Digitized Traditional and Renaissance Geomancy Resource List

Time and again recently, I’ve had to flip through a variety of archives to find specific books on geomancy.  These aren’t my normal books, but some of the venerated (and pain-in-the-ass) source books that modern geomancers in the West tend to work from, whether directly from their own pages or indirectly through modern translators and teachers.  After amassing a bit of a list of my own, and being tired of digging through awful interfaces to find a few texts, I decided to go on and compile a fairly reasonable list of geomantic texts that are freely available online in some digitized format or another.  Most of these are from the 1500s through 1700s, with very few exceptions.  There are others available online, of course, but some of those aren’t really in the public domain and I’d really rather not get slammed for piracy so publicly.

The list of texts I largely go by are found in the bibliographies of Stephen Skinner’s books Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy (1980) and Geomancy in Theory and Practice (2011).  Skinner has done, as usual, a fantastic job at cataloging and indexing so many texts, books, and manuscripts on geomancy, and it’s given me a good start with original sources to check from, in addition to modern resources such as academic papers, blogs, workshops, pamphlets, and the like.  Below are whatever resources, based on Skinner’s bibliographies, that I could find digitized and freely accessible online in a variety of langauges, focusing on those that were published and used in European and Western geomancy from the 1500s onward.

In Latin:

In French:

In Italian:

In German:

In English:

Of course, it should be made clear that this list is by no means comprehensive!  Between the manuscripts that cannot be read except with eyes trained in particular handwriting styles, books that have not yet been digitized or that have but not been made publicly available, and all the books that are still under copyright, and all the other books that are available but which are in Middle Eastern and Asian languages, there are dozens, hundreds of books that discuss geomancy that are not yet available like the ones above.  Still, this is a good start for many, and if you include resources that discuss Arabic or Islamic style geomancy under the name raml or ramal, you can turn up with even more works; alas, I don’t know Arabic, Persian, or Urdu, so I have not included those texts here, but they’re out there, too!

Hopefully, this list of texts can help further the research and study of geomancy and encourage those with the skills to translate whatever texts still remain in obscurity and bring old, buried knowledge to light once more.  If you, dear reader, have any other tips, clues, or links to other historical, Renaissance, or medieval resources that are digitized in some way or are in the public domain, please share in the comments!

On Elemental Assignments of the Geomantic Figures

It’s a constant joy for me to see the discussions on the Geomantic Study-Group on Facebook, and it’s not just because I enjoy wielding power as an admin over scores of people.  Seeing people contribute geomantic charts and offer community feedback on them, as well as being able to read different perspectives on symbols and techniques used in geomancy, helps me out as much as it does anyone else; while I may be good at geomancy, and no matter how long I practice it or delve into its mysteries, I still consider myself a student in the art, because there’s always more to learn and appreciate.  After all, with only 16 figures to represent the multiple myriads of people, things, circumstances, and events in the cosmos, there’s a lot to unpack in the art.

Occasionally, someone will ask a question about geomancy that will get me to my proper computer to type a proper response, which would be burdensome on my phone.  Recently, someone asked just such a question, and this time about one of the bits of geomantic systems I really enjoy discussing: that of the elemental rulerships of the figures.  The forum member was in a state of confusion about how the elements were assigned to the figures, what the difference was between inner and outer elemental rulerships, and whether these rulerships had any system at all behind them or whether they were just spurious and irrelevant.  You can bet your last coin I gave a response to this, especially to that last part of the question.

First, let’s talk about the inner versus outer element.  This is a distinction I’ve only ever seen in John Michael Greer’s out-of-print book Earth Divination, Earth Magic (1999) and his later and more up-dated The Art and Practice of Geomancy (2009).  In short, the outer element of a figure is the element of the sign of the Zodiac he associates with a geomantic figure, while the inner element is more closely tied to the nature and elemental structure of the figure itself.  From “The Art and Practice of Geomancy” (pp. 33 and 34, emphasis his):

One of the four elements is considered to be the inner element of the figure.  In every case but one—Populus, which has no manifest elements at all—the inner element is a manifest element, marked by a single dot.  The inner element is also called the ruling element, and it stands for the elemental pattern that the figure expresses most intently.  Pay attention to the ruling elements in divination and you’ll have a useful key to the way the events that are predicted or analyzed in a divination unfold in daily life. …

Each figure also has an outer element, which relates to the flow of elemental energies through the sixteen figures in their traditional sequence…  In a few cases this element is the same as the inner element, but usually it’s different.  The outer element shows how the figure expresses itself in the world around it, while the inner element shows what kind of power is in the figure itself.  Fortuna Major, for example, has Fire as its outer element, which represents its power to reshape the world in a favorable way.  The figure’s inner element, however, is Earth, which means its power comes not from rushing around, but from establishing itself solidly and letting everything else move around it.

And again from “Earth Divination, Earth Magic” (pp. 26—27):

Each of the figures contains all of the elements, as we’ve seen, but in geomantic tradition one or another element also has a dominant role in each figure.  There are at least as many ways of assigning the elements to the figures in this way as there are for linking the figures with the Zodiacal signs.  Two of them seem to work well in divination.  The first of these simply uses the elements that correspond to the Zodiacal signs just given.  This set, which I have called the “outer elements” of the figures, has much to do with the way the geomantic figures express their energies in practical terms. …

The second set of elemental correspondences comes from the geomancer and magician Cornelius Agrippa, who provided several different systems but labeled this one an “esoteric arrangement.”  I have found that it does a good job of summarizing the dynamics of the elemental structure of each figure, and it can be thought of as the ruling element within each figure.  I have made one change in the system as Agrippa gives it; he assigned Laetitia to Air and Rubeus to Fire, but I have reversed these in order to bring the inner element and the elemental structure into harmony.

Just to be clear about what JMG is referencing from Agrippa, the following is taken from Of Geomancy, found in Cornelius Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy:

Now we proceed to declare with what Planets these Figures are distributed; for hereupon all the propriety and nature of Figures and the judgement of the whole Art dependeth: Therefore the greater and lesser Fortune are ascribed to the Sun; but the first or greater Fortune is when the Sun is diurnall, and posited in his dignities; the other, or lesser Fortune is when the Sun is nocturnall, or placed in lesse dignities: Via, and Populus that is, the Way, and People are referred to the Moone; the first from her beginning and encreasing, the second from her full light and quarter decreasing; Acquisitio, and Laetitia which is Gaine, Profit; Joy and Gladness are of Jupiter: But the first hath Jupiter the greater Fortune, the second the lesse, but without detriment: Puella, and Amissio are of Venus; the first fortunate, the other as it were retrograde, or combust: Conjunctio and Albus are both Figures of Mercury, and are both good; but the first the more Fortunate: Puer and Rubeus are Figures ascribed to Mars; the first whereof hath Mars benevolent, the second malevolent: Carcer, and Tristitia are both Figures of Saturn, and both evill; but the first of the greater detriment: the Dragons head, and Dragons tayle doe follow their owne natures.

And these are the infallible comparisons of the Figures, and from these wee may easily discerne the equality of their signes; therefore the greater and lesser Fortunes have the signes of Leo, which is the House of the Sun: Via and Populus have the signe of Cancer, which is the House of the Moone: Acquisitio hath for his signe Pisces; and Laetitia Sagitary, which are both the Houses of Jupiter: Puella hath the signe of Taurus, and Amissio of Libra, which are the Houses of Venus: Conjunctio hath for its signe Virgo, and Albus the signe Gemini, the Houses of Mercury: Puella and Rubeus have for their signe Scorpio, the House of Mars: Carcer hath the signe Capricorne, and Tristitia Aquary, the Houses of Saturne : The Dragons head and taile are thus divided, the head to Capricorne, and the Dragons taile adhereth to Scorpio; and from hence you may easily obtaine the triplicities of these signs after the manner of the triplicities of the signes of the Zodiak: Puer therefore, both Fortunes, and Laetitia do govern the fiery triplicity; Puella, ConjunctioCarcer, and the Dragons head the earthly triplicity: Albus, Amitia, and Tristitia, doe make the Airy triplicity: and Via, Populus, and Rubeus, with the Dragons taile, and Acquisitio do rule the watry triplicity, and this order is taken according to the course of manner of the signes.

But if any one will constitute these triplicities according to the nature of the Planets, and Figures themselves, let him observe this Rule, that Fortuna major, Rubeus, Puer, and Amissio doe make the fiery triplicity: Fortune minor, Puella, Laetitia and Conjunctio triplicity of the Ayre: Acquisitio, the Dragons taile, Via, and Populus doe governe the watry triplicity; and the earthly triplicity is ruled by Carcer, Tristitia, Albus, and the Dragons head. And this way is rather to be observed then the first which we have set forth; because it is constituted according to the Rule and manner of the signes.

This order is also far more true and rationall then that which vulgarly is used, which is described after this manner: of the Fiery triplicity are, Cauda, Fortuna minor, Amissio, and Rubeus: of the Airy triplicity are, Acquisitio, Laetitia, Puer, and Conjunctio: of the watry triplicity are, Populus, Via, Albus, and Puella: And Caput, Fortuna major, Carcer, and Tristitia are of the earthly triplicity.

They doe likewise distribute these Figures to the twelve signes of the Zodiak, after this manner, Acquisitio is given to Aries; Fortuna, both major and minor to Taurus; Laetitia to the signe Gemini; Puella and Rubeus to Cancer; Albus is assigned to Leo, Via to Virgo; the Dragons head, and Conjunctio to Libra; Puer is submitted to Scorpio; Tristitia and Amissio are assigned to Sagitary; the Dragons taile to Capricorne; Populus to Aquarius; and Carcer is assigned the signe Pisces.

