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.

Elements in the Geomantic Shield Chart

In the last post on technique, I went over a technique that’s mostly been underdeveloped and underused in Western geomancy, the technique of reading the triads in the Shield Chart, which is basically an expansion of the same technique used to read the Witnesses and Judge applied to the Mothers, Daughters, and their resulting Nieces.  This is a way to get more detail out of the Shield Chart and not let those other 12 figures outside the Court go to waste.  However, between the triads and the Via Puncti, those are pretty much the only methods we have in Western geomancy to read the first 12 figures in the Shield Chart, which is kind of a shame.  Then again, given the West’s focus on astrology and bringing astrology into everything, this shouldn’t be surprised; the field of astrological geomancy and the use of the House Chart is well-explored and has numerous techniques developed to read it.

Geomancy would already be dead if it couldn’t be expanded upon or revitalized with new techniques, and there’s nothing stopping us from trying out new ways to read a geomantic chart so long as these things fit with the general theory and framework of geomancy.  Since the House Chart already has plenty of techniques while the Shield Chart has a dearth of them, let’s try working on the Shield Chart techniques.

First things first: what do we call the “houses” of the Shield Chart?  I personally dislike the word “house” for them, even though I know that’s the term used, but it leads to easy confusion with the houses House Chart, especially given that there are multiple ways to assign the figures from the Shield Chart to the houses of the House Chart.  We could use the term “field” to describe the places where we put the Mothers, Daughters, Nieces, and Court.  After all, houses are built upon fields, right?  Thus, the first field is the place of the First Mother, second field to the Second Mother, and so forth to the sixteenth field to the Sentence.  Alternatively, and perhaps more preferably, we could use the other way of calling them “the first figure”, “the second figure”, and so forth to “the sixteenth figure”.  It’s this latter method I’ll be using the former to describe the individual places of the figures in the Shield Chart; besides, fields and shields go hand-in-hand if you know your heraldry.

So, let’s say we want to inspect the figures of the Shield Chart.  We know we can inspect them in triads, where we look at two parent figures and the child figure they add up to, but we don’t have a way of interpreting the fields on their own just yet.  While figuring out the significations of each field in the chart is a complicated task that rings a bit too strongly of the houses in the House Chart, we can start with something simpler by classifying the fields in other ways.  Probably the way that comes to mind first is using the four elements in ways that fit very closely with other geomantic techniques.  We’d go about this pretty straightforwardly: assign the first field to Fire, the second to Air, the third to Water, the fourth to Earth, and repeat the cycle from there.  Thus:

  1. Field I (First Mother): Fire
  2. Field II (Second Mother): Air
  3. Field III (Third Mother): Water
  4. Field IV (Fourth Mother): Earth
  5. Field V (First Daughter): Fire
  6. Field VI (Second Daughter): Air
  7. Field VII (Third Daughter): Water
  8. Field VIII (Fourth Daughter): Earth
  9. Field IX (First Niece): Fire
  10. Field X (Second Niece): Air
  11. Field XI (Third Niece): Water
  12. Field XII (Fourth Niece): Earth
  13. Field XIII (Right Witness): Fire
  14. Field XIV (Left Witness): Air
  15. Field XV (Judge): Water
  16. Field XVI (Sentence): Earth

Or, presented in a more tabular format:

Mothers Daughters Nieces Court
Fire First First First Right Witness
Air Second Second Second Left Witness
Water Third Third Third Judge
Earth Fourth Fourth Fourth Sentence

This is a method I dimly recall being used in at least some forms of Arabic geomancy (raml), but it’s not hard to see the logic being pretty simple to arrive at.  After all, we assign each of the four rows of each figure to the four elements in the same way, and there are instances of the same logic being used independently by Western geomancers, such as John Case in his 1697 work “The Angelical Guide” (book III, chapter 4).  While this kind of assignment of the elements to the fields of the Shield Chart is pretty straightforward, the real task comes in figuring out what we can do with this kind of thing.

