Generating Geomantic Figures

After my fantastic and entertaining chat with Gordon on his Rune Soup podcast, and in tandem with the good Dr Al’s course on the fundamentals and history of the art, there’s been a huge influx of interest in geomancy, to which I say “about goddamned time”.  As my readers (both long-term and newly-come) know, I’m somewhat of a proponent of geomancy, and I enjoy writing about it; it’s flattering and humbling that my blog is referred to as a “treasure trove” of information on the art, and I consistently see that my posts and pages on geomancy are increasingly popular.  It’s also encouraging enough to get me to work more on my book, which…if I actually get off my ass and work on it like I need to and should have been doing for some time now, will probably get put to consumable paper sometime late next year.

One of the most common questions I find people asking when they first get introduced to the art of geomancy is “how do people generate the geomantic figures?”  Unlike other forms of divination, geomancy isn’t tied down to one specific means or method.  Tarot and all forms of cartomancy use cards, astrology uses the planets and stars, scrying uses some sort of medium to, well, scry; we often classify methods of divination based on the set of tools it uses, and give it an appropriately-constructed Greek term ending in -mancy.  Geomancy is different, though; truly any number of methods can be used to produce a geomantic figure, because geomancy is more about the algorithms and techniques used in interpretation rather than the tools it uses to produce a reading.  Once you get into the feel and understanding of geomancy, you can almost quite literally pull a chart out of thin air using any tools (or none at all!) at your disposal.  Still, partially because of the ability to be so free-wheeling, newcomers to geomancy are often caught up in the tool-centric way of thinking of divination, and can become (I find) overly concerned with the “best” or “most popular” method.

To that end, let me list some of the ways it’s possible to come up with a geomantic figure.  I don’t intend for this to be an exhaustive list, but more of a generalized classification of different kinds of ways you can produce a geomantic figure (or more than one in a single go):

  1. Stick and surface.  This is the oldest method, going back to the very origins of the art in the Sahara, where the geomancer takes some stylus and applies it to an inscribable medium.  You can use a staff and a patch of soil on the ground, a wand on a box of sand, a stylus on a wax (or modern electronic) tablet, a pen on paper, or some other similar mechanic.  To use this method, simply make four lines of dots, traditionally from right to left.  Don’t count the dots; let them fall naturally, so that a random number of dots are in each line.  Some people get into a trance state, chant a quick prayer, or simply focus on the query while they make the dots, if only to distract the mind enough to avoid counting the dots and influencing what comes out.  Once you have four lines, count the dots in each line; traditionally, the geomancer would cross off the dots two-by-two (again, right-to-left) until either one or two dots were left over at the end.  These final leftover dots are then “separated” out from the line to form a single figure.  To make all four figures, simply increase the number of lines from four to sixteen, and group the rows of leftover dots into consecutive, non-overlapping groups of four rows.
  2. Coins.  This is a simple, minimalist method: flip a coin four times.  Heads means one point of the resulting figure, and tails means two (or you can swap these around, if you so prefer, but I prefer heads = one point).  Flipping a coin four times gets you four rows to make a complete figure.  Alternatively, you could flip four coins at once, perhaps of different denominations: for example, you could flip a penny for the Fire line, a nickle for the Air line, a dime for the Water line, and a quarter for the Earth line; a single throw of all four coins at once gets you a complete geomantic figure.  I consider any method that uses a “flip” to produce a binary answer to fall under this method; thus, the druid sticks used by geomancers like John Michael Greer and Dr Al Cummins would technically be considered a type of geomancy-specific “coin”, as would pieces of coconut shell where the convex side on top is “up” and the concave side on top is “down”.
  3. Divining chain.  This is a slightly modified version of the coin-based method, where four coins or disks are linked together in a chain.  Rather than throwing the coins individually, the chain itself is flung, tossed, or thrown in such a way that each coin falls on a different side.  The only example I can find of this in Western-style divination is the (possibly spurious) Chain of Saint Michael, where four saint medallions are chained, one to another, and connected to a sword charm, but a corollary to this can be found in the Yoruba divination methods of Ifá, using something called the ekuele (or ekpele, or epwele, depending on whether you’re Cuban or Nigerian and how you feel like spelling it).  There, you have four pieces of cut shell that can fall mouth-up or husk-up, or four pieces of metal that fall on one of two sides; notably, the ekuele has eight coins on it so that the diviner-priest can throw two figures at a time, but that’s because of the specific method of Ifá divination, which is only a distant cousin to geomancy and shouldn’t actually be mixed with our techniques.
  4. Dice.  Again, a pretty straightforward method: roll a single die four times, or four different dice one time.  If a given die is an odd number, use a single point; if an even number, use two points.  Some people use four different-colored cubical dice (e.g. red for Fire, yellow for Air, blue for Water, green for Earth), but I prefer to use tabletop RPG dice that come in different shapes.  For this, I use the associations of the Platonic solids to the classical elements: the tetrahedron (d4) for Fire, octahedron (d8) for Air, icosahedron (d20) for Water, and cube (d6) for Earth.  Like Poke Runyon aka Fr. Therion, you could use four knucklebones for the same purpose, as each knucklebone has four sides (traditionally counted as having values 1, 3, 4, and 6).  Dice are easy, the tools fit in a tiny bag which can itself fit into a pocket, and nobody is any the wiser if you just pull some dice out and start throwing them on a street corner.
  5. Geomantic spindle dice.  These are more commonly used in Arabic and Eastern styles of geomancy, but can still be used for Western types just as easily.  This tool uses two sets of four dice, each set arrayed horizontally on a spindle, and each usable face of a single die (which, because of the spindle going through two sides, leaves four usable sides) has half a geomantic figure on it: two dots in a vertical line, four dots in a square, three dots in an upwards triangle, and three dots in a downwards triangle.  The geomancer gives each spindle a flick of the wrist to spin them, then sets them down, one spindle before the other; the topmost sides of each die, read in vertical pairs of dice, yields a geomantic figure.
  6. Counting tokens.  This is a similar method to using dice, but a more general application of it.  Consider a bag of pebbles, beans, or other small mostly-similar objects.  Pull out a random handful, and count how many you end up with.  If the number is odd, give the corresponding row in the geomantic figure a single point; if even, two points.  This is a pretty wide and varied set of methods; you could even, as Nigel Pennick proposes, pull up four potatoes from a field and count whether each potato has an odd or even number of eyes on it.  The idea here is to use something to, again, get you a random number that you can reduce into an odd or even answer, and isn’t really different from using dice, except instead of being presented with a number, you have to count a selection of objects obtained from a collection.  In a sense, both the dice and counting token methods can be generalized as using any random-number generator; you could use something like random.org to get you four (or sixteen) random numbers, to which you simply apply the odd-even reduction; such a generator can be found using this link.
  7. Quartered drawing.  Not really a technique or toolset on its own, but a variation on things that use coins, identical dice, or other counting tokens.  In this, you prepare a surface that’s cut into four quarters, such as a square with four quadrants or a quartered circle.  Each quarter is given to one of the four elements, and thus, to one of the four rows of a geomantic figure.  Into each quarter, you’d randomly flip one of four coins or drop a random number of beans, and read the pattern that’s produced as a single figure.  This can be useful if you’re short on similar-but-not-identical tools (like only having four pennies instead of four different types of coin, or four identical dice instead of different-colored/shaped dice).
  8. Selection of numbers.  One method of geomantic generation I know is used in Arabic-style geomancy is to ask the querent for a number from 1 to 16 (or, alternatively, 0 to 15).  Arabic-style geomancy places a huge emphasis on taskīn, or specific orders of the figures which are correlated with different attributions; one such taskīn, the Daira-e-Abdah, simply arranges the geomantic figures numerically, using their representation as binary numbers.  From the Ilm-e-Ramal group on Facebook, here’s a presentation of this taskīn with each figure given a number from 1 through 16:
    Personally, I use a different binary order for the figures (reading the Earth line as having binary value 1, Water as binary value 2, Air as binary value 4, and Fire as binary value 8), where Populus = 0 (or 16), Tristitia = 1, Albus = 2, and so forth, but the idea is the same.  To use this method, simply get four random numbers from 1 to 16 or (0 to 15), and find the corresponding figure in the binary order of the figures.  You could ask for larger numbers, of course; if a number is greater than 16 (or 15), divide the number by 16 and take the remainder.  You could use dice to produce these numbers, or just ask the querent (hopefully ignorant of the binary order used!) for a number.  In fact, you’re not bound by binary ordering of the figures; any ordering you like (planetary, elemental, zodiacal, etc.) can be used, so long as you keep it consistent and can associate the figures with a number from 1 to 16 (or 0 to 15).
  9. Playing cards.  A standard deck of 52 playing cards can be used for geomantic divination, too, and can give that sort of “gypsy aesthetic” some people like.  More than just playing 52-Pickup and seeing whether any four given cards fall face-up or face-down to treat cards as coins, you can draw four cards and look at different qualities of the cards to get a different figure.  For instance, are the cards red or black, odd or even, pip or face?  With four cards, you can make a single figure; with 16, you can make four Mothers.  Better than that, you can use all the different qualities of any given card of a deck to generate a single figure, making the process much more efficient; I’ve written about that recently at this post, which you should totally read if you’re interested.  What’s nice about this method is that you can also use Tarot cards for the same purpose, and some innovators might come up with geomancy-specific spreads of Tarot that can combine the meanings of the Tarot cards that fall with the geomantic figures they simultaneously form, producing a hybrid system that could theoretically be super involved and detailed.
  10. Geomantic tokens.  Some geomancers have tools that directly incorporate the figures, so instead of constructing a figure a line at a time like with coins or beans, a whole figure is just produced on its own.  Consider a collection of 16 tokens, like a bag of 16 semiprecious stones (like what the Astrogem Geomancy people use), or a set of 16 wooden discs, where each token has a distinct figure inscribed on each.  Reach into the bag, pull out a figure; easy as that.  If you use a bag of 16 tokens and are drawing multiple figures at once, like four Mothers, you’ll need to draw with replacement, where you put the drawn token back into the bag and give it a good shake before drawing the next.  Alternatively, if you wanted to draw without replacement, you’ll need a collection of 64 tokens where each figure is given four tokens each, such as a deck of cards where a single figure is printed onto four cards.

