More about Geomantic Perfection

The idea of perfection comes from horary astrology, considered to be the primary and foremost divination system of the antique, classical, and premodern periods; you can find good descriptions of astrological perfection here and here, among elsewhere.  In horary astrology, where the planets move through the 360° of the Zodiac at different rates, the planets make certain aspects to each other at different times; noting how these aspects take place, where they take place, and what other planets make aspects at the same time can indicate different types of perfection or different ways that perfection cannot be obtained.  Geomancy, however, uses sixteen figures that can appear at 12 discrete places in the House Chart instead of smoothly moving through 360°

So, with all that in mind, let me get out the basics first starting from first principles.

What is perfection?  Perfection is a technique used in geomantic divination where a House Chart and not the Shield Chart is used.  This technique helps indicate different types of connection, or the lack thereof, between different actors, events, or goals in a situation.  While the figures themselves describe what a given actor, event, or goal may be like, perfection indicates how these things relate to and work with or against other things.  The things that play a role in a situation are represented by figures called significators, and these figures are found by inspecting a particular house of the House Chart that best represents the thing.  For instance, the querent (person asking the query, or question of divination) is represented by house I, so the figure that appears in house I represents the state, quality, and person of the querent.  If the querent is asking about something in specific, such as a marriage, job, health problem, or debt, we would look to other houses to see what those things are represented by in the chart, which are houses VII, X, VI, and XII, respectively; the thing being asked about is the quesited.

Because any given figure can appear in multiple places in the House Chart, it is possible that one of the significating figures can appear in multiple places, as well.  Different houses that share the same figure indicate a strong connection between the two areas of life, actors, events, or goals.  For instance, if the significator of the querent appears in houses I and VI, we might say that the querent is heavily involved with matters of health, service, or working for others in addition to those things having qualities similar to the querent since they share the same figure.  A figure can appear in more than two houses; in one rare case, the same figure can even appear in all 12 houses, but it’s more common that a figure appears in one to three houses at a time, depending on the chart.

All this puts geomancy in an unusual place in divination systems generally; unlike Tarot, runes, astrology, or other forms of divination, where any given symbol can appear at most once in a reading, a geomantic figure can appear multiple times in a reading.  This allows us to make use of this repetition of figures to indicate relationships between significators based on how they repeat, or pass, around in the chart in relationship to each other.  This is where geomantic perfection is superficially similar to astrological perfect, where the latter relies on aspects being made between planets to form contacts between significators, the former relies on repetition of figures to do the same.  Say the querent wishes to know about marriage, or marrying a particular person; in this case, the significator of the querent is in house I, and the significator of the quesited is in house VII.  If the querent’s significator passes from house I to house VI, then we note that house VI and house VII are neighboring each other; the querent’s significator comes into direct physical contact with that of the quesited.  This is a type of contact made that illustrates perfection.

There are four types of perfection used in geomancy, and I went over those in an earlier post, which you should read up at this point.  To review, there is occupation (the same figure appears in both the house of the querent and the house of the quesited), conjunction (either significator appears in one of the two houses neighboring the other), mutation (when both significators neighbor each other at some other location away from their own houses), and translation (when the same figure which is neither significator appears next to both).  If no method of perfection applies, then we say that the chart is in denial, or lacking perfection.  Where the figures pass to, such as before or after the significator, or whether a figure passes to both before and after, or a mutation-conjunction combination, can all offer variants of these four methods of perfection, but the same basic rules apply.  If a chart has perfection between the significators, then we say that the chart perfects for those signficators; otherwise, we say that the chart denies perfection.

What does perfection answer?  To speak floridly, perfection indicates the connection between different realities, the experienced reality of the querent (represented by the significator of the querent) and the hypothetical reality of the query (represented by the significator of the quesited).  If the chart perfects, then the hypothetical reality will come to pass; if the chart denies perfection, the hypothetical reality will not come to pass.  In more direct terms, perfection in a chart indicates a simple “yes” to the query, and denial of perfection indicates “no”.  So, if Jane Doe asks “will I get married to John Smith?” and the chart perfects between houses I and VII in any way, then the answer is yes, Jane will marry John; if the chart denies perfection, the answer is no, Jane will not marry John.  It’s important to be clear on phrasing the query, because perfection answers about the situation inquired; if Jane asks “will I not marry John?” and the chart perfects, then the answer is yes, she will not marry John.  In other words, perfection affirms or denies the query put to divination.  Learning how to phrase the query clearly and concretely is an important aspect of divination generally, but especially so when perfection is used.