For one, in any given Shield Chart, we can guess that a figure is well-placed in a field that agrees with its own element.  So, for instance, Laetitia (a figure of Fire) present in the fifth field as the First Daughter (a place of Fire) is much stronger than it’d be in the seventh field as the Third Daughter (a place of Water).  In case you’ve forgotten your elements for the figures:

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

Generally, what kinds of effects could we assume from the combination of elements from the figure and the field it’s found in?  First, we need to remember that an element in the classical sense is composed of two qualities, heat (hot/cold) and moisture (moist/dry):

Hot Cold
Moist Air Water
Dry Fire Earth

So, we know that Fire and Air share the same heat but different moisture, Fire and Earth share the same moisture but different heat, and Fire and Water share nothing at all in common.  Given this, we can venture the following general schema:

  • Elements of figure and field completely agree: (e.g. Fire and Fire) The figure is empowered and strengthened in a way that allows it to express its nature more completely and forcefully.
  • Elements of figure and field agree in heat and disagree in moisture: (e.g. Fire and Air) The figure is complemented and aided in a rounded way to have aid, but is transformed in the process so that goals and intent change over time to compensate.
  • Elements of figure and field agree in moisture and disagree in heat: (e.g. Fire and Earth) The figure is balanced and stabilized leading to stagnation and cessation of action, but with the potential for future growth that must be unlocked or initiated by an outside force.
  • Elements of figure and field completely disagree: (e.g. Fire and Water) The figure is undone and harmed so as to be weak and powerless, being made to act unwillingly and become something it does not want to be.

Of course, this could be refined by taking the actual elements themselves into account instead of just noting whether their qualities differ or agree, and this should definitely be modified by taking the actual figures themselves into account and whether they’re a parent or a child of another figure.  Thus, although a Fire figure in a Fire field will be benefitted in many of the same ways as a Water figure in a Water field, how that figure will be empowered will change by virtue of the element itself as well as what that element is.  Laetitia as the First Mother (Fire figure and Fire field) will be amply empowered by self-assurance and optimism of one’s own being, while Rubeus as the Second Mother (Air figure and Air field) will be empowered by encouraging lots of activity and discussion in ways that aren’t actually destructive but more of inducing healthy change, like rapid exploration.

In this way, we can get an overall idea of how good or bad a situation is, or how restrained or freely it can become, based on inspecting each of the figures in each of their fields and how the elements of both compare.  If a majority of the figures are in fields that they agree elementally with, then we know that the situation as a whole will be filled with power, freedom, direct activity, and declarations of self.  If a majority of the figures are in fields they disagree with, then much of the situation will be troubled by restraint, red tape, paperwork, coercion, and general weakness.

This technique can be combined with the Via Puncti not only to determine the four root causes of a situation, but also to expand on what exactly is going on with them to cause an issue.  For instance, if in a reading to determine who will win a court case, the Via Puncti Ignis (indicating the root drive or cause) points to Laetitia as the Third Mother, we know that Laetitia is a figure of Fire in a field of Water, indicating that Laetitia here is severely damaged by its placement and cannot act according to how it wants to act.  Thus, we can surmise that the core of the issue is that the court case was started by someone impinging on the rights of happiness and freedom of someone else, and continuing to act freely or joyfully caused problems that led to the court case.

Another way we can use this technique of measuring the elements of fields versus figures can be used in triad interpretation.  Consider the fact that the child figure of any two parents not only shows the result of two parties interacting but also the current state of affairs in a given matter; further, it’s written in endless geomantic texts that the expression of a child figure is modified based on its parents, and vice versa.  If we consider the elements of the Niece figures in their proper fields, we can get another level of interpretation on how that particular triad is evolving.  If the Niece is strengthened in its field, it empowers its parents and makes the whole Triad more favorable or easier to deal with; if the Niece is weakened, it debilitates the triad and makes it harder to deal with.  Thus, consider two examples for the First Triad:

  1. Say we have the figures Fortuna Minor (First Mother), Coniunctio (Second Mother), and Amissio (First Niece).  We know that the elements of the Mothers agree with their fields (Fire figure in Fire field, Air figure in Air field) but that the element of the Niece disagrees with its field (Water figure in Fire field).  In this case, because the Niece is so impeded elementally, it shows that the interaction of its Mothers really isn’t nearly as good as it’d seem; we might say that the querent was doing more-or-less fine, but having to deal with interaction and communicating to people is actually causing them more issues than its worth, causing them to lose their fortune instead of just cutting losses.  Fortuna Minor isn’t a bad figure, and it’s always better to cut your losses, but it can be tricky to deal with, and when handled badly, you not only lose what you can afford but you lose what you want to keep.  Thus, because the Niece here is so debilitated elementally, it holds back the otherwise powerful significations of its Mothers.
  2. Say we have the figures Fortuna Minor (First Mother), Albus (Second Mother), and Cauda Draconis (First Niece).  Fortuna Minor as First Mother is a good placement (Fire figure in Fire field), that Albus as Second Mother isn’t horrible (Water figure in Air field), and that Cauda Draconis as First Niece is also a good placement (Fire figure in Fire field).  Normally, this combination of figures would indicate some sort of calamity or accident befalling the querent leading them to become distant, detached, and removed from activity, but Cauda Draconis is well-suited to being here, turning its normally horrible indication to something easier to deal with.  Thus, we might surmise that the querent was gearing down from fast-paced activity, finally and capably brought things to a reasonable end, and can now rest on their laurels and act as a mentor if they act at all.  Because the Niece is so empowered and ennobled here, it empowers and benefits the normally awkward or painful indications of its Mothers and its Triad generally.

In fact, when we look at the Triads generally, we can mark each triad by the Niece involved in each.  Going by the same right-to-left association of fields with the elements, we can do the same with the four Triads: the First Triad can be given the elemental quality of Fire, the Second Triad to Air, the Third Triad to Water, and the Fourth Triad to Earth; these are the same elemental significations of the fields of the Nieces involved in each Triad.  Thus, we can not only interpret Triads elementally now, but can also see how certain figures would be better off in a particular situation based on how well the element of a figure agrees with its triad as well as its field.

On that note, could we do a similar kind of elemental association of the Court?  The Court, after all, is just another triad, but it’s not one of the four triads that Robert Fludd talks about (or invented?).  Well, if you consider all steps of addition in the Shield Chart to be a Triad, then if we go right-to-left and top-to-bottom, then we have eight triads total:

  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
  5. Fifth Triad: First Niece + Second Niece = Right Witness
  6. Sixth Triad: Third Niece + Fourth Niece = Left Witness
  7. Seventh Triad: Right Witness + Left Witness = Judge
  8. Eighth Triad: Judge + First Mother = Sentence

Thus, if the first four triads are assigned to the elements in the usual order, we can do the same for the latter four triads: Fifth Triad to Fire, Sixth Triad to Air, Seventh Triad to Water, and Eighth Triad to Earth.  However, these “extra” or “minor” triads are of considerably less importance in terms of being “triads” than the first four, as the Court should be thought of as a little removed from the details and actors and focused more on overall action and results.  Still, the interpretation of these extra triads-qua-triads could be something for other geomancers to try out and see if they get any more useful information that couldn’t be obtained from the four triads and the Court.

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.

Internumeric Relationships by Addition on the Tetractys

It’d be rude and vulgar of me to leave the Tetractys as some simple geometric diagram used for plotting paths or meditations.  I mean, the Tetractys is a meditation tool, yes, but to use it merely for working with the Greek alphabet with in a mathetic framework is to ignore the deeper meaning of the Tetractys.  For the Pythagoreans, especially, the Tetractys was more than a set of ten dots; it was the key to all creation and all cosmos.  There’s no evidence that anybody’s used it to plot paths on like I did, which is probably because this is an innovative use for an already heavily used tool based purely on number.  As we’re all aware by now, the Tetractys is a representation of the Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad to yield the Decad: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10.  All these numbers are holy to the Pythagoreans and to Western occultists generally, but there’s so much more to the Tetractys than this.

One of the traditional ways of understanding the mysteries of the Tetractys was to take the different ranks of numbers present and add them together to yield a particular number.  For instance, the Monad plus Tetrad yields the Pentad (1 + 4 = 5), while the Monad, Dyad, and Triad together yield the Hexad (1 + 2 + 3 = 6).  All these numbers have their own meaning, all of which are based ultimately on the Monad and, in succession, the meanings given to the other numbers built upon the Monad.  I’d thought I’d investigate what some of these properties are and see what the Tetractys represents in building the numbers of the Decad together based on these relationships between the ranks of the Tetractys.  Specifically, these relationships are based on the arithmetical operation of addition, the straightforward aggregation of two numbers by combining their distinct magnitudes into a single one.  Other operations exist, but those are for another time.