As for me?  When I was first starting out, I used the pen-and-paper method (or stick-and-surface method, to be more general).  This was mostly to do a sort of “kinetic meditation” to get me into the mode and feel of geomancy, going back to its origins as close as I could without being a Bedouin wise-man in the wastes of the Sahara.  After that, I made a 64-card deck of geomancy cards, with each figure having four cards.  I’d shuffle the deck, cut it into fourths from right to left, and flip the top card of each stack to form the Mothers.  For doing readings for other people in person, like at a bookstore or psychic faire, I’ll still use this; even if geomancy isn’t familiar to people, “reading cards” is, so it helps them feel more comfortable giving them a medium they’re already familiar with.  Plus, I also can get the querent’s active involvement in the divination process by having them be the ones to cut the deck after I’ve shuffled; I’ll still flip the top card, but I find having them cut the deck gives them a meaningful inclusion into the process.  Generally, though, I use tabletop RPG dice for the Platonic solids.  I roll the dice and see whether each die is odd or even for a single figure, so four throws of dice get me four Mothers.  Nowadays, I only use the stick-and-surface method if I have truly nothing else at hand, because I find the process to be slow and messy, but it still works, and I can still rely on my own familiarity with it so that it doesn’t trip me up when I have to use it.

What would I suggest for newcomers to the art?  Like me, I’d recommend new geomancers to start with the stick-and-surface method, if only to develop an intimacy with the underlying, traditional method that produced all the others.  In a sense, doing this first is like a kind of initiation, practicing the same fundamental technique as have geomancers for a thousand years, and itself can be a powerful portal into the currents of the art.  Once you have that down-pat and have gotten into the feel of the art, though, I find that the method is pretty much up to the desires and whims of the geomancer.  Anything that returns a binary answer can be used for geomancy, but for convenience, some people might prefer instead a “whole figure” type of draw.  Once you settle on a set of tools, for those who are of a more magical or ritual bent, you may want to consider consecrating or blessing them, or entrusting them to the connection and care of a divining or talking spirit, according to whatever methods you find appropriate, but this isn’t strictly necessary for the art, either.

