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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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Geomancy

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on February 02, 2011
posted under Geomancy

Primarily, Geomancy is divination by means of randomly made dots in sand. Also by studying cracks made in dried mud, and by the noises and movements of the earth in areas prone to earth changes. Israel Regardie wrote in his Practical Guide to Geomantic Divination (1972, Aquarian Press, London):

The major contribution of (geomancy) is not so much slanted in the direction of prediction of what is yet to come, but to facilitate the growth and expression of this inner psycho-spiritual ability. To this extent, any and all systems of divination may be considered useful. Amongst the more commonly used methods are the Tarot cards, astrology, palmistry, graphology, and many others. The method to be described here, geomancy, is favored above all others because it is basically so simple to operate. One can use it quickly to obtain a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. With sufficient practice, enough skill can be developed to provide considerable amplification of the first straight answer.

Psychologist Carl Jung called Geomancy "terrestrial astrology" in which the