Depending on whether one “reads” the rosary in clockwise or anticlockwise direction (and now the total number of beads becomes 384, which is the number of the beginning of the composition of the Soul of the World according to Plato), one may observe that there are, in reality, two rosaries perfectly distinct from one another but contained within the same object; this rosary therefore represents Duality within Unity, the “Yin-Yang” of Taoism.

On this geomantic rosary there are, 8 times over, distributed in a uniform manner in all the 16 ranks, an identical series of 6 ranks: 4 consecutive odd ranks of beads, preceded and followed by an even rank, which thus yield, in an invariable order, the succession of the 3 following figures: Caput draconis, Via, Cauda draconis being, according to their astrological correspondences, the North Node, Moon, and South Node.  Being distributed regularly on the necklace, they can be taken as points of departure for each rosary, which results in the Rosarium geomanticum being given its name, “Rosary of 8 Dragons.”  These dragons are amphibian, because if one “reads” the rosary in the opposite direction from the preceding, the succession of the 3 figures becomes Cauda draconis, Via, Caput draconis: the head of the dragon takes the place of its tail and vice versa.  On the north spire of the cathedral of Chartres, the weathercock bears the alchemical sun (pictured to the right of the Bottle, p. 361), the Virgin with the Child is seated upon a lead finial; and at her feed are 8 serpents, each facing in the 8 directions of space.

To this octuple succession of amphibian dragons uniformly distributed on the necklace, there is opposed by complement another octuple succession not uniformly distributed, which is comprised of 4 consecutive even rows of beads, preceded and followed by an odd row, and which thus yields, in an invariable order, the succession of the 3 following figures: Lætitia, Populus, Tristitia, according to the astrological correspondences Jupiter, Moon, and Saturn.

The metaphysical meditations that one can obtain by means of this rosary are, like those obtained with the aid of other rosaries, practically limitless.

No references to calling it the “Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahabad” that I could find, as Joël Jacques called it in his eclectic book on geomancy, and as far as I could tell skimming through this behemoth of a text, there’s nothing to back up Francis Warrain’s claim that “[t]hese ‘rosaries’ are commonly used, it seems, in certain and highly secret tantric sects as supports for very complex metaphysical meditations, as well as for geomantic divinatory uses, and also for subtle purposes of ‘recognition initiation'”.  However, it is known that the author of D’architecture naturelle and Francis Warrain were in contact with each other, so perhaps Warrain had some other information at his disposal that isn’t otherwise published—along with the tantalizing final line from the addenda of the book itself.  After all, as the section in the addenda describing the illustrations of prayer beads says:

The use of the rosary as a material support for the recitation of the formulae of prayer (mantras), undoubtedly originating in India, is common to all the doctrines which use the “Shakti” (Word) as a basis; its effect is to cause the awakening of “Kundalini”; it is completed by the use of the mystic diagrams (yantras), which are like a visual representation of the Mother under her subtle aspect.  The repetition of the “mantras”, following the numbers and mutations subject to the laws of the regular partition of the sphere, which are of cosmic harmony, aided by the contemplation of the “yantras” subject to the same laws and by a devoted attitude (mudras), causes rhythmic vibrations which have their repercussions throughout the series of multiple states of being, and serving to realize the interior illumination which is the goal of all “incarnation.”.

There are otherwise scant few references to geomancy in general in D’architecture naturelle, so despite the massive undertaking of this book and despite a few references to the Qur’ān, the ancient Egyptians, or Gilgamesh and Enkidu here and there, it would seem that topics of generally Middle Eastern or African origin didn’t seem to be of much interest to the author, instead focusing on European, Greco-Roman, Chinese, and Indian topics of spirituality and occult architecture.

It’s honestly unclear to me at this point what the real origin of the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons” is; though there are suggestions there are Persian or South Asian origins to the thing, without people from Iran, India, or Pakistan to corroborate this or flesh it out some, there’s not a lot going on here for that.  Happily, one of my Pakistani friends says he’s seen such a thing in use, so it doesn’t seem to be an outright invention by fanciful Western authors, but I can’t say much more about it at the present time.  Outside of these modern French geomantic and occult texts, the only other thing I can find it is this French geomancer’s blog, where she makes such rosaries based on similar resources as what I’ve already seen.  I suppose time will tell what other resources might arise to flesh out this little geomantic apparatus.

The Chaplet of Eight Dragons, or, the Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahabad

More surprises from 20th century French geomancy texts, but this one caught me really by surprise.

As I mentioned the last time I brought up these modern French geomancy texts, there’s an interesting mix of elements that are both plainly familiar and starkly unfamiliar in terms of the usual tradition of Western geomancy.  Obviously, the bulk and foundation of these works are from the usual Western sources from the medieval and Renaissance periods, including Robert Fludd, Henri de Pisis, Christopher Cattan, and others; that much isn’t surprising.  What is surprising is that there’s so much different in them that we don’t see in the modern English geomantic literature, which I assume is due to the introductions of African and Middle Eastern geomantic techniques and concepts that resulted from French imperialist and colonialist activity.  There’s no other European examples of some of the techniques and associations these French texts make, even if it’s not explicit—but sometimes it is, as in this interesting little thing, Le Rosaire des Géomanciens d’Allahabad or “The Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahabad”:

It’s a kind of beaded necklace, in an interesting pattern broken down into eight sections, each of which is composed of one segment of white beads and another of black beads, sometimes of one bead per “slot”, sometimes of two.  For reasons that we’ll discuss soon, another term for this device is Le Chapelet des Huit Dragons, “The Chaplet (or Wreath) of Eight Dragons”.

