On Geomantic Cycles

A while back on the Facebook community I manage for geomancy, the Geomantic Study-Group, someone had posted a proposed method to obtain four Mother figures for a geomantic reading based on the time and date of the query.  The poster based this proposal off of the Plum Blossom method of I Ching, where (as one of several possible formulas) you take the date and time and numerologically reduce the numbers to obtain trigrams; in a sense, such a method could theoretically be done with geomantic figures, and so the poster called this a type of “horary geomancy” (though I’m reluctant to use that term, because it’s also used by Gerard of Cremona to come up with a horary astrological chart by geomantic means, as well as by Schwei and Pestka to refer to geomancy charts that have horary charts overlaid on top).  He proposed three methods, but they all revolved around using the time of the query in astrological terms.

The proposed idea went like this:

  1. Inspect the planetary ruler of the hour of the query.
  2. Inspect the planetary ruler of the weekday of the query.
  3. Inspect the planetary ruler of the Sun sign of the query.
  4. Inspect the planetary ruler of the year of the query.
  5. Transform the planets above, “taking into account rulerships by day or by night”, into geomantic figures, which are used as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Mothers for the resulting chart for the query.

Seems straightforward enough!  I mean, I’m already familiar with the basics of horary astrology, I keep track of date and time cycles according to Greek letters, and I’ve flirted with using the Era Legis system of timekeeping as proposed by Thelema, and it’s even possible to extend the planetary hour system into planetary minutes and even seconds; having a geomantic system of time, useful for generating charts, seems more than fitting enough!  Besides, there’s already a system of geomantic hours based on the planetary hours which can probably be adapted without too much a problem.

I was excited for this idea; having a geomantic calendar of sorts would be a fantastic tool for both divination and ritual, if such a one could be reasonably constructed, and better still if it played well with already-existing systems such as the planetary week or planetary hours.  That said, I quickly had some questions about putting the proposed method from the group into practice:

  1. What about the assignment of Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis?  Do we just occasionally swap them in for Venus/Jupiter and Mars/Saturn, respectively, and if so, how?
  2. Each planet has two figures associated with it; how do you determine which to pick?  “Taking into account rulerships by day or by night” isn’t always straightforward.
  3. How do we determine the planetary ruler of a given year?
  4. Is it possible instead to use the already existing cycles, such as the geomantic hours of Heydon, the rulerships of the lunar mansions, or the Cremona-based or Agrippa-based rulerships of the signs?

When I raised these questions (and a few others), I didn’t really get anything to clarify the method, so this particular conversation didn’t go anywhere.  This is unfortunate, because these pose some major problems to using a strictly planetary-based method of coming up with a geomantic cycle:

  1. The issues in assigning the nodal figures to the planets is the biggest issue.  They simply don’t quite “fit”; even if you reduce the 16 figures into pairs, it’s hard to get eight sets mapped into seven planetary “bins”.  We see this quite clearly when we look at Heydon’s geomantic hours, where the nodal figures are sometimes given to the benefic or malefic planets (though I can’t determine a method), and on Saturdays, two of the hours of the Sun are replaced by the nodal figures (which is, itself, shocking and may just be a typo that can’t be verified either way).  Unless you expand a cycle of 24 hours or seven days into a multiple of 8 or 16, you’re not going to end up with an equal number of figures represented among the planets.
  2. Given that each planet has two figures (ignoring the nodal figure issue from before), you can decide that one figure is going to be “diurnal” and the other “nocturnal”, or in planetary terms, “direct” or “retrograde”.  Different geomancers have different ways to figure out which of a planetary pair of figures are one or the other, so this might just be chalked up to individual interpretation.  Still, though, when would such a diurnal/nocturnal rulership actually matter?  Finding the figure for a planetary hour, using diurnal figures for diurnal hours and nocturnal figures for nocturnal hours?  Finding the figure for a weekday, using the diurnal figure if daytime and the nocturnal figure if nighttime, or alternating whole weeks in a fortnightly diurnal-nocturnal cycle?  Determining what figure to use if the Sun is in Leo or Cancer?
  3. Multi-part problem for the issue of finding the “planetary ruler of a year”:
    1. By inspecting the mathematics of the different kinds of planetary cycles that are established in the days of the week and the hours of the day, we can extend the system down into the minutes of the hours and the seconds of the minutes.  However, scaling up can’t be done along the same way; what allows for the planetary hours to work is that 24 does not evenly divide by 7, nor 60.  Because there’s always that remainder offset, you get a regularly repeating set of planets across a long system that, when aligned with certain synchronized starting points, allows for a planetary ruler of a given hour or day.  However, a week is exactly seven days; because there is no remainder offset, you can’t assign a planet ruling a week in the same way.  If you can’t even cyclically assign a planetary ruler to an entire week, then it’s not possible to do it for greater periods of time that are based on the week.
    2. There is no method of cyclically assigning a planetary rulership to a year the way we do for days or hours.  The poster alluded to one, but I couldn’t think of one, and after asking around to some of my trusted friends, there is no such thing.  You might find the ruler of a given year of a person’s life, or find out what the almuten is at the start of a solar year at its spring equinox, but there’s no cyclical, easily extrapolated way to allocate such a thing based on an infinitely repeating cycle.
    3. We could adopt a method similar to that in Chinese astrology: use the 12-year cycles based on the orbit of Jupiter, which returns to the same sign of the Zodiac every 11.8618 years (or roughly every 11 years, 10 months, 10 days).  In such a system, we’d base the planet ruling the year on the sign where Jupiter is found at the spring equinox.  This is both a weird import into a Western system that isn’t particularly Jupiter-centric, and is not quite exact enough for my liking, due to the eventual drift of Jupiter leading to a cycle that stalls every so often.
    4. It’s trivial to establish a simple cycle that just rotates through all seven planets every seven years, but then the problem becomes, what’s your starting point for the cycle?  It’s possible to inspect the events of years and try to detect a cycle, or we can just arbitrarily assign one, or we can use mythological calendrics (a la Trithemius’ secondary intelligences starting their rulerships at the then-reckoned start of the world), but I’m personally uncomfortable with all these options.
  4. Different existing cycles, different problems for each:
    1. John Heydon’s geomantic hours from his Theomagia (which are the first instance I can find of such an application of the planetary hours) are a mess.  Even accounting for how he reckons the figures as “diurnal” or “nocturnal” and their planetary rulers, the pattern he has breaks at random points and I can’t chalk it up necessarily to being typos.  Additionally, there are 168 hours in a week, but this doesn’t evenly divide into 16, meaning that within a given week in Heydon’s (quite possibly flawed) system of geomantic hours, some figures will not be given as many hours as others.  If we went to a fortnight system of 14 days, then we’d end up with 336 hours which is evenly divisible by 16 (336 hours ÷ 16 figures = 21 hours/figure), but Heydon doesn’t give us such a system, nor have I seen one in use.
    2. The system of lunar mansions from Hugo of Santalla’s work of geomancy ultimately formed the basis for the system of zodiacal rulerships used by Gerard of Cremona (which I’m most partial to).  However, of the 28 mansions, seven have no rulership, and five are duplicated (e.g. mansions 25, 26, and 27 are all ruled by Fortuna Minor).  Moreover, this system of attribution of figures to the mansions is apparently unrelated to the planetary rulership of the lunar mansions (which follow the weekday order, with the Sun ruling mansion 1).  It may be possible to fill in the gaps by closing ranks, such that the unruled mansion 7 is “absorbed” by Rubeus which already rule mansion 6.
    3. There’s another system of lunar mansion rulership assigned to the figures, described by E. Savage-Smith and M. Smith in their description of an Arabian geomancy machine relating to directional correspondences, which uses the similarities between graphical point representation of the figures and certain asterisms of lunar mansions to give them their correspondence.  However, it is likewise incomplete, moreso than Hugo of Santalla’s assignments, and is likely meant as a way of cementing geomancy into Arabic astrological thought (though the two systems do share three figure-mansion correspondences, but this might just be coincidental overlap).
    4. Hugo of Santalla’s system of lunar mansions and geomantic figures was eventually simplified into a set of zodiacal correspondences for the figures, such as used by Gerard of Cremona.  I like this system and have found it of good use, but Agrippa in his On Geomancy says that those who use such a system is vulgar and less trustworthy than a strictly planetary-based method, like what JMG uses in his Art and Practice of Geomancy.  Standardizing between geomancers on this would probably be the riskiest thing, as geomancers tend to diverge more on this detail than almost any other when it comes to the bigger correspondences of the figures.
    5. Even if one were to use Agrippa’s planetary method of assigning figures to the signs of the Zodiac, you’d run into problems with the whole “diurnal” and “nocturnal” classification that different geomancers use for the figures, which is compounded with the issue of nodal figures.  For instance, according to Agrippa, Via and Populus are both given to Cancer; Carcer and Caput Draconis are given to Capricorn; and Puer, Rubeus, and Cauda Draconis are all given to Scorpio.  I suppose you might be able to say that, given a choice, a nodal figure is more diurnal than the planets (maybe?), but how would you decide what to use for Scorpio, if both figures of Mars as well as Cauda Draconis are all lumped together?

In all honesty, given my qualms with trying to find ways to overlay planetary cycles with geomantic ones, I’m…a little despairing of the notion at this point.  The systems we have to base geomantic cycles on are either irregular or incomplete, and in all cases unsatisfactory to my mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have heard that some geomancers have used the geomantic hours to good results, but I’ve also heard that some geomancers can get the methods of divination for numbers and letters to work; in other words, these are things that everyone has heard of working but nobody seems to have actually gotten to work.  And, I suppose if you don’t think about it for too long and just take it for granted, perhaps you can get the geomantic hours to work!  After all, I’ve found good results with Hugo of Santalla’s figure-mansions correspondences, even if they’re incomplete and unbalanced, without anything backing them up.  (I never denied that over-thinking can be a problem, much less a problem that I specifically have.)

Further, I’m not saying that geomantic cycles don’t exist; they very likely do, if the elements and the planets and the signs all have their cycles in their proper times.  The problem is that so much of these other cycles we see are based on fancier numbers that are either too small or infrequent (4 elements, 7 planets) or don’t evenly divide into 8 or 16 (like 12 signs, 27 letters in an alphabet), or they simply don’t match up right.  For instance, it would be possible to create a new set of geomantic hours where each figure is present in turn over a course of 16 hours, then repeat the cycle; this leads to returning to the same figure at the same hour of the day every 48 hours, starting a new cycle every third day.  This doesn’t match up well with a seven-day week, but rather a cycle of two weeks (as hypothesized above, since 14 days = 336 hours, and 336 is divisible evenly by 16).  However, such a system would break the correspondence between planets and figures because of the “drift” between cycles of 16 and 7.

So…in that line of thinking, why not rethink the notion of geomantic cycles apart from tying them to planetary ones, and start from scratch?

We’re accustomed to thinking of magical cycles in terms of seven planets, but we could just as easily construct cyclical time systems in terms of four (which can be divided four ways within it), eight (divided into two), or sixteen units.

