Review: Les P. Cross, “Astrogem Geomantic Divination”
09/02/2012 2 Comments
キタ━━━(゜∀゜)━━━!!!!! It arrived!
After weeks of waiting, I got the newest and supposedly revolutionary book on geomancy, Les P. Cross’ “Astrogem Geomantic Divination”. It’s a self-published book written by Mr. Cross, and cost GBP £20 not including shipping. It has an elegantly simple cover, marked with the Sun above a traditional square chart design and the Moon below, in a matte black and yellow cover. No spine text, and the back text just has the author’s name and website URL I was delighted to find that Mr. Cross had signed the book for me, because the man’s awesome. The book is 177 pages in a clean, smooth paper with clear printing. What pleasantly caught me off guard was the inclusion of several color images of semiprecious stones which put the “gem” in “astrogem”. From the outset, I was told that astrogem geomancy is not traditional, and strict traditionalists would take issue with this. I normally work as a traditionalist, keeping the old rules and spurning the use of the trans-Saturnian planets and such, but even though these don’t form a part of my practice, I’m still well-acquainted with them, and so tried to keep an unbiased mind on the matter.
After the foreword and introduction, the book describes astrogem geomancy as “a method of divination which combines geomancy and astrology into a single oracle”. The book claims that it’s suitable for both the beginner as well as an experienced astrologer or geomancer, and the technique as both appealing to bystanders as well as interested diviners. The next few chapters review the basics of astrogem geomancy: astrology, gemstones, and geomancy. First, Mr. Cross goes over the basic symbols of modern astrology: the planets, signs, houses, and aspects. As I expected, he uses the trans-Saturnian planets and links the geomantic figures up accordingly while leaving the other assignments the same from Cornelius Agrippa’s style of traditional geomancy. The next chapter describes the use of semiprecious gemstones as material components for divination. The author explains his reasoning and requirements for the use of stones, as well as his choices of stones. The book ascribes one stone to each planet used, instead of by the figures themselves. Although he describes his own choices in stones, Mr. Cross encourages the reader to go by what they feel is appropriate. The last chapter in this part of the book illustrates the very basic techniques of geomancy, coupled with with a short list of recommended books (that I’d recommend as well) for the more interested geomancer. The book deliberately neglects the traditional geomantic method, since Mr. Cross wanted to leave behind the complexity of geomancy for a simpler but complete form of divination. He presents his own exposition of the geomantic figures, complete with astrological correspondences, illustrations, descriptions, and keywords. The book’s choice of illustrations (e.g. Carcer as two chained men standing back to back, Fortuna Major as a four-leaf clover, Caput Draconis as a new dragon hatchling sticking his head out from an egg) were especially refreshing and helpful.
Leaving aside the modern correspondences, this is where the book really diverges from traditional geomantic theory. In nomenclature, the author calls the figures “geomes”, giving them their own suitable jargon after so many centuries. In technique, he creates a new model of interpretation called the Four Levels Model. In traditional geomancy, the four levels of dots or “taps” are ascribed to each of the four elements (fire, air, water, earth), with one dot representing an active or present element, and two dots representing a passive or absent element; combinations of active and passive elements, much as in an alchemical formula, lead to a specific state of the world. In the Four Levels Model, each of the four lines in a geome is given a realm (heavenly or earthly) and a focus (external or internal). The system translates to the old elemental model cleanly by mapping the Four Levels qualities to the traditional qualities of the elements; to me, he’s fine-tuning a traditional system for a modern understanding of modern perspectives:
- First line — Fire (hot and dry) — Heavenly and external
- Second line — Air (hot and wet) — Heavenly and internal
- Third line — Water (cold and wet) — Earthly and internal
- Fourth line — Earth (cold and dry) — Earthly and external
One tap in the elemental model represents an active element and two represent a passive element, but one tap in the Four Levels model represents an internally-focused energy, while two represent an externally-focused energy; this is superficially similar to the traditional system, although their use is quite the reverse. The author makes clear his logic by showing the different aspects of these forces in each of the four levels. This is combined with a notion of energy “flow” based on the order of the figures obtained, which determine whether to use an expanding or contracting aspect of the overall force of a reading. The book shows how to arrive at the core meaning and context of each geome through the Four Levels Model along with their positive/negative or expanding/contracting effects on a situation, depending on how the geome realizes in context. All told, the author gives the reader a complete toolbox for a new system of divination using planets, signs, houses, aspects, and geomes in a coherent manner.
The book then shows how the tools can be combined to perform divination; this part of the book is about half the length of the former, since the fundamental concepts were presented so thoroughly that it only remains to show how to use them. The author lists the materials required (a bag and cloth for the stones, a template for the chart and notes, an optional tool to choose houses with), reviews simple ethics of divination, how to form good queries, and divinatory procedure. He goes over the application of the astrogem framework to anything from simple yes/no queries to personal meditation to natal interpretations. The book is clear on showing how astrogem geomancy can be done with a simple draw of one stone to using the complete traditional geomantic technique coupled with complete astrological analysis. A tasteful conclusion and a summary of the Four Levels Model, geomes, and techniques wraps up the book, followed by an appendix showing the author’s logic in arriving at the Four Level Model. Correspondences between the traditional elemental model and interpretations of the figures with the Four Levels model and interpretation of the geomes are reviewed and compared, and it looks pretty solid to me, though definitely modern.
“Astrogem Geomantic Divination” was well-written, clear in style and layout, and presents the reader with a solid base for this style of divination. Examples and descriptions fill the book, and Mr. Cross makes it easy to grasp the subject matter with meditations and guidelines to arrive at interpretations, while still leaving room for inspiration and intuition. It looks more like it’d lend itself more to astrology than to geomancy, with the main focus shifted towards the planets rather than the use of figures. As a divinatory art on its own, this book gets high marks, since it manages to present its tools coherently. I have a hard time calling it a proper form of geomancy, since it doesn’t follow the same rules and generation like I’m used to, but that’s okay; it’s about time someone started innovating with this ancient art! Besides, astrogem geomancy isn’t without precedent; an older but highly similar style of divination is given by Gerard of Cremona in his “On Astronomical Geomancy”. Even for traditional geomancers, the author provides useful insights and techniques that can be applied in traditional geomancy as well as astrogem geomancy. Though I have a few differences in style (e.g. I use different zodiacal correspondences based off of Gerard of Cremona instead of Cornelius Agrippa), the differences are minor indeed.
My only gripe is that I’d've liked Mr. Cross to devote a full chapter to the Four Levels Model instead of tacking it on as an appendix, but this structure would’ve bored those who don’t care about bridging the gap between old and new styles of geomancy. Traditionalists may indeed find the book annoying with its insistence on politically correct “empowerment of the client” (e.g. don’t say “positive” or “negative”, say “expanding” or “contracting”) and the use of modern techniques and rulerships. Advanced geomancers or astrologers will find the first part of the book a useful, if not overly astrologically-focused, review; geomancers may be disappointed to find the lack of information on traditional technique, since astrogem geomancy doesn’t rely on the shield chart at all. Despite these, I found no issue with the technique itself. The book was a fast and simple read, and a good introduction for modern people more acquainted with astrology than geomancy. It’s not geomancy, but it’s definitely geomantic. I’d suggest picking it up if you have the pocket change, especially if you’d like to experiment with astrology and geomancy and use a system familiar to the public but still powerful enough to harness geomantic concepts.