The moment I laid my eyes upon it, I knew immediately what this was based on.  Years ago, I had come up with the notion of geomantic “superfigures” (which I later called “emblems”), combinations of 16 rows of single or double points that, for every consecutive set of four rows (plus three “hidden” rows at the end duplicating the first three), contain all sixteen geomantic figures.  As a mini-example, consider a series of seven rows: single, double, double, double, double, single, single (·::::··); rows 1 through 4 gives the figure Laetitia, rows 2 through 5 Populus, rows 3 through 6 Tristitia, and rows 4 through 7 Fortuna Maior.  If we extend that, we can come up with a series of single/dual point sequences that contain all sixteen geomantic figures exactly once, which was what I intended to do with my superfigure/emblem idea.  Unfortunately, even after coming up with a (really stupidly complex) way of assigning rulerships and correspondences of the 256 emblems to the base 16 figures, as well as thinking of ways to actually use the damn things, I never really got all that far with them.  (If you’re not familiar with this notion, at least read the first two posts linked above in this paragraph, which explain about the structure and what “hidden” means for those final three lines.)

I had no idea nor any means at the time to find out whether such a concept had ever before arisen in the minds of other geomancers, but given that geomancy is a thousand years old and spread across so much of the world, I would have been surprised if I were truly the first to come up with this idea.  Still, I hadn’t encountered anything of the like in any geomantic text I had come across, nor had I yet—until I came across these French geomantic texts, which finally gave me something to work with.  The two texts I’ve found this in (there may well be more that I just haven’t come across yet) is Francis Warrain’s Physique, métaphysique, mathématique, et symbolique cosmologique de la Géomancie (1968), along with the highly eclectic Joël Jacques’ Les signes secrets de la Terre Géomancie (1991).  Interestingly, however, it does not appear in Robert Ambelain’s La Géomancie arabe (1984), which takes a good chunk of its information from his earlier La Géomancie magique (1940), which suggests a different origin entirely (which isn’t to say that Ambelain’s later text was an accurate or precise representation of Arabic geomancy, because it’s not, but it does have a few other different interesting things in it related to jinn lore).

Warrain’s book includes a lengthy chapter, Cycles des seize figures Géomantiques Emboitées (“Cycles of the Sixteen Nested Geomantic Figures”), which talks about these sorts of things; I’m going through it slowly with the generous help of Google Translate, because my French isn’t exactly up-to-par for casual reading.  However, the following chapter (my translation) talks directly about this interesting rosary, albeit only briefly, as it seems to be more of a note in a later edition of Warrain’s manuscript.  (The edition of his book I have is from 1986, while the esotericist and metaphysician Warrain himself died in 1940, making this a posthumous release of an earlier work.)

Editor’s note: We found in one of the last manuscripts of “La Géomancie”, revised and reworked rather late by Francis Warrain himself, the following additional text, concerning this present problem of “The Nesting of Figures” to which he provides additional documentation. We give below this complete amending text:

Oswald Wirth succeeded in representing the complete sequence of the sixteen Figures on a circle divided into sixteen equal parts, each carrying a single point (“monopoint”) or a double point (“bipoint”), these points being distributed so that starting from any radius and traversing the circumference always in the same direction (“dextrogyre” or “sinistrogyre”) the points located on four consecutive rows give, when one reads them successively four to four, and progressing each time from a point (monopoint or bipoint), the sixteen different Figures of Geomancy, without any of them being repeated.

It is possible, by doing so, and by modifying each time certain successions of points, to obtain 8 different combinations in the grouping of the Figures and to produce materially, using wood beads or glass beads or vegetable seeds, eight different “geomantic rosaries” of 24 grains each, which can close by butting on themselves, or which, abutted to each other and closed in a closed cycle, constitute a long “rosary” made of 128 successive rows of monopoints and bipoints, 64 rows from one and 64 rows from the other, or 192 beads in total.

Other researchers than Oswald Wirth (I learned only late) had also realized this problem in a very complete way, in all its generality.

Mr. Marcel Nicaud, renowned painter, xylographer, and famous fresco artist, attached to the Musées Nationaux Français, and had fully achieved this by a simple and precise mathematical process which was personal and invented by a special technique. (1)

I will present this problem of “Sixteen nested geomantic figures” in general, and as I have personally conceived and solved it. Are there other solutions to discover? I don’t think I can say!

The singular designation of “Rosary of the Eight Dragons” is given to this “Rosary” because, arranged in a circle on a plane, it comprises, placed in the 8 directions of space, the unchanging representation of the Figures of Caput Draconis and of Cauda Draconis separated from each other by the Figure of Via, that is to say the symbolic representation of 8 “Amphisbenes” or mythological tantric two-headed dragons.