  • Consider the synodic period of the Moon, which can be said to have eight phases: new, crescent, first quarter, gibbous, full, disseminating, third quarter, and balsamic.  We could attribute each phase two figures, and then sync the cycle to, say, the new moon (when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction) or to the first quarter moon (when the Sun sets as the Moon is directly overhead), giving a synodic month 16 geomantic “stations” each lasting about 1.85 days.
  • Those with a neopagan background are used to thinking of the year as an eight-spoked Wheel, where the year is divided by eight sabbats, which are four quarter days (equinoxes and solstices) and four cross-quarter days; each period between one sabbat and the next could be split into a geomantic “season” lasting roughly 22 or (sometimes) 23 days long.
  • Alternatively, a year of 365 days can be broken up into 22 “months” of 16 days each, leading to 352 days, meaning three or four intercalary/epagomenal days at the end of the year or spread around for, say, the quarter days.
  • Within a single day from sunrise to sunrise, we can divide the day into four segments (morning, afternoon, evening, and night) divided by the stations of the sun (sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight), and each segment can be further subdivided into four geomantic “hours”, leading to a total of 16 geomantic “hours” within a day which would, assuming a day of equal daytime and nighttime, have each “hour” equal to 90 minutes.
  • Years can be broken down into cycles of four years, every fourth year requiring a leap day; this could lend itself to a cycle of 16 years (one geomantic figure per year), or even to a cycle of 64 years (comprising 16 leap days), each of which can be used as a way to define larger-time cycles.

Such a four- or eight-fold division of time and space isn’t unheard of; we commonly reckon a year (at least in most Western Anglophone countries) as having four seasons, the Greeks broke up cycles of years into four-year Olympiads, the ancient Romans divided up the night into four watches (while using twelve hours for the daytime), and there are discussions of a Hellenistic system of astrological houses called the octotopos/octotropos system which uses eight houses instead of the usual 12, so it’s possible to dig that up and rework it to accustom a geomantic method where the number 16 could be applied to work better than mashing it onto a system where the number 7 is more prominent.  That said, finding such a system that’s thoroughly based on 4, 8, or 16 is difficult, as it’d be pretty artificial without including the moon (which repeats in patterns of 12 or 13) or whole number divisors of 360, and considering how thoroughly cultural transmission/conquering has established the 12-month year across most of the world, often obliterating and subsuming earlier systems that may not have left much of a trace.  But, again, if we’re gonna just up and make one from scratch, I suppose it doesn’t need to be grounded in extant systems, now, does it?  Even if it’s artificial, if it’s a cycle that works, such as by associating the different motions of the sun and sensations of the day with the figures, or by linking the changes in the seasons with the figures, then that’s probably the more important thing.

Unlike my older grammatomantic calendars, where the order of the letters provided a useful guide to how the system should “flow”, the geomantic figures have no such inherent order, but can be ordered any number of ways (binary numeral equivalence, element and subelement, planetary, zodiacal order by Gerard of Cremona or by Agrippa, within one of the 256 geomantic emblems, the traditional ordering of odu Ifá which we shouldn’t ever actually use because this isn’t Ifá, etc.).  Or, alternatively, new orders can be made thematically, such as a “solar order” that starts with Fortuna Maior at sunrise, continues through the figures including Fortuna Minor at sunset, and so forth.  This would be a matter of experimentation, exploration, and meditation to see what figure matches up best with what part of a cycle, if an already existing order isn’t used as a base.

I do feel a little bad at not offering a better alternative to the problem that the original poster on Facebook posed, instead just shooting it down with all my own hangups.  Over time, I’d eventually like to start building up a geomantic calendar of sorts so as to try timing things for geomantic spirits and rituals, but that’ll have to wait for another time.  Instead, going back to the original problem statement, how can we use time to come up with four Mothers?  Well, perhaps we can try this:

  1. Consider four lists of geomantic figures: binary (B), elemental (E), planetary (P), and zodiac (Z).  Pick a list you prefer; for this method, I recommend the simple binary list (Populus, Tristitia, Albus…Via).  Enumerate the figures within this list from 0 to 15.
  2. Look at the current time and date of the query being asked.
  3. Take the second (1 through 59, and if the second is 0, use 60), minute (ditto), and hour (1 through 23, and if 0, use 24).  Add together, divide by 16, and take the remainder.  This is key 1.
  4. Take the day of the year (1 through 365 or 366), divide by 16, and take the remainder.  This is key 2.
  5. Take the year, divide by 16, then take the remainder.  This is key 3.
  6. Add up all the digits of the current second, minute, hour, day, and year.  Divide this number by 16, then take the remainder.  This is key 4.
  7. For each key, obtain the corresponding Mother by finding the figure associated with the key in the list you choose.

So, for instance, say I ask a query on September 25, 2017 at 9:34:49 in the evening.  According to the method above, starting with the actual math on step #3:

  1. Since 9 p.m. is hour 21 of the day, 49 + 34 + 21 = 104.  The remainder of this after dividing by 16 is 8, so K1= 8.
  2. September 25 is day 268 of year 2017.  The remainder of 268 ÷ 16 is 12, so K2 = 12.
  3. The remainder of 2017 ÷ 16 is 1, so K3 = 1.
  4. 49 + 34 + 21 + 268 + 2017 = 2389, and the remainder of this after dividing by 16 is 5, so K4 = 5.
  5. Using the binary list, (K1, K2, K3, K4) = (8, 12, 1, 5), which yields the Mother figures Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Tristitia, and Acquisitio.

While this is not a perfect method, since the number of days in a year is not perfectly divisible by 16, the possibilities of each figure appearing as a Mother are not exactly equal to 1/16, but the process is decent enough for pretty solid divination based on time alone.  Instead of using purely date/time-based methods, you could also use the birth information of the querent alongside the date and time of the query, use the figures for the current geomantic hour/lunar mansion/Sun sign of the Zodiac, or numerologically distill the query by counting the number of letters or words used or by using gematria/isopsephy to distill and divide the sum of the content of the query.  So, I a method like what the original poster was proposing could certainly work on strictly numerical principles alone, just not on the astrological or planetary cyclical methods proposed.