Being able to phrase a query clearly and directly is important especially if one phrases a query in a negative light.  Perfection will affirm whatever is asked, and denial of perfection will deny whatever is asked.  So, if one asks a question negatively, like “will X not happen?” or “should I not do X?”, then the query will be answered as it is.  Thus, if one asks “will X not happen?” perfection says “yes, X will not happen”, and denial says “no, X will not not happen” (or, more directly, “X will happen”).  Thus, the more directly one can phrase the query, reducing all ambiguity and complexity to its barest, the more clear and easily accessible the answer will be.

Now that you understand (hopefully) what perfection is, let’s talk about the limits of this technique.  For one, perfection does not answer whether something is good or bad; it only indicates whether something will or won’t happen.  It indicates a connection between different realities, but it does not indicate whether it’ll be good or bad, pleasing or displeasing, or any other qualities besides whether there exists a connection and how that connection is forged.  For understanding the qualities of the situation, you’d need to look at the figures themselves and whether they’re good or bad, how those figures relate to the rest of the chart, the Court figures, and so forth.  You can envision a kind of 2×2 table that shows this:

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

There are lots of techniques in geomancy, and perfection is only one of them.  Perfection really comes in help when a query is phrased in a way that “yes” or “no” will answer it, i.e. if the query expects a binary answer.  Anything that is asked in a way like “Will X happen”, “Should I do X”, “Can I do X”, and the like are all things that can be answered directly and easily with perfection.  Other queries, such as “When will X happen”, “What will X be”, “Where is X”, and the like are not answered by perfection; in this case, the use of perfection simply doesn’t apply to these queries and will produce nonsense answers.  For instance, if Jane Doe lost something, she might ask “will I find my lost object?” and use perfection for that reading; if she wants to know the answer to “where can I find X?”, she should use another technique entirely, since this isn’t a yes or no question.  Perfection is only one tool in the toolkit of the geomancer; just as one wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, perfection isn’t the best tool for the job when the query is best answered in a non-binary way.

Many binary queries put to divination are straightforward: whether I can get such-and-such a job, whether I’ll find my true love in the next five years, whether I’ll flunk out of college even if I study hard, and so forth.  In many instances, it suffices to use only two significators in the reading, one for the querent and one for the quesited.  However, some queries are more nuanced and complicated, and to fully answer it require a nuanced and complicated reply from the reading.  This is most easily done by considering multiple significators, where one figures out how different actors (plural) relate amongst themselves as well as with the querent in a situation.  Consider a situation where a querent wants to know how a new medical treatment prescribed by their doctor will help a health issue they’ve had for some time now.  We know of several factors here: the querent (house I), the doctor (house VII), the medical treatment (house X), and the health issue itself (house VI).  Any of these significators can perfect with any other, and since there are six different ways perfection can be forged between the significators (I and X, I and VII, I and VI, X and VII, X and VI, VII and VI), the answer could get quite complicated, indeed!  In this case:

  • Perfection between I and X indicates that the querent will carry out the medical treatment prescribed to them.  Denial indicates that they won’t or it simply won’t be available to them.
  • Perfection between I and VII indicates that the querent will be in contact with their doctor to work with them.  Denial indicates that their relationship may be blocked, broken off, or obstructed.
  • Perfection between I and VI indicates that the health issue will be resolved or will be helpfully controlled.  Denial indicates that the health condition will continue unmitigated.
  • Perfection between X and VII indicates that the doctor is the one prescribing the treatment and understands it.  Denial indicates that the doctor isn’t in control of the treatment or has no clue what he’s doing.
  • Perfection between X and VI indicates that the health issue will respond to and be helped by the treatment prescribed.  Denial indicates that the issue will not be changed or helped by the treatment.
  • Perfection between VII and VI indicates that the doctor understands the health issue and is actively working to help it.  Denial indicates that the doctor has no idea what’s going on and doesn’t really care.