(1) It is to Marcel Nicaud, skillful engraver and subtle esotericist, that the illustration of this astonishing masterpiece of arithmology and symbolic esotericism is due, due to the prodigious traditional knowledge of one of our last “Authentic Masters” which is entitled From Natural Architecture, or Report by Petrus Talemarianus on the establishment, according to the principles of Tantrism, Taoism, Pythagorism and Cabal, of a “Golden Rule” used for the Realization of the Laws of Universal Harmony and contributing to the accomplishment of the “Grant Work”. Les Editions Véga, Paris, 1950.  It is from this “summa” that we extracted the “Geomantic Rosary” illustrating the text opposite.

(2) These “rosaries” are commonly used, it seems, in certain and highly secret tantric sects as supports for very complex metaphysical meditations, as well as for geomantic divinatory uses, and also for subtle purposes of “recognition initiation”.

It’s a short section, admittedly, and doesn’t say a lot, but it does give some names of other Western esotericists (especially the famous Oswald Wirth, contemporaneous with Warrain) to look up for future research regarding the geomantic emblems (however they phrased or worded the concept).  The Nicaud book is extant, both in French and in English, but it’s difficult and expensive to find, so it may be some time before I can get my hands on it.  I don’t know which Wirth book Warrain refers to, but I’ll see if I can dig it up.

In Jacques’ book, on the other hand…well, Les signes secrets de la Terre Géomancie is, like I said, a rather eclectic text.  It places a good amount of emphasis on the transnational, transcultural role of geomancy, by which I mean equating Western geomancy with Ifá and I Ching, which isn’t a great approach in my opinion, and it makes a lot of the usual New Age jumps between Hinduism and Buddhism and this and that and the other into one confused mess with questionable numerological and etymological leaps of logic.  Still, eclectic and spastic as it can be, it also has a few good points on this particular topic (capitalization preserved from the original text, my translation):

To return to a more particularly cosmogonic research: to this desire to inscribe the Geomantic Figures in the astral cycles, at least to give them a representation which could represent the Sky, to this desire to unite the mantic arts around the divine Revelation of the origin of things, we will dwell for a moment on what appeared to us as an African contribution to Geomancy, an external contribution to the Mediterranean basin which can be considered as a bridge between the worlds, from one culture to another: the Rosary!

There is a form of representation of the distributing Figures of traditional Geomancy that it is possible to compare the lunar cycles which we spoke above: it is the geomantic Rosary which is said to serve as a sign of recognition to some magicians of the East. This geomantic rosary also bears the names of “Rosary of Allahabad”, “Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahabad” or “Rosary of the Eight Dragons”.  With regard to this designation, it is quite difficult to formulate an exact explanation because no ancient rosary has been found in this city in the north of India.  However, in Arabic, Allahabad means “the City of God” or, in other words, “the Heavenly City”.  It therefore seems somewhat random to us to want to link this name to a current geographic reality; the Agharta concept would be more acceptable…

The total number of beads composing the rosary is 192, making it therefore possible to link the reduction to the name of JERUSALEM (Yod-Resh-Vav-Shin-Lamed-Mim = 93, which is 99 less than 192) which leads us to think that the name “Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahhabad “, since Jerusalem is also a holy city of Islam, is a rather recent name indeed for the rosary.   The rosary is in the form shown in the figure above.  Each DRAGON is red, the color of fire, and made up of three elements: AIR-FIRE-WATER, in this order, i.e of a coupling and an opposition.  The total number of points in each DRAGON is eight.  Eight is the first female cubic number, and eight represents the EARTH (the element absent from the composition of the DRAGON), the element in which has the deepest mysteries. It is a conventional chthonic symbol called number of Pluto (the One who lives under the Earth).  It is a sacred sign among the Japanese, representing multiplicity, shown in the form of an eight-petaled flower, a representation of the Lotus also found in many Western representations of Romanesque art.  Eight is the letter Ḥeth of the Hebrews, the first letter of the word Ḥai (Ḥeth-Yod-Heh) which means LIFE (8 + 1 + 5 = 14 = 5⁷), and is also the first letter of the name of the eighth Sephirah, HOD, or Glory.  Eight is the symbol of infinity, but let us also remember: the eight arms of Vishnu, the eight spokes of the Wheel of the way of Buddhism, the eight paths of the Tao, the eight forms of SHIVA.  “The one whom Christ brings to life is placed under the figure EIGHT”, wrote Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century; this is not surprising because, if 8 is turned onto its side, it represents infinity, but it also takes the form of a stylized fish, a primitive symbol of Christianity, the religion which by epiphany connects man to eternity.

These eight deployments represent ALL the composition possibilities of the 16 Distributing Figures of Geomancy preceded or followed by the DRAGON. Symbolically, they connect the first two male and female couples (1 + 0) by the 10 lines of each of the cycles to the essence of the Zodiac, the Ouroboros.  10 is Malkuth, the Kingdom.  The dragon bites its tail, which in no way means that the theme at rest, i.e. that in which each Figure is in its place, is among these cycles.  Each now has the keys that will allow him to discover the riches of the rosary and especially why it is also called “rosary”.  Six rows of the DRAGON among eight red points, ten rows for the cycle among sixteen black points: note, however, that in the sacred language of Christians, Hebrews, and Arabs, red has always been associated with FIRE and divine love, but black symbolizes the night and everything that is more malicious than death.