As for geomantic cycles, dear reader, what do you think?  If you were to link the geomantic figures to, say, the phases of the moon, the eight “spokes” of the neopagan Wheel of the Year, or the flow of light and darkness across a day reckoned sunrise-to-sunrise, how would you go about creating such a cycle?  Have you used the geomantic hours, and if so, have you run into the same problems I have, or have you used them with good effect, in lieu of or in addition to the normal planetary hours?

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2015 Ritual Calendar and Prospective

2014 has come and gone, and now we’re in 2015.  Awesome!  I hope your hangovers have worn off by now.  While we’re currently regretting our poor life choices from poured drinks from a few nights ago, we may as well review some of our goals and actions from last year.  So, how was last year?  Fucking rad, really, and busy.  Really busy.  Some of the highlights from 2014 include:

  • Probably most notably, I ended up starting on a new theurgical method called mathesis.
  • I gave my first talk at an occult conference to my occult peers!
  • I was on the air giving readings and talking about geomancy and things!
  • I attended a conference on Hermes/Mercury at the University of Virginia (posts one, two, and three).
  • I began working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, patron saint of magicians and necromancers, and held a large party in his honor on his feast day, as well as raising $1000 for the Malala Fund in honor of the good saint.
  • I started selling ritual jewelry, published several ebooks, and have begun taking other commissions on my Etsy shop.
  • I began a devotional practice to the seven archangels.
  • I began practices to several more Greek gods that I’ve invited into my home, notably Aphrodite, Hephaistos, Hestia, and Apollon.
  • I moved to a new house with the love of my life and good friend, which helped me with building a new temple as well as amplify my occult practice.
  • I began studying astragalomancy and the work of the Arbatel.
  • I completed a month-long Psalm 119 working (with more side-effects than anticipated).
  • I somehow managed to keep sane and hold down a standard office job to fund my odd hobbies and so much wine.
  • I got involved in the usual spats and drama common to nearly all magicians.

If you recall the prospective from last year, I had several goals I wanted to achieve.  How did I do?

  1. Get more physically active.  Moderately successful.  I’ve been sticking to Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido at the local Ki Society dojo for the better part of the year, with a month away here and there to take care of family, moving, and the like.  Plus, I’ve recently gotten re-enamored by the mobile game Ingress, which encourages walking and outdoor exploration.  That said, as my waistline can attest, that hasn’t really done much for my weight or body fat percentage, so I’m not doing something quite right yet.  Still, it’s an improvement, and I was able to make it to Fifth Kyu (the first graded rank) in the style of aikido I practice this year already.
  2. Conjure the angels of the fixed stars.  Not successful.  I barely made the conjuration time for Malkhidael, the angel presiding over the sphere of Aries, and pretty much dropped that off from there.  I didn’t exactly need to do this, but it would’ve been nice.  I had too much else going on, and conjuration generally has been at the back of my mind as I’ve gotten involved in other projects.
  3. Buy and move into a new house.  Sorta done!  Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the resources at this time to outright buy a house.  Instead, my housemates and I moved into a house that we’re renting, but the place is so remote and the landlord so detached that, for all intents and purposes, we own the place.  Moving was a pain, especially with the now-apocryphal stories of guinea hens and U-Haul issues, but we’re well-situated and love where we live.
  4. Start working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  As I’m sure a number of my posts from 2014 can attest, this has been wildly successful.  Not only have I started to work with the good saint of magicians, but I’ve written two ebooks on him, written a chaplet and litany in his honor, held a huge feast day party for him, held a fundraising drive in his name, and have been generally empowered and blessed by his presence and aid in my life.  Still have so much more to do and to involve him with, but this is no bad start, indeed.
  5. Start working with my ancestors more.  I’ve started to maintain an ancestor altar containing a few trinkets and ashes of print-out copies of photos of my ancestors, and have gotten into a groove of making regular offerings to them as well as involving them in regular conversation and chats.  I haven’t put them to work yet, but then, I may as well get to know them again slowly.
  6. Translate more Latin.  I didn’t do any Latin translation this year.  This was low priority, anyway, but those books won’t translate themselves and nobody else is doing it, either.
  7. More trance work.  Besides some light scrying here and there, yeah, nope.  Whoopsie.  I really do need to get my ass in gear with this, but it takes time that I simply don’t have without going on a dangerously low amount of sleep (which doesn’t help anything).

Now that we’re in the start of 2015, what are my plans?