So, to start off with, we have four basic numbers, starting with the Monad and ending with the Tetrad.  We can say that, with the exception of the Monad, all numbers are just collections of Monads in a particular relationship:

  1. Monad = individuation, undifferentiated, undifferentiatable
  2. Dyad = two Monads in relation
  3. Triad = three Monads in harmony
  4. Tetrad = four Monads in form

Note that some of these can be broken down further into simpler groups.  Without repeating any particular number (such as saying that the Dyad is two Monads or the Tetrad is two Dyads), we end up with two extra identities:

  1. Triad = Monad + Dyad
  2. Tetrad = Monad + Triad

It’s crucially important to note that the Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad are more than just a collection of monads.  Number in the esoteric sense is more than just a magnitude or amount, but also a relationship formed between the individuals in the collection.  The only number in this set that has no relationship is the Monad itself, since it exists as a unity unto itself without anything to relate to.  The Dyad is the first number that has a relationship, but can be said to be relationship itself; without the Dyad, relationship cannot exist.  In a more arithmetic sense that the Pythagoreans preferred, all numbers can be divided into two partially overlapping groups of odd (able to be divided into unequal parts only) and even (able to be divided into two equal and unequal parts).  Four, for instance, is even because it can be split up into groups of 1/3 and 2/2.  Five, however, is odd, because it can be split into 1/4 or 2/3, and neither of those are equal splits.  However, the Monad cannot be split at all into anything, and the Dyad can not be split into unequal parts, so neither the Monad nor Dyad are even nor odd, and are thus not true number, though they are sources of number.

Thus, based on the individuation of the Monad and relation of the Dyad, all other numbers can be made, such as the Triad.  It is because of this that the Triad is considered by the Pythagoreans to be the first true number, since the Monad and Dyad are something rarer and rawer.  All amounts can be formed from the Monad, but it’s the relationship (Dyad) between individual Monads that produce a number.  Thus, as the Triad is the first true number, it is also the first odd number, and the Tetrad is the first even number.

So, based on the six above identities, we can form the rest of the numbers from the Pentad (5) to the Decad (10).  If we omit the identities from above and reduce all things to a collection of Monads, Dyads, Triads, and Tetrads, we end up with two ways to form the Pentad, and one way each to form the Hexad, Heptad, Octad, Ennead, and Decad:

  1. Pentad = (Monad + Tetrad) or (Dyad + Triad)
  2. Hexad = Dyad + Tetrad
  3. Heptad = Triad + Tetrad
  4. Octad = Monad + Triad + Tetrad
  5. Ennead = Dyad + Triad + Tetrad
  6. Decad = Monad + Dyad + Triad + Tetrad

Yes, this is all basic arithmetic that we’ve been able to do since kindergarten.  Of course, it’s always the simplest things that hide some of the more profound secrets.  I won’t go over all the associations and theologies behind the numbers for that; you can get a copy of the Theology of Arithmetic by Iamblichus for cheap (or even, dare I say it, for free), and you can read about what the Pythagoreans thought about the numbers of the Decad way back when.  What I want to point out is, at a high level, what these additions of the numbers mean based on the four concepts of monadic individuation, dyadic relation, triadic harmony, and tetradic form.

Monad
The Monad is an individual, unchanging, static, and stable.  It is the only thing that exists, and thus cannot be differentiated from anything (since there’s nothing to differentiate it from).  While we can say that it contains all opposites and extremities within itself, it’d be more proper to say that no concept of opposition or extremity exists within the Monad.  While the Monad exists, nothing exists within the Monad; it can become all and any qualities, but it itself has no qualities.  It is the source of all nature, but is itself beyond nature.  It cannot be divided since it is a unit, an atom, the core of existence itself.  The Monad cannot move, as there is nothing within which it can move (which would imply something that is Monad and something that is not-Monad).  The Monad has no shape, consisting only of a single point that indicates both all sizes and all angles but without anything else to connect to.