These types of readings with multiple significators can be deeply involved, and there’s no simple yes or no to be had with these.  Instead, one has to develop a nuanced, qualified answer that might be yes in some ways and no in others, and build a complete message from that.  For instance, say that in this hypothetical health reading, say that perfection exists between I and VII (querent and doctor), I and X (querent and treatment), I and VI (treatment and health issue), and VII and X (doctor and treatment); the chart denies perfection between X and VI (treatment and health issue) and VII and VI (doctor and health issue).  In this case, the querent is getting along fine with the doctor and will take the steps prescribed by the doctor to change the situation.  However, the treatment prescribed by the doctor will not have any effect on the condition since the doctor doesn’t really understand it well enough to prescribe something useful; even then, however, the treatment will still be cleared up on its own or due to the personal actions of the querent.  So, in some ways, the query of “will the treatment prescribed by my doctor help this health issue?” is answered by “no”, and in some other ways “yes”, but it’s hard to answer that query fully in a single word if the whole story needs to be communicated.

Perfection is a useful tool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also one of the most difficult to understand for many beginners due to its complexity.  I ascribe this to the mechanics of geomancy itself, since this isn’t your standard oracle deck-fare divination; there’s math and analysis involved that go far beyond intuitive readings of the figures themselves as you might normally do in other divination methods.  Many people don’t pick up geomancy as their first divination system, so they’re used to systems that are simpler, more rudimentary, and less mechanical in their own ways; this is not a bad thing, but it ill-prepares them to study geomancy in a proper way.  It’s important to know the limits of perfection here, as well as when to use it and when not to use it, to fully understand how the technique works and what it represents in a chart.

Lunisolar Grammatomantic Calendar in Use

Now that the lunisolar grammatomantic calendar (LGC) is explained at length, let’s talk about how it actually might be used.  To refresh your mind, dear reader, the LGC is a modern variation on the old lunisolar calendar that the Athenians used in classical Greece to determine their festival dates and religious observances.  The months are marked by the passage of the moon, with adjustments made every so often to get a calendar year to match the actual solar year.  With grammatomancy, they days are assigned a particular Greek letter for use in divination, magic, and advising on specific actions based on the day in the calendar; some days, however, don’t have letters.  Months and years, likewise, can be assigned letters (or not depending on the circumstances), and there are overall cycles of 38 years which repeat a certain set of letters for the year, month, and days.  All this to produce a calendrical divination tool, hence the LGC.  I made a solar version as well, the SGC, with which the LGC shares a number of similarities, especially in terms of how they might be used.

Again, the core point of the LGC is for divination.  Much as with the Mayan calendar stuff, or with the planetary weekdays and other Western ideas, different days will have different effects and different forces in effect; the use of the letters is to indicate what those forces might be and how we might align or counter them.  By using a calendar to map these forces out, we have a tool to help us prognosticate and plan for different events and circumstances that we can harness for our own ends.  With the Greek letters, each letter represents a different oracle, advice, planet, sign, element, god, number, and more; whole worlds can be unfolded from the use of a simple letter through the arts of stoicheia and isopsephy, as well as grammatomancy.  In this regard, both the SGC and LGC can be used to determine on a day-by-day, month-by-month, or year-by-year basis how a particular period of time will go.  By inspecting whether a day has a particular letter assigned to it, we might plan events for that day or avoid it entirely.

However, how these letters might be applied to the days can differ; for example, compare my own SGC and LGC, both of which have the same intention and the same core idea, but reflect it in different ways.  Depending on the need, the use of the SGC might be more preferable than the LGC, or vice versa.  Specifically with the LGC, the calendar is lunisolar, which is fantastic for most magical activities undertaken nowadays, especially by people in neopagan or reconstructionist traditions.  Since these guys, as well as farmers and other people who work with lunar forces in some regard, all use the Moon as a focus for determining time, using the LGC can help with augmenting their current style of working with time and lunar forces.  Another draw to the LGC is that it’s grounded in actual historical usage of an actual calendar, complete with its own cycle of festivals, religious observances, and power.  For the Hellenismos crowd especially the LGC would be of help in combining religious observances with magical forecasting beyond other augury and divination.  Being more in tune with natural cycles than artificial precision as the SGC has, the LGC would also be better in charting planting cycles or other worldly/earthy/natural events.  Of course, this is all based on the Athenian ritual calendar, some of the days of which are associated with particular deities; for instance, Apollo is associated with the seventh day of the month, which is assigned the letter Ζ.  This gives Apollo a similar connection, and can help explain other attributes of his or explain those of the letter itself.