  1. Get more physically active and drop some goddamn weight.  I’ve stayed at my current weight, which is about 50lbs too many, for a year now.  There’s no reason for me to stay at this weight.  I will lose those 50lbs and will keep them off from now on.  The idea is simple: daily walks and exercise, regular aikido practice (which I desperately need to get back into after having fallen out of practice for several months), and watching my food and drink intake.  Magically, all the planets can play a part: Mars for discipline, Saturn for helping to keep myself to a minimum when needed, Jupiter for being gracious and having only necessary wealth in terms of food, Mercury for managing my health and metabolism, Sun for managing stamina and health, and so forth.  But, really, at the heart of it is just watching what I put in my face and what I do with my body.
  2. Begin working with the demons from the Lemegeton.  This has been something on the docket for a long time now, but I’ve never really gotten around to it.  The approach I plan to use is that of Fr. Rufus Opus’ Modern Goetic Grimoire, a Lemegeton-spinning of the Trithemian conjuration ritual, and the tools and approach are generally the same to those in his Modern Angelic Grimoire, with the changes well-known and highlighted.  The first demon I’d like to work with is Orobas, specifically suggested to me as a beginner-mode spirit who can help with getting introduced to the rest of the spirits, but there’ll be plenty of work for them anyway.
  3. Undertake the Arbatel conjuration of the Olympick Spirits.  I’ve got the seals done and the text learned, so now it’s just a matter of going forth and conjuring the Olympick spirits.  I’ll finish planning my approach in the coming weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see how this complements or conflicts with my previous conjurations of the planets and their angels and what the angelic alliances I’ve built up to this point can contribute.  I like Fr. Acher’s approach of seeing these conjurations as initiations into the spheres, which is the point of Fr. Rufus Opus’ Gates rituals, but done in a different way.
  4. Study and prepare for baptism within the Apostolic Johannite Church.  Yes, this is a thing that I’ve figured would help buff out my practices with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, the seven archangels, and a variety of other spirits I work with.  No, this doesn’t mean I’m giving up my Hellenic or mathetic practices.  Yes, I believe that these different spiritual traditions can, if not dovetail in a completely complementary way, buff each other out.  I have my reasons.
  5. Begin learning and working with spirits within the tradition of Quimbanda.  During my vacation at the end of 2014, I got a consulta from a Tata Quimbanda which was fascinating and gave me no end of things to work on, and also gave me information on my personal and working Exus and Pomba Gira.  I plan to begin building relationships with these spirits, and something about the tradition snagged me and I have an eye on initiation, though that’ll be a ways off.  First things first: begin understanding this tradition at the direction of my tata friend.  My work with Saint Cyprian, who plays a huge role in Quimbanda, can also help, and I’ve resituated my altar of Saint Cyprian on top of a small cabinet which will house my Exus and Pomba Gira.
  6. Continue developing the study of mathesis.  This is going to be a life’s work, so long as I can keep doing it.  This will involve lots of research into Platonic and Neoplatonic occultism done back in the day, as well as whatever Pythagorean information I can get my hands on.  This is probably going to end up as a more meditative and contemplative practice than hands-on occult conjuration, but that might be for the best.  It may have applicable uses elsewhere and would dovetail nicely with other Hellenic practices, to be sure, but that’s not all entirely up for me to decide.

With that, let’s start talking about dates, times, calendars, cycles, holidays, festivals, and other chronological phenomena!  You can find the whole post after the jump, or you can jump to the individual sections you’re interested in with these links:

  1. Grammatēmerologion, the lunisolar grammatomantic ritual calendar
  2. Weekday cycle
  3. Astronomical and astrological phenomena
  4. Movable festivals and holidays
  5. Festivals and holidays fixed to the Gregorian calendar

Continue reading “2015 Ritual Calendar and Prospective”

2014 Ritual Calendar and Prospective

2013 has finally come and gone, and now we’re in 2014.  Awesome.  How was last year?  Fricking amazing, lemme tell you.  Between a good amount of spiritual work and crafting, my first full year with my fantastic boyfriend, and no small amount of education and adventuring, 2013 really wasn’t bad at all.  Now that we’re in the start of 2014, what are my plans?

  1. Get more physically active.  The past few months haven’t been kind to my waistline and it’s starting to show, not to mention that a number of the spirits are getting on my case about treating my body better.  To that end, I’m changing up my daily and weekly routine to get in some more exercise (running and basic weightlifting), as well as beginning to take aikido classes.  I’m specifically choosing aikido with the Northern Virginia Ki Society, not just due to the estimable opinion of my good friend, occult crafter, and martial artist Raven Orthaevelve, but because it will help in my energy manipulation and meditation skills.  Add to it, it’s something that I’ve always had an interest in but hardly had the chance to take it up when I was younger, so I may as well.
  2. Conjure the angels of the fixed stars.  This past year, I finally contacted Iophiel, the angel of the fixed stars and the angel of the eighth sphere, which was an amazing experience.  However, I’ve barely had time to investigate that sphere, and since it’s the most unfamiliar and complex of the spheres I’ve yet encountered, I want to spend some more time working with the forces of the stars as a whole as well as individual segments.  To that end, I want to start a year-long project by conjuring the angels of the fixed stars; not just Iophiel, but each of the angels of the Zodiac (as the Sun enters each sign) and the angels of the lunar mansions (as the Sun and Moon enter each lunar mansion).  This will amount to about 40 new conjurations, with about three or four new contacts being made a month.  I’ll start this project once the Sun enters Aries at the spring solstice this year, kicking off the solar new year with new conjurations.  This will provide a new wealth of information, I’m sure.
  3. Buy and move into a new house.  I’ve lived at my current apartment since I got out of college almost four years ago, and while I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s time to move into somewhere better.  I’m investigating the possibility of actually taking out a mortgage and buying a house for myself, my boyfriend, and two of our friends; since we’re all into magic and the occult in our own ways, that should prove to be an interesting arrangement indeed!  I’ll need to start talking to my agency’s HR department as well as some of the angels and gods for the help I’ll need, too.  This will definitely help me, personally, to have more space for my magic work as well as begin more intense devotional practices with the gods and spirits.  Speaking of…
  4. Start working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch is the patron saint of pagans, sorcerers, and magicians; need I explain further?  Although no longer recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Cyprian of Antioch (not to be confused with Saint Cyprian of Carthage) is well-known by some Nordic communities of magicians as well as by many Portuguese, Brazilian, and Caribbean occultists.  His ties to some ATR deities will help bridge a possible spiritual gap between me and my boyfriend and his godfamily (a group of ATR practicioners and initiates), too, as well as help give me a more solid footing when dealing with spirits of the dark and the dead.  And speaking of the dead…
  5. Start working with my ancestors more.  My interactions with people of ATR faiths has shown me by force how powerful our ancestors can be in our lives.  This isn’t just to say those of our family who’ve passed away in our lifetimes, but literally all of them going back to the furthest distant reaches of our genesis, even to the gods or elves or chaos or what-have-you.  I’ve started a small shrine and practice to my ancestors on my main devotional altar, but it’s just a tiny squished corner for now.  Once I get the space, I plan to setting up a full altar for them and getting to do more research for their names, pictures, and preferences.  This will be made more convenient since I’m tasked with repairing my mother’s old computers, which have books’ worth of genealogical information on different branches of my family.  Weekly chats and offerings to them would be the minimal practice here.
  6. Translate more Latin.  My boyfriend got me one of the most complete and thorough books on European geomancy ever written, the “Fasciculus Geomanticus” written by Robert Fludd in 1687.  This is about 650 pages of dense late medieval Latin replete with very deep geomantic lore and technique compiled by one of Europe’s most famous masters of the art.  I plan on translating this in full, perhaps even submitting it for publication or cannibalizing it into my own work on geomancy.  Who’s to say?  Maybe even both!  Other works in Latin might be translated, too, pending advice and suggestions from my dear readers.
  7. More trance work.  This is something I’ve tried off and on again since I pretty much started magic, but I haven’t really made much progress or even much of a concerted effort.  Entering states of trance, engaging in astral projection, and being able to dream lucidly is still high on my to-do list, so I’m going to devote myself to trance work on nights when I don’t work out and don’t have other magical work to do.  This, combined with the above things, basically necessitates I keep a strict routine for myself with putzing around on the Internet reserved mostly for when I’m at work (hah!).

