De Geomanteia: Affirmation and Fortunateness (be careful what you wish for)
January 22, 2013 14 Comments
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 seemingly-simple difference between affirmation and fortunate in a geomantic chart.
And boy, is this ever going to be a talk, so get a soda and a snack. I can wait. You ready? Good!
When a querent asks a query to a geomancer, they’re probably wondering about how something will go, whether something will happen in the future that is not here yet, whether something possible actually did happen in the past, or so on. All these queries ask something along the same lines of “will my present reality and hypothetical reality X sync up?” In other words, I want to know whether some event (from hypothetical reality X) will or has happened (in my present reality). Asking whether one will end up in a relationship with a specific person, whether one will lose their job at their current workplace, or similar questions all follow this pattern, and they’re all perfect for geomantic divination because, like its internal structure, it delivers a binary answer: yes or no. It’s the geomancer’s job to find out whether the querent’s reality and their quesited reality are going to merge.
In a geomantic chart, specifically the astrological or house chart, different factors in a situation relevant to the query are assigned to one of the twelve figures in the chart. These special figures are called significators, figures that signify the querent (the person asking the query) and the quesited (the thing asked about in the query). For instance, if a querent asks whether they and some other person will be married, the querent is assigned to the first house (the house showing the querent) and the quesited (the other person and being married to them) is assigned to the seventh house (the house showing relationships and marriage). In a sense, these significators show the different realities the querent is asking about; the querent’s significator shows their reality, and the quesited’s significator shows the hypothetical reality. More generally, the same figure can appear in more than one place; this contrasts with astrology, where a planet can be in only one place (house, degree, sign, etc.) at any given time. When the same figure appears in more than one house, that figure is said to “pass” from one house to the other. A figure may not pass at all, or can pass to every house of the chart (e.g. when all four Mother figures are Populus). Houses that share the same figure as a significator often show that features and things related to the nature of that house are tied up with the nature of the significator and the circumstances of the query.
Astro-geomantic charts make finding out whether there’s a connection between these different realities simply by showing whether there’s a physical or symbolic connection between the two figures in the chart. This method, called perfection, relies on the movement or passing of figures around the chart; if the two significators appear next to each other or have a similar physical link, then the different realities will link up and the chart affirms the question (i.e. the answer is “yes”); if the two significators have no such link, the different realities will remain split and the chart denies the question (i.e. the answer is “no”). The concept of perfection was taken from horary astrology, which used the motion of the planets as significators to determine whether something was possible or not; the earliest reference to perfection in geomantic practice I know of comes from Pietro d’Abano’s “The Method of Judging Questions” written in the late 13th or early 14th centuries, but may have been incorporated earlier as geomancy was being blended with astrology.
There are four main methods of perfection, each giving a “yes” answer to the query asked but with different hints at how that “yes” will come to pass.
- Occupation: the same figure appears as both significators. This is the strongest method of perfection, and shows a complete agreement and natural harmony between the querent and quesited from the initial mindset down to the physical approach to the situation.
- Conjunction: one of the significators passes to a house neighboring the other significator. This is the next strongest method of perfection, and shows that one party is going to work more for the end result than the other. There are two kinds of perfection by conjunction:
- Conjunction from the querent to the quesited: The querent’s figure passes to the house just before or just after the quesited’s house. The querent will be the primary force in bringing about the situation, putting in the most work.
- Conjunction from the quesited to the querent: The quesited’s figure passes to the house just before or after the querent’s house (i.e. the second or twelfth houses). The querent won’t have to do much to bring about the “yes” situation, since the quesited’s side will work more for it.
Besides noting what figure passes into conjunction with the other, the house the passing significator passes into also is important:
- Significator passes into the house before the other: Work will be done behind the other’s back, in secrecy, or without the other party’s knowing.
- Significator passes into the house after the other: Work will be done in clear sight of the other, in open knowledge, or with acceptance and agreement between the two.
Note that if the significator of the quesited is the one right before or after the significator of the querent (e.g. house 2 or house 12, considering that the house of the querent is in house 1), then the rules for conjunction change a little because of the close proximity of the significators. If we look at houses 1 and 2, perfection by conjunction can only occur if the significator in the first house passes to the third (into conjunction after the significator of the quesited) or if the significator in the second house passes to the twelfth (into conjunction before the significator of the querent). Same goes for any other pair of neighboring houses.
- Mutation: both significators appear next to each other but not in their own houses. This shows a random or casual happenstance situation where the two parties end up in the right place at the right time to bring about the situation; neither of them are in their proper or usual places, but are present elsewhere in unexpected or unusual ones. This random happening of fate will then bring about the situation asked about. The specific houses the figures pass to will give a clue as to how this might be brought about. Because both figures pass elsewhere in the chart, it can be thought of as a conjunction where both parties need to put in work or need to be out of their own comfort zones in order to bring something about.Mutation can also occur as part of a conjunction. If we’re looking at houses 1 and 7 for a particular query, if the significator in house 1 passes to house 6, this is a conjunction from the querent to before the quesited; if the significator in house 7 passes to house 5, this along with house 6 forms a mutation, because both figures are still found next to each other but outside their own houses. Same goes for other mixtures of conjunction and mutation for different houses.