Ultimately, the tools you use for geomancy are entirely up to you, because it’s the techniques and algorithms we use that are what truly makes the art of geomancy.  The only thing I really recommend is that the geomancer takes an active role in divinely manipulating the tools used to produce the figures.

How about you, dear reader?  What methods do you use for geomantic generation?  Have you heard of any that aren’t on the list above, or aren’t included in any of the above classifications?  What are you most comfortable with?  What methods do you dislike, either on a practical or theoretical level?  What would you recommend?

On the Geomantic Triads

Western geomancy, as a whole, can often be described as astrological.  This isn’t to say that geomancy comes from astrology or vice versa (although some authors might disagree, like Cornelius Agrippa), but that many of the techniques described by Western geomantic texts are heavily influenced by astrological techniques: the use of the 12 houses, perfection, planetary and zodiacal affinities, the Parts of Spirit and Fortune, and the like.  The use of astrologesque techniques in geomancy have sometimes led geomancy to be called “astrology’s little sister” (since it can easily look like a shortened or abbreviated form of astrology) or “poor man’s astrology” (since it didn’t take nearly as much education or expertise to learn geomancy).  For people who want to get away from astrology, it can sometimes be irksome that there appears to be so much of it in what should be the divination system that counters it (reading the stars versus divining the earth, if we want to take things literally).

That said, geomancy is still its own tradition and has its own strengths and techniques that are quite isolated from anything astrological.  This is fortunate for people who want to bring geomancy back to its roots in Western geomancy, or for people who want to get the astrology out of geomancy.  It’s unfortunate, however, in that virtually all Western geomantic texts, all the focus is on astrological techniques with maybe a bit of lip service paid to the techniques that we might find in the Shield Chart.  The Shield Chart, I might remind you, looks like this:

Geomantic Tableau Layout

I assume you, dear reader, already understand the gist of how to make a geomancy chart, so the above diagram shouldn’t be too surprising.  We have the four Mothers in the upper right, the four Daughters in the upper left, the Nieces formed from pairs of the Mothers or Daughters, the Witnesses formed from pairs of the Nieces, and the Judge formed from the Witnesses.  The Sentence, which isn’t pictured in the above image, would be formed from the Judge and First Mother.  This is how geomantic charts are formed in European geomancy as they are in Arabic geomancy and in many forms of Indian and African geomancy; the form really doesn’t change.  Once you get the four Mother figures, you already have the other 12 figures implicit within them; the Shield Chart is just the full expansion of those figures to make all sixteen figures explicit.

The problem, however, in using the Shield Chart is that most people just…don’t.  As I mentioned before, probably the most important part of a geomantic reading can be found only by use of the Shield Chart, which is the four figures of the Court: Right Witness, Left Witness, Judge, and Sentence.  Of these, the Judge is the most important figure which is the answer.  I’m not kidding or being obtuse here; the Judge really does answer the query, but in a very high-level, broad, context-setting way.  The entire rest of the chart was developed for a reason, and that’s to give the details to fill in the gaps and clarify the blurriness that the Judge leaves behind.  However, many geomancers (I flinch to say “most” even though that’s probably the case) tend to skip the Court and the Judge and go right to the House Chart, which reorganizes the Mothers, Daughters, and Nieces into the 12 houses of an astrological horoscope.  To be fair, this is an excellent way to do geomantic readings, but it’s far from the only way.  After all, there are more ways to read the Shield Chart than for the Court alone.

One such method of reading the Shield Chart is one I first learned from John Michael Greer in his Art and Practice of Geomancy.  He calls this technique “reading the triplicities”, based on the name that Robert Fludd gave it, but I prefer the term “triads” to prevent confusion with astrological triplicities.  Essentially, we inspect four groups of three figures, each group of figures termed a triad:

  1. First Triad: First Mother + Second Mother = First Niece
  2. Second Triad: Third Mother + Fourth Mother = Second Niece
  3. Third Triad: First Daughter + Second Daughter = Third Niece
  4. Fourth Triad: Third Daughter + Fourth Daughter = Fourth Niece

The astute student will recognize that the triads are nothing more than pairs of figures that add up to a third, much in the same way that the Witnesses add up to the Judge.  John Michael Greer describes how each triad may be read to get a solid overview of a particular situation described by a geomantic chart:

  1. First Triad: the querent’s current self, circumstances, and nature.
  2. Second Triad: the current situation inquired about.
  3. Third Triad: places and surroundings of the querent, including the people and activities involved there.
  4. Fourth Triad: people involved with the querent’s life, including their friends, colleagues, coworkers, and the interplay of the relationships among them.

The manner of reading a triad is done in much the same way the Court is read:

  • Interactive reading: Right parent + Left parent = Child.  How things interact based on the querent’s side of things (right) when faced with the quesited’s side of things (left), or how things known (right) interact with things unknown (left).
  • Temporal reading: Right parent → Child  → Left parent.  How things proceed from the past leading up to the present (right), the present situation (child), and the future leading on from the present situation (left).

However, the only other source I can find regarding the triads (or, to use the older term, triplicities) comes from Robert Fludd in his Fasciculus Geomanticus.  He describes what these things are in book III, chapter 4:

De Triplicitatibus ſeu de dijudicatione quæſtionis per Triplicitates, hoc eſt, per tres figuras ſimul ſine ſpecificatione alicujus figura.

Prima Triplicitas ſignificat petitorem, & totam locorum circumſtantiam, ſcilicet complexionem quantitatem, cogitationem, mores, ſubſtantiam, virtutes, quae Triplicitatis illius figura denotat, prout demonſtratur in exemplo ſequenti, ubi homo est magniloquus, multarum divitiarum & complexionis frigidæ ac ſiccæ.

Secunda Triplicitas ſignificat omne illud, quod prima, excepto eo ſolo, quod prima denotat principium rerum, & ſecunda fortunas earum.