Dyad
The Dyad is relation and difference.  Between two Monads, we now know of two things that can be compared as equals, but as different equals.  The Dyad is representative of differentiation, distinction, opposition, and motion, all of which can be thought of as different types of relation.  The Dyad represents a line defined by two points, but is still without shape; it can possess direction and magnitude, but is as yet without definition.  The Dyad allows for things to exist within, around, and outside of other things, since it creates space between and among other things.  While the Monad is pure potential for creation (and all other things), the Dyad is the act of creation itself, since it distinguishes a Creator from the Creature, or the Acted from the Actor.  The Dyad is space, change, action, and relativity.

Triad
The Triad is harmony and proportion, formed from a combination of individuation and relation.  It is the first odd number, and the first number that can be added from other distinct numbers.  The Triad gives the first shape of something, as three points can define an enclosed space.  The Triad indicates actuality, the Creature made through Creation (Dyad) from the Creator (Monad).  However, it is also indicates harmony, since two distinct and different things are linked to and joined by a third.  With the Triad, there is real existence as opposed to potential existence or becoming existence.  Quoth Iamblichus, “‘this’ belongs to the Monad, ‘either’ to the Dyad, and ‘each’/’every’ to the Triad”.  With Triad, there is time: beginning, middle, end; there is communication: speaker, listener, message; there is work: actor, action, acted upon. However, like the Monad, the Triad is static, since it provides for space and size but not change, since it is construction and creation that brought a static shape to being.

Tetrad
The Tetrad is the root of form, formed from a combination of individuation and harmony.  With three points we can define a two-dimensional shape, but with four we can define a solid three-dimensional object.  Moreover, the Tetrad is dynamic, since it is even; while the Triad measures static quantity, the Tetrad measures dynamic quantity, since it provides for motion and change while the Tetrad does not.  Further, the Tetrad allows for forms present in relationship to each other; while the Triad offers a two-dimensional form, the Tetrad allows for two-dimensional forms next to each other as the Dyad allows for Monads to be next to each other.  With both individuation and harmony, one can choose to be part of a harmony or break away from it, acting either inside or outside a given group, and allows for distinct existence apart from, aggregated with, or in conjunction with others.

Pentad
Alone among the numbers, the Pentad is the only one that can be formed in two distinct ways: from the Monad and Tetrad (a combination of individuation and form) and from the Dyad and Triad (a combination of relation and harmony).  In a way, it’s fitting; between all the numbers of the Decad, the Pentad is the middle of them.  Consider that any two numbers that add up to 10 have 5 as the mean (9 + 1, 8 + 2, 7 + 3, etc.); the Pentad is halfway to the Decad, and itself is vital to life.  It is the combination of pure potential and discrete aggregation (Monad and Tetrad), as well as of relation and harmony (Dyad and Triad); it is the combination of an even and odd number in either case, and considered to unify opposites in a dynamic way that allows for growth and change as opposed to the static way of the Triad.  If we consider the Pentad as the sum of Monad and Tetrad, we obtain a view of eternality and potentiality combined with and suspended among temporality and discretion (the four changeable elements acting under unchanging Spirit); if we consider the Pentad as the sum of Dyad and Triad, we obtain a view of motion and action mixed with and changing stasis and relationship.  In either case, the Pentad is where life and concrete reality itself begins, since in the Pentad there is balance, reciprocity, distribution, and especially of growth.

Hexad
The Hexad is the combination of relation and form, producing a dynamic harmony.  Unlike the Pentad, which is dynamic growth, the Hexad is a balance between things in motion.  The presence of distinct qualities bestowed by the Tetrad in relation of the Dyad allows for various dynamic forces to exist dynamically, moving with and acting, co-acting, or reacting together without destruction.  As the Tetrad represents a body and the Dyad represents motion, the Hexad represents a body in motion and can move in six ways, or three sets of two ways: up/down, left/right, forward/backward.  Seen the other way, as the Tetrad represents qualities and the Dyad represents opposition, the Hexad represents an ordering and balance of opposites.  Further, as two Tetrads, the Hexad represents what we commonly see as “Merkava stones”, two interlocked tetrahedrons that represent a combination of bodies and opposites that together unite to form a whole.  While the Pentad is the number of life, the Hexad is the number of order.

