De Geomanteia: Geomantic Magic (let this spell last forever)
April 2, 2013 6 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 (last and final) week, let’s talk about technique instead of figures. Specifically, let’s talk about how to apply geomancy and geomantic figures to magic.
Yes, dear reader, magic. That fabulous art and science of causing a change in conformity with will, the thing I talk about near non-stop on this blog. This (yet again) lengthy post on geomantic technique will review just a few of the ways one might apply geomancy to magic, since the sky is literally the limit here (at least in terms of celestial spheres). So get a drink and a snack, put on your robe and wizard hat, and let’s begin.
Just as the planets in astrology can lend themselves to either divination or magic, so too can geomancy by incorporating the figures and their associations in magical ritual, talisman creation, and the like. Keep in mind that a geomantic figure is nothing more than a collection of elemental forces, where each of the four elements is either active or passive, present or missing, on or off. In one sense, each geomantic figure can be seen as an alchemical formula that reveals a particular state of the cosmos. Further, by figuring out the ruling element of the mixture, we can divine the overall elemental nature of a certain combination of elements. For instance, Coniunctio (air and water active), with its fluidity in emotional response and mental communication, lends itself very well to the element whose primary nature is wet: Air.
In addition to their elemental formulae and overall correspondences, the geomantic figures are also associated with the planets and signs of the zodiac. Through these, they’re tied into the ancient and well-known field of planetary magic, which can incorporate the geomantic figures as well into their rituals. For instance, when I want to work with the darker, more destructive side of Mars, I’d probably pick Rubeus or Cauda Draconis; for wealth magic, I’d go with jovial Acquisitio. This also ties the geomantic figures into the planetary sephiroth in Qabbalah, which is an extensive set of systems in its own right. For instance, Coniunctio is associated with Virgo and Mercury, and through those the sephirah Hod, the number 8, the color orange, and the like. If you’ve forgotten what those are, review the other De Geomanteia posts on the figures for their elemental, planetary, zodiacal, and qabbalistic associations, the paragraph on the “technical details” of the figures near the start and the last paragraph that describes their divinatory and magical interpretations.
Another way to understand the figures is by expanding them to entire charts. Due to the nature of geomantic chart construction, there are 16×16×16×16 = 65536 possible legal charts used in geomancy, but subsets of them have special properties. One set, which I call “unique charts”, is the set of all charts that make use of 15 geomantic figures without repeating (excluding the Sentence figure, which of mathematical necessity must repeat from the foregoing 15 figures, and none of the figures in the first 15 figures of the shield chart can be Populus, which would induce repetition). There are 16 such unique charts, which makes the prospect of linking each one to the sixteen geomantic figures tempting. One of the members on the Geomantic Campus Yahoo! mailing list (which everyone interested in geomancy should join), Frater Pyramidatus, uncovered a way to assign these 16 unique charts to the 16 figures of geomancy as a way to expand and fully capture the “essence” of the figure in a whole geomantic chart. Though I won’t reproduce the method or the full set of charts here, the Mother figures to generate each chart are as follows (in order from First to Fourth Mother):
- Populus: Caput Draconis, Amissio, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
- Via: Puer, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
- Albus: Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Puer, Amissio
- Coniunctio: Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Puer, Coniunctio
- Puella: Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
- Amissio: Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Carcer, Cauda Draconis
- Fortuna Maior: Puella, Cauda Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
- Fortuna Minor: Acquisitio, Puella, Albus, Fortuna Maior
- Puer: Rubeus, Laetitia, Caput Draconis, Puer
- Rubeus: Caput Draconis, Carcer, Albus, Fortuna Maior
- Acquisitio: Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis
- Laetitia: Coniunctio, Puella, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
- Tristitia: Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Puella
- Carcer: Rubeus, Laetitia, Puella, Puer
- Caput Draconis: Puella, Puer, Tristitia, Albus
- Cauda Draconis: Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Acquisitio, Cauda Draconis
Further, because of the mathematics of geomancy, whole charts can be added to each other to yield new charts by adding each figure in one chart to its corresponding figure in the other (e.g. chart 1 First Mother + chart 2 First Mother = chart 3 First Mother). Based on this, we can obtain charts (not unique, but still significant) that similarly reflect the force of whole planets.