As it turns out, Agrippa gives three separate ways to associate the elements with the geomantic figures:

  • The first is given at the end of the second paragraph, where Agrippa associates the elements to the figures based on the sign of the Zodiac he gives them.  This largely matches with JMG’s outer element, but note that Agrippa doesn’t give the figures to the signs in a modern planetary method, e.g. giving Cauda Draconis to Scorpio instead of Sagittarius, or Laetitia to Sagittarius instead of Pisces.
  • The second is given in the third paragraph, where Agrippa associates the elements to the figures “according to the nature of the Planets and Figures themselves”, and is not present in JMG’s books.  While Agrippa does not explain the elemental nature of the planets in this text, it doesn’t match with the elemental associations he gives in either book I, chapters 23—29 or book II, chapter 7 of his Three Books of Occult Philosophy.
  • The third is given in the fourth paragraph, where Agrippa gives a “vulgar” system which matches up with JMG’s inner element, noting the swap between Rubeus and Laetitia to Air and Fire, respectively, as JMG noted.

The simultaneous use of two systems of elemental attribution for the figures is an innovation by JMG, and is found nowhere else in the geomantic literature; in almost all cases, a given book on geomancy describes only one system of elemental attribution, and it’s usually the “vulgar” one that Agrippa gives; only after Agrippa’s time do we start to see the rise of the sign-based system.  Interestingly, it’s this same “vulgar” system that Agrippa gives in book II, chapter 48 of his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, with no mention of either the sign-based attribution of the elements or the planet-based attribution of the signs, indicating he either had a change of heart or that Of Geomancy (and the Fourth Book generally) was a spurious text that was only published under his name.

To show which systems were used where in the European geomantic literature, I went through some of my books and texts and came up with the following table showing which author used what elemental rulership system for the figures.  This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list, but just a small sample of texts to show how varied this can get between authors.

Figure Agrippa
Sign-based
(1655)
Agrippa
Planet-based
(1655)
Agrippa
Vulgar
(1655)
John
Heydon
(1663)
John
Case
(1697)
Robert
Fludd
(1687)
Christopher
Cattan
(1591)
Populus Water Water Water Water Water Water Water
Via Water Water Water Water Water Water Water
Albus Air Earth Water Air Air Water Water
Coniunctio Earth Air Air Earth Earth Air Air
Puella Earth Air Water Air Air Water Water
Amissio Earth Fire Fire Earth Earth Fire Fire
Fortuna Maior Fire Fire Earth Fire Fire Earth Earth
Fortuna Minor Fire Air Fire Air Air Fire Fire
Puer Fire Fire Air Fire Fire Air Air
Rubeus Water Fire Fire Water Water Fire Fire
Acquisitio Water Water Air Fire Fire Air Air
Laetitia Fire Air Air Water Water Air Air
Tristitia Air Earth Earth Air Air Earth Earth
Carcer Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth
Caput Draconis Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth Earth
Cauda Draconis Water Water Fire Fire Fire Earth Fire

In general, including other texts like Pietro d’Abano’s Geomantia (1544) and the anonymous 15th century ce Lectura Geomantiae, geomantic authors typically use Agrippa’s “vulgar” system, which is basically the traditional system used by Gerard of Cremona and others, along with JMG and myself (though we use a slight variant where Laetitia is given to Fire and Rubeus to Air).  John Case in his “The Angelical Guide Shewing Men and Women Their Lott or Chance in this Elementary Life” uses Agrippa’s sign-based elemental system, though without using Agrippa’s planet-based sign system (instead, Case uses a modified form of the zodiacal attribution system of Gerard of Cremona).  John Heydon in his Theomagia uses Agrippa’s sign-based system (book I, chapters 19 through 21) with some modifications that bring it in line with what’s commonly used in modern times (book I, chapter 5), and upon which the geomantic texts of the Golden Dawn are based.  Interestingly, late though it is, Franz Hartmann’s The Principles of Astrological Geomancy (1889) preserves the older “vulgar” system.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much in the way of older sources; what little I have of Hugo of Santalla’s 12th century ce work on geomancy doesn’t mention the elements; Thérèse Charmasson’s “Recherches sur une technique divinatoire: la géomancie dans l’Occident médiéval” (1982) mentions an Arabic method of assigning the figures to the elements, which matches up with the “vulgar” system for the most part with some changes, though I don’t know the provenance of her source for this specific system (with the six figures that don’t match in italics):

  • Fire: Laetitia, Puer, Populus, Fortuna Maior
  • Air: Rubeus, Caput Draconis, Coniunctio, Acquisitio
  • Water: Albus, Via, Cauda Draconis, Amissio
  • Earth: Tristitia, Carcer, Fortuna Maior, Puella

So much for where JMG’s outer vs. inner system came from.  As already mentioned before on this blog, I use the same inner elemental system JMG uses, including the Laetitia/Rubeus elemental swap, as I find that it’s an elegant system that reflects the underlying overall element that represents a geomantic figure; with the exception of Populus, the ruling element of a figure will be active/manifest/present in that figure.   Not only do I find that such a system accurately represents the nature and expression of that figure, the same system also allows for a secondary sub-ruler to be assigned, so that each figure has a primary ruler and a secondary ruler, such that e.g. Amissio is primarily Fire and secondarily Water.  This is an innovation of my own that I have found nowhere else in the geomantic literature, and I find that it helps to give some more insight into the symbolism and nature of the figures.

The only thing I can’t rightly answer regarding the inner element system is the historical attribution of Laetitia to Air and Rubeus to Fire.  I agree with JMG that these two should be switched so as to bring the elements active in these figures in accord with their overall ruling element, and I can’t rightly say why they Laetitia was given to Air and Rubeus to Fire in so many older texts.  It’s a possibility that, perhaps, JMG and I are in the right and this is how the system was originally, but a typo early on got propagated from one text to the next, though that notion seems far-fetched even to me, even if similar typos and mixed-up attributions have happened and been propagated as widely and as long as that (e.g. a common such swap is that of the names of Puer and Puella in texts while keeping the rest of their significations the same, even in Fludd).  If the inner element system was not originally based on the elemental structures of the figures themselves, then I’m at a loss to describe what they would be based on unless it was a Septuagint-like miracle that the interpretations of the figures were so closely aligned to the elemental structures of the figures for so many past geomancers for so long.  In any case, the elemental structure-based system of ruling elements that I use and that JMG uses for his inner elements works well, and has a definite logic and reason for it.

That said, however, I do not use two simultaneous systems of overall ruling elements as JMG uses his inner and outer element systems.  In general, I have three issues with the use of an “outer element” system like how JMG describes it.  The simplest is that I find that it confuses the rulership system of the figures to have two co-ruling elements of a figure.  Unlike having a primary and secondary ruler, JMG has two rulers that are to be used in different contexts, but his distinction between those contexts doesn’t make sense to me.  The notion of a figure expressing itself externally differently from how it expresses itself doesn’t sit well with me, because a figure is single and simple; it doesn’t have an indoor voice and outdoor voice, or comfy at-home pants versus a dressed-up suit for the office; to me, a figure is a figure, and it expresses how it is in the way it is by the virtue of what it is.  Coniunctio’s nature, for instance, is about connection and conjunction and meeting and discussion, all of which are inherently airy things; it doesn’t do so with a mind to bring about earthy results, nor does it become an earthy figure when put next to anything else.  To have two “modes” for interpreting the figures here leads to confusion more than it does clarity, and I haven’t found it to be worth the trouble.

The second issue I have is that JMG’s outer element (or Agrippa’s sign/planet-based assignment) system is reliant on a “man in the middle” between the geomantic figures and the elements we’re trying to associate them with.  Rather than associate the figures directly with the elements, we first assign them to the signs of the Zodiac, and then link the signs of the Zodiac to the elements.  The outer element system has us taking two steps to get to our destination (figure → sign → element) rather than just one step (figure → element), and given the choice between a direct versus indirect assignment method, I’ll always take the direct one.  It’s a slippery slope to take indirect associations, especially when you increase the number of steps, because then you end up Liber 777ing everything to link everything to everything else, which becomes a muddled mess.  Here it’s not so bad, but even still, if you have a direct association available, I’d consider that to be inherently more worthy of consideration than any indirect one.

The third issue I have is the most practical: there are multiple ways of assigning the geomantic figures to the zodiac signs, and therefore there would be multiple ways to assign an outer element to the figures.  While the Agrippa- or Heydon-style method of assigning the figures to the zodiac signs is common in modern practice, even into the modern age, the older system of Gerard of Cremona (which is ultimately based on an early assignment of the figures to the 28 mansions of the Moon) is still seen, and I find that this latter system is much more effective in divination and analysis of the figures than the Agrippa/Heydon method (which itself is based on the assignments of the planets to the figures).  The elements of the signs from the Cremona system do not match with the Agrippa/Heydon system, even if it is a valid “outer element” system according to the reasoning JMG gives; were I to talk about outer elements with someone else who used the Agrippa/Heydon zodiacal system without saying what system I used, this would lead to confusion and bickering that “Albus is a watery figure!” “You’re wrong, it’s an airy one!” “Nuh-uh!” ad nauseam.  By using the inner element system, we sidestep such issues in discussion entirely, as well as reducing the number of systems we’d need to pay attention to; plus, as I’ve mentioned before, using an outer element system at all doesn’t seem particularly worthwhile to me even on its own merits.

So, to summarize all the above, some TL;DR points:

  • Inner element vs. outer element is a distinction only JMG uses.
  • Use the inner element system to understand the rulerships of the figures.
  • The outer element system doesn’t matter (at best) and can get you in trouble (at worst).

Now, all that said, let me answer that last question the forum member on Facebook asked: are such associations irrelevant?  By no means!  Each system of correspondences and attributions to the figures gives us deeper insights into how the figures represent the myriad things of the cosmos and how they play out in interpretation, as well as revealing to us their deeper spiritual meaning on their own.  For the vast majority of such correspondences, each is grounded in deeper systems of logic and reason that tie geomancy into broader systems of occult knowledge; only in a handful of cases are they spurious, and they’re either shown to be wrong with a bit of experimentation and analysis, or are shown to be valid through analysis of repeated results that show a trend to be followed, which can then be used to further enhance and empower the overall system of geomancy as we have it.  Only in a very few cases would something like divine revelation or unverified personal gnosis come into play, and it’d still be recommended to test them out both in divination and against existing systems of correspondence before putting them into practice.