Tertia Triplicitas ſignificat qualitatem loci, ubi homines frequentant, videlicet an ſit magnus vel parvus, pulcher vel deformis, & ſic in cæteris, ſecundum figuras, quæ ibi reperiuntur: Significat etiam damnum loci, item, qualis ſit homo, an bonus vel malus, audax vel timidus.

Quarta Triplicitas significat fortunam & staturis amicorum, & principaliores curiæ, ac homines officiarios.

In English, according to my rough translation:

On the Triplicities, or on the decision of the question by the Triplicities, which is by three figures at the same time without the particular mention of another figure.

The first Triplicity signifies the querent and all of the circumstances of [their] place, as one may know the complexion, magnitude, thoughts, mores, substance, virtues which of this Triplicity the figure denotes, just as is demonstrated in the following example, where a man is boastful, greatly rich, and of a cold and dry complexion.

The second Triplicity signifies all that the first does, with the sole exception that the first denotes the principle of the thing, and the second its fortune.

The third Triplicity signifies the quality of the place where people frequent, as one may see whether one be great or small, beautiful or deformed, and so forth, according to the figures that are found there. It also signifies damage of the place, likewise what sort of person it may be, whether good or evil, brave or timid.

The fourth Triplicity signifies the fortune and stature of friends, and principals of the court, and officers.

This is certainly a different take on the triads than what John Michael Greer has in his book, and I wonder where JMG got his information on the triads from, because Fludd seems to have a different way of interpreting them.  That said, you can kinda see how JMG got to his interpretation from Fludd’s.  Annoyingly, however, despite the nearly 650 pages of information in Fludd’s masterwork of geomancy, all I can find on the triads is simply this one page of information.  Like I said, the bulk of Western geomantic lore focuses on the use of the House Chart, and Fludd is no exception.

Still, at least the triads give us something to work with so that we have some way of interpreting the Mothers, Daughters, and Nieces in the chart besides the Via Puncti (which is a very good way to interpret other aspects of the Shield Chart).  Between the condition of the querent (First Triad), condition of the quesited (Second Triad), the place of the query (Third Triad), and the people involved in the query (Fourth Triad), we have about as much information as we’d get from the House Chart but presented in a different way.  This will help us base further techniques of interpreting the Shield Chart later, as I have a few ideas I want to flesh out in the meantime in how we might expand on the Shield Chart itself apart from the House Chart.

Also, there’s something I want to warn you, dear reader.  Now that we know what the “houses” of the Shield Chart are associated with (such as the First Mother with the condition of the querent), it might be thought that we can draw associations between the Shield Chart houses with the House Chart houses, such that Shield Chart houses 7, 8, and 12 (Fourth Triad) relate to the seventh, eighth, and twelfth houses of the House Chart.  While this might be a useful meditation exercise, be aware that there are multiple ways of assigning the figures from the Shield Chart to the House Chart.  I tend to stick with the straightforward traditional way (First Mother to first house, Second Mother to second house, etc.), but there are at least two other ways I’ve seen it done: the “esoteric” way (assign the Mothers to the cardinal houses clockwise starting in house I, Daughters to succedent houses starting in house II, and Nieces to cadent houses starting in house III) and the Golden Dawn way (same as esoteric but starting in house X/XI/XII).  So, maybe this line of inquiry and meditation might not be the most useful thing to rely upon, especially since the whole point of this is to keep the astrological geomancy techniques separate from the geomantic geomancy techniques.

Finding Lost Objects with Geomancy

The primary purpose of any system of divination is to get answers to questions.  Across time and cultures, one of the most common questions asked of diviners and seers is where a misplaced or lost item might be found, or whether it can be recovered again at all.  This is also the case for geomancy, where it’s developed several methods of finding lost or stolen objects or things.  John Michael Greer, in his Art and Practice of Geomancy, offers one such method using the house chart of geomancy:

  1. throw a chart to ask where the lost object may be found
  2. take the house naturally ruling the type of object the querent has lost as the significator of the quesited
  3. see whether there’s any perfection between the significator of the querent and quesited to determine whether the object can be found again
  4. note where the significator of the quesited passes to, if it passes at all, to see where it may be found

While this method is fairly intuitive, it’s pretty complex in how it assigns each house a different type of object, which can be needlessly difficult for a lot of people who can’t decide where something might go.  Lots of astrologers (and some geomancers) debate whether things like cars or cell phones are ruled just by the second house or by other houses, since they have different ways of being used and reckoned in the world (as things one owns, as tools, as methods for communication or travel, as homes, etc.).  After some experimentation, I decided to develop my own method to find lost objects using a geomancy that’s based a little closer to the traditional rules of horary astrology.  It simplifies the method to assign the lost object a significator, and can lead to detailed descriptions of where the lost object may be found.

As in these kinds of readings, it’s best to assume the least and break down the query.  Instead of going right for the query “where can I find lost thing X?”, first ask “can I find lost thing X in a reasonable timeframe?”.  This way, you know ahead of time whether it’s worth it to try to find the lost object, since some things may be permanently lost, destroyed, or stolen and cannot be recovered.  This is done through looking at the house chart and whether or not the significators of the querent and quesited perfect, among other techniques.  The significator of the querent is, as always, the first house (unless one is asking on behalf of another, but whatever).  The significator of the quesited is the lost thing sought after, but the choice of house for this depends on what the lost thing is.  Instead of having each house represent a different kind of thing, we’ll only focus on four houses:

  • any object: house II
  • pet or small livestock: house VI
  • any person: house VII
  • wild animal or large livestock: house XII

Although the traditional method taught by Greer assigns each house a different kind or class of object, we’ll simplify this into saying that any object, movable possession, or tangible good is ruled by the second house.  Any person is ruled by the seventh house, including lovers, enemies, assassins, politicians, children, or anyone without a connection to the querent.  Animals can either be domesticated or wild, a pet or livestock, or small or large (if an average adult can ride it, it’s considered large); if it’s closer to the former set of categories, it’s ruled by the sixth house, but if the latter, the twelfth house.  The quesited’s significator represents the color, shape, and general form of the lost object; you might use the astrological, planetary, or other geomantic associations of the figures to discern these (e.g. Puer, associated with Mars and Aries, indicates steel or iron, red, weapon-like, sharp, hot, etc.).  A stable figure found as the quesited’s significator shows that the object has not moved recently or will not move anytime soon; a mobile figure, on the other hand, indicates motion to or from the item’s current location.