- Moon (Populus + Via): Amissio, Puer, Albus, Fortuna Maior
- Mercury (Albus + Coniunctio): Rubeus, Laetitia, Populus, Fortuna Minor
- Venus (Puella + Amissio): Albus, Fortuna Maior, Laetitia, Fortuna Minor
- Sun (Fortuna Maior + Fortuna Minor): Cauda Draconis, Acquisitio, Fortuna Maior, Tristitia
- Mars (Puer + Rubeus): Fortuna Maior, Tristitia, Acquisitio, Cauda Draconis
- Jupiter (Acquisitio + Laetitia): Albus, Fortuna Maior, Puer, Coniunctio
- Saturn (Tristitia + Carcer): Populus, Populus, Acquisitio, Coniunctio
- Lunar Nodes (Caput Draconis + Cauda Draconis): Fortuna Maior, Tristitia, Rubeus, Fortuna Minor
These charts can be used as talismanic images in their own right or augmented to other talismans to represent the entire force of a particular figure or planet. Frater Pyramidatus also managed to link up the whole system of unique charts assigned to each geomantic figure into a more overarching diagram called “the Geomantic Pyramid”, which combines the geomantic figures, elements, and notions of the Male Principle and Female Principle. It’s an interesting read, though I haven’t found a way to incorporate it into my own practice; Frater Pyramidatus operates (I believe) in a stricter Thelemic current, so maybe students of that tradition will get more out of it. Still, I’ll leave the interested reader to join the group above and read for themselves.
In a similar manner, you might also use the geomantic emblems, or sequences of 16 lines like a geomantic figure that contain the essence of all 16 geomantic figures in a cohesive, single icon. There are 256 such emblems, which can be analyzed elementally on their own, or grouped into 16 cycles of emblems. Each cycle is associated with a particular figure, giving whole families of emblems a particular geomantic force underlying its nature. If individual geomantic figures, which are combinations of the four classical elements, represent different states of the cosmos, then the geomantic emblems can be used to represent whole cosmoses or processes of the universe from one state to another fluidly. The magical uses of these emblems is still mostly unexplored, but it wouldn’t do any harm to find a particular emblem structurally associated with a particular figure you want and elementally associated with a particular stage you want in a given situation and incorporate it into talismans or subtly-occult jewelry. The notion of order, transition, and flow within the geomantic emblems does beg more investigation, especially in terms of “universal geomantic descriptors” of the cosmos. You might do well to check out some of my meditations on how they might be explored and understood.
I once mentioned, long ago and separate from De Geomanteia, a particular set of geomantic mudras, or shapes and gestures one can make with the hands to concentrate and meditate upon the figures. They can also be used as magical gestures, as well: in ritual, when wanting to direct the force of a particular geomantic figure outward, one would make the mudra with the right (dominant) hand; when wanting to direct it inward towards yourself, one would make the mudra with the left (submissive) hand. Consider the ASL sign for “I love you”, which is the mudra for Coniunctio, or the standard gesture used for Christian blessing, which is the mudra for Fortuna Maior. When wanting to cause destruction or to lay a curse on someone, you might use the mudra for Cauda Draconis towards the target (like the surfer shaka/hang loose gesture). These mudras can be thrown up in formal or informal ritual to act as a focus or “geomantic weapon” in their own right, depending on the need and context. As a rule, the mudra should be selected based on the force desired: if one wants to start something new, one might throw the mudra of Caput Draconis, but if one wants someone to cut something out, one should use that of Cauda Draconis. Based on the ruling elements of the figures and the natural motion of the figures (fire and air tend to go upward, water and earth tend to go downward), one could hold the mudra at different heights to affect the motion of the force:
- Fire (burns upward): held high to “catch” and pull in Fire energy, held low to “burn away” and send out
- Air (moves around but tends upward): any height works, but similar to Fire
- Water (flows around but tends downward): any height works, but similar to Earth
- Earth (falls downward): held low to “catch” and pull in Earth energy, held high to “drop” and send out
Plus, due to the “pure” elemental nature of the figures Laetitia (Fire), Rubeus (Air), Albus (Water), and Tristitia (Earth), these mudras are especially powerful for invoking and working with the elements. Due to their internal, subjective nature, mudras for figures ruled by Fire and Water are more naturally suited to the left hand, with the right hand more suited to the external, objective elements of Air and Earth. These attributions of right and left are assumed for a right-hand dominant magician; they may be kept the same or reversed for a left-hand dominant magician.
Every time I’ve talked about a figure in this series, I mentioned how you might get a certain shape or image if you play connect the dots with the figure. That method of making images or pictures by connecting the dots in different ways to form a variety of sigils; depending on the figure and depending on the method, a number of different sigils can be devised for a single figure. Cornelius Agrippa gives a plentiful list of geomantic sigils in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (book II, chapter 51) which can be used directly in magic or incorporated into talismans, either on their own or in conjunction with other signs and symbols, such as planetary squares, images and occult art, statement-derived sigils a la chaos magic, or qabbalistic diagrams or patterns.