For something as large-scale and encompassing as the elemental rulerships of the figures, especially since it’s based on a thorough analysis of the nature of each figure interpretatively as well as structurally, I would consider this to definitely fall on the relevant and not-spurious side of things, especially given how useful the system is to the analysis of each figure, both as a cosmos unto itself as well as a factor in a divination reading with the other figures.  And, even if you do like using the outer element system, I can only argue against it so much; even if I have my own thoughts and opinions on the subject, I must still admit and agree that it’s important to understand the different associations of the figures regardless of author or method so to get an encompassing understanding of how the figures have been understood across the centuries, and then based on your own experience and studies, pick one that works best for you.

On the Geomantic Parts of Fortune and Spirit

Whether it’s Tarot, geomancy, runes, or any other kind of art, I consider divination in general to be a process of three basic steps:

  1. Hash out, refine, and formally ask the query.
  2. Perform the divination to manipulate the symbols into a readable format.
  3. Interpret the reading.

In geomancy, that second step is the whole process of developing the four Mothers and the rest of the chart from them.  After the querent and I refine the query sufficiently and settle on the final form of the question to be asked, and once I manipulate my tools (cards, dice, or whatever) to come up with the four Mother figures, I then proceed to draw out the entire geomantic chart with all the relevant information I’d need to start with.  Once that’s done, this is what my scribbling and scratching typically ends up like:

The exact process I follow to arrive at this mess of lines and symbols from which I divine the fates and facts of the world is this:

  1. Draw out the four Mothers, then the Daughters, Nieces, and Court.
  2. Label the terminals for the Via Puncti with the elemental glyphs above the Mothers and Daughters, where possible.
  3. Draw out a simple square house chart, and populate it with the first twelve figures of the Shield Chart.
  4. Count the number of odd points in the House Chart to find the Part of Spirit, and label it (I use a circle with two diagonal lines coming out of the bottom like legs, for which I can’t find a compatible Unicode glyph that looks similar enough, but Chris Brennan suggests using an uppercase Greek letter phi Φ, for which I like using the specific glyph U+233D “APL Functional Symbol Circle Style” ⌽).
  5. Based on the Part of Spirit, label the coordinating house for the Part of Fortune (⊕).
  6. Based on the sum of odd points from calculating the Part of Spirit, add the odd points of the Court to find the odd point sum of the Shield Chart.
  7. Find the difference between the odd point sum of the Shield Chart and 64, double it, and add that to the odd point sum to find the Sum of the Chart.

You can see the different steps I took broken down by the above list fairly clearly as I did them (orange, red, green, yellow, pink, blue, cyan):

Making the Shield and House Charts is nothing special for us at this point, and I’ve discussed the Via Puncti before on my blog.  The Sum of the Chart is also fairly common knowledge, whereby you sum up all the points of the sixteen figures in the Shield Chart and compare it to 96 to determine how fast or slow the situation will resolve; again, it’s something I’ve discussed before.  Still, it might surprise you that I don’t actually calculate it directly, but base it on my calculations of the Part of Spirit (due to the mathematics of geomancy, the method works out to the same result).  Likewise, I don’t calculate the Part of Fortune directly, but also base it on the Part of Spirit.  So what gives?  What are these Parts, how are they calculated, and how are they used in geomancy?

First, let’s go with the more well-known of the two Parts, the Part of Fortune.  How do we find this indication?  From Christopher Cattan’s book The Geomancie (book III, chapter 21):

The question being made, after that we have judged by the houses, figures, angles, companions, aspects, the way of point, and by all the other sorts and manners before said, now resteth it to judge by the Part of Fortune.  The Part of Fortune figures, which afterwards ye must divide into twelve parts, and that which remaineth give unto the figures.  As if there rest two ye must give into unto the second figure, if there do remain four to the fourth figure, if there be six to the sixth figure, if there be eight to the eighth figure, if there be ten to the tenth figure, if there be twelve to the twelfth figure.  As by example, if the figure be of 72 points, or 84 or 96 or 108 points, then the part of fortune shall go into the twelfth.  But if the said points of the figure made, being divided by twelve, there do remain but two, as if there remain seventy and four where there remaineth but two, then (as before we have said) ye must give that unto the second house, and there shall be the Part of Fortune.  The which if the figure and house be good (for both the one and the other must be looked upon) you shall judge good, and if it be evil ye shall also judge evil; and so likewise shall ye do of all the other figures.  But if the figure be good, and the house ill, or contrary, the house good and the figure ill, you shall judge the said Part of Fortune to be mean.  And, to end ye may the more easier know the place where the figure falleth, which is called the Part of Fortune, ye shall mark it with this mark, 🌞, and thereafter ye shall judge all the question by the example that followeth. …

Many do use another manner to find Part of Fortune, in taking all the points as well of the twelve houses as the two Witnesses, and the Judge, which they do part by twelve (as is aforesaid) but because I have found no truth therein I will speak no more thereof.

If the mark Cattan proposes shows up as an embarrassingly incongruous sun emoji (like it does for me), then that’s just how it appears on your browser.  I’m using the Unicode character U+1F31E “Sun with Face” glyph as the closest approximation without overlapping with the usual glyph for the Sun (☉) for the symbol from the original text (fourth line, first character):

From Robert Fludd’s Fasciculus Geomanticus (book II, chapter 2):

Of the discovery of the part of fortune, and its placement in schemata.

Now the part of fortune ⊕ is to be discussed.  The part of fortune is of great importance in the view of the Geomancers just as in the view of the Astrologers, and is of great consideration: for in their view the sign of ⊕ and the steps to discover the Hyleg are chiefly considered, and through them the house, into which [the part of fortune] falls into as a result of the projection, truly seizes great life and energy by itself.  …

This part of fortune is to be considered with the utmost exactness, for if it falls into a good house and figure, it is of no small weight for bringing about judgment; if truly in an evil [house and figure], it brings about no meager impediment to judging [the schema].

Fludd then goes on to give other methods of calculating similar things “if the above method is seen to be obscure”, but the phrase “Part of Fortune” doesn’t appear, and he mostly focuses on ways of constructing entirely new charts for the purpose of a clearer judgment.

Lastly, the description of the Part of Fortune from John Michael Greer in his Art and Practice of Geomancy (chapter 6) on the Part of Fortune:

… The Part of Fortune, as the name implies, indicates a house from which the querent can expect good fortune to come in the situation.  In financial divinations it usually refers to a source of ready cash.

What about the Part of Spirit?  To start with, calling it that is my own innovation.  In the extant geomantic literature, it’s more commonly called the Index.  JMG discusses it since it appears in Fludd and Cattan, and though I’m unsure if it appears any earlier, Cattan is the one who (as far as I’m aware) introduced it (book III, chapter 18) by calling it one of the ways to find “the point of instruction”:

Another rule [to know for what intent a chart was made for] is to take all the uneven points of all the twelve figures, and give one to the first, one to the second, one to the third, and so consequently unto all the others, until that all the points be bestowed, and then if the last point remain on the first house, it signifieth thereby that the person hath desired to have that figured be made upon some of the demands which be of the first house; if it rest upon the second, it signifieth that the question or demand of the movable goods, or other things contained in the second house; and so shall you judge of the other houses where the point doth stay.  And if it do happen that the point of the intent do stay in the house of the thing demanded, or in the fifth, ye must judge according to the significations that the Judge doth show unto you; and when ye will judge by the same Judge, you must also take the uneven points of the Witness and the Judge, and bestow them amongst them; but that rule which is only by the 12 houses, is the better, more sure and certain. …

Fludd basically says the same thing (book II, chapter 3) and even with the same name in the chapter header (“De punctis instructionis…”), so I won’t translate it here.  As for JMG, he calls it the method the “projection of points”  and the resulting figure the “Index” (chapter 6):

… This can ferret out hidden factors in the chart.  Projection of points is done by counting up the number of single points in the first twelve figures of the chart, leaving the double points uncounted.  Take the total number of single points and subtract 12; if the result is more than 12, subtract 12 again, and repeat until you have a number less than 12.  If the final number is 0, this stands for the twelfth house.

The house identified by the projection of points is called the Index, and represents the hidden factor at work in the situation. …

Okay, enough reciting from resources.  Based on all the above, the methodology for finding the Part of Fortune goes like this:

  1. Add up the number of all points in the twelve houses of the House Chart.
  2. Divide by twelve.
  3. The remainder points to the house of the Part of Fortune.  If the remainder is 0, then it points to the twelfth house.

The Part of Spirit’s method is nearly identical, except instead of counting all the points, we count just the single points.  For example, given the figure Acquisitio, if we’re counting all the points in it, we have six points, but if we’re just counting single points, then we only have two.  Thus, if (for either sum) we get 88, we divide that by 12.  That gets us 7.333…, so our remainder is 4 because 12 × (7.333… – 7) = 4; phrased another way, 88 ÷ 12 = 7 + 4/12.  Thus, we look at the fourth house for the given Part for which we’re doing a calculation.

Before continuing on with how we use these indications in geomancy, it’s probably best to talk about what a Part even is.  The Parts (also sometimes called Arabic Parts or Lots) are an old doctrine in astrology, dating back to at least the time of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos and seen in both Arabic and European astrological treatises since.  At least 97 were in use in the ninth century according to the Arabic astrologer Albumassar, over a hundred listed by the Italian astrologer Bonatti in his works, and more were developed since then, even in our modern era incorporating the outer planets past Saturn.   The Parts are constructed points in a horoscope based on the sums and differences of other observable points (e.g. Ascendant or Midheaven) or physical objects (e.g. planets or luminaries).  In essence, a Part is a mathematical harmonic between different astrological notes that describes certain in-depth areas in a querent’s life or situation that could, in theory, be sussed out by looking at the planets and their aspects alone, but are more explicitly specified by their corresponding Part.