Interestingly, Jacques uses that possibly Arabic but definitely French system of elements and elemental associations to pairs of rows of figures, both in the passage above and throughout his book, but Warrain doesn’t appear to use the system at all.  Warrain, likewise, didn’t mention anything about colors for the beads; although Jacques may have found another text that talks about it, he doesn’t list Wirth or Nicaud in his bibliography, so his use of colors might well be an innovation or extrapolation from the image on his part.

So, with those introductions out of the way, let’s talk about the structure of this device.

  • The “Chaplet of Eight Dragons” (hereafter “the Rosary”) is broken down into eight sections, each section an emblem of itself, all starting with the binary structure 011110 (:····:), itself consisting of the figures Caput Draconis, Via, and Cauda Draconis.  The other rows of a given section provide the rest of the emblem.
  • The draconic points/beads (for the 011110 segments) are always in another color (e.g. red) compared to the non-draconic beads that provide the rest of one complete emblem (e.g. black).  The draconic segment 011110 of each section is important, as it grounds and anchors the Rosary to eight directions, with the gaps between them consisting of the same number of beads/points but in an irregular way.
  • Each section consists of 24 points/beads, eight from the draconic segment and 16 from the non-draconic segment.
  • There are sixteen total emblems that start with 011110, but there are only eight sections on the Rosary.  In the depiction above, those eight sections are the following emblems (with their corresponding geomantic figure breakouts), starting with the 011110 segment at the top and proceeding clockwise around the Rosary, with the “hidden” final three lines (which are the first three of the following 011110 segment, which fully completes the emblem) in parentheses:
    1. 0111101100101000(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia (, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior)
    2. 0111101000010110(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio (, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior)
    3. 0111100001101001(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer (, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella)
    4. 0111100101101000(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia (, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior)
    5. 0111101100001010(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio (, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior)
    6. 0111101000011001(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer (, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella)
    7. 0111100001001101(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer (, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella)
    8. 0111100100001101(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer (, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella)
  • The other eight emblems that start with 011110 are also present on the Rosary; they simply need to be read counterclockwise around the Rosary.  Starting from the 011110 segment at the top and proceeding counterclockwise from there in the depiction above, these get us the following emblems (with their corresponding geomantic figure breakouts), with the “hidden” final three lines in parentheses:
    1. 0111101011000010(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus (, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior)
    2. 0111101011001000(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia (, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior)
    3. 0111101001100001(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia (, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella)
    4. 0111100101000011(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior (, Coniunctio, Puer, Puella)
    5. 0111100001011010(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio (, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior)
    6. 0111101001011000(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia (, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior)
    7. 0111100110100001(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia (, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella)
    8. 0111100001010011(011): Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior (, Coniunctio, Puer, Puella)

That’s what we know from looking at this thing at a glance.  The next big thing to figure out would be why this specific order of emblems is used on the Rosary, and for that, we need to pick up on a few other details looking at the general structure of the Rosary:

  • Proceeding clockwise around the Rosary from the topmost draconic segment, the emblems used follow 011110 using an odd-odd-even-even-odd-odd-even-even pattern for the first non-draconic row, i.e. the first non-draconic row in the first two segments have a single point each, the next two double, the penultimate two single, and the last two double.
  • However, the final non-draconic row of each section has double, double, single, double, double, single, single, single points.  This leads to an interesting asymmetry where if we go clockwise around the Rosary, we have a regular pattern, but no such pattern if we go counterclockwise.
  • There’s almost a perfect symmetry with the first full figure from the non-draconic segment clockwise around the Rosary: the first and fifth non-draconic segments start with 1100 (Fortuna Minor), the second and sixth 1000 (Laetitia), the third and seventh 0001 (Tristitia), but the fourth starts with 0101 (Acquisitio) and eighth with 0100 (Rubeus).  However, at least for the first three non-draconic rows, the symmetry is perfect.  Following the initial Caput Draconis-Via-Cauda Draconis breakout of every section, this gives the first and fourth sections (which start with the non-draconic 110) an initial figure breakout of Puer-Puella-Coniunctio; the second and fifth sections (100) Puer-Amissio-Rubeus; the third and sixth sections (000) Fortuna Minor-Laetitia-Populus; and the fourth and eighth sections (010) Fortuna Minor-Carcer-Albus.
  • This also means that the first, second, fifth, and sixth sections, because the first non-draconic row has a single point/bead, have Puer as the first breakout figure following the initial Caput Draconis-Via-Cauda Draconis breakout of every section, and that the third, fourth, seventh, and eighth sections all have Fortuna Minor as the first breakout figure.
  • There’s much less symmetry counterclockwise, however: the first and fifth non-draconic segments counterclockwise have 1011 and 0001 (Puella and Tristitia), the second and sixth 1011 and 1001 (Puella and Carcer), the third and seventh 1001 and 0110 (Carcer and Coniunctio), and the fourth and eighth have 0101 and 0001 (Acquisitio and Tristitia).  The only symmetry I can find here is that the first non-draconic row of the first and fifth segments are opposed (1 and 0, yielding the figures Puer and Fortuna Minor), the second and sixth aligned (1 and 1, both yielding Puer), the third and seventh opposed (1 and 0, again yielding Puer and Fortuna Minor), and the fourth and eighth aligned (0 and 0, both yielding Fortuna Minor).
  • Looking at the two rows on either side of the draconic segments clockwise as “bounds” for each “dragon”, then going clockwise, then the first dragon is bound double-double, the second double-single, the third double-double, the fourth single-double, the fifth double-single, the sixth double-single, the seventh single-double, and the eighth single-single.  This means that there are two double-double bound dragons, one single-single bound dragon, two single-double bound dragons, and three double-single bound dragons.  No real symmetry here to speak of.