The house that the quesited’s significator passes to will show the direction or the type of area that the object in question may be found; if the significator does not pass in the chart, then the location specified by its natural house should be used.  If the quesited’s figure passes to two or more houses in the chart, the item is in motion between them.  In some cases, theft can be the cause of the loss of an object.  If the lost object’s signifi cator perfects with the seventh house or twelfth house, and especially the twelfth in the case of a lost person, the chart indicates that the lost item has been stolen by someone known or unknown, respectively. If the lost object occupies the eighth house as well as its own, the object is in someone else’s possession or has already been sold o ff.

Angular houses suggest that the item is where it is often kept or should be or where the querent often frequents.  Succedent houses, including the second, shows that the item is not where it usually is kept but is nearby, possibly outside or near an auxiliary building, or near where the querent goes only occasionally.  Cadent houses indicate that the item is far off , hidden from its normal location, or where the querent hardly ever or never goes.  Individually, the houses indicate the following areas:

  1. East, where querent spends most of his or her time, on the querent’s body or immediate personal belongings, in front of the house, in the querent’s room, home of grandparent (fourth from the tenth)
  2. East-northeast, northeast room along the eastern wall, where querent keeps his or her money or valuable possessions, pocketbook, wallet, deposit box, vault, file cabinet, home of a friend (fourth from the eleventh)
  3. North-northeast, northeast room along the northern wall, on or in a desk, among papers or books, in a study, library, or writing station, in or near a car, places connected to travel, letters, education, or communication, near a telephone, radio, computer, or television, in the neighborhood, with a sibling
  4. North, in the home, child’s bedroom or under child’s bed (twelfth of the fifth), middle of the house, oldest part of house, kitchen, pantry, basement, with parent, with oldest person in house, in yard or garden
  5. North-northwest, northwest room along northern wall, in recreation room, in place for hobbies or pleasure, child’s room, with a lover, in a bar, restaurant, tavern, theater, or banquet hall
  6. West-northwest, northwest room along western wall, container or pocket, inside something, in place where one work or does chores, cupboard, closet, drawer, near pet, with tenant, with servant, with employee, in clinic or doctor’s office
  7. West, where partner spends most time, with partner, in partner’s room or office, living room, with personal consultant, attorney, or astrologer, father’s residence (fourth from the fourth), with maternal grandmother (tenth from the tenth), with a niece or nephew (fifth from the third)
  8. West-southwest, southwest room along western wall, in garbage, dead, ruined, gone, potentially unrecoverable, near water or plumbing, in or near bathroom, where research or investigation are done, places of sex, death, or legacies, among partner’s possessions
  9. South-southwest, southwest room along southern wall, far away or distant places, places related to voyages, heights, religion, college, or publishers, with in-laws (third from the seventh), with grandchildren (fifth from the  fifth)
  10. South, office, where one works, hallway, parent’s room, mother’s room, dining room, department store, public building, with boss, with those in authority, structural parts of a building
  11. South-southeast, southeast room along southern wall, with friends, in clubs, lodges, meeting places, in partner’s work area (sixth from the seventh), with stepchild (fifth from the seventh), places the querent hopes or wishes to be
  12. East-southeast, southeast room along eastern wall, in bedroom, under bed, places of confinement, hospitals, institutions, secluded places, private spots, places of prayer, sleep, or meditation, hidden, out of sight, sick room (if the sixth house agrees), with secret enemy, places with large animals

If the geomancer assigns the signs of the zodiac to the houses, then the sign ruling the house that the quesited’s significator passes to (or the sign ruling the its own house, if this significator does not pass in the chart) can also indicate the area of the lost item.  The method I use is to assign the first house (or the geomantic ascendant) the sign based on the figure found in it (e.g. if Puella, Libra), then assign the rest of the houses the signs following the ascendant in order.  The triplicity and quadruplicity of the sign can offer general indications:

  • Cardinal quadruplicity: in the open, a new place, a high place, a place with much activity
  • Fixed quadruplicity: a low place, a calm or empty place, hidden
  • Mutable quadruplicity: by water, walls, or other boundaries; inner chambers, inside containers
  • Fire triplicity: places near heat or fi re, places of energy or power, near iron or gates
  • Earth triplicity: places on or under the ground, near or under pavement or the floor; near mud, clay, or dirt
  • Air triplicity: places high up or elevated with an open view, near windows or light
  • Water triplicity: places near water, bathrooms, kitchens, gardens, ponds

Individual signs can also indicate more specific types or classes of areas where the object may be found:

  • Aries: roof coverings, ceilings, plastering in houses, unfrequented places, sandy or hilly ground
  • Taurus: low rooms, cellars, places near the earth, agricultural outhouses, sheds and stables
  • Gemini: chests, high places, paneled rooms, offices, near office or communication equipment, areas where games are played
  • Cancer: near ponds or water, utility rooms, wash houses, bathrooms, kitchens, cisterns
  • Leo: woods, parks, large or grand buildings or palaces, near a chimney or source of heat
  • Virgo: studies, closets, storage areas, drawers, barns, dairy houses, places where crops are stored or processed
  • Libra: windmills, barns, where wood is cut, upper rooms in houses, chambers, little houses, closets
  • Scorpio: near muddy or stagnant water, gutters, sinks, kitchens or bathrooms, ruins, compost heaps, dark or secret places
  • Sagittarius: high lands, grounds, upper rooms, near fire or a radiator, stables, hills
  • Capricorn: low or dark places, near thresholds or boundaries, cow sheds, wood stores, barren fields
  • Aquarius: hilly or uneven places, quarries and mines, high places, an attic or roof, upper parts of all rooms
  • Pisces: bathroom, kitchen, wells and pumps, all damp places, rivers, fish ponds

Charts for finding locations of something can also be used to determine whether or not the thing can be retrieved or found again, and by what manner if it can at all.  This is done by using perfection and aspect between the querent’s and quesited’s significators, as well as perfection between other houses, to determine the prospect of regaining the lost object.  Simply put, the method of perfection indicates how the lost item may be regained:

  • Occupation: the querent will find the object easily, the object was never truly lost, or the object was always within the querent’s grasp or possession
  • Conjunction when the querent’s figure passes: the querent will find the item after much searching and effort
  • Conjunction when the quesited’s figure passes: the item will be found with no effort on the part of the querent, the object will by circumstance find its way back to the querent
  • Mutation: the item will turn up unexpectedly and unusually
  • Translation: a third party will return the item or lead the querent to its location

Favorable aspects (trine and sextile) that form between the querent’s and quesited’s significators indicate an easy or comfortable circumstance in which the item may be found.  Unfavorable aspects (square and opposition) show that the querent will have a difficult time searching or finding the object.  If the chart denies perfection but there are favorable aspects, the querent will have limited but potentially fruitful opportunities to find the object again.