For instance, if we’re looking at indications of someone’s mother, we could look at the ruler of the fourth house in a chart, or we could look at the Part of the Mother, which is calculated as follows:

Mother = Asc + Moon – Saturn

In other words, we start from the Ascendant, add the ecliptic longitude (the position in the Zodiac) of the Moon, then subtract the ecliptic longitude of Saturn.  Thus, in a horoscope where we have the Ascendant at 25° Scorpio, the Moon at 19° Gemini, and Saturn at 3° Taurus, then our calculation would look like this:

(25° Sco) + (19° Gem) – (3° Tau)
205° + 79° – 33°
251°
(11° Cap)

With those points as above, we end up with 251° on the ecliptic, which in zodiacal notation is 11° Capricorn, which is the degree of the Part of the Mother.  This is strictly a mathematical point, much like midpoints are in modern astrology, but used specifically to determine the presence, state, and effects of one’s mother (or all mothers) in a horoscope, and can then be interpreted like any other planet in the horoscope, except that they only receive aspects instead of making them.

While the technique isn’t as popular as it once was, even today many modern astrologers take note of the Part of Fortune.  From Bonatti’s Liber astronomiae (translated by Robert Zoller in The Arabic Parts in Astrology):

This part signifies the life, the body, and also its soul, its strength, fortune, substance, and profit, i.e. wealth and poverty, gold and silver, heaviness or lightness of things bought in the marketplace, praise and good reputation, and honors and recognition, good and evil, present and future, hidden and manifest, and it has signification over everything.  It serves more for rich men and magnates than for others.  Nevertheless, it signifies for every man according to the condition of each of those things.  And if this part and the luminaries are well disposed in nativities or revolutions, it will be notably good.  This part is called the part of the Moon or the ascendant of the Moon, and it signifies good fortune.

The Part of Fortune is a weird part, because it actually has two formulas to calculate it, only one of which is used depending on whether the horoscope is that of a day chart (Sun above the horizon) or a night chart (Sun below the horizon):

Day Fortune: Ascendant + Moon – Sun
Night Fortune: Ascendant + Sun – Moon

Later in Liber astronomiae, Bonatti describes the Part of Spirit, which he also calls the Part of the Sun or the Part of Things to Come, as follows:

The pars futurorum signifies the soul and the body after the pars fortunae and the quality of these, and faith, prophecy, religion, and the culture of God and secrets, cogitations, intentions, hidden things and everything which is absent, and courtesy and liberality, praise, good reputation, heat, and cold. …

In other words, if the Part of Fortune describes the material well-being (or lack thereof) of a horoscope, then the Part of Spirit describes the spiritual well-being; just as the Part of Fortune describes our connections to the world outside us, the Part of Spirit describes the connections of the world inside us.  Fittingly enough, the calculation for the Part of Spirit is the reverse of the Part of Fortune: while the Part of Spirit also uses two formulas, one for day and one for night, the formulas themselves are switched from the Part of Fortune:

Day Spirit: Ascendant + Sun – Moon
Night Spirit: Ascendant + Moon – Sun

Thus, the Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit are intimately connected by how they’re calculated; if you know the location of one, you know the location of the other.

Bringing the notion of the Part of Fortune into geomancy from astrology necessitated an obvious conceptual change in how it’s calculated; without degrees or the ability for certain things to fall among them, it would normally have been impossible to calculate any Part.  However, Cattan either invented or learned a way to find an equally-significant sign in geomancy by adapting the methods available to us in geomancy by counting the points and divvying the sum of the House Chart among the houses.  What none of the older geomancers seem to have noticed is that there’s an intimate relationship between the Part of Fortune and the Index in geomancy: if you know the location of one, you know the location of the other.

First, note that the Part of Fortune and the Index can only fall in even-numbered houses (e.g. house II, house IV, house VI, etc.) due to the mathematical intricacies of geomancy; this is true for similar reasons and with similar logic for why the Judge of a geomantic chart must always be an even figure.  (Why Cattan makes this explicit for the Part of Fortune but suggests wrongly that the Index can be in odd houses is a mystery to me; perhaps he simply didn’t anticipate that a calculation based on odd points could result in only even numbers.)  Thus, by performing the calculations of the Part of Fortune and Index, we can get only one of six numerical results: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 0 (with 0 signifying that the sum in the calculation was evenly divisible by 12, and thus indicates the twelfth house).

After many charts of calculating the Part of Fortune and Index separately, I noticed a pattern emerging: the sums of the two separate calculations for the Part of Fortune and Index always add up to 12 (2 + 10, 4 + 8, 6 + 6, 8 + 4, or 10 + 2) or 24 (12 + 12).  Thus, if the Part of Fortune were in the eighth house, then because 12 – 8 = 4, I knew immediately that the Index would be in the fourth house; if the Index were in the sixth house, then the Part of Fortune would also need to be in the sixth house; if either indication was in the twelfth house, so would the other indication.  Again, if you know the location of one, you know the location of the other.

The mathematics behind this relationship can be described like this: if there are four rows in each figure and we’re looking at a collection of twelve figures, then there are 4 × 12 = 48 total rows.  Each row must be odd or even, and the number of odd rows plus the number of even rows must equal 48.  Plus, we know that since the houses of the Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit must both add up to 12 or 24, both of which are evenly divisible by 12, then we know that the sum of all the odd points plus all the points total must also be evenly divisible by 12.  We can check this mathematically as follows.  First, in mathematical notation, let us use the % sign to represent the modulo function, which is “the remainder after dividing by a number”.  Thus,

x = number of odd rows in the House Chart
x = number of points in the odd rows of the House Chart
x % 12 = remainder of x divided by 12 = Part of Spirit

y = number of even rows in the House Chart
y + x = 48
y = 48 – x

2y = number of points in the even rows of the House Chart
2y + x = number of all points in the House Chart
2 × (48 – x) + x
96 – 2x + x
96 – x
(96 – x) % 12 = Part of Fortune

((2y + x) + x) % 12
(96 – 2x + x + x) % 12
96 % 12
0
Q.E.D.

It was this interesting relationship between these two indications that reminded me of the relationship between the astrological Parts of Fortune and Spirit, and thus what led me to start calling the Index the Part of Spirit and reanalyzing it in that light.  Even though there’s a huge difference between how the astrologers calculate these two Parts in astrology versus how we would in geomancy and where they might be found in their separate House Charts, I find that the relationship between them is identical and, for that purpose, hugely useful in geomantic interpretation.

To briefly describe my own personal view of these Parts based on all the foregoing, the geomantic Part of Fortune indicates the source, manner, and condition of the material life of the querent: bodily health, material wealth, worldly means, and so forth.  Likewise, the geomantic Part of Spirit indicates the same but for the spiritual life of the querent: mental and spiritual well-being, divine gifts, aid from spirits or gods, and so on.  I also read notions of resources and capabilities for the querent (to answer “what can I count on to accomplish it?”) in the Part of Fortune and notions of fate and destiny of the querent (“what should I be focusing on or having faith in?”) into the Part of Spirit.

Going beyond the basic interpretation of the Parts themselves, I’ve also found a trend in charts when the two Parts are both in the sixth house or both in the twelfth house:

  • If the Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit are both in house VI, then the matter is completely in the hands of the querent.  The querent has the ultimate say and ability to determine how the situation will proceed, and can change the reality of it as they need to depending on the course of action they take.  Their actions or lack thereof will be the crucial determiner in whether and how the situation will proceed.
  • If the Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit are both in house XII, then the matter is completely out of the querent’s hands.  All the querent can do in the situation is react accordingly and adjust their conceptions and perceptions of the situation, because the reality of the situation will proceed without their input regardless of their attempts.  No matter what the querent might attempt, the situation will continue unfolding as it will.

Also, as one other use, I often use the Part of Spirit in readings about magical, occult, or divine ritual for the sake of figuring out what particular courses of action might be best, or determining what path one ought to take, whether in a specific ritual or in a general direction.  It’s a small extra thing, but for a practicing magician like myself who consults with and is consulted by other magicians, it’s a useful thing to know.  I touched on this very briefly in my old post on geomancy and magic, but now the reasoning behind it all becomes clear.

All that said, remember that the Parts can only fall in even-numbered houses.  In a sense, this is similar to the idea that figures that are even can be considered objective because only even figures can be Judges (as I wrote at length before).  In this case, the even-numbered houses deal with, in order: material goods, land and family, health and servants, death and spirits, work and office, mystery and restriction.  We exclude the odd-numbered houses, which deal with: the querent themselves, communication, creation/procreation/recreation, relationships and rivalries, religion and faith, friendships and patronage.  There’s a similar “inherent to my personal life and relationships” versus “external to my personal life and relationships” difference between the even and odd houses as there is between the objective versus subjective qualities between the even and odd figures.  It is because these things are more external to us that they can be things pointed to help us or focus on, because they’re things that we’re not necessarily in full control or knowledge of.

As a side note, I only read the Parts in a radical (unrotated) chart.  When the chart is rotated for a third-party reading, I don’t bother looking at or interpreting the Parts of Fortune and Spirit, because they’re house-based calculations and not figure-based, so they don’t get rotated with the chart and (to my mind) have no importance or meaning in such a rotated chart.  I find that the Parts work best (if at all) when applied to the querent themselves in a situation, and I haven’t found it useful to rotate the Parts with the rest of the chart for a third party.

Similarly, I don’t swap my calculations of the Parts of Fortune and Spirit around based on whether it’s daytime or nighttime, because the notion of a diurnal or nocturnal geomantic chart doesn’t make sense; after all, a solar figure might never even appear in a given chart, or it might appear both above and below the horizon in a geomantic House Chart.  Instead, it makes more sense for the Part of Spirit to only rely on odd points (the points that represent active elements, excised and above the world of passive matter) and the Part of Fortune to rely on both odd and even points (the co-mingling of active Spirit and passive Matter that results in the world around us).