All sixteen 011110-starting emblems are represented, eight clockwise and eight counterclockwise; this is why this is a “Chaplet of the Eight Dragons” and not “Chaplet of the Sixteen Dragons”.  However, based on the lack of symmetry going counterclockwise around the Rosary, or at least given how little symmetry there is going counterclockwise compared to there is going clockwise, it seems that there really is directionality involved in the Rosary, and that it seems stronger going clockwise.  This means that the eight emblems read clockwise around the Rosary are probably more important than those going counterclockwise, or that the eight counterclockwise emblems arise as an effect from the positioning of the eight clockwise ones.

What doesn’t rely on directionality, however, is something I hadn’t noticed before when it came to the geomantic emblems: starting from any point of any emblem and taking the first four figures drawn from the seven rows starting from the one chosen, if you take those seven rows as representing four overlapped geomantic figures and then take them as four Mother figures for a geomantic chart, the four Mother figures will be the same as the four Daughter figures.  More concretely, say you randomly choose a point on the Rosary, and you end up at the first row of the segment 1000010.  Breaking that out, you get the four figures Laetitia (1000), Populus (0000), Tristitia (0001), and Albus (0010).  If you use those as Mother figures for a geomantic chart, then the four Daughters that result will also be Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, and Albus, in that same order.

This is a fascinating property that I hadn’t picked up on before, and yields a special class of geomantic chart I call “repetitive charts”: charts where the four Mothers are the same as the four Daughters and in the same order, and thus the first two Nieces are the same and in the same order as the last two Nieces, the two Witnesses are the same, the Judge is Populus, and the Sentence is always the same figure as the First Mother.  There are 1024 (2¹⁰) such repetitive charts, and there’s a particular way you can construct one based on the sixteen rows of points of the four Mother figures.  First, remember that the sixteen rows that collectively comprise the Mother figures are the same as those that comprise the Daughter figures, just read horizontally across from top to bottom instead of vertically down from right to left:


In order to create a repetitive chart, certain rows have to be the same, reflected across the top right-bottom left diagonal:


Thus, Row 2 must be the same as Row 5 (A), Row 3 must be the same as Row 9 (B), Row 4 must be the same as Row 13 (C), and so forth.  Thus, if the third row of the First Mother has a single point, then the first row of the Third Mother must also have a single point.  Rows 1, 6, 11, and 16 are marked by asterisks (∗) and can be anything, single or double, and won’t affect the repetitiveness of the chart.  Thus, there are ten distinct choices to make here: the six mandated-repeated rows A, B, C, D, E, and F, and the four wildcard rows (∗).  Because there are ten choices to make between two options, this means that we have 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 = 2¹⁰ = 1024 repetitive charts.

Turning back to the Rosary, we know that there are 128 rows on the Rosary, which means that there are 128 options for picking out such charts if we use it clockwise, and another 128 options counterclockwise, which means we have 256 possibilities total for picking out charts using this method.  However, not all these charts are distinct, because the same sequences of seven rows (e.g. 0111100) appear multiple times in the Rosary.  If we focus on just all possible combinations of single or double points among seven rows, then this means that there are only 2⁷ = 128 possible distinct charts, but not all combinations of points among seven rows are present on the Rosary, either (e.g. the case of 1111111, where all four Mothers are Via).  In fact, based on the figure breakouts given above, we know there are only 74 possible distinct charts using the Rosary, formed from the following Mothers:

  1. Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer (2 repetitions)
  2. Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia (2 repetitions)
  3. Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis, Via (6 repetitions)
  4. Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor (4 repetitions)
  5. Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Puer (2 repetitions)
  6. Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus (4 repetitions)
  7. Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis (4 repetitions)
  8. Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio (4 repetitions)
  9. Albus, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior (2 repetitions)
  10. Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus (2 repetitions)
  11. Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis (2 repetitions)
  12. Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio (2 repetitions)
  13. Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Albus (2 repetitions)
  14. Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior (4 repetitions)
  15. Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus (6 repetitions)
  16. Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor (8 repetitions)
  17. Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer (8 repetitions)
  18. Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio (2 repetitions)
  19. Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella (4 repetitions)
  20. Carcer, Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia (2 repetitions)
  21. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via (4 repetitions)
  22. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor (1 repetition)
  23. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer (3 repetitions)
  24. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus (3 repetitions)
  25. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior (1 repetition)
  26. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus (4 repetitions)
  27. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio (2 repetitions)
  28. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus (4 repetitions)
  29. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella, Coniunctio (2 repetitions)
  30. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus (3 repetitions)
  31. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior (1 repetitions)
  32. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus (4 repetitions)
  33. Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio (2 repetitions)
  34. Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus (4 repetitions)
  35. Coniunctio, Puer, Puella, Caput Draconis (2 repetitions)
  36. Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis (8 repetitions)
  37. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer (1 repetition)
  38. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia (1 repetition)
  39. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio (4 repetitions)
  40. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Puella (2 repetitions)
  41. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio (4 repetitions)
  42. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Rubeus (2 repetitions)
  43. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis (1 repetition)
  44. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio (1 repetition)
  45. Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia (8 repetitions)
  46. Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus (8 repetitions)
  47. Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior (8 repetitions)
  48. Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio (6 repetitions)
  49. Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Rubeus (2 repetitions)
  50. Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis (4 repetitions)
  51. Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio (4 repetitions)
  52. Puella, Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis (8 repetitions)
  53. Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer (3 repetitions)
  54. Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia (3 repetitions)
  55. Puella, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio (2 repetitions)
  56. Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella (4 repetitions)
  57. Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer (4 repetitions)
  58. Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia (4 repetitions)
  59. Puer, Puella, Caput Draconis, Via (2 repetitions)
  60. Puer, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor (2 repetitions)
  61. Rubeus, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio (2 repetitions)
  62. Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis (3 repetitions)
  63. Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio (3 repetitions)
  64. Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia (8 repetitions)
  65. Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio (2 repetitions)
  66. Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella (3 repetitions)
  67. Tristitia, Albus, Rubeus, Carcer (2 repetitions)
  68. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via (4 repetitions)
  69. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor (1 repetition)
  70. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer (3 repetitions)
  71. Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer (4 repetitions)
  72. Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia (4 repetitions)
  73. Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio (6 repetitions)
  74. Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella (2 repetitions)

Organized by how many repetitions there are for each set of Mothers:

  1. One repetition (8 sequences)
    1. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor
    2. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior
    3. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior
    4. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer
    5. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia
    6. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis
    7. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio
    8. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor
  2. Two repetitions (24 sequences)
    1. Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer
    2. Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia
    3. Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Puer
    4. Albus, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior
    5. Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus
    6. Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis
    7. Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio
    8. Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Albus
    9. Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio
    10. Carcer, Albus, Rubeus, Laetitia
    11. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio
    12. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella, Coniunctio
    13. Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio
    14. Coniunctio, Puer, Puella, Caput Draconis
    15. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Puella
    16. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Rubeus
    17. Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Rubeus
    18. Puella, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio
    19. Puer, Puella, Caput Draconis, Via
    20. Puer, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor
    21. Rubeus, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio
    22. Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio
    23. Tristitia, Albus, Rubeus, Carcer
    24. Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Puella
  3. Three repetitions (9 sequences)
    1. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer
    2. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus
    3. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus
    4. Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Carcer
    5. Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia
    6. Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis
    7. Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio
    8. Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella
    9. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer
  4. Four repetitions (21 sequences)
    1. Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor
    2. Albus, Acquisitio, Amissio, Rubeus
    3. Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis
    4. Albus, Acquisitio, Puella, Coniunctio
    5. Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer, Fortuna Maior
    6. Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio, Puella
    7. Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via
    8. Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus
    9. Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus
    10. Coniunctio, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus
    11. Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio, Rubeus
    12. Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio, Puer, Amissio
    13. Fortuna Minor, Carcer, Albus, Acquisitio
    14. Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis
    15. Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Coniunctio
    16. Puer, Amissio, Acquisitio, Puella
    17. Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Carcer
    18. Puer, Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia
    19. Tristitia, Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via
    20. Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Carcer
    21. Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Laetitia
  5. Six repetitions (4 sequences)
    1. Acquisitio, Puella, Caput Draconis, Via
    2. Amissio, Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus
    3. Populus, Tristitia, Albus, Acquisitio
    4. Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer, Amissio
  6. Eight repetitions (8 sequences)
    1. Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor
    2. Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis, Puer
    3. Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis
    4. Fortuna Minor, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia
    5. Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Albus
    6. Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia, Fortuna Maior
    7. Puella, Caput Draconis, Via, Cauda Draconis
    8. Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Tristitia

Now, 74 is a really strange number that doesn’t really appear otherwise in geomancy, and the distributions here are a little unusual, so maybe there’s something to investigate along those lines more.  Perhaps there’s significance to these 74 charts in some way, but I’m not so sure.  For that matter, there could be other significance or meaning attributed to the whole emblematic order of the Rosary, but it’s not clear to me.  Still, even if this post raises more questions than it answers regarding this intriguing little device, at least all this is something to note, whether for my or future geomancers’ research, so maybe someone can do something with this information.

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?

Understanding and Employing the Geomantic Emblems

Alright, so now that we’ve gone over what the geomantic emblems are, how we can analyze them elementally, and how we can assign cycles of the emblems to the sixteen figures of geomancy, I wanted to give a bit more analysis and start getting into how we can use these emblems.

