Understanding and Employing the Geomantic Emblems

Alright, so now that we’ve gone over what the geomantic emblems are, how we can analyze them elementally, and how we can assign cycles of the emblems to the sixteen figures of geomancy, I wanted to give a bit more analysis and start getting into how we can use these emblems.

First, we know we can take a 16-line emblem and break it down into four 4-line geomantic figures.  We can assign each of these figures to the four elements, and take lines 1, 6, 11, and 16 to form an essential figure that represents the geomantic emblem elementally.  For instance, the Fire Subelemental Figure of a given geomantic emblem can be constructed by taking the fire lines in order: fire of fire (line 1), fire of air (5), fire of water (9), and fire of earth (13).  The Air, Water, and Earth lines can be constructed similarly by taking those respective subelemental lines.  By adding the subelemental figures together, we can obtain an “elemental sum” figure that represents how the elements interact in the emblem as a whole, as opposed to the overarching essential elementa figure that defines the emblem elementally.

We can also use these four figures as four Mothers in a geomantic chart, and use the chart as a whole to understand the emblem.  Just by adding the four figures together, though, we can obtain a “sequential sum” figure, which is the same as the Right Witness from the geomantic chart generated by the emblem.  As it happens, only even figures can ever be the sequential sum of an emblem, with Populus happening twice as many times (64) as any other sequential sum (32) except Via, which never happens.  Although the Judge of the geomantic chart generated from the emblem (we’ll call it the “Judge sum”) indicates how the emblem effects itself in the world (qualified by its elemental essence), the sequential sum indicates from what perspective or what cause it wants to act (Right Witness vs. Judge).  Coincidentally, the elemental sum figure of the emblem represents the Left Witness, just as the subelemental figures represent the four Daughters of the geomantic chart (fire subelemental figure is First Daughter, etc.).

When we go to cycles, there are several operations we can perform on a geomantic emblem just like how we can perform on a geomantic figure: inversion (flipping the bits from 1 to 0 and from 0 to 1), reversion (reading the emblem from the 16th line to the 1st), and conversion (inversion + reversion).  Unlike geomantic figures, which may have themselves as conversions or repeat the same figure between their inversion and reversion, the geomantic emblems have unique inversions, reversions, and conversions that don’t repeat.  Just as the emblems fall into specific emblematic cycles, so too do their inversions, reversions, and conversions.  The cycles have a specific pattern of this:

  • Populus: inversion Caput Draconis, reversion Fortuna Major, conversion Rubeus
  • Via: inversion Laetitia, reversion Fortuna Minor, conversion Cauda Draconis
  • Albus: inversion Acquisitio, reversion Tristitia, conversion Conjunctio
  • Conjunctio: inversion Tristitia, reversion Acquisitio, conversion Albus
  • Puella: inversion Amissio, reversion Puer, conversion Carcer
  • Amissio: inversion Puella, reversion Carcer, conversion Puer
  • Fortuna Major: inversion Rubeus, reversion Populus, conversion Caput Draconis
  • Fortuna Minor: inversion Cauda Draconis, reversion Via, conversion Laetitia
  • Puer: inversion Carcer, reversion Puella, conversion Amissio
  • Rubeus: inversion Fortuna Major, reversion Caput Draconis, conversion Populus
  • Acquisitio: inversion Albus, reversion Conjunctio, conversion Tristitia
  • Laetitia: inversion Via, reversion Cauda Draconis, conversion Fortuna Minor
  • Tristitia: inversion Conjunctio, reversion Albus, conversion Acquisitio
  • Carcer: inversion Puer, reversion Amissio, conversion Puella
  • Caput Draconis: inversion Populus, reversion Rubeus, conversion Fortuna Major
  • Cauda Draconis: inversion Fortuna Minor, reversion Laetitia, conversion Via

Now we have a number of ways to understand the emblems:

  1. figure sequence from expanding the emblem: the order of the figures as they appear within the emblem
  2. essential elemental figure: the condensation of the pure elements taken from the subelemental lines of the emblems in their proper places, representing the elemental force of the figure as a while
  3. subelemental figures: the condensation of specific elements taken from the subelemental lines of the emblems in their places, representing how each of the four elements within each emblem presents itself geomantically
  4. geomantic chart: the geomantic chart that is generated by taking the emblem as four Mothers in sequence
  5. Right Witness/sequential sum figure: the figure that appears as Right Witness in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, or the combination of the four figures presented in the geomantic emblem in sequence, indicating from what perspective or what cause it wants to act
  6. Left Witness/elemental sum figure: the figure that results from adding the four subelemental figures of the emblem, or the Left Witness in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, indicating how the elements interact in the emblem as a whole as well as how the emblem is affected by external situations
  7. Judge sum figure: the figure that appears as Judge in the geomantic chart generated by the emblem, indicating how the emblem effects itself in the world
  8. emblematic cycle: the structural basis underlying the
  9. inverse emblem: everything this emblem is not on an external level
  10. reverse emblem: the same qualities of this emblem taken to its opposite, internal extreme
  11. converse emblem: the same qualities of this emblem expressed in a similar manner

For example, for the geomantic emblem 1000010110100111, we have the following information:

  • figure sequence: 1000 (Laetitia), 0000 (Populus), 0001 (Tristita), 0010 (Albus), 0101 (Aquisitio), 1011 (Puella), 0110 (Coniunctio), 1101 (Puer), 1010 (Amissio), 0100 (Rubeus), 1001 (Carcer), 0011 (Fortuna Maior), 0111 (Caput Draconis), 1111 (Via), 1110 (Cauda Draconis), 1100 (Fortuna Minor)
  • essential elemental figure: Via (water)
  • fire subelemental figure: Amissio (fire)
  • air subelemental figure: Acquisitio (air)
  • water subelemental figure: Fortuna Maior (earth)
  • earth subelemental figure: Acquisitio (air)
  • elemental sum figure: Carcer(earth)
  • Judge sum figure: Carcer (earth)
  • sequential sum figure: Populus (water)
  • emblematic cycle: Populus
  • inverse emblem: 0111101001011000 (Caput Draconis cycle)
  • reverse emblem: 1110010110100001 (Fortuna Major cycle)
  • converse emblem: 0001101001011110 (Rubeus cycle)

This gives us a huge amount of information for each of the 256 emblems, and this is all still fairly preliminary research, too.  Now that we have all these tools and methods of interpreting and understanding the emblems, the big question is how?  And for what purpose?  What do the emblems represent, and how do they fit into the larger idea of the cosmos, divination, and magic?

Each of the geomantic figures is composed from the four elements, and whether those elements are active or passive.  In a way, the figures represent 16 states of the cosmos at any given time, little snapshots of how any situation is evolving and resolving into a new state.  The geomantic emblems combine all 16 geomantic figures into a cycle, representing whole cosmoses on their own, complete situations and how they can be represented through a process of continuously evolving geomantic figures.  Read one way, the force within an element becomes more and more subtle, first appearing as earth then as water, then air, then fire, eventually being left entirely above what it was, while other forces come into play to take the place of the ascended element.  Read another way, the forces within an emblem begin a process of descent from the highest and most subtle realms to the most dense and material, describing a process of materialization and concretization instead of reification and deification.

Each situation has a beginning, a process that leads from the beginning to the end, and the end itself which must reflect the beginning.  We know that, although our emblem analysis uses 16 lines, emblems as a whole were first discovered as 19-line superfigures.  However, the final three lines must be the same in each emblem as the first three lines, which provides the repetition that allows the emblem to overlap onto itself as a cycle and allows for the complete expansion of the emblem into 16 figures, which are both ways the emblem reflects the beginning in the end. Certain patterns always appear in each cosmic process, and some parts of each process have the same flow.  Consider the geomantic emblems: all the geomantic emblems have the same constituent parts (the 16 geomantic figures), but these don’t appear randomly within the emblem.  We know that Laetitia must always be followed by Populus which must always be followed by Tristitia, which can be followed by either Albus or Fortuna Maior.  Similarly, we know that Caput Draconis must be followed by Via which must always be followed by Cauda Draconis, which can be followed by either Puer or Fortuna Minor.