Heptad
The Heptad is the combination of harmony and form, producing foundation.  This is hard to describe in a single word, but within the Heptad there are all things finally present to create everything, yet is short of actively creating everything; all manifest sources are present in the Heptad (seven planets of astrology, seven vowels of Greek speech, etc.), though they are as yet too unmanifest on their own.  As a combination of Triad and Tetrad, the Heptad represents the four elements and three reagents, or the three processes that transform the four elements so as to create all things.  As an odd number that cannot be divided, the Heptad is similar to the Monad in that it provides for potential creation, but unlike the Monad, the Heptad is a collection of seven entities that provide the foundation of all manifest things, while the Monad is an undifferentiatable source from which all manifest and unmanifest things come.  If the Hexad represents order, then the Heptad are the things that are ordered within the cosmos provided for by the Hexad, the meat to fill out the Hexad’s bones.  The Heptad is that which essentially exists; the Heptad is essence.

Octad
The Octad is the first addition that involves three numbers: the Monad, Triad, and Tetrad.  Thus, the Octad combines individuation, harmony, and form.  As the Heptad is the combination of the Triad and Tetrad, we can say that the Octad is that which results from the essences of creation into which they flow.  However, as we saw with the Pentad, we can also say that the Monad and Heptad combine such that the Heptad is mixed in within the Monad, as the seven planets are within the eighth sphere of the fixed stars, as the four elements are within the Quintessence.  However, we can also say that the Octad is the combination of two Tetrads, allowing for mixtures and combinations of that which otherwise could only relate to each other by processes; although Sulfur combines and transforms Air into Fire and vice versa if we use the Tetrad + Triad view, we end up with dry air or cool fire between Air and Fire if we use the Tetrad + Tetrad view.  The Octad represents solution and combination of qualities, a single entity produced from essences or qualities and their interquality transformations.  The Octad is mixture.

Ennead
The Ennead is the combination of relation, harmony, and form.  Based on how we might conceive of this, we can say that the Ennead combines the Tetrad and Pentad, the Triad and Hexad, the Dyad and Heptad, or the Monad and Octad, but at its root it combines the Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad.  At its core, it lacks the Monad and possesses the Dyad, indicating that the Ennead is an active number related to creating but not as creator or creature.  In the Ennead is all creating of manifest things, combining tetradic body, triadic intermediation, and dyadic motion.  In the number nine are all the other numbers brought together, the final single-digit whole number.  As there were nine Muses who lead to all Art and nine Curetes who watched over the infant Zeus, the Ennead brings things to completion and perfection without itself being perfect.  The Ennead is realization.

Decad
At long last, we finally reach the Decad, the combination of the Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad; of individuation, relation, harmony, and form.  In the Decad are all the basic numbers of the Tetractys, and there are many ways to add to the Decad using the lesser numbers, but at its core it is the number formed from 1, 2, 3, and 4 summed together.  Just as in the Ennead there is the process of realization and completion but without something to realize or complete, the Decad augments this with the Monad, allowing for something to be filled with the Ennead.  The Decad represents a discrete entity (Monad) that is distinct from other things (Dyad) that is stable unto itself (Triad) given physical a body (Tetrad).  Moreover, it is also something that can grow (Pentad) while maintaining itself in an order (Hexad) that combines all ethereal essences (Heptad) and concrete mixtures (Octad) being brought together (Ennead).  Without any other number preceding it, the entity represented by the Decad would be lacking and could not be fully realized.  Whether it is the universe we live in or the individual people we live as, we are all representative of the Decad and the journey it has taken to get here.  The Decad is the Whole.

I think it goes without saying that this Pythagorean analysis of the ten numbers of the Decad can easily be mapped onto the Tree of Life in Jewish kabbalah or Hermetic qabbalah, and indeed, I recall seeing many of these things present in the explanations given in works like Alan Moore’s Promethea series.  It makes sense, too, since Pythagoreanism is one of the fundamental philosophies underlying Western occult thought, deep enough to not clearly be distinguished as Pythagorean but also profound enough to affect everything that’s built upon it.  While numerology has never quite been my strong suit, this little exploration of the basic numbers has considerably helped.