One notable difference between the SGC and the LGC is that the LGC has far more unassigned periods of time than the SGC.  To clarify, the SGC year has only five to six days that have no letters at the end of the year to make up for the difference between the total duration of the letter-months and that of the solar year.  Further, only days can miss a letter; the intercalary days are not assigned to any month, and all the months, years, ages, eras, eons, and so forth are all labeled with letters.  On the other hand, the LGC has roughly 65 days per year that are without a letter due to the length of the lunar synodic month, and even whole embolismic months or leap years have no letter assigned, either, according to the system I proposed.  Similarly, embolismic months and leap years might be considered special times for settling debts, finishing work, and clearing out the old brush to make way for new growth, since these times always represent some kind of closing or coming to an end of a cycle.  This would especially be true of the last embolismic month of the 38-year cycle for the LGC, which I envision as something of a party month.

That also brings up another important difference between the SGC and LGC: the use of the obsolete letters in the LGC.  Digamma, qoppa, and sampi are ancient letters that were used in very early forms of Greek as it began to borrow the Phoenician script for its own use; however, these letters were no longer in use at the time of the Greek alphabet oracle I use, and hadn’t been for quite some time except to mark numbers.  As such, they have no oracular meaning ascribed to them, nor are they used in stoicheia, qabbalah, or magic.  Due to this, days that are marked with these obsolete letters are effectively letterless, or explicitly unlucky days as opposed to the otherwise unlettered days, which might be considered more like a Moon void of course period or “thin time”.   Since these letters were overall dropped due to their uselessness, not even retained for their etymological value, these days might also be considered “dropped” from usefulness, with business being avoided entirely or similar prohibitions observed.  Since in the second and third decades of the lunar month the last day was letterless and the second to last had an obsolete letter, this gives the calendar a type of “weekend” for rest or for other observations.  The first decade, on the other hand, would be focused on ritual and sacrifices throughout those ten days.

Another change in purpose is how dates are even used between the SGC and LGC.  The LGC is focused on near-term natural cycles that have an immediate and direct need, and doesn’t really have much of a convention for calculating or even denoting dates far into the future or the past outside of the current cycle.  This follows the traditional view of time, where these things simply had no real meaning; events far in the past were history-myths, and events far in the future were undetermined and up to the gods.  What was needed was individual human timeframes that one could deal with and live within.  On the other hand, the SGC is meant for determining times and dates far into the future and the past, around 7000000 years in either direction when used with the letter-eon place, or around 13000 years without it.  This calendar might be considered more “scientific”, determining astrological or astronomical events or determining mystical transitions of the cosmos and universe over large stretches of time.  The enforced precision of the SGC and the organic flow of the LGC can easily compliment each other, much as the Mesoamerican calendar systems were used in tandem with each other.  In other words, I see the likely scenario to be the Babylonian magus or Academic geometer making use of the SGC, and the common families and townspeople making use of the LGC.  It’s like the difference between someone giving you an informal calendar date for ease and a Barycentric Julian Date for exactness.

Because of its regularity and association with the Sun and solar movement, I’m more likely to use the SGC in my Work, mostly because I resonate with that kind of independence from imperfection that the SGC (mostly) allows; plus, its ability to mark specific times arbitrarily is useful, especially when planning long-term effects that might not be immediately seen or noted.  That said, I can see the use of the LGC being helpful as well in determining lower or more nature-y rituals, such as offerings to the gods or the Earth as well as planning out lunar effects through a grammatomantic lens, especially in determining the letters associated with lunar months.  I know that a lot of this was an exercise in complexity, but it was helpful for me to get ideas, especially if I ever get into mobile platform programming or Twitter bot programming if I want to make a bot or a mobile app for these calendars (or to help others do the same, just let me know!).  Being able to use grammatomancy in a new way beyond “mere” letter-drawing is a useful thing, I think, and brings the power of time a bit closer than would otherwise be possible.