The kind of house that the quesited’s figure passes to (or the kind of house that naturally rules it if it doesn’t pass in the chart) in terms of quality can hint at how long or how much effort must be used to find the object.  If the quesited’s figure passes to an angular house, the item will be found quickly or immediately; if to a succedent house, after some delay; if to a cadent house, only after very long, if the item is to be found at all.  If the significator of the lost item is found in multiple houses, then each house may indicate a place where the figure can be found, and the type of house indicates the success or speed of finding it there.  The sum of the chart, where one counts all the points of all sixteen figures found in each position of the shield chart, can also off er a similar indication.

Let’s consider a brief example.  My sister who was testing out multiple methods of divination for finding lost objects, had her husband hide something of hers somewhere in her house; he chose a small book.  Using geomancy, she drew up a chart that had Amissio, Puer, Puer, and Fortuna Minor as the Mothers; the Court had Coniunctio as both Right and Left Witness, Populus as the Judge, and Amissio as the Sentence.  Taking the second house as our significator of the quesited, we have Puer, indicating things that are red and metal or weapon-like.  Puer passes to the third house, indicating that the place is on or near a desk, near or among books and papers.  Amissio sets the ascendant of the chart to Scorpio, giving Capricorn to the third house, indicating a place of work or storage.  Put together, the book would be found with a red metal object related to weapons and storage, near or on a desk used for working and paper-holding.  Her husband had hidden the book in a small metal lunchbox with a drawing of an anime character wielding a crossbow on her computer workdesk that she used for her job.  Not a bad match between chart and reality!

This technique is something I developed out of my brief readings on horary astrology, which influenced geomancy to no small degree during the medieval and Renaissance phase of its development.  Though other methods of finding lost objects exist and undoubtedly work, I never had much success with it, and ended up tooling out a method that works much better for me and for other people.  Give it a try to see what you think, and feel free to comment on other methods of finding lost objects.

De Geomanteia Recap, and a Huge Thank You

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

The posts on geomantic technique:

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

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

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

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

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

Happy geomancing and happy ambling, you guys!

Genius, Skill, Talent, Technique

Between the sufferings of both modern public school education and psychological neuroses, a lot of people fall into one of two camps of belief:

  1. I can be anything I want and be good at everything I do.
  2. I can’t do anything no matter how hard I try.

Both of these beliefs are false, as I reckon them.  In a way, they’re two sides of the same coin, with each influenced by and growing upon the other.  The first belief (that of supercapability) is overly positive to combat any self-doubt, but when taken to its extreme, it fails the holder of that belief and leads one into the second belief (that of incapability).  That second belief is borne out of sorrow and doubt, but is also easily refuted in at least one action which can cycle back into the first belief.  Some people never cycle between the two, getting stuck in one belief or the other, but either way these beliefs are simply wrong.

According to the doctrine of astrology and Hermetic philosophy, we’re all born with several things, such as a purpose, a history, a goal, and a set of things we’re good at and a set of things we’re bad at.  Taken together, plus a little extra, this might all be construed as one’s True Will, the thing we’re supposed to be carrying out in order to fulfill our role in the cosmos as children of the Divine.  After all, the whole point of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism is to reclaim our true heritage and value as children of gods and co-creators of the cosmos, and we can’t know what we’re supposed to create without knowing what we’re good at and where we’re supposed to be.  Knowledge of our True Will helps us focus our efforts on the things we should be doing, which is almost always correlated with what we’re good at.

In addition to knowledge of our True Will, there are several spirits among the heavens that can help us find out what we’re supposed to be doing.  Among those, there are the threefold keepers of Man: the angel of the nativity, the Holy Guardian Angel, and the angel of the profession.  The angel of the nativity is the guy whose name is derived from the natal horoscope based on the five hylegical places, and is a guiding spirit who helps us out in this life for this incarnation.  While the HGA is more for our Selves across incarnations and the heavens, the angel of the nativity is a spirit specific to this life for what we need to do now.  In a way, it’s like the good angel on the shoulder of cartoon characters, but is more knowledgable about what we’re supposed to be doing and how we’re supposed to be doing it.  The other name for this spirit is the natal genius, or the birth-spirit, that helps us do what we need to do for ourselves and our Selves in this life.  In other words, it tells us what’s Right for us to do.  And, like I said before, when we do something proper and Right for us, it tends to be easy or flawless. 

We often call people “genius” when they’re really adept or smart at something, but it wasn’t originally a title of intelligence or mastery.  Instead, “genius” referred to the guiding spirit who helps us be good at certain things because that’s the role we’re supposed to fill; it’s kinda like a cosmic version of Huxley’s “Brave New World”.  Knowing what we’re good at via our genius helps us figure out our talents, the things we’re innately good at in the cosmos.  This could be anything from simple skills such as memorization or a good eye for measurement to whole fields like mathematics or biology or counseling.  Whatever we’ve got a talent in, we should probably explore and make use of. 

Still, just because one has talent in something doesn’t mean one has mastery.  Mastery in something can be called proper technique, the totality of knowledge in how, why, and what methods to use for a particular goal or end result.  Talent helps with building technique, but talent alone doesn’t cut it.  Talent needs refining through building skill, which can be thought of as learned technique as opposed to inborn technique through talent.  Skill helps refine talent to be used for specific, fine things in a regular, repeated manner that talent alone may not be able to do.  It’s like the difference between having a vague subconscious understanding of something and a total comprehension and coherent knowledge of it.