So, without further ado, the calendars and timings for things for the year of 2014.  First, the updated conjuration cycle:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Raphael
(Air)
Tzadqiel
(Jupiter)
2 Michael
(Fire)
Kammael
(Mars)
3 Michael
(Sun)
 Auriel
(Earth)
Haniel
(Venus)
4 Raphael
(Mercury)
Gabriel
(Water)
5 Gabriel
(Moon)
Iophiel
(Fixed Stars)
6 Personal
Angels
Tzaphqiel
(Saturn)

In the past, I was going on a 5-week cycle of the angels, with all the elemental archangels being done on Wednesdays (as my work schedule lets me work from home then).  However, this past year, I finally gained contact and initiation from Iophiel, the angel of the fixed stars of the 8th heaven, and wanted to allow more time for that as well.  Further, due to some of my other scheduling constraints, I wanted to leave my Fridays and Wednesdays mostly clear of magical work except as necessary.  Thus, I expanded the conjuration cycle to six weeks instead of five, moving the conjurations of Iophiel and my personal angels (natal genius, Holy Guardian Angel, and angel of occupation) to the weekend between the conjurations of Gabriel of the Moon and Tzaphqiel of Saturn.  Further, I also moved the elemental archangel conjurations to other days instead of Wednesdays.

Next, the lunar month cycle:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
New
Moon
Arktos Ritual,
house cleansing
and blessing
General material
consecration
Monthly
Hermaia
First Quarter
Moon
Full
Moon
Full Moon Ritual
Last Quarter
Moon
House
cleaning

Generally the same as last year.  I observe a monthly ritual for Hermes every fourth day of the lunar month, and I use the day before through the day after the New Moon to clean, cleanse, banish, and reward my house.  I also set aside time on the New Moon and Full Moon for certain celestial rituals, assuming the weather allows for it.  Not much of my normal work revolves around the revolution of the Moon, but it does help in getting a few things done here and there.

Of course, no schedule observing the stars could be complete without a list of planetary retrograde dates. Below are all the retrograde dates for Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury that take place sometime during 2014. Of these, only Venus and Mercury are of any real importance, but still.

  • Saturn retrograde from March 2 through July 20
  • Jupiter retrograde from November 7 2013 through March 6 2014
  • Jupiter retrograde from December 8 2014 through April 8 2015
  • Mars retrograde from March 1 through May 20
  • Venus retrograde from December 21 2013 through January 21 2014
  • Mercury retrograde from February 6 through February 28
  • Mercury retrograde from June 7 through July 1
  • Mercury retrograde from October 4 through October 25

Other astrological and astronomical phenomena:

  • Sun ingress Aquarius: January 20
  • Sun midway Aquarius (Imbolc): February 3
  • Sun ingress Pisces: Febuary 18
  • Sun ingress Aries (Ostara, spring equinox): March 20
  • Sun ingress Taurus: April 20
  • Sun midway Taurus (Beltane): May 5
  • Sun ingress Gemini: May 21
  • Sun ingress Cancer (Litha, summer solstice): June 21
  • Sun ingress Leo: July 22
  • Sun midway Leo (Lammas): August 7
  • Sun ingress Virgo: August 23
  • Sun ingress Libra (Mabon, fall equinox): September 23
  • Sun ingress Scorpio: October 23
  • Sun midway Scorpio (Samhain): November 7
  • Sun ingress Sagittarius: November 22
  • Sun ingress Capricorn (Yule, winter solstice): December 22
  • New Moon, first of winter: January 1
  • New Moon, second of winter: January 30
  • New Moon, third of winter: March 1
  • New Moon, first of spring: March 30
  • New Moon, second of spring: April 29
  • New Moon, third of spring: May 28
  • New Moon, first of summer: June 27
  • New Moon, second of summer: July 26
  • New Moon, third of summer: August 25
  • New Moon, first of autumn: September 24
  • New Moon, second of autumn: October 23
  • New Moon, third of autumn: November 22
  • New Moon, first of winter: December 21
  • Perihelion: January 4
  • Aphelion: July 4
  • Northern lunar eclipse: April 15
  • Southern solar eclipse: April 29
  • Southern lunar eclipse: October 8
  • Northern lunar eclipse: October 23