Solar Grammatomantic Calendar in Use

In the last post, I unleashed a terrifying yet really not that complex new calendar system based on the Greek alphabet.  To summarize, I made a cycle of days, where “months” are 24 days long, each day corresponding to one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.  A “year” of these days starts with the spring equinox, and there are 15 “months” in a “year”, leading to 360 days.  The leftover days between the end of the last “month” and the start of the first “month” of the next “year” are left as letterless.  In effect, I produced a solar grammatomantic calendar, or SGC; I expanded it to be able to note dates and times (down to periods of around one hour long) millions of years in the future, though this was just adding completion to the system for its own sake.  The heart of the SGC is the day cycle of letters to produce a usable cycle of days for divination.

How might calendars be used for divination?  Well, consider the cycle of the weekdays: there are seven days in a week, and each one is associated with a particular planet among the seven traditional stars so used.  We might expect more solary things to occur on Sunday, for instance, or cytherean things on Friday.  We might also use the weekdays for particular aims or purposes benefitted by the planet ruling the day, such as writing letters on Wednedsay for Mercury, or beginning business proposals on Thursday for Jupiter.  This system, combined with that of the planetary hours, forms much of the framework within my own ritual construction, which uses the ebb and flow of planetary forces as they change throughout the days and hours of the week.  In a sense, “divination” here can be expanded to the use of omens or the change in power or dignity of forces to achieve a particular end or to understand the world around us.

A similar thing is done with the tzolk’in, the Mayan cycle of 20 days, each with their own name, symbol, and oracular meaning.  I mentioned this before, that one of my friends on Facebook started doing a daily tzolk’in interpretation of the day, allowing for people to prognosticate based on the symbol representing the day in the cycle.  To an extent, this is still used in modern Mayan and Mesoamerican societies, though it’s mostly in the hinterlands and rural areas.  Still, the idea is the same: by recognizing the natural flow of powers, one can tap into them to forecast or to alter the future based on what one plans to do. Other such prognosticatory calendars have been used across the world, even if they’re in a debased form that notes only what “lucky” and “unlucky” days are.

What this all inspired me to do was to see if I could create a flow of the days such that each one might be associated with a particular letter.  With the SGC, we have a method to do that, and with varying levels of specificity.  The most important part of this is the use of the letter-day, which for 360 days of every year will have one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.  Those days are held to be “ruled” or signified by the influence of that letter; thus, if the letter-day is Α, the oracular statement for which is “[Apollo] says that you will do everything well”, then the day is highly fortunate and beneficial for all endeavors.  This doesn’t bar more specific divination just for that day; I could always still ask the gods for a particular letter-divination myself and apply it just for my own ends, but the influence of the letter-day is universal across all places, peoples, and endeavors.

I also mentioned in the SGC a method of attributing the hours to the individual letters, much as in the same method as the planetary hours: take 1/12s of daylight and 1/12s of nighttime, and ascribe each to one of the Greek letters starting with Α at the dawn “hour”.  Thus, every day will have a cycle within itself of the 24 Greek letters, with different hours indicating different flows of power.  Unlike the system of planetary hours and days, where hours are held to be of more importance than the days, the grammatomantic hours here are less important than the days, since their effect is less and dependent on the overall letter, and is detached from any one grammatomantic day.  After all, the order of the planets used for the planetary hour changes from day to day depending on the planet ruling the day, but the order of the letters is fixed for every day.

Going bigger than individual days, I also set up a method of noting years and months using the SGC.  For divination, long periods of time such as eons, eras, or ages don’t have much bearing on divination using the SGC, but years and months may.  Whole lengths of time can be said to be under the sway of the force of the letters, but again, these are of less importance than the individual days themselves.  The months are less important than the days, and the years are less important than the months.  Trends may be predicted based on the letters for larger spans of time, but the letters become less and less meaningful as the length of time increases.