Another use of the sigils, though I haven’t experimented with it personally, is to conjure the intelligence of the individual geomantic figure itself. Beyond calling them “spirit of Puella” or “angel ruling over Fortuna Maior”, I had an idea to use the Hebrew names for the figures (based on Stephen Skinner’s Geomancy in Theory and Practice) and append the requisite -(i)el onto the end of the names. Though I haven’t had experience with calling on these angels in relation to the geomantic figures, they should get good results, considering that their names are directly tied to those of the geomantic figures. Instead of using these angels, one might conjure the angels ruling the zodiac signs or the planets associated with the figures (e.g. Malchidiel, angel of Aries, for Puer). Instead of using the sigils for the geomantic figures as the seals for these angels, one might also draw out their names on their associated planetary qameas (using the Qamea of the Earth for the angels of Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis). These are names based off the traditional names of the figures; should you contact them and get different names or sigils specific to them, let me know, because it’d be nice to have a set of standard names for these guys.
- Populus: Qehilahiel (QHLHIAL, קהלהיאל)
- Via: Derekhel (DRKAL, דרכאל)
- Albus: Labaniel (LBNIAL, לבניאל)
- Coniunctio: Chiburel (ChBURAL, חבוראל)
- Puella: Halechiel (HLChIAL, הלחיאל)
- Amissio: Abodel (ABUDAL, אבודאל)
- Fortuna Maior: Elihiel (OLIHIAL, עליהיאל)
- Fortuna Minor: Sheqiohel (ShQIOHAL, שקיוהאל)
- Puer: Nilchamel (NLChMAL, נלחמאל)
- Rubeus: Adomel (ADUMAL, אדומאל)
- Acquisitio: Hashigiel (HShGIAL, השגיאל)
- Laetitia: Nishoiel (NShUAIAL, נשואיאל)
- Tristitia: Shefeliel (ShPLIAL, שפליאל)
- Carcer: Sohariel (SUHRIAL, סוהריאל)
- Caput Draconis: Rashithiel (RAShIThIAL, ראשיתיאל)
- Cauda Draconis: Siumel (SIUMAL, סיומאל)
There are records and methods of assigning different letters to the geomantic figures, whether in the Roman, Greek, Hebrew, or Enochian languages. Examples can be found in Golden Dawn’s use of Enochian Chess (images of the “chessboard” can be found here) as well as John Heydon’s Theomagia (book III, pp. 15-18, or pp. 323-325 on Scribd). John Michael Greer also gives examples of assigning Roman letters to the geomantic figures in his book Art and Practice of Geomancy, perhaps based on Fludd’s or Heydon’s associations. However, like with assigning numbers to the figures to tell time, I haven’t gotten good results in assigning the geomantic figures to letters to indicate names of people, places, or the like. I’ve heard of others do so well enough, so your mileage may vary.
One way to incorporate geomantic divination into magical planning or geomantic magic involves the inspection of a given geomantic chart. Say a querent wants to know whether something will happen that they really want to happen, but the chart denies the query and says “no, it won’t” (review this post on perfection, affirmation, on denial if you’re foggy on this). By inspecting the significators of the querent and quesited, one can see what can done to “edit” the reality described by the chart to induce a perfection (though it might be best to limit this to the significator of the querent). One might consider “adding” or “removing” elements from one’s life to change their significator into another one (such as “adding” Air to Puella to change it to Via, or “removing” Water from it to change it to Carcer), and see what effects that would have in the geomantic chart (either redrawing the whole chart from scratch or just superficially editing the house chart). Doing the same with whole geomantic figures can also be done, such as adding Puella and Puer to form Coniunctio.
An old style of Arabic geomantic magic involves the use of taskins, or specific orderings of the sixteen geomantic figures as a kind of talisman. One shown in Stephen Skinner’s book was used to find water, and there are references to other taskins to find treasure or similar objects. I haven’t found very many of these, since it seems to be really old or obscure geomantic knowledge (at least as published in English or European publications), but one could use such orderings (say, four sets of four figures aligned to the four quarters based on their elements) for altar arrangements, geomantic Tables of Practice, or similar talismans. Such orderings might share similarities with the geomantic emblems I mentioned above, but due to the dearth of information on the Arabic, African, or Middle Eastern uses of taskins in European languages, this is pretty much an unknown. Unfortunately, until I learn Arabic or until someone who does is willing to take on a few translation projects for me, not much is going to change in this situation. Although some taskins might be ordered by astrological principles (ruling planet, ruling sign, etc.), other takins might be derived from the unique charts above or the geomantic emblems. Definitely something to experiment in the future with.