Festivals and holidays whose dates move around:

  • Hermaia: March 5
  • Asclepeia: March 9
  • Dionysia: March 11 through March 16
  • Purim: March 15
  • Pesach: April 14 through April 22
  • Aphrodisia: July 1
  • Rosh haShanah: September 24 through September 26
  • Yom Kippur: October 3
  • Chanukkah: December 16 through December 24

Other festivals and holidays whose dates don’t move around:

  • Veneralia: April 1
  • Feast of St. Isidore of Seville: April 4
  • Feast of St. Expedite: April 19
  • Feast of Mary, Queen of Heaven: May 1
  • Mercuralia: May 15
  • Feast of St. Benedict: July 11
  • Festival of Venus Genetrix: September 26
  • Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch: September 26
  • Feast of the Angels (Michaelmas): September 29
  • Birthday: October 8
  • All Hallow’s Eve: October 31
  • All Saints’ Day: November 1
  • All Souls’ Day: November 2
  • Feast of St. Lazarus: December 16
  • Saturnalia: December 17 through December 23
  • Christmas: December 25

Notes on the above lists:

  • I’m already using the Sun’s entry into the four cardinal zodiac signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) to mark the solstices and equinoxes, so it makes sense to me to use the Sun’s halfway point in the four fixed zodiac signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio) to mark the cross-quarter days instead of the Gregorian calendrical method.  While most other occultists and pagans will use the normal calendrical dating, I’ll stick to my solar dating and tie it to the cycle of the Sun instead.  The dates are fairly close, at least, being off no more than a week from the popular observance of them.  The calendar dates of these cross-quarter days are the 1st of the month the astrological date occurs in (thus May 1st for Beltane).
  • The period between All Hallow’s Eve and the astrological Samhain is a big deathy week for me that I’ll probably make a big to-do for the dead.
  • Similarly, the period between Saturnalia and the winter solstice will be a roughly week-long period of partying and fun.
  • Yes, dear reader, I do count my birthday as a festival, not least because it usually coincides with Columbus Day (a federal holiday, and thus three-day weekend).
  • The Jewish festivals are things to mark one of the cultures I come from.  While I’m not very observant, I try to make these things a small reminder of what some of my ancestors have done.
  • While the Roman festivals are tied to the normal calendar, the Greek festivals move around due to their being tied to the lunar months.  By my reckoning, the Hermaia (Hermes’ festival) takes place on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month after the summer solstice; the Aphrodisia (Aphrodite’s festival) takes place on the fourth day of the first lunar month after the summer solstice; the Dionysia (Dionysus’ greater festival) takes place on the 10th through 15th days of the third lunar month after the winter solstice; the Asclepeia (Asclepius’ festival) takes place on the eighth day of the third lunar month after the winter solstice.

With that, let’s get 2014 rolling!

Thoughts on a Grammatomantic Calendar

Earlier this year, I produced my first ebook, a short text detailing the history and use of grammatomancy, or divination using the Greek alphabet much as one might use runes for divination. It’s an interesting system, and I combined the ancient oracular meanings of the letters with their isopsephic (gematria) meanings, stoicheic (planetary/elementary/astral) meanings, and qabbalistic symbolism to produce a full divination system suitable for any student of the magical arts. It got real complicated real fast, but also real complete in the process. (If you don’t have a copy, stop being lazy and get one here.)

As some of my readers may know, I make use of this every day (mostly) for my Twitter/Facebook feeds under the posts “Daily Grammatomancy”. It’s helped me and others plan our days out, using a simple oracle for how the day will go; the question I ask for our mutual and communal benefit is “for myself and for all who come in contact with my words, for this day, this very day: how best should we live our lives in accordance with the divine will of the immortal gods?”. For some people, it’s no better than a newspaper horoscope; for others, it hits dead on time and time again.

Doing this for a while has lead some of my friends to start pursuing their own daily divination methods. One such friend, Raven Orthaevelve (who is a fantastic artist and crafter whom you should totally buy and commission things from for anything fancy, magical, or otherwise), has started using the Mayan calendar as a divination tool. This isn’t any 2012 bullshit, either; the Mayan calendar was known for being a reasonably complex set of interlocking cycles. One such calendar used for these cycles is the tzolk’in, a 260-day calendar made up of 13 20-day “months”. Each day has a particular name and divinatory meaning which forms the basis of much of Mayan divination, natal astrology, and prognostication. Raven posts her interpretations of the tzolk’in daily on her Facebook, and will eventually build in other Mayan cycles into the mix for a more complex and complete daily prognostication.

In some sort of weird feedback loop, this has started to help me pursue my own idea of a cyclical divination using Greek letters. In other words, although the daily grammatomantic divination would be helpful for specific days, a day might generally have a particular meaning based on its location in a cycle of days; combining the two can help focus knowledge and energy for particular problems, much as one might combine the cycle of planetary days and planetary hours for rituals. Interesting as this idea might be, though, it’d be incredibly difficult; there’s no information I can find that this was done in ancient times, so it’d be a new innovation. Add to it, the development of any kind of calendrical cycle is difficult (as my experiments with forming a ritual calendar for planning things out have shown).