To make use of an example from last time, let’s look at September 1, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. for Washington, DC, USA.  We converted it into the SGC date, or Ζ.Τ.Ψ.Ω.Χ:Δ.  The letter-day is Χ, the oracle for which is “in succeeding you will fulfill a golden oracle”; this is a great day for success and carrying on great plans that may reach beyond one’s knowledge.  However, the letter-month is Ω, “you will have a difficult harvest, not a useful one”, indicating that this general time is difficult to achieve much at all.  The letter-hour is Δ, “in customs inopportune strength is weak”, indicating that for the moment it is unhelpful to force one’s way through; working with others, over approved channels, or according to protocol is best for attaining what can be attained at all.

If one looks at the general patterns of the oracular statements for the Greek letters, you’ll note that the best oracles tend to be clustered towards Α, and increase in difficulty, strife, or cheer as they get closer to Ω.  In fact, among the oracles in grammatomancy, Α is the best and Ω is the worst.  Extrapolating this towards the SGC, we can say that as time goes on, things get progressively more difficult and arduous after pleasant and easy starts.  The first days of the month, or the first days or months of the year for that matter, or the first hours of the day, would be considered the best for any working, while as the day (or month, or year) goes on, things get worse and more unfortunate.

Using the longer date form, incorporating the letter-era, letter-age, and letter-year, we might also say that the more there are of a certain letter in the date, the more powerful that force is.  Thus, if the date were Α.Α.Α.Α.Α, then this would be the best of all possible days in the calendar, happening only once every 13100 years or so.  Likewise, if the date were Ω.Ω.Ω.Ω.Ω, then this day would be the utter, absolute worst, and also the end of the entire cycle.  For most prognosticatory purposes, if the letter-month and letter-day coincide, it might be said to be a day of power suitable for any number of things, but especially those that the letter itself might portend through its divinatory meaning.

Alternatively, one might use the other occult meanings of the figures.  We might assign a set of lucky numbers based on the isopsephic (gematria) or ordinal values of the letters.  For instance, on letter-day Π (day 16), we might say that one could use the number 16 as a lucky number (ordinal value), or 8 or 80 (isopsephic) as lucky numbers.  So, if one were going to the market on a Π letter-day, one might buy things in amounts of 8 or 80, or one might go with the obvious pun and get maybe an eighth of a pie for oneself.  Instead of the numeric value of the letters, one might go with their stoicheic meanings, the elemental, planetary, and zodiacal indications of the letters.  For instance, on the letter-day Ι, we might say that anything particularly solar would be favored, since Ι is associated with the Sun; on the letter-day Β, which is associated with the sign Aries, anything involving rams would be good, as well as fighting, war, leadership, and the like.  By associating the different forces with the Olympian gods, either through their planetary equivalents (Jupiter for Zeus, Moon for Artemis), their zodiacal correspondences (cf. Agrippa book II, chapter 14), or the like.  For the qabbalistically inclined, you might choose different days to work with a particular path on the Tree of Life using the Greek letters instead of the Hebrew alphabet.  For those so inclined, I lay all this out in my ebook on grammatomancy (available here!).

Since the SGC is a solar calendar, with the start date of the years tied to the spring equinox of the year, we can use the SGC to approximate other solar phenomena.  For instance, the passage of the Sun through the zodiac can be approximated through the use of the SGC.  Since the Sun travels about 30° around the ecliptic every 30 days, the Sun travels through four complete signs after five-letter months, with an error of about 1.75 days.  Thus, the passage of the letter days can mark the passage of the Sun through the ecliptic in a fairly orderly way.  Marking the letter-months with Arabic numerals (to avoid the complicated assignment of letters to the letter-months based on the letter-year):