Other people, however, have little to no talent in a given technique, but still want to learn that technique.  In this case, skill is all they have to go on.  They’ll need to become more skillful to make up for the lack of talent, but this doesn’t mean they can’t learn technique or master something.  It just means they’ll have to learn and focus more on building up the skill that people with talent may already be good at.  However, spending time to build up skill in something in which one has little talent often takes time away from building up skill in something one does have talent for.  Keep in mind that talent implies that we’re supposed to be good at something and that we’re supposed to do it; if one shows talent in something but is wasting one’s skill on something else, they’re probably being misguided.

A lot of modern society treats all people the same, which is usually a good thing.  After all, I enjoy and favor equality of rights and opportunity for all, because we’re all still human and capable of basic humanity with human needs.  However, things go awry when society treats us all as having the same talents, skills, capabilities, and inclinations for things.  This kind of social conditioning does real damage, because it assumes everyone has the same basic drive and same basic talents, when this assumption doesn’t hold up.  Some people are very good at written language but awful at mathematics, some good at art and some good at sports, and so forth; we should afford people the chance to explore everything if they so choose, but we shouldn’t force them to pass standardized tests that assume everyone’s at an arbitrary level of technique for an arbitrary number of subjects.

Not everyone is going to be good at everything.  That’s just a fact of life, and that’s quite alright.  There are going to be subjects, fields, and tasks at which we aren’t suited but that others are.  This isn’t to say that we should settle for mediocrity and laziness for ourselves instead of striving to know and become more than we are, but we shouldn’t try to become a jack of all trades when we’re really only good and supposed to be good in a handful of them.  There are so many roles to fill in the world that requires dedication, single-mindedness, and talent in addition to skill, any number of which might be considered taboo or dangerous or outré, even though they’re just as necessary as any other.  Society may say it knows what’s best for itself, but it doesn’t.  We’ve all got a purpose, indicated by our talent and genius, and we need skill to make ourselves perfect.  Only with genius, skill, talent, and technique will we be able to know and carry out our True Will, and make progress on the path to becoming full-fledged co-creators of the cosmos once again.

De Geomanteia: Via Puncti (follow the yellow brick road)

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 the Via Puncti and variations on it.

In a geomantic chart, the four Mothers generate the four Daughters, pairs of the Mothers and Daughters generate the four Nieces, the four Nieces generate the two Witnesses, and the two Witnesses generate the single Judge.  (I suggest you learn about how to generate a geomantic chart before going further, if you’re new to geomancy.)  In a sense, the Judge is the sum of the chart’s effects, the cumulative answer to the query posed to the geomancer, the complete message to be delivered to the querent.  The rest of the chart, perfection, figure sums, and the like only serve to flesh out the answer, but the Judge is the answer.  It’s as if all the other figures boil down to the Judge, leaving only the pure answer left.  However, there are still traces of the original figures all the way back up to the Mothers and Daughters left in the Judge.  Mathematically, this makes sense; because the number of points in the Mother figures is the same and in a transposed pattern in the Daughter figures, the Judge will always have an even number of points.

Another remnant of the original figures left in the Judge can be seen in the Judge’s active lines.  If a certain elemental line in the Judge is active (i.e. if a given line has a single point), at least one of the Mother or Daughter figures will also have that same line active.  Further, because of how geomantic charts are generated, there will be a chain from the Mothers/Daughters through the Nieces and Witnesses to the Judge that maintains that active line, carrying it all the way down from the top to the bottom.  This connects the resulting Judge to an originating Mother or Daughter, the final answer to an initial cause, and can be seen as showing a root factor in the creation of the Judge or final answer to the query.

When a figure has a certain line active, one and only one of its parent figures must have that line active.  If both of them had it active, then the resulting figure would have that line be passive (odd plus odd or even plus even both yield an even number of points).  If a certain figure has a line being passive, then its parents can either have both odd or both even lines for that specific line; this would cause the path to branch off and can, in some cases, lead to every Mother and Daughter figure being led to (viz. if the first Mother is Populus and the rest of the Mothers all have their fire line passive).

To illustrate this, consider the following chart:

Example Geomantic Tableau

In this chart, Acquisitio is the Judge figure (the solid figure in the center of the bottom row).  Acqusitio has its air and earth lines active.  Focusing on the air line, one and only one of its parents must have its air line active; this is the Right Witness, Rubeus.  Of Rubeus’ parents, the second Niece, Cauda Draconis, has its air line active; of Cauda Draconis’ parents, Conjunctio, the Third Mother, has its air line active.  So, going top to bottom, we have Coniunctio – Cauda Draconis – Rubeus – Acquisitio.

Traditionally, this method of following active points from the Judge to a top-tier figure is called the Via Puncti, or the “Way of the Point”.  In the extant geomantic literature, this is done only for the fire line, the element of will, intent, desire, and goals.  By following the Via Puncti for the fire line, we can ascertain the original or driving cause, desire, or force that’s pushing things through in the situation.  For instance, if the Via Puncti from the Judge in a question dealing about drama in the workplace leads to Puella, one might consider that it’s a woman in some capacity or role that’s the root cause of the drama.  Unlike the Index/Part of Spirit that shows fated or spiritually necessary influences in a chart, or the Part of Fortune that shows resources or help available in acquiring a resolution to an issue, the Via Puncti shows driving causes or forces that are keeping things going.  As a side-technique to fill in the details of a chart, the Via Puncti helps inform the querent about the past more than the future, why things are happening rather than how they will happen.

However, the Via Puncti only leads to a single figure when we focus on a line with a single point.  The literature does say that, when the relevant line in the Judge is passive, the Via Puncti will branch off.  The technique here changes in that we only follow passive points, i.e. when the parents of a figure have both lines passive instead of both active.  For instance, in the above chart, the fire line of Acquisitio is passive.  Both of the Witnesses have passive fire lines, too; however, the first two Nieces that make the Right Witness have their fire lines active, so the right branch of the Via Puncti stops at Rubeus.  On the left, the Via Puncti reaches up to the third and fourth Nieces through the Left Witness, but doesn’t rise to any of the Daughters.  In cases where the Via Puncti branches (or where there is no Via Puncti, if the Judge has a passive line and the Witnesses have active lines both), the chart could be said to either have no root cause or many root causes; I prefer the former interpretation in my geomancing.