One option I might explore is just using the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet in making a type of calendar. 15 repetitions of this cycle would produce 360, a very nice number indeed; if I were to tie it to the solar year, then it’d produce 5 or 6 intercalary days that would not be associated with any particular letter. This kind of practice isn’t uncommon by any means: the Mayans used a similar practice with their haab’ calendar: 18 cycles of 20 days, again producing 360 days with five days (wayeb’) at the end; the ancient Egyptians and modern Copts use 12 cycles of 30 days, again 360 days, plus five or six days at the end. 24 is a pretty convenient number, I have to admit, especially with its divisors and amenability to larger cycles of 12, 360, and the like.

Plus, if I were to use this cycle of 15 months of 24 days, I could further associate each month with a particular letter, which could afford another general cycle around the day-letter cycle. Say that we associate the first month of the first year with Α, then the second with Β, and so forth. Because the year only has 15 months, the last month of the first year would be Ο, and the first month of the second year would be Π; likewise, the first month of the third year would be Η, the first month of the fourth year would be Χ, and so forth. This produces a cycle such that every 9th year has the first month starting with Α; thus, there are eight distinct years with this month-letter cycle. And if we have a month-letter cycle, we could also expand this to a year-letter cycle, such that three such month-letter cycles form one year-letter cycle, or 24 years (8 × 3 = 24). Alternatively, we might have a great year-letter cycle, where one month-letter cycle is given a letter, and 24 month-letter cycles completes a great year-letter cycle; this would be a cycle of 8 × 24 = 192 years. At this point, I’d just be forming cycles for the sake of cycles for a kind of neo-Greek long count calendar, but it’d be nifty all the same for finer, long-term gradations of influences.

To use such a cycle, however, I’d need to use a particular day as a start date, at least for the months. Although the Greek alphabet oracle as I use it was found in modern Turkey, different parts of ancient Greece used different calendars with different start dates for individual years. The Attic calendar, about which we know the most among all ancient Greek calendars, started on the first new moon after the summer solstice; other Greek calendars often started off between autumn and winter. For simplicity, I’d say that either the spring equinox (to tie it in with astrology) or the summer solstice (to tie it in with Athenian practice) would be the official start date. Thus, the five or six days leading up to this start date (according to the Gregorian calendar) would be the intercalary days, which would have no letters assigned to it; alternatively, I might devise a scheme to associate particular letters with these intercalary days based on specific properties of the letters. This doesn’t even mention where the month-cycles (years of day-letters) would begin, or what the anchor date might be.

If I were to use the Attic practice of using the summer solstice as the start date, though, why not actually go ahead and use the Attic calendar itself as the basis for my cycle? The Attic calendar, specifically the festival calendar used to determine festivals and rituals, was a lunisolar calendar. There were 12 months as determined by the observation of the Moon; months began on the first sighting of the New Moon just after syzygy (νουμηνια, “new moon”), and ended on the day of the syzygy itself (ενη και νεα, “old and new”). Thus, the months could be 30 days (full months) or 29 days (hollow months). A month was divided into three periods of ten days each, which I’ll call decamera; if the month was hollow, then the third decameron would have only nine days, with the usual 29th day being omitted entirely.

The problem with using this type of lunisolar calendar is that there are more days in a month (29 or 30) than there are letters in the Greek alphabet (24). Even if I were to include the obsolete letters digamma, qoppa, and sampi for a total of 27 letters, this would still leave three days leftover. This might be remedied by throwing “letterless” days into the mix, on which no advice can be given, as well as making the obsolete letters effectively “letterless” since they have no associated oracles or stoicheic meaning. They have isopsephic meaning, however, which can be substituted with Hebrew gematraic meanings (and, through them, Hebrew stoicheic meanings), but this is starting to overreach and combine different traditions.

However, the use of those three decamera within each month does lend itself well to the Greek alphabet, assuming we use the full body of 27 letters. Using isopsephy, the letters Α through Θ (including digamma) are given to values 1 through 9, Ι through qoppa are given to 10 through 90, and Ρ through sampi are given to 100 through 900. Thus, we have nine letters per decameron, of which two days per period are letterless (or one day for the final period in the case of a hollow month); one for the obsolete letter in the mix and one extra letterless day at the end of the period. In this manner, we’d have a method to create a grammatomantic lunisolar calendar, which would be interesting to use. There’d be gaps in the calendar, of course, but it’s no worse than other magical calendars I’ve seen, e.g. PGM VII.155-167 or the Munich Manual, for determining which day of a given month is good or bad for magic or divination.

Using a year of 12 months is convenient, and can make the process of assigning letters to each month much simpler: a month-cycle of two years can be had here, since two years of 12 months produces 24 months, one for each letter. That said, the issue with lunisolar calendars is that the months get out of sync without an embolismic month, or intercalary month every so often. Using the ancient Metonic cycle of 19 years, there would be 12 “short” years (years with 12 months) and 7 “long” years (years with 13 months). The embolismic month could be held as letterless and placed at the end of the year in long years. Thus, every two years would complete one month-letter cycle in this lunisolar scheme; due to the parity of the Metonic cycle, every 38 years would complete one year-letter cycle. Using the Babylonian and Hebrew method of assigning embolismic months, years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 would be long years.

So, that turned out to be a much longer discussion on calendrical cycles for divination than I intended. Then again, calendars and cycles have never been easy to work with for any culture or era. In all honesty, the use of the simple 15 months of 24 days plus intercalary days is highly appealing for the sake of its simplicity and ability to lend itself to cycles within cycles. There is something to be said for the attribution of letters to the lunisolar months, though, especially for the sake of timing rituals or determining favorable lunar influences for a given letter. I’ll try drafting the rules and algorithms for these two types of grammatomantic calendars, along with date calculation methods, and see where that gets me.  The next few posts will go over these two types of calendars, one based on the solar cycle of the seasons and one based on the lunisolar cycle of the lunar months as tied to the seasons, so stay tuned!