Further, although there are over a hundred possible Arabic Parts (depending on tradition, era, and author you’re looking at), I’m disinclined to say that there are more than these two Parts in geomancy.  After all, the logic for the Parts in astrology is easily extensible, but in geomancy we’re far more limited based on the techniques and tools that we use, but at the same time, we have other techniques that can fill in just as easily (such as adding the figures of two houses together, the triads in the Shield Chart, and so forth).  That we call them “Parts” in geomancy is more due to conceptual parallel in what they mean more than how they’re calculated than anything else.

The only other way I can think of to extend the technique of geomantic Parts would be to calculate a new Part based on tallying only the even points in a House Chart and taking the remainder after dividing by 12, which could be worth exploring, but I’m unsure what it might indicate; perhaps using my own tripartite view of the world, if the Part of Spirit (odd points only) indicates the influence of the spiritual Cosmos and the Part of Fortune (odd and even points) indicates the influence of the humane World, then this third unnamed Part (even points only) might indicate the influence of the material Universe.  Who knows?  It might show something of good use in divination, if a pattern can be detected.

Ah, and one final thing, just to finish off the intro to the post regarding the Sum of the Chart.  Instead of tallying up all the individual points of the 16 figures in the Shield Chart, I take a shortcut method: find the odd sum of the chart (odd sum of the House Chart, already calculated for the Part of Spirit, plus the number of odd rows in the four Court figures), find the difference between that and 64, double it, and add it to the odd sum to come up with the total Sum of the Chart.  The reason why this works is much like some of the logic in why the Parts of Fortune and Spirit have to add up to 12 or 24: because each figure has four rows and there are 16 figures, then there are 4 × 16 = 64 total rows of points in the Shield Chart.  Since every row must be even or odd, the number of odd rows added to the number of even rows must add to 64.  Since it’s easiest to find the number of odd rows in the chart after we calculate the Part of Spirit (we just need to take into account four more figures), once we have that number we just subtract it from 64 to get the number of even rows.  Remembering that an even row has two points in it, we double that to get the number of points in the even rows, add to it the number of odd rows (which have only one point in each), and voilà, the Sum of the Chart is yours.

Directions of the Geomantic Figures

Recently, someone commented on one of my geomancy-related pages asking about the directions associated with the geomantic figures.  I’m…actually surprised I don’t have a post written about that, and it’s a good topic, so I figured I’d oblige and discuss that briefly.  Like with anything, there are more than one set of correspondences that can be used, depending on what source you’re working from or what techniques you’re using, but it’s not like that’s anything new to someone who’s familiar with the corpus of knowledge for geomancy.

Probably the most straightforward way is to associate the directions with the four elements, as given by Cornelius Agrippa (book II, chapter 7), and use the elemental rulers of the geomantic figures from that.  This results in a simple association:

Direction Element Figures
East Fire Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Amissio
South Earth Tristitia, Caput Draconis, Carcer, Fortuna Maior
West Air Rubeus, Puer, Coniunctio, Acquisitio
North Water Albus, Puella, Via, Populus

Easy enough, and this is the system I prefer to use myself.  However, I know of at least one other cardinal direction association in Western literature, and this one comes from the great English geomancer Robert Fludd.  Question 21 in book IV of his 1687 work Fasciculus Geomanticus talks about a method to lost or hidden objects.  I have a whole post already discussing this topic, but I figured I’ll quote and translate this particular section from Fludd in full for its own sake, as it offers its own take on finding such things:

Question XXI.
Where might the lost thing lie or be hidden?

The first is given to the querent, the tenth to the thing, and the fourth to the place under consideration.

In addition, another way to know the place of the hidden thing: consider by the fourth figure in which part of the world the thing may be in.  That area is divided from the East to the West [and] from the South to the North, for there the thing will be found, which the fourth figure will demonstrate.  And if that area is too large for the sudden discovery of the hidden thing, it is necessary to again divide that part into four other parts, and so often it is known until what time the place may be sufficiently small for the quick discovery of the hidden thing, and the fourth figure will always be the demonstrator of the place in this manner.

Or, rather, a place is divided into four parts, namely into the East, West, South, and North.  Next, look upon the fourth figure, especially of what element it might be.  For if it is of the Air, this indicates the Eastern part, if of fire the South, if of Water the North, if of Earth the West.  For example:

  • East: Laetitia, Acquisitio, Puer, Coniunctio ([figures of] Air)
  • South: Rubeus, Fortuna Minor, Amissio, Cauda Draconis ([figures of] Fire)
  • West: Fortuna Maior, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Carcer ([figures of] Earth)
  • North: Populus, Via, Amissio, Albus ([figures of] Water)

When, therefore, you find the fourth, where the thing may be found, you will make a new judgment, and similarly judge by the fourth house as before.  Then, the indicated area is again divided into four equal parts; this method is repeated until the place is reduced into a small or confined space.

While Fludd’s and my elemental associations for the figures differ slightly, the idea is the same: associate the elements with the directions, and use the elemental rulers of the geomancy figures as a basis for knowing their directions.  Another thing to note is his manner of associating the elements with the directions; I haven’t seen this specific manner of associating directions with the elements before, but I have written about different ways to correspond the elements with the directions and how it works for someone internally to their own system.  I prefer the Agrippa-style correspondences, based on the celestial directions of the four cardinal signs of the Zodiac, but your mileage and preferences may vary.  Use the system most appropriate to you.

Another similar system that we know of comes from Arabic geomancy, where we have the following diagram from Arabic MS 2697 from the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris:

Originally used as a method to find water, the idea is fundamentally the same:

  • East: Carcer, Puella, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
  • South: Acquisitio, Caput Draconis, Rubeus, Coniunctio
  • West: Amissio, Via, Albus, Cauda Draconis
  • North: Populus, Laetitia, Puer, Fortuna Minor

According to E. Savage-Smith M. Smith in their Islamic Geomancy and a Thirteenth-Century Divinatory Device (1980), they describe the method used for this (p. 66):

… Near the location where the item is thought to be, the geomancer is told to make a tableau and then to count how many waters are in it (i.e. to count the figures having a single dot in the third rank and to multiply this number by three).  If less than eight there is nothing there; otherwise, the geomancer should proceed to make a new tableau, after marking the directions of the compass on the ground.  He then counts all the elements in the tableau, multiplying the number of single dots in each rank by the value of the rank [ed. note: 1 for fire, 2 for air, 3 for water, 4 for earth].  the sum is then divided by 128, the remainder divided by 16, that remainder divided by 9, and finally that remainder divided by 4.  If one is left the direction is easy; if two, west; if three, north; and if four south.  The geomancer then faces that direction and draws a square on the ground and follows the same procedure to produce a new tableau, and the numerical process is repeated until one, two, there, or four is left.  Then the geomancer looks a the Mother in the tableau which corresponds to this remainder and locates that figure in the square diagram in the manual … The corresponding position on the square which he has drawn on the ground in front of him determines where the object is.  If it is buried, then the depth can be determined by knowing that the element of fire is assigned the depth of a finger, air the depth of the breadth of a hand, water the length of a cubit, and earth the length of a human body.  The geomancer then looks at the figure of the Mother which was found to be the indicator, counts the ranks containing only one dot, and adds up the corresponding lengths.  Then, using a certain ordering of the figures known as the “taskīn of the letters”, he finds the figure that occupies the same position in the taskīn that the Mother occupied in the tableau.  He counts the ranks of that figure which contain a single dot and adds the corresponding lengths.  Finally, he finds the sum of the number obtained from the Mother and the number found from the figure in the taskīn.  This is the depth at which the object is located.

Definitely an interesting method of finding lost objects, especially when they might actually be buried in the desert, but again, the fundamental idea is the same as Fludd’s (if not a little more ritualized).  Elsewhere in the text, Savage Smith and Smith give another association of the geomantic figures with the directions, this time based on their connections with the lunar mansions (though one that I have a hard time wrapping my head around, and which doesn’t look at all similar to the one inherited by Europe):

Direction Season Lunar Mansion Type Figure
East Spring 4 Rising Laetitia
16, 17 Setting Caput Draconis
6 Rising Acquisitio
7, 8, 9 Rising Coniunctio
South Summer 3 Setting Fortuna Minor
20 Rising Populus
5 Setting Rubeus
21 Rising Puella
West Autumn 4 Setting Tristitia
16, 17 Rising Cauda Draconis
6 Setting Amissio
14, 15 Both Carcer
North Winter 3 Rising Fortuna Maior
13 Both Via
5 Rising Albus
21 Setting Puer

Savage-Smith and Smith go on at length about this system of lunar mansions and how they relate to rising and setting along, but that’s outside the scope of the current post.

Now, in addition to all that, John Michael Greer in his Art and Practice of Geomancy (2009) gives get another set of associations, this time by associating the 16 geomantic figures with the 12 houses of the House Chart, and using the directions for each house.  This uses the minor directions (e.g. east-northeast) and can give much more fine gradations in directional guidance, which is excellent for navigation:

House Direction Figure
1 E Puer, Cauda Draconis
2 ENE Fortuna Maior, Fortuna Minor
3 NNE Albus
4 N Populus, Via
5 NNW Rubeus
6 WNW Tristitia
7 W Puella, Caput Draconis
8 WSW Laetitia
9 SSW Coniunctio
10 S Carcer
11 SSE Amissio
12 ESE Acquisitio

That said, I don’t know where JMG got this set of associations from (or I forgot).  At first glance, they seem tied to the planetary-zodiacal correspondence and linking the signs of the Zodiac to the houses, such that Puella is considered associated with Libra due to its association with Venus, and Libra is the seventh sign, then Puella should be given to the seventh house.  Though JMG uses this planetary-zodiacal correspondence, I prefer the one given by Gerard of Cremona; again, your mileage and methods may vary.  Beyond that, though, I’m not certain where this specific geomantic association came from, and it only seems very loosely tied to the planetary-zodiacal correspondences of the figures.