- Translation: a third figure neighbors both significators in their own houses. In this case, neither the querent nor quesited will have an active role in bringing about the inquired situation, but a third party will step in to bridge the gap between the parties/realities. In a sense, translation is like conjunction, only with a third party taking up all the work instead of the querent or quesited. As with conjunction, the houses that the translating figure passes between has potential implications:
- Before the house of the querent and before the house of the quesited: The third party operates in relative secrecy or behind both parties backs.
- Before the house of the querent and after the house of the quesited: The third party is working closer or in tighter or explicit alliance with the quesited than with the querent, behind whom the third party works in secrecy or without their knowing.
- After the house of the querent and before the house of the quesited: The third party is working closer or in tighter or explicit alliance with the querent than with the quesited, behind whom the third party works in secrecy or without their knowing.
- After the house of the querent and after the house of the quesited: The third party operates with the open, explicit, and willing agreement of both the querent and quesited, or with their full knowledge and acceptance of doing so.
It is possible that a geomantic chart may have more than one method of perfection, showing that the situation inquired about will come around in several ways or with the possibility of happening in several ways, depending on the course of action the querent can take. For instance, it can happen that there’s both a translation and mutation between the querent’s and quesited’s significators, showing that a third party is instrumental in achieving the situation asked about and that the querent and quesited will need to be out of their own comfort zones or will randomly achieve things together; adding these, we might infer that the third party will help the querent and quesited meet up, facilitating their fortunate meeting without their direct involvement in setting things up.
So long as at least one method of perfection is present in the chart, the chart perfects and affirms the query with a “yes”. If the chart has none of the above methods of perfection, then it’s said to lack perfection entirely, also called denial. In this case, the chart denies the query, giving a “no” answer.
Consider Jane Doe asking the query “will I marry John Smith next year”. Let’s look at the different ways perfection might answer this question, taking the first house to represent Jane and the seventh to represent John and the possibility of marriage to him:
- Occupation: The same figure appears in houses 1 and 7. Both Jane and John want to marry each other and will both naturally head towards that situation, working equally and probably effortlessly in bringing it about.
- Conjunction from the querent to before the quesited: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 6, before the quesited. Jane is the real pusher in this situation, and sets things up behind John’s back to get all the paperwork, social contacts, and financial situations on board before getting him to agree with it. She’s using more of her resources and skills than his, because she’s still trying to operate behind his back.
- Conjunction from the querent to after the quesited: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 8, after the quesited. Again, Jane is the primary force in getting married with John, but she’s operating with John’s full knowledge and maybe a bit of his help, and probably making use of his resources, as well.
- Conjunction from the quesited to before the querent: The quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 12, before the querent. Similar as conjunction from the querent to before the quesited, but this time it’s John working for marriage instead of Jane.
- Conjunction from the quesited to after the querent: The quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 2, after the querent. Similar as conjunction from the querent to after the quesited, but this time it’s John working for marriage instead of Jane.
- Mutation: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 10 and the quesited’s figure in house 7 passes to house 11. Neither John or Jane really expect or have a clue as to how the marriage might be brought about, but by random or fortuitous happenstance, they end up married all the same. Since Jane’s figure passes to the tenth house (house of career, public life, government, social standing) and John’s to the eleventh house (house of social contacts, colleagues, friends, patrons), they might bump into each other frequently in the public eye, in the workplace, or amongst colleagues and friends. (Note that I’m only using houses 10 and 11 here as an example, mutation might occur elsewhere as well, with the interpretation changing depending on the houses in question.)
- Combination mutation and conjunction: The querent’s figure in house 1 passes to house 6, before the quesited, and the quesited’s figure in house 1 passes to house 5. Although Jane is the real pusher in this situation, and sets things up behind John’s back, John finds himself wound up with Jane through random happenstance and works with her through an easy-going or sexual means to accomplish the marriage.
- Translation before the querent and before the quesited: The figure in house 12 before the querent appears in house 6 before the quesited. A third party, perhaps some of their friends, will set things up between Jane and John so that they’ll be married, though both Jane and John aren’t necessarily aware of it.
- Translation before the querent and after the quesited: The figure in house 12 before the querent appears in house 8 after the quesited. A third party, probably in league with John or one of his friends, will set things up between him and Jane so that they’ll be married.
- Translation after the querent and before the quesited: The figure in house 2 after the querent appears in house 6 before the quesited. A third party, probably in league with Jane or one of her friends, will set things up between her and John so that they’ll be married.
- Translation after the querent and after the quesited: The figure in house 2 after the querent appears in house 8 after the quesited. A third party, perhaps some of their friends, will set things up between Jane and John so that they’ll be married, perhaps both of their friends working together closely and in alliance with each other and with Jane and John together.
- Denial: There’s no occupation, conjunction, mutation, or translation in the chart. Jane and John will not be married in the next year.