All this boils down to a simple(?) choice.  When one wants to influence a situation to go a certain way or to inspect a particular state of a situation/the world, look to the geomantic figures.  When one wants to create a whole system or investigate how cosmic processes work as a while, look to the geomantic emblems.  Whether it’s for divination, magic, planning, meditation, theurgy, or other occult work, emblems are systems, while figures are states within a system.  Knowledge of systems requires a wider view than any specific view alone; one needs to step back or have foreknowledge of what’s going on in order to correctly assess what process one finds themselves in, and then what can be done to proceed along the process in a desired manner (if the process is changeable) or in a manner that can at least be known in advance (if the process is unchangeable).

In a way, it’s like the difference between knowing the astrological forecast for a given event at a given time, and seeing how the interaction of the natal/electional horoscope for an event and its progression or transits affects a situation, process, or life across its duration.  The difference is state versus system, or single snapshot versus whole process.

So, how can the geomantic emblems be used?  Though this is still really new stuff that needs exploration and experimentation, I’ve got a few ideas:

  • Jewelry and talismans: incorporate the emblems into magical items, either graphically (drawing or writing the emblem onto the item) or structurally (knotting, braiding, or shaping the item to resemble the emblem).  The emblem can be used to bring about a prescribed process and flow of a situation.  Likewise, they can be engraved on wands or staves to represent a middle pillar of the world, kind of like a world-tree or similar central supporting force underlying a conduit of power.
  • Representations of the cosmos: by enlarging the definition of “system” to reflect the entire cosmos, entire cosmological processes can be understood on a grand scale as an interplay of the elements.  Alternatively, they can be seen as processes that define or mark a whole sequence of events, much as a person’s natal chart or a talisman’s electional chart, that indicates where strengths, weaknesses, and dignities lie.
  • Decoration and resonance: I’ve done some experimenting with using graphical presentation of the geomantic emblems as sigils or decorative motifs, including a set of armband tattoos that look like a cross between an arabesque lattice and a scifi data printout.  Generating infinite arabesques from the emblems or incorporating them in an area or on art by necessity also incorporates the energy of the geomantic figures, as well as their flow and elemental associations, that can subtly affect the nature or energies in a given place.

Your thoughts?  Hopefully the geomantic emblems aren’t too far above your head, dear reader, and maybe you might even be willing to share some of your thoughts and possible applications of them in divination and magic.

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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 Understanding and Employing the Geomantic Emblems

  1. DM says:

    You should compile all the geomancy stuff into a book. It’d be great for both the novice and for reference, and that way someone could just pull it off the shelf and not have to dig through the web to find the relevant information.

    I’m still not entirely sure I get geomancy, but after reading your articles, I’m a hell of a lot closer to understanding it.

    • polyphanes says:

      So long as you’ve gotten more knowledgable about the symbols, I consider De Geomanteia a success! I’m purposefully not delving much into the technique except for some niche details, since any book on geomancy will describe the method at length and clearly.

      As for a book, we’ll see. Once I have enough original information to write instead of rehashing the same 1000-year-old descriptions, something like that will certainly be on the table. ;) Once this series is over, I’ll post an “index” post that lists all the De Geomanteia posts and point people to that. It’s not a book yet, but it’ll do for now.

  2. prunes says:

    I uploaded a sample of using the emblems as drumbeat tablature to the Geomantic Campus last week or so, with an eye towards ritual or symbolic representation in music.

    • polyphanes says:

      I saw that, but forgot to listen in. I just did so, and I really like this work! This is definitely something I can see working extraordinarily well in ritual settings or drum circles. Using percussion for this sort of thing also reminds me of geomancy’s old (probable) African origins, which is awesome in its own way.

  3. Pingback: De Geomanteia: Geomantic Magic (let this spell last forever) | The Digital Ambler

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