Hope that helps!  Personally, I prefer to use the simple elemental rulerships of the figures as the key to corresponding directions with them, at least where geomancy and its symbols are considered primary.  For instance, if I’m doing a ritual that uses the geomantic figures as the primary symbols I’m working with, I’ll face the direction associated with that figure’s elemental ruler; if I’m doing a geomantic reading, I’ll use that same direction in location/direction-related queries.  If, however, I’m performing a ritual where the planets or zodiac signs are primary, I’ll face the direction of that celestial thing and use the geomantic figures (if I use them at all) facing that direction.  Context, I suppose, is everything, but for the purposes of divination and geomantic ritual, simpler is better.

Thoughts on Geomantic Company

Of all the techniques of Western geomancy, that of company is one I’ve always been kind of iffy about.  It’s something I teach about regardless, as it’s been vetted by greater geomancers than me, but I’ve never really seen the use of it.  Lately, after going over some ideas with a student of mine, I’ve been giving it a bit more thought about where it falls into the repertoire of geomantic techniques and how it might be expanded or elaborated on.  This is more a blog post of brainstorming than exposition, so please bear with me, folks.

I’ve seen geomantic company primarily described in two texts: John Michael Greer’s Art and Practice of Geomancy,  and Christopher Cattan’s The Geomancy.  Let us first review what these texts say about company.  First, Cattan (book III, chapter 7):

When you find a good figure in a good house, it is double good, because the house is good and the figure also, and it signifieth that without any doubt the Querent shall obtain his demand.  By the like reason if ye find an ill figure in an ill house, it is very ill for the Querent, but if ye find a good figure in an ill house, it signifieth good to the Querent, but it will not continue, but taketh away some part of the malice of the house: in like case if ye find an ill figure in a good house, it taketh away the malice of the figure, for she would do harm, but she cannot, keeping always that the good come not to the Querent: and for as much as in this Chapter I have promised to speak of the company of figures, I will that you do understand that this company is of three manners, whereof the one is simple, the other demi-simple, and the third compounded.

The company simple is of two like figures, as by example, if that you find Aquisitio in the first house, and likewise in the second, and so likewise of all other figures which in two houses next together be found both of one sort, as if Conjunctio be found in the third, and likewise in the fourth.

When in two houses next together, there be found two figures a like, and that they be good, ye shall say incontinent that they signify great goodness, and if they be ill, they do signifieth much ill: as by way of example, if ye find in the fifth and ninth Rubeus, ye shall say that it signifieth much ill to the Querent, for the question demanded, and to declare unto you more easily, you must know that the second house is always companion of the first, the third of the of the fourth, the fifth of the sixth, and so consequently of the others.  If therefore they be both of one element, of one Planet, and of one Sign, they signify much good or much ill, according to their goodness or malice.  If they be good they signify that the hap and goodness of the Querent shall be as well good present as in time to come: as much shall ye judge of the contrary part if they be evil, and yea because that the first house signifieth the time present, and the second time to come, and likewise of the other companies.

The company demi-simple is, when tow figure be not both of one sort, nature or condition, although they be both of one Element, and of one Planet, so as the one party do agree, and the other not, as by example, if it happenth that the first be Aquisitio and the second Leticia, although they be both of the Element, of the Air, and of the Planet ♃, yet they be diverse significations, for that the one of them is of ♃ direct, and the exaltation of ☉, and the other of ♃ retrograde and the exaltation of ☾ the one of the figures of ♈, and the other of the Sign ♉.

The company compound is that which is of diverse figures made one contrary to another, as if Aquisitio be in the first house, and Amissio in the second, of which the two cometh and is engendered the figure Via, which is a figure of the Element of Water, signifying a conjunction of ☉ and ☾, which is a triple and compound company, evil and of great discord, by reason that Aquisitio is a figure of the Element of the Air, and of the Planet ♃ in the figure of ♈ Amissio a figure of the Element of the Fire, and of the Planet ♀ in the Sign of ♏.  Which maketh and engendered the difference of them, and the diversity and discord which they have together, out of the which two, as I have said before, is engendered this figure Via, which is a figure of the Element of the Water, and of the Planet ☾ in the sign of ♌, and is thus contrary to both the others.  Now see how the company is ill, and that is the cause that when it cometh it cannot be judged.  And thus all of the others according to the importance of their signification, be it good or be it evil.

There is moreover another company of figures which be taken by points on high of the said figures, as by example if Aquisitio be in the first house, and Albus in the second, the which because they be both good figures, and be equal of points in the upper part, and that out of them is taken another which is Caput draconis likewise equal in the upper part, it is thereby signified that both they be of great force in things good and hot, and that by the occasion that the fire is the first next unto the Planets, and principal Elements of all the other, unto whom the first points of the figure be attributed.  And for that cause I have set in the first book the Chapters as well of the Fire, and of the other Elements, to the end you may know their virtues and properties.  As much and for the same reason, I have made a Chapter, in the which I have showed the form and manner to set the figures by lines, attributing the first to the Fire, as to the first and superior and principle Element of all the other, the second to the Air, the third to the Water, the fourth to the Earth.

Cattan, following this explanation, gives an example of the use of company in a chart with the Mothers Acquisitio, Puella, Albus, and Fortuna Maior for the question of “the Lord of Garembert of Permeran being desirous of a Lady to be his friend, desired me on a time to enact him a figure to know whether he should have this purpose pretended”.  For this Cattan…really kinda goes all over the place using what appears to be a rather free-form method of interpretation (my notes included in brackets where useful):

In the which, because that Aquisitio is in the first house, and hath two points on the head, and that his companion [Puella] hath but one, & by that cause do not very well agree together: but because they be both good figures in case of love, I judged that he should obtain his purpose, but not without great pain and travail, because the company agreeth not very well.  And because that the figure which cometh out of them [ninth house, First Niece as child of First and Second Mothers], which is Cauda draconis, resembleth the second in the superior points, which points be attributed unto the Fire, by that is signified that the party Querent shall enjoy his desire.  And because Aquisitio is in the house of the demand [first house?], because he hath two points in the upper part, it is a figure which doth much participate of the Fire, rather alone then the two together as touching the company [meaning that two points in a line is doubly active instead of the usual passive].  Because also that it is a figure of ♃ in the sign of ♈, and the exaltation of ☉, it showeth that the love shall be opened, whereby the mother and kinsfolk will be very ill contended: and because Rubeus is in the fifth house I judged that the son of the woman by indignation, and in anger would go about to kill the said Gentleman: and because the company of the fifth [sixth house] called Leticia, which is the sixth, is good: I say that the said Gentleman should dispend much money in the suit of this woman: and because the eleventh is a figure of ☉ [Fortuna Minor] and a company of an ill figure [Amissio in the twelfth house], I judged that his friends should promise to help and succor unto him, but they would not do it until it were too late, so that finally he should lose all his hope of tarrying for the attainment of his hearts desire.  But for that the seventh is a good figure, and attributed unto ♃ as the first is, I said that it should be a sign that the woman should love him well, and by that means should in the end marry with him in spite of her children and kindred.  Which thing afterward came even so to pass, so that I riding post with my Lord of Thays, going to Rome, was advertised thereof and found my figure true, and that the Gentleman had married the said Lady: which figure shall serve upon for an example to now how to judge the company of figures.

So much for Cattan’s explanation of company.  Perhaps surprisingly, I couldn’t find any plagiarized rules in John Heydon’s Theomagia as I usually do from Cattan.  While his philosophical pseudopoetic ramblings never fail to give me a headache (pace Dr Cummins), Heydon appears to reference company throughout the text without actually defining how it’s to be used.  Unless I’m just that blind or my mind has started to actively block out Heydon’s text from mine eyes, it might be that Heydon simply uses “company” to refer to any figure that’s next to a particular one that we care about, a drastic simplification from Cattan’s rules, for sure.

JMG gives a description of company in Art and Practice of Geomancy (pp. 121–122), and I’ll refrain from copying the text here, but generally, he gives the same rules for forming company between the pairs of houses (albeit in a somewhat simplified method from Cattan), and he limits this use to forming secondary significators, or “cosignificators”, to the primary significators in a chart.  He says that wherever company exists, other people are necessarily involved in the situation, and we can use the usual rules of perfection with the cosignificator.  Thus, a chart perfected through cosignificators indicates that the friends or associates of the party indicated by the significator are in a position to help the party; the figure of company itself can help the geomancer determine the personality and physical characteristics of the person indicated by the figure according to the usual rules.

Given that we don’t see the rule of company listed in Robert Fludd (though I though I had crossed it once or twice), and that we don’t see this technique developed any further back than in Cattan’s work, it’s a safe bet that the rule of company was developed by Cattan or in his direct and immediate lineage of geomantic teachers.  Let us review the rules of company, as I understand them, in a condensed way:

  1. Company can only take place between odd-even pairs of houses in the House Chart: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, etc., never 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, etc.
  2. Company can be formed from one of four methods: simple, demi-simple, compound, and capitular.
  3. Company simple is formed when both houses have the same figure.
  4. Company demi-simple is formed when both houses have different figures ruled by the same planet (e.g. Albus and Coniunctio, both ruled by Mercury).
  5. Company compound is formed when both houses have different figures ruled by different planets yet are reverses of each other (e.g. Albus and Rubeus).
  6. Company capitular is formed when both houses have different figures ruled by different planets and are not reverses of each other, but share the same Fire line (e.g. Albus and Caput Draconis).