Now, here’s the big thing: in a binary (yes/no) query, perfection does not determine whether something is good or bad, helpful or harmful, fortunate or unfortunate. Perfection only affirms or denies whether an inquired situation will come to pass, whether something is possible or impossible, either “yes, X will happen” or “no, X will not happen”. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings to novice geomancers, and I can’t emphasize it enough that perfection affirms or denies a query, not whether it makes it positive or negative in its influence. To determine how fortunate a chart is, the geomancer must look at the figures in the houses themselves and how they relate to the query (along with other things like aspect, joy, the elements, and the like). When not interpreting a binary query (e.g. “when” queries or forecasts), perfection indicates a connection or link between significators, and can be fortunate or unfortunate depending on whether the link is desired or not.
- Perfection with favorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will come to pass and will be good for both the querent and quesited.
- Perfection with a favorable querent’s significator and an unfavorable quesited’s significator: The situation will come to pass and will be better for the querent than the quesited.
- Perfection with an unfavorable querent’s significator and a favorable quesited’s significator: The situation will come to pass and will be worse for the querent than the quesited.
- Perfection with unfavorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will come to pass and will suck for both the querent and quesited.
- Denial with favorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will not come to pass but will be good for both the querent and quesited.
- Denial with a favorable querent’s significator and an unfavorable quesited’s significator: The situation will not come to pass but will be better for the querent than the quesited.
- Denial with an unfavorable querent’s significator and a favorable quesited’s significator: The situation will not come to pass but will be worse for the querent than the quesited.
- Denial with unfavorable significators of the querent and quesited: The situation will not come to pass and will suck for both the querent and the quesited.
For instance, in Jane Doe’s query above, let’s say that Puer is found in house 1 (her significator) and Tristitia is found in house 7 (John Doe’s significator). Puer is favorable in matters of love and war, and shows that she’s highly intent and set on marrying John. Tristitia is unfavorable in matters of love, and intimates that John is not in the mood or mindset for marriage. If the chart perfects, then Jane will ger way though John may not feel too sanguine about the marriage; if the chart denies perfection, then they won’t marry and Jane may just be set on being his boyfriend or unmarried partner or some such. On the other hand, if Jane is represented by Amissio and John by Fortuna Major, then both of these figures are fortunate given the query (Amissio, ruled by Venus, is favorable in matters of love); if the chart perfects, then John is married to a woman who loves him dearly and Jane is married to a successful and constant husband; if the chart denies perfection, then Jane will likely pine away for a bit before regaining her senses, while John will go on his own and resume life independently, weathering out this emotional storm.
Again, perfection only says “yes” or “no”, while the figures themselves say “good” or “bad” and for whom. This is probably one of the most important differences to keep in mind when evaluating an astrological geomantic chart that involves these kinds of queries. When a query doesn’t involve a “yes” or “no” answer, such as in a location reading or a geomantic forecast, perfection isn’t as much help but is still useful in showing what’s directly affecting or being affected by other factors in the chart, or where one’s sphere of influence is strongest in affecting other parts of reality.
The same rules above go for when there are multiple significators beyond just the querent and quesited. Just to show how complex a geomantic reading can get with a few simple rules, consider a query relating to a disease and potential treatment for it. In such a medical chart, several houses come into play: the first house refers to the querent, the sixth to the disease or condition, the seventh to the doctor, and the tenth to the regimen or treatment. If there are favorable figures for the querent and doctor and unfavorable figures for the disease and regimen, with perfection between the querent/doctor, doctor/disease, querent/disease, querent/regimen, and doctor/regimen, I could say that the querent and doctor are getting along well and amicably and the querent understands the nature of the regimen the doctor is able and willing to provide the querent; however, the regimen is nasty and distasteful, and won’t have an effect on the disease in question, which is known to the querent and doctor but is painful or awful to deal with.
Some geomancers (John Michael Greer, notably) like using aspect to indicate perfection or denial thereof; if one significator passes into trine (four houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 5) or sextile (two houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 3), this means affirmation, while a square (three houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 4) or opposition (six houses away, e.g. houses 1 and 7) indicate denial. I haven’t found this to be helpful in determining perfection or affirmation of a chart in my own practice. At best, sextiles and trines indicate opportunity or ease in accomplishing something, but fall short of a “yes” answer on their own; squares and opposition indicate difficulty or rivalry in accomplishing something, but fall short of a “no” answer on their own. I keep aspects in the category of techniques that indicate fortunateness and favorability, and separate from perfection proper. In a pinch, I’ll take a favorable aspect to indicate a very qualified “yes” or a potential for a “yes” and an unfavorable aspect to indicate a very qualified “no” or a potential for a “no” answer, assuming a favorable influence is what the querent is looking for, but this is without any other kind of perfection going on to give me something more certain to go by.
I understand that this can get a little complex, though with a little guidance and practice, the rules of perfection will be pretty easy to understand. If you have any questions or examples you’d like me to help sort out what’s perfection and what’s not, please feel free to post them in the comments. (The same goes for any post I write, but just making this explicit here.)