To give an example of geomantic magic, say Jane Doe wants to marry John Smith in the next year. Marriage can be benefitted magically from a number of figures, but Coniunctio is probably the best. So, to achieve her desired goal, Jane might do any or all of the following:
- Make a talisman of the figure Coniunctio with associated mercurial, Virgoan materials and timing, since Coniunctio is a figure representing union, a coming together of forces and people, and marriage; such a talisman might have a sigil of the figure on one side and its associated unique chart on the other.
- Conjure Chiburel, the angel watching over Coniunctio, perhaps under the guidance of the angel of Mercury Raphael, to invoke and manifest the forces of Coniunctio between herself and John.
- Intone the vowel epsilon (associated with Mercury) in a day and hour of Mercury over an image of her and John put together, with a sigil of Coniunctio drawn over them, perhaps incorporated with yet other sigils a la chaos magic.
- Throw the geomantic mudra for Coniunctio (which looks a lot like the ASL sign for “I love you”) around in John’s presence, perhaps visualizing a sigil for Coniunctio directed or “thrown” at him.
- Make a small hemp or chain bracelet tied or knotted in a manner that makes use of the geomantic emblem for Coniunctio, starting at the position where Caput Draconis appears, repeating a short incantation to lure, tie, and conjoin John to her.
- Cast a candle spell that uses six candles set out in the dot pattern of Coniunctio in a day and hour of Venus, placing a picture of her between the candles of the earth line and a picture of John between the candles of the fire line.
Assume for a bit that a geomancer throws a chart to see whether it’s possible that they can be married in the next year; the chart comes up with a negative answer, with Tristitia as the significator for Jane and Fortuna Maior for John. There’s no perfection, but the structures for Tristitia and Fortuna Maior are similar, differing only in the water line (i.e. Tristitia has water passive, Fortuna Maior has water active). Jane might consider “adding” the elemental force of water to her own self and life, perhaps by reaching out emotionally to connect with John more than she is or swimming more and being surrounded by blue and watery things, which would have the effect of transforming Tristitia to Fortuna Maior, which would induce perfection by occupation, turning the negative answer from the chart into a positive one. The same could be accomplished by working with the figure Albus similarly, since Albus and Tristitia combine to form Fortuna Maior, perhaps by being more reflective and in touch with oneself, or by working with the angel Labaniel to make one more watery and spiritually deep.
At their core, the geomantic figures are another set of symbols that can blend or bind with other symbols in magic. You might incorporate the geomantic figures into sigils, or use the sigils of the geomantic figures themselves, in a sigil web. Drawing the geomantic figure on consecrated paper or scrolls to keep as talismans, or using candle arrangements in the form of geomantic figures, would be good ritual uses of the geomantic figures. Conjurework and hoodoo might also benefit, by using the geomantic figures as talismans on paper or clay, burning or crushing them up into dust, and mixing them in with other powders to lay over someone as a target/victim/beneficiary. The ability to use geomantic figures and geomancy in magic is as wide and varied as the kinds of magic out there entirely, so feel free to experiment and use the geomantic figures in whatever way might seem useful or interesting.
As a rule, before performing any magic working (geomantic or otherwise), it’s suggested that the magician perform a divination to make sure it’s both advisable and feasible to use magic to a particular end. In other words, the magician should always ask “can I use magic to attain my goal?” before actually using magic as a part of planning. To understand these charts, see whether the Judge is favorable to the working and whether perfection exists with the proper house. Magic is related to four houses in geomantic charts:
- Sixth house: magic you ask others to do on your behalf as a service
- Eighth house: magic you do generally, e.g. those that involve lesser spirits, demons, witchcraft
- Ninth house: magic you do with celestial, theurgic, divine, or philosophical forces, e.g. astrological talismans, prayer to attain a desired end
- Twelfth house: magic done by others against you, especially without your knowledge
Additionally, you might want to inspect the seventh house (anyone working with you, a partner, a consultant, a spiritual worker, etc.) and the fourth house (the end result of the magical operation) to get a feel for other factors in magic-related situations. The Part of Spirit, or Index, often indicates spiritual considerations related to queries and their resolution, which is doubly important in questions of magic.
And that concludes my 20-part series De Geomanteia, a weekly series of posts on the sixteen figures that constitute the alphabet of geomancy as well as four posts on geomantic technique. This series was a lot more fun to write than I expected it to be, and you guys gave some really good feedback during the whole process both on the blog and off. Thank you, dear readers, for sticking it through with me, and I hope you learned at least a bit about this venerable and ancient divination system, if not inspired to use it in your own work. Would you guys have any other questions, queries, quandries, or comments to make about geomancy? Or would you have anything to share in addition to what I’ve posted, especially about incorporating geomancy with magic?