  • 1.Α or 1.1: Sun ingress Aries, spring equinox, Ostara
  • 2.Η or 2.7: Sun ingress Taurus
  • 2.Χ or 2.22: Sun midpoint Taurus, Beltane
  • 3.Ν or 3.13: Sun ingress Gemini
  • 4.Τ or 4.19: Sun ingress Cancer, summer solstice, Litha
  • 6.Α or 6.1: Sun ingress Leo
  • 6.Π or 6.16: Sun midpoint Leo, Lughnasadh
  • 7.Η or 7.7: Sun ingress Virgo
  • 8.Ν or 8.13: Sun ingress Libra, fall equinox, Mabon
  • 9.Τ or 9.19: Sun ingress Scorpio
  • 10.Κ or 10.10: Sun midpoint Scorpio, Samhain
  • 11.Α or 11.1: Sun ingress Sagittarius
  • 12.Η or 12.7: Sun ingress Capricorn, winter solstice, Yule
  • 13.Ν or 13.13: Sun ingress Aquarius
  • 14.Δ or 14.4: Sun midpoint Aquarius, Imbolc
  • 14.Τ or 14.19: Sun ingress Pisces

Since the letter-days will be the same across years, we can say that Α, Τ, Ν, and Η are solstice days, and Χ, Π, Κ, and Δ are cross-quarter days.  Further, because five letter-months cross four signs of the Zodiac, this links different triplicities together, such that all the days of the fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius share the same letter-days as each other, all starting off on Α days.  Thus, we might call the letter Α fiery (since it starts off all the fire signs), Η earthy (since it starts off all the earth signs), Ν airy (since it starts of all the air signs), and Τ watery (since it starts off all the water signs).  Viewed another way, we might divide up the letter-year into three divisions of five letter-months each: months 1 through 5 are first “season”, 6 through 10 the second “season, and 11 through 15 the third “season”.  In other words, a season begins at the start of the fire signs of the Zodiac: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.  Considering where I live in a costal area in the the Northern Hemisphere, I’d name these seasons “warming”, “cooling”, and “dark”, respectively.

Of course, since the Sun doesn’t exactly travel 360° every 360 days, this attribution of the letter-days to specific solar phenomena doesn’t quite hold, and the dates will slip a little earlier as time goes on in the year.  This is why, at the end of every letter-year, there is a short period of five or so intercalary days to fill in the gap between the end of the last letter-month and the beginning of the first letter-month of the next year.  The intercalary days are meant to adjust the SGC so that it doesn’t get out of sync with the solar year, and as such don’t belong to the proper cycle of letter-days or letter-months.  These intercalary days have no associated letter and their hours have no letter attribution, as far as divination and magic are concerned.  Much like the intercalary wayeb’ days of the Mayan haab’ calendar, these days would be considered completely unfortunate.  Consider that it’s basically a gap between the proper letter-days, and that the most recent letter day (15.24) would be Ω, a bad omen; this would stick around and linger, filling the gaps in time and space and force.  Similarly, as a gap between the cycles, the intercalary days would be considered a time when the veil between the worlds or cycles is thinnest; just as the saying that “it’s darkest before dawn”, these days are those immediately preceding the spring equinox, the solar “dawn” of the year.  Alternatively, as might be done in Egyptian or Hellenic times and cultures, these might be considered a time of celebration, partying, and loosening of social rules and rites, for the same general idea that this is a time in-between, when cycles and routines are temporarily thrown off, when no work can properly be done anyway.

So, those are my thoughts on how one might apply the solar grammatomantic calendar for magic and divination in a few ways.  Of course, this is just one of the two possible grammatomantic calendars I suggested using in my first post on this; this calendar is based on the simple cycle of letters to form discrete months of time.  The other idea I mentioned exploring was combining a historical calendar, the Attic festival calendar, which is lunisolar and has a number of quirks and irregularities that make the SGC look simple in comparison.  Although grammatomantic days will still be used, the method to ascribe them to the days will be much more complicated, based upon the phases of the Moon and fitting it into a system complete with other religious and mystical observances.  Let’s save that for next time.

Negative Messages, Outcomes, and Perspectives

A recent post on the geomancy mailing list Geomantic Campus made me seriously roll my eyes, especially since it’s indicative of a wider problem in a lot of new age circles.  Essentially, the poster had a problem with how negative a lot of the figures were; he noticed that “geomancy doesn’t always give positive readings due to some negative geomantic figures”, and wanted to know what other geomancers were “going to do about it”.   Because it didn’t “sound right” to “just leave [geomancy] as it is”, the poster wanted to know what geomancers might do or innovate to make geomancy more favorable or kind to people instead of being so dour and mean.

My reply?  To be brief, not a damn thing.

Geomancy is a divination system that reports on events through occult means.  Thus, if geomancy gives negative readings, it’s because negative things happen.  Not everything in life is positive, helpful, or beneficial for us: we get sick and injured, we get in trouble, mistakes happen, things get stolen or lost or destroyed, and people can be unlucky.  These are not good things for us; sure, we might try to craft some justification for it happening in the cosmos, but that’s not going to change the fact that shit happens and it sucks.  In our world of existence where both good and bad things happen, I fully expect a functional and useful method of divination to report both good and bad things; for such a system to only report good things certainly doesn’t “sound right” to me, and certainly won’t be as useful when bad things actually do happen.

The names of the figures in geomancy are pretty telling of their meaning: Carcer means “prison” and refers to anything restrictive, isolating, or secure; Tristitia means “sorrow” and refers to depression, lowered vitality, and sadness; Amissio means “loss”, and in every sense of the word.  These are things that happen, these are real events and situations people find themselves in each and every day across the world for as long as there have been days and people to experience them.  Trying to brush the negative things that happen away under the carpet doesn’t really work, since these things are going to suck no matter what.  With divination as a forecasting tool, we can be forewarned about these things that can happen and prepare ourselves to make the most of it, but if shit’s gon’ happen, shit’s gon’ happen.

Plus, mere sugar-coating of the figures isn’t going to do much either.  Geomancy is a very down-to-earth oracle, and is best suited for anything that relies on actual events in the world around us.  Just as there are good things, so too are there bad things; if we make geomancy blind to the bad things that happen, geomancy wouldn’t be useful for us in a world where bad stuff happens.  Trying to pretty up or make the figures nicer, making Carcer out to be a lot less restrictive than it is or Amissio a lot more recuperative than it may be, won’t change the fact that isolation and loss both suck.

Am I against innovation in geomancy at all?  Heavens and hells, no.  I think we should keep trying to figure out more correspondences for the figures where appropriate, mapping them to things that didn’t exist or to mindsets that we now can clearly define and determine that weren’t thought of as distinct in older days; I think finding new techniques or secrets to get more information out of a chart is fantastic; I’d love to see new methods and innovative uses for geomantic figures in magic and talismans.  That said, trying to make the art as a whole some washed-out positive-only easy-bake Geomancy Lite is disrespectful to the art and disrespectful to people with actual problems and turn to divination for help.

Like I said before, this is all indicative of wider problems in a lot of new age, floofy fluffy-bunny, “The Secret”-derived meretricious trash.  Basically, if you think positive, the world is positive.  I call bullshit on that; not to be a pessimist, but bad things happen all the time and there’s not a lot we can do to keep them from happening.  I’m not talking about misplacing your keys or stubbing your toe, but major problems that are part of the human condition: illness, injury, death, famine, war, those kinds of things.  I’d love to live in a world without them, but that’s not this world, and we’re made to deal with them each and every day.  Trying to blow that off and live in some happy-go-lucky wonderland where nothing ever happens is, well, magical thinking, and in no useful way at that.  A lot of modern astrology has undergone this kind of thinking, as anyone familiar with the rants of Christopher Warnock of Renaissance Astrology will be aware of.  Trying to do the same to geomancy would make it a lot less useful in a world where bad things happen, and being willfully ignorant of the bad things that happen in the world is irresponsible and disastrous.

As for other divination systems?  It depends on what exactly they aim to answer.  Geomancy and horary astrology aim to answer crucial questions about everyday life as humans in a human world with human problems, and necessarily must deal with both good and bad subjects.  The ancients didn’t shy away from this; we’ve largely isolated ourselves in the middle class Western world from the harsh realities of life outside our comparatively awesome lifestyle, but that doesn’t change the fact that life has problems.  Other divination systems that rely on more spiritual, ethereal, or vague imagery?  That speaks a different language and can often answer to different problems; I won’t judge them if they can’t say bad things as well as good things.  But when making plans with geomancy, people need to know whether gold is headed towards them or shit in order to make their lives better.