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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figure Maximum
Populus 108 or 101  76½ 25
Via 36 25 8
 68 30 8
82 45 8
Fortuna Maior
Fortuna Minor
120 69 9
 60 40½ 15
 75 or 59 55 or 45½ about 12
57 43 30
Caput Draconis see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
see the hours of
Venus and Jupiter
Cauda Draconis see the hours of
Mars and Saturn
see the hours of
Mars and Saturn
see the hours of
Mars and Saturn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

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

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