Another variant of the Via Puncti, though it hasn’t been discussed except once or twice on geomancy mailing lists, is using other elements in the Via Puncti besides the fire line.  In this case, it’s not so much the root or driving intent of the situation, but other root causes influencing the final answer.  Going by the elements, we’d have up to four potential Viae Punctorum, or Ways of the Points, that show things that might be at the root of an answer to a query:

  • Via Puncti Ignis (Fire line): intents, goals, desires
  • Via Puncti Aeris (Air line): thoughts, ideas, discussions, theories
  • Via Puncti Aquae (Water line): emotions or spiritual issues
  • Via Puncti Terrae (Earth line): things fought over or discussed, material matters weighing heavily on minds

Something to keep in mind when it comes to the Via Puncti is how it relates to the astrological geomantic chart.  Since the Via Puncti can only link up to the Mothers or Daughters (but can branch to anywhere or nowhere if you’re allowing passive lines, but I don’t like this), this leads to one of the first eight houses in the astrological chart (if you’re using the traditional method of allotting figures to the houses, viz. first Mother to the first house, second Mother to the second house, etc.).  The Via Puncti can never, then, lead to houses nine through twelve.  I rationalize this by grouping the first four houses into the “personal houses” (things dealing with the querent’s personal sphere of influence, i.e. one’s own self, finances, local area, and home), the next four houses into the “interpersonal houses” (things dealing with other people that the querent interacts with, i.e. social interaction, service, relationships, others’ belongings), and the last four into the “transpersonal” houses (things affecting people on a grand scale, i.e. religion and philosophy, governments and public welfare, society as a while, and hidden or obscure institutions).  Distinct causes can only be noted when they can be specifically pinned down; thus, root causes of a situation must belong in either the personal sphere or the interpersonal sphere, or houses one through eight.

A Theory of Divination: Intuition and Technique

A few years back, one of my college friends got me a book on astrological prediction which I never really utilized (it’ll be for when I have more time to dedicate to astrology again).  Its title was taken from a particular metaphor that illustrates how one can become good at divination; the metaphor was about an eagle and a lark.  The lark had a beautiful voice, and was told to sing to the gods themselves in the heavens to please them, but couldn’t fly high enough.  The eagle was able to fly all around at all heights, but could never seem to please the gods.  Since the lark could sing and the eagle could fly, they teamed up to reach the heavens and please the gods together.

The metaphor demonstrates how two facets of divination, technique and intuition, must work together as a whole in order to perform divination.  Technique, represented by the eagle, and intuition, represented by the lark, must operate as a unit.  Technique is the actual know-how of a system, what the symbols signify, how to construct a chart, how to lay out given cards; it’s anything that can be learned from a book, anything that has a procedure or a dictionary.  Intuition is the ability to construct a narrative based on the symbols, tuning into a situation to strike at the heart of a matter, figuring out what correspondences of a given symbol mean in a certain context, and more.  Intuition can be relied upon at any time, but it needs a solid context in order to make sense; technique can also be relied upon at any time, but needs to make sense of data on a higher level.

Although it sounds like a two-variable system, technique and intuition are more like opposite ends of a spectrum, and a given style of divination relies on each in inverse proportions.  For instance, if a given divination system requires 75% skill, it then requires also 25% intuition in order to render an answer or judgment.  In this view, there are systems of divination that rely on 100% intuition (e.g. clairvoyance and prophecy), as well as those that rely on 100% technique (e.g. extrapolation and pattern-matching).  In reality, however, few people can use either a 100%-style of divination at either end of the spectrum, so we resort to different divination systems that use different techniques in order to let our intuition build off them.  Some people use Tarot or oracle decks, some use geomancy, some use the I Ching or flipping a coin, some go into a trance, some scry firepits or crystals; what each of these methods have in common is that they each require both technique and skill.

Consider the Tarot.  It has a well-defined set of symbols (78 cards, plus another 78 if one assigns other meanings to reversed cards) and multiple layouts or spreads that give each card-symbol a particular context to fit into.  One can learn the card meanings from the book and the Celtic Cross and other spreads fairly quickly, and can easily learn how to shuffle out cards if they’ve never handled a pack of playing cards before.  That’s all technique, the book-learning and studying.  Intuition comes in when one understands each card through meditation and contemplation, when one can form a coherent narrative and story from a given spread, when one can pick up the “feel” of a certain card and how it relates to a situation.

Now consider geomancy.  It, like the Tarot, has a well-defined set of symbols (16 figures) and a well-ordered structure and process of how to construct the charts.  One can pick up the meanings of the figures and their correspondences easily, and once one learns the rules of reading a chart can give out quick answers immediately.  There’s definitely more technique involved than Tarot, but intuition also helps when one might have to reconcile conflicting rules or delve into a situation to figure out who’s doing what.  Tarot is more intuition-based than technique-based, while geomancy is the reverse and relies on technique more than intuition.  Both yield answers, but through different ways and with different focuses (in my experience, geomancy centers on the result of a situation, while Tarot centers on the reasons).

In fact, all divination systems can return roughly-equal answers.  It’s a lot like programming languages (bear with me, non-computery folk).  In PL terms, a language is Turing-complete if it fulfills a given set of basic requirements for a language.  If one language is Turing-complete, it can do anything any other Turing-complete language can do.  That means that anything done in C can also be done in LISP, in X86 assembly, in Brainfuck, or in many other languages; however, just because they can all perform the same functionality doesn’t mean they do it in the same way.  In this case, it’s also like spoken languages: although you can communicate the same concepts and thoughts in different languages, the words, syntax, inflection, and gestures one might use can be wildly different to communicate them.  Just like some people do well speaking in one language or coding in a particular style, one might do better at one form of divination than another.  That’s entirely okay; we each work in different ways, and so long as we can ultimately do the same thing, how is entirely up to us, our persuasions, and our abilities.