It is possible that, if a significator is in company with another figure, that second figure becomes a cosignificator and can act or stand in place of the significator wherever the cosignificator is.  For instance, say that we have a question about whether John Doe will marry Jane Smith, and we find Albus in house I, Coniunctio in houses II and IX, and Puella in houses VII and X.  Given this, we see that there is no perfection between houses I and VII, so we would normally say that the chart denies perfection.  However, note that houses I and II are in company demi-simple (both Albus and Coniunctio are ruled by the planet Mercury), so wherever we see Coniunctio, we can treat it as acting on behalf of John Doe.  In this case, now that we have Coniunctio as a cosignificator of the querent, we see that the chart does, indeed, perfect by mutation in houses IX and X, with Puella and Coniunctio beside each other.

From an old post on the Geomantic Campus forum on Yahoo! Groups dated December 14, 2008, JMG replied to a question I had about the overall importance of this approach to company:

In my experience, it’s useful, but not overwhelmingly important in most cases. I’ve had some readings in which it’s been central — for example, one where the querent’s own significator failed to perfect, but the figure in company was all over the chart and perfected in two modes plus positive aspects! It was pretty clear in that reading that the querent wasn’t going to get anywhere in the present, but if he waited and changed his approach he’d achieve his goals so easily it would make his head spin. Worked out, too.

In my experience, however, I’ve had to take a different approach for several reasons, which has led me to a different understanding of company.  Primarily, I’ve never had a chart where, if the significator didn’t perfect and the cosignificator did, the actual outcome of the situation agreed with the perfection of the cosignificator.  In other words, regardless whether the significator perfected, it didn’t really matter what the cosignificator did; it was the perfection or denial thereof from the significator itself that was most in line with the actual outcome of the situation.  This could be how geomancy works for me, especially given different results from different geomancers, but I’ve had to tweak my approach to company based on this.  Additionally, the process of using cosignificators greatly increased the complexity of a reading, especially if both the significator of the querent and of the quesited had their own figures in company and passed around in the chart on their own.  This could easily double or triple the work I’d need to put into a chart, and given that it didn’t yield me any useful information, I find the notion of using these figures as cosignificators rather pointless.

However, the notion of company does make sense to me in a limited way: if a figure is in company with another, then those figures have each other’s backs and support each other.  When a significator is in company, this means that the party represented by the significator has support, allies, and friends to assist them and work with them at their side.  We can break down the exact nature of this support based on the type of company we find:

  • Company simple: the significator and their allies are completely in line with each other, from approach to energy, and are identical in all regards.  Complete harmony and support.
  • Company demi-simple: the significator and their allies are different, but share enough characteristics for them to complement each other and understand each other enough to accomplish the same thing.
  • Company compound: the significator and their allies are approaching the same matter from different directions and have different results in mind, looking for their own ends, but find a common thing to strive for and will help each other out so that they can each benefit from the whole.
  • Company capitular: the significator and their allies share the same goal, but nothing else in common; they just want the same thing.

We can see that, implicit in this order, we have a measure of how strong a given company is, with company simple being the strongest form of company (much like how perfection by occupation is the strongest form of perfection), and with company capitular being the weakest.

When it came to the houses involved in company, I heard a theory that the even-numbered house (always the second house in a company pair) represents the future of the figure in company, and that the odd-numbered house always the first) represents the past.  I have an issue with this, however: what if the significator you’re inspecting is already in an even-numbered house?  Does company, then, only give you information about the past?  Not all even-numbered significators have valuable information there, so it seems like this is a gross imbalance of information and, thus, not a useful rule.  I haven’t really found much worth in this rule, so I left it by the wayside.  For me, if a figure is in company, then the figure matters, not whether it comes before or after the other.

So…that’s the general information about company I have on hand.  Do I use it?  Nope!  Besides noting whether or not the querent can call on friends for help, I don’t pay attention to company to determine the fortune or infortune of a person or event, and I certainly don’t use it when determining perfection of the chart.  For me, company is a rule that I’ll pull out if I’m really, really trying to squeeze out every last drop of information and every last possibility of perfection from a chart, and if I’m trying to do that, then I know I really haven’t been reading the chart right for some time, or it’s just not the right time to read the chart in a way that makes sense.

Besides, the whole rule where a company pair can only be made in an odd-even pair of houses has always bothered me; I know of no such rule in astrology where we focus on odd-even pairs of houses to the exclusion of even-odd ones, so I can’t think of a logical reason why we can’t find company there.  Recently, however, a student in geomancy of mine pointed out something I had missed all this time: the odd-even rule comes from the Shield Chart, not the House Chart!  Odd-even pairs of houses comes from the placement of the figures in the houses of the Shield Chart, where we have the First Mother (house I) and Second Mother (house II) belonging to the First Triad, the Third Mother (house III) and Fourth Mother (house IV) belonging to the Second Triad, and so forth.  That’s why we stick to odd-even pairs, because even-odd pairs would cross those binary divisions in the Shield Chart.  This is well, especially since, if we tie in the idea of company into the rule of the triads, we can see why Cattan bothers talking about the figure in house IX (First Niece) when he’s supposedly focused on the company between houses I and II (First Mother and Second Mother).  As Cattan doesn’t mention the rule of triads at all, while Robert Fludd does yet neglecting to mention company, it might be that Cattan and Fludd are both describing a similar way to group the four sets of three figures in the Shield Chart that we call the four triads.  This would then put the rule of company as a Shield Chart rule more than a House Chart rule.

So, if we were to reconsider the rule of company in terms of triads and the Shield Chart instead of houses in the House Chart, we might come up with a slightly different way to interpret the rule of company that might yield more interesting results.  Just to throw out an idea of how we might use company in terms of the triads (note that these techniques have not been verified or tested):

  1. Two parents in a given triad of the Shield Chart may or may not be in company based on the qualities of the parent figures themselves.
  2. If two parents are in company, then the matter will have multiple people involved who agree with, help, or defend each other in the matter represented by the child.
  3. If two parents are not in company, then the matter will have only one person involved, or there is disagreement or a lack of assistance when the figures refer to multiple people.
  4. The child figure in a triad represents the overall outcome of a situation or the theme of interaction between multiple parties, while the type of company or lack thereof between the parents demonstrates the support given to an outcome or means of interaction between multiple parties.
  5. Company simple between the parents indicates that the matter will have the concerted, combined, and harmonious action of multiple people, or the uninhibited action of one person supported by all others.
  6. Company demi-simple between the parents indicates that the matter will have support and interaction from many sides in many ways, yet not too different as to cause conflict.
  7. Company compound between the parents indicates that the different people represented by the parents fulfill each other’s abilities in a complementary fashion.
  8. Company capitular between the parents indicates that they share the same goal in mind but may have different means or desires in the process of attaining it that could put them at odds with each other

So, those are my thoughts when it comes to company, and how it might be expanded or tweaked to fit in with a more coherent system that uses the Shield Chart more than the House Chart.  Before, the rule of company was more than a little confusing in its importance and use, but now I can see a bit more use and interesting qualities in it when put into the context of the Shield Chart.  As before, I think it’s a good way to keep Shield Chart techniques and House Chart techniques separated, even though they ultimately rely on the same figures generated by the same process; I think the use of company when applied to the houses makes less sense than the use of company when applied to the triads.

Alas, a geomantic technique for the scrap pile.

Yada yada geomancy.  You know I know a lot about it, and I daresay I do myself.  Geomancy, over its 1000-year history, has developed many, many techniques to predict all kinds of stuff: how situations will resolve and under what circumstances, weather on a particular day, the types of diseases one may contract, where to find lost or stolen items, and so many other things.  It’s a fantastic and highly flexible divination system, especially considering it only has 16 symbols to use.  I’ve studied nearly every technique I can find in the Western traditions of geomancy, even having to translate stuff from arcane and poorly-written Latin to do so, and even after finding different correspondences between the figures and the Zodiac and body types and this and that, geomancy remains one of my top favorite, precise, clear, and accurate divination systems.

Alas, however, I have to consign a geomantic technique to the failure pile, and it’s not for lack of trying: determining names.  While it would make sense conceptually that one could determine names with geomancy, I have never been able to get such name charts to work right, from the first time I ran a name chart years ago up until the present day.  Add to it, I’ve found several methods to determine names with geomancy, and several ways to associate the letters to the figures, and I’ve tried them all, none of them giving anything remotely resembling an accurate answer.  This frustrates me to no end, because why the hell would this one technique not work when nearly every other technique I’ve tried has given me useful results?  This is especially frustrating, since being able to predict names would be exceptionally useful in the world, from determining the names of cities one might be successful in to determining the names of future spouses.

John Michael Greer (“Art and Practice of Geomancy”) gives one such method, where each figure is given one or two letters.  To determine the name of someone or something, one casts a chart with this type of query in mind and the geomancer inspects house I for the initial letter, houses X and VII for the medial letters, and house IV (and house V, for some reason) for the final letters.  Each figure is associated with one or two letters; in the case where a figure has two letters, one is chosen if that figure passes around in the chart and the other chosen if that figure does not pass out of its house.  JMG admittedly says that, because many names have more than four letters, “a fair amount of intuition can be needed in this form of divination”.

Robert Fludd (“Fasciculus Geomanticus” and “Utriusque Cosmi”), Christopher Cattan (“The Geomancie of Maister Christopher Cattan”), and John Heydon (“Theomagia, or the Temple of Wisdome”) all offer more methods to determine names:

  1. House I indicates the first letter/syllable, houses X and VII the second and third syllables, and house IV the final syllable.  Basically JMG’s method given above; present in all the aforementioned books.
  2. Take the letters of the figures in houses I and VII, and “as often as ye take the said letters, so oftentimes move your figure,  and then if ye find it not, take the letters of the tenth”; Heydon copies the English translation of Cattan verbatim for this.  This method is highly unclear and vague, and Robert Fludd says that “hic modus falsissimus est” (“this method is the most false”).
  3. Basically the same as #1 above, but specifically for vowels according to Cattan and Fludd; Heydon doesn’t mention this.  Considering how some of the correspondences with the figures don’t even include vowels for all figures, I don’t see how this could be reliable.
  4. Basically the same as #1 above, but using house X for the first syllable (not just a letter!), house VII the second, and house IV (according to Fludd) or both houses IV and V (according to Cattan) the last syllable.  Not mentioned in Heydon, nor do Fludd or Cattan say how one gets a syllable based on a single figure.