First, we know we can take a 16-line emblem and break it down into four 4-line geomantic figures.  We can assign each of these figures to the four elements, and take lines 1, 6, 11, and 16 to form an essential figure that represents the geomantic emblem elementally.  For instance, the Fire Subelemental Figure of a given geomantic emblem can be constructed by taking the fire lines in order: fire of fire (line 1), fire of air (5), fire of water (9), and fire of earth (13).  The Air, Water, and Earth lines can be constructed similarly by taking those respective subelemental lines.  By adding the subelemental figures together, we can obtain an “elemental sum” figure that represents how the elements interact in the emblem as a whole, as opposed to the overarching essential elementa figure that defines the emblem elementally.

We can also use these four figures as four Mothers in a geomantic chart, and use the chart as a whole to understand the emblem.  Just by adding the four figures together, though, we can obtain a “sequential sum” figure, which is the same as the Right Witness from the geomantic chart generated by the emblem.  As it happens, only even figures can ever be the sequential sum of an emblem, with Populus happening twice as many times (64) as any other sequential sum (32) except Via, which never happens.  Although the Judge of the geomantic chart generated from the emblem (we’ll call it the “Judge sum”) indicates how the emblem effects itself in the world (qualified by its elemental essence), the sequential sum indicates from what perspective or what cause it wants to act (Right Witness vs. Judge).  Coincidentally, the elemental sum figure of the emblem represents the Left Witness, just as the subelemental figures represent the four Daughters of the geomantic chart (fire subelemental figure is First Daughter, etc.).

When we go to cycles, there are several operations we can perform on a geomantic emblem just like how we can perform on a geomantic figure: inversion (flipping the bits from 1 to 0 and from 0 to 1), reversion (reading the emblem from the 16th line to the 1st), and conversion (inversion + reversion).  Unlike geomantic figures, which may have themselves as conversions or repeat the same figure between their inversion and reversion, the geomantic emblems have unique inversions, reversions, and conversions that don’t repeat.  Just as the emblems fall into specific emblematic cycles, so too do their inversions, reversions, and conversions.  The cycles have a specific pattern of this:

  • Populus: inversion Caput Draconis, reversion Fortuna Major, conversion Rubeus
  • Via: inversion Laetitia, reversion Fortuna Minor, conversion Cauda Draconis
  • Albus: inversion Acquisitio, reversion Tristitia, conversion Conjunctio
  • Conjunctio: inversion Tristitia, reversion Acquisitio, conversion Albus
  • Puella: inversion Amissio, reversion Puer, conversion Carcer
  • Amissio: inversion Puella, reversion Carcer, conversion Puer
  • Fortuna Major: inversion Rubeus, reversion Populus, conversion Caput Draconis
  • Fortuna Minor: inversion Cauda Draconis, reversion Via, conversion Laetitia
  • Puer: inversion Carcer, reversion Puella, conversion Amissio
  • Rubeus: inversion Fortuna Major, reversion Caput Draconis, conversion Populus
  • Acquisitio: inversion Albus, reversion Conjunctio, conversion Tristitia
  • Laetitia: inversion Via, reversion Cauda Draconis, conversion Fortuna Minor
  • Tristitia: inversion Conjunctio, reversion Albus, conversion Acquisitio
  • Carcer: inversion Puer, reversion Amissio, conversion Puella
  • Caput Draconis: inversion Populus, reversion Rubeus, conversion Fortuna Major
  • Cauda Draconis: inversion Fortuna Minor, reversion Laetitia, conversion Via

Now we have a number of ways to understand the emblems:

  1. figure sequence from expanding the emblem: the order of the figures as they appear within the emblem
  2. essential elemental figure: the condensation of the pure elements taken from the subelemental lines of the emblems in their proper places, representing the elemental force of the figure as a while
  3. subelemental figures: the condensation of specific elements taken from the subelemental lines of the emblems in their places, representing how each of the four elements within each emblem presents itself geomantically
  4. geomantic chart: the geomantic chart that is generated by taking the emblem as four Mothers in sequence
  5. Right Witness/sequential sum figure: the figure that appears as Right Witness in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, or the combination of the four figures presented in the geomantic emblem in sequence, indicating from what perspective or what cause it wants to act
  6. Left Witness/elemental sum figure: the figure that results from adding the four subelemental figures of the emblem, or the Left Witness in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, indicating how the elements interact in the emblem as a whole as well as how the emblem is affected by external situations
  7. Judge sum figure: the figure that appears as Judge in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, indicating how the emblem effects itself in the world
  8. emblematic cycle: the structural basis underlying the
  9. inverse emblem: everything this emblem is not on an external level
  10. reverse emblem: the same qualities of this emblem taken to its opposite, internal extreme
  11. converse emblem: the same qualities of this emblem expressed in a similar manner

For example, for the geomantic emblem 1000010110100111, we have the following information:

  • figure sequence: 1000 (Laetitia), 0000 (Populus), 0001 (Tristita), 0010 (Albus), 0101 (Aquisitio), 1011 (Puella), 0110 (Coniunctio), 1101 (Puer), 1010 (Amissio), 0100 (Rubeus), 1001 (Carcer), 0011 (Fortuna Maior), 0111 (Caput Draconis), 1111 (Via), 1110 (Cauda Draconis), 1100 (Fortuna Minor)
  • essential elemental figure: Via (water)
  • fire subelemental figure: Amissio (fire)
  • air subelemental figure: Acquisitio (air)
  • water subelemental figure: Fortuna Maior (earth)
  • earth subelemental figure: Acquisitio (air)
  • elemental sum figure: Carcer(earth)
  • Judge sum figure: Carcer (earth)
  • sequential sum figure: Populus (water)
  • emblematic cycle: Populus
  • inverse emblem: 0111101001011000 (Caput Draconis cycle)
  • reverse emblem: 1110010110100001 (Fortuna Major cycle)
  • converse emblem: 0001101001011110 (Rubeus cycle)

This gives us a huge amount of information for each of the 256 emblems, and this is all still fairly preliminary research, too.  Now that we have all these tools and methods of interpreting and understanding the emblems, the big question is how?  And for what purpose?  What do the emblems represent, and how do they fit into the larger idea of the cosmos, divination, and magic?

Each of the geomantic figures is composed from the four elements, and whether those elements are active or passive.  In a way, the figures represent 16 states of the cosmos at any given time, little snapshots of how any situation is evolving and resolving into a new state.  The geomantic emblems combine all 16 geomantic figures into a cycle, representing whole cosmoses on their own, complete situations and how they can be represented through a process of continuously evolving geomantic figures.  Read one way, the force within an element becomes more and more subtle, first appearing as earth then as water, then air, then fire, eventually being left entirely above what it was, while other forces come into play to take the place of the ascended element.  Read another way, the forces within an emblem begin a process of descent from the highest and most subtle realms to the most dense and material, describing a process of materialization and concretization instead of reification and deification.

Each situation has a beginning, a process that leads from the beginning to the end, and the end itself which must reflect the beginning.  We know that, although our emblem analysis uses 16 lines, emblems as a whole were first discovered as 19-line superfigures.  However, the final three lines must be the same in each emblem as the first three lines, which provides the repetition that allows the emblem to overlap onto itself as a cycle and allows for the complete expansion of the emblem into 16 figures, which are both ways the emblem reflects the beginning in the end. Certain patterns always appear in each cosmic process, and some parts of each process have the same flow.  Consider the geomantic emblems: all the geomantic emblems have the same constituent parts (the 16 geomantic figures), but these don’t appear randomly within the emblem.  We know that Laetitia must always be followed by Populus which must always be followed by Tristitia, which can be followed by either Albus or Fortuna Maior.  Similarly, we know that Caput Draconis must be followed by Via which must always be followed by Cauda Draconis, which can be followed by either Puer or Fortuna Minor.

All this boils down to a simple(?) choice.  When one wants to influence a situation to go a certain way or to inspect a particular state of a situation/the world, look to the geomantic figures.  When one wants to create a whole system or investigate how cosmic processes work as a while, look to the geomantic emblems.  Whether it’s for divination, magic, planning, meditation, theurgy, or other occult work, emblems are systems, while figures are states within a system.  Knowledge of systems requires a wider view than any specific view alone; one needs to step back or have foreknowledge of what’s going on in order to correctly assess what process one finds themselves in, and then what can be done to proceed along the process in a desired manner (if the process is changeable) or in a manner that can at least be known in advance (if the process is unchangeable).

In a way, it’s like the difference between knowing the astrological forecast for a given event at a given time, and seeing how the interaction of the natal/electional horoscope for an event and its progression or transits affects a situation, process, or life across its duration.  The difference is state versus system, or single snapshot versus whole process.

So, how can the geomantic emblems be used?  Though this is still really new stuff that needs exploration and experimentation, I’ve got a few ideas:

  • Jewelry and talismans: incorporate the emblems into magical items, either graphically (drawing or writing the emblem onto the item) or structurally (knotting, braiding, or shaping the item to resemble the emblem).  The emblem can be used to bring about a prescribed process and flow of a situation.  Likewise, they can be engraved on wands or staves to represent a middle pillar of the world, kind of like a world-tree or similar central supporting force underlying a conduit of power.
  • Representations of the cosmos: by enlarging the definition of “system” to reflect the entire cosmos, entire cosmological processes can be understood on a grand scale as an interplay of the elements.  Alternatively, they can be seen as processes that define or mark a whole sequence of events, much as a person’s natal chart or a talisman’s electional chart, that indicates where strengths, weaknesses, and dignities lie.
  • Decoration and resonance: I’ve done some experimenting with using graphical presentation of the geomantic emblems as sigils or decorative motifs, including a set of armband tattoos that look like a cross between an arabesque lattice and a scifi data printout.  Generating infinite arabesques from the emblems or incorporating them in an area or on art by necessity also incorporates the energy of the geomantic figures, as well as their flow and elemental associations, that can subtly affect the nature or energies in a given place.

Your thoughts?  Hopefully the geomantic emblems aren’t too far above your head, dear reader, and maybe you might even be willing to share some of your thoughts and possible applications of them in divination and magic.