All authors give a set of correspondences between the figures and letters, but Fludd explicitly uses Cattan’s associations (hence the similarity between their rules).  Cattan, further, gives three “rules” of associations, with the first rule giving one or two letters to each of the figures, the second rule giving up to three letters, and the third rule giving up to eight; however, he never mentions the rules at all in his book or when to use which one!  Heydon, on the other hand, uses a radically different set of associations where he also includes Greek, Hebrew, and Celestial Hebrew (which is for some reason radically different than the Hebrew associations); JMG’s associations are based on Heydon’s, though no other author mentions anything about JMG’s use of selecting a primary or secondary letter based on whether the figure passes around in the chart.  Plus, as usual, the ever-convoluted-and-overwrought Heydon’s charts are riddled with errors, duplications of some figures/letters and omissions of others, etc.

Moreover, I can’t find any rhyme or reason as to why the figures were associated with the letters they were given by Cattan or Heydon.  My analytic mind couldn’t find a pattern, and none was offered in the texts as to why each figure had its sets of letters.  Either they were arbitrarily chosen by their authors, or they were observed after multiple readings and rules based upon them.  I tried my own hand at developing my own set of correspondences, hearkening back to my works with grammatomancy and stoicheia.  My thought was that if each letter can be associated with an element, planet, and zodiac sign, and each of those symbols can be associated with a letter (a la qabbalah), then it might work that we can give letters to the figures based on their stoicheiometric associations.  This works fairly neatly for the Hebrew and Greek scripts, but English was a different beast entirely; happily, Cornelius Agrippa gives such a table with English letters for the planets, elements, and signs of the Zodiac (book I, chapter 74), which I combined with Gerard of Cremona’s astrological associations between the figures and the Zodiac.

A summary of the different associations of Roman/English letters, according to Heydon, Cattan, and my own stoicheiometric correspondences, are in the table below.  Heydon was a pain in the ass to get right, since so much of his book is corrupted or jumbled, so I had to guess at some of the associations.

Figure Cattan
(First rule)
Cattan
(Second rule)
Cattan
(Third rule)
Heydon
(Roman)
Heydon
(Greek)
Heydon
(Hebrew)
Heydon
(Celestial)
Agrippa-
Gerard
Populus T, U/V/W h b, t, u/v/w T, V Ο, Χ ר ב A, R
Via P, Q m m, n, o, z P, Q Ν, Τ ע, פ י A, G
Albus D u/v/w, x a, c, d, o D Δ ד, ש ז E, F, Q
Coniunctio X, Y o, s, t r, s, t, p,
x, i/j
X, Y Π, Ψ ש, ת פ, צ E, L
Puella I/J c, o c, k, d, i/j, h,
e, u/v/w
H Θ ח כ, ו I, M
Amissio N, O b h, l, m, r, s N, O Μ, Σ נ, ס ס, ע I, N
Fortuna
Maior
F o, b c, e, f, o,
q, s, t
F Ζ ו א O, S
Fortuna
Minor
E a, b a, b, d, e, f E Ε ה ח, ט O, C
Puer K a, q a, c, e, i/j L, M Λ, Ρ ל, מ ה U, D
Rubeus C c, i/j b, c, i/j, x, z G/C Η ז נ U, D, X
Acquisitio L, M r, u/v/w a, g, i/j, l, r,
t, u/v/w, z
I/J Ι, Ω ט, י ד Y/J, B
Laetitia A i/j, r, t a, b, d, r A Α א מ Y/J, C, Z
Tristitia A a, r z, u/v/w, d,
b, n, c, i/j
B Β ב ל V/W, N, K
Carcer R, S i/j i/j, d, n,
o, p
R, S Ξ, Φ צ, ק ג V/W, T
Caput
Draconis
G a, r d, g, r, t C/G Γ ג, ת ק, ר H, V/W, O, L
Cauda
Draconis
H i/j, b a, e, h,
t, x, y
K Κ ל ש, ת H, E, I, P

But even using any of the techniques with any set of correspondences, I kept coming up with wrong answers.  If I were lucky, some of the letters in the actual name I was trying to find might appear at random places in the chart, but this was by no means guaranteed.  I did notice a slight tendency for some of the letters to appear in houses II, V, and VIII, but there was no pattern for which letters (start, medial, end) appeared within them.  I even tried using the values of the Greek, Hebrew, and Celestial Hebrew associations that Heydon gives (untrusthworthy as his stuff tends to be) to see if it would get me anything closer than the Roman script association; nada.  Plus, many of the techniques assumes there to be at least four letters or syllables in a name; many names I ended up asking about after I did a reading on them had one or two syllables, or had even just three letters, and these techniques don’t specify what to do in the case of really short names.

Like I said, it’s not for lack of trying that I’m giving up on determining names with geomancy; it really does seem like no technique handed down to us works, nor any associations of the letters we have so far (and there are quite a few).  Even my own associations and analysis of name charts yields no good results.  Although I’ve heard of some (very few) geomancers getting good results with this type of divination, I’m really starting to question their results; most geomancers I’ve gotten word from suggest that name divination hasn’t worked well for them, either.  The fact that so many other techniques work well for myself and others, with the exception of this one, doesn’t bode well for determining names generally using geomancy.  Even if it were a divinatory problem that applied to just me due to some spiritual block or mental bottleneck that would prevent me from getting good results, if a good number of other people found the technique useful, I’d be happy to agree, but even that doesn’t seem the case.

Heck, even other diviners using other divination (besides straight-up getting knowledge from spirits in the astral or using a Ouija board, which is sketchy as hell) suggest similar poor results with determining names from any set of divinatory symbols.  The fact that this might be a widespread problem across divinatory methods (barring the occasional apocryphal or anecdotal story) suggests that, much like lotto numbers, specific names simply can’t be divined.  The issue of determining names themselves poses problems: what if someone uses a nickname they identify with more than their real name, or they don’t identify with any single name?  Or what if their real name is unknown to someone and they only use nicknames with that person?  Or what if they change their name legally?  Conceptually, geomancy should be able to see through this, or at least offer some sort of guidance, but even with names that are fixed under specific circumstances, nothing seems to work.  That, or when JMG said that “a fair amount of intuition can be needed”, he really wasn’t kidding, and I think this requires intuition to the point where geomancy stops being useful at all.

Add to it, I have an issue with the English language, and the Roman script generally, in magical use.  I simply don’t find it to be a very magical language; sure, I use it in my rituals pretty much exclusively save for brief phrases or what amount to cantrips, but perhaps it’s because it’s my native language that I find it so utterly mundane and convoluted.  It’s awesome for getting stuff done in this world with other people, of course, but it doesn’t seem to have the right resonance with higher forces that, say, Greek or Hebrew tend to have.  Moreover, the Roman script bugs me in magical use for inscriptions on talismans and for other magical purposes, primarily for one reason: the letters of the Roman script were never used to mark numbers (and no, Roman numerals don’t count).  The Greek and Hebrew scripts, on the other hand, have isopsephy and gematria, respectively, which enable a word to be treated as a number, and as Pythagoras once taught, numbers rule the universe and effectively are the universe.  Plus, Hebrew has its associations with qabbalah and the paths on the Tree of Life, and more modernly with its associations with the 22 trumps of the Tarot; Greek, having 24 letters, is a divisor of 360, the degrees in a circle, and add up nicely to the sum of the 12 Zodiac signs, 7 planets, and 5 elements.  The Roman script, with its awkward 26 modern letters or 23 pre-modern letters (with J reduced into I and V and W reduced into U) has no such claim to occult fame, with no system of English or Roman gematria having worked well for me or for others.  Plus, the Roman script is really the only script of the three that has seen major and frequent changes in its alphabet over the millennia.  Of course, the Greek and Hebrew (and earlier Phoenician) scripts have had their changes, but those were already largely done with at an early date.  English writing, and the Roman script generally, just don’t seem to have magical oomph, so trying to use it magically to determine names with divination just doesn’t sit right with me from the get-go.  Then again, seeing how the Greek, Hebrew, and Celestial scripts provided equally bum results in name divination, it’s not just a problem with the Roman script in this instance.

I know that Arabic geomancy has a method to determine names, and I assume the methods are similar: associate different letters with different figures, and inspect certain houses for the letters of a name.  Still, I know little about the method in particular, nor how well it works for Arabic geomancers.  The fact that predicting names is common in “master” books of geomancy through its development and across several cultures suggests that this type of divination should work, else why would it be kept around when so much else has come and gone?  It might even be that such a method exists, but it’s not one passed down to us through Fludd, Heydon, Cattan, or Greer.  Still, at this point I’ve pretty much given up on trying to determine names with geomancy, and I’m consigning this to the trash heap until someone gives me something new and original to try.

And, yes, I have the same exact problem for determining numbers with geomancy as I do letters, and there are, again, several ways to determine numbers and several sets of associations between numbers and geomantic figures as offered by Cattan and Heydon.  Any hypothetical post about me consigning that technique to the trash, too, would pretty much be an exact duplicate of this post with letters replaced by numbers.  This means that a good chunk of the post on determining time with geomancy is also bunk, though I wrote about it as a hopefully useful technique.  Bah.

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

Since one of my most favorite topics in occultism and magic is divination, specifically the divinatory art of geomancy, why not talk about that?  I know a lot about it, and not many do, so let’s go with it.  If nothing else, you’ll come away slightly more educated, and I’ll come away with something looking like productivity.  With that in mind, let’s continue this little series of posts on geomancy, “De Geomanteia” (On Geomancy).  This week, just to keep things exciting, let’s talk about technique instead of figures.  Specifically, let’s talk about geomantic methods of calculating time and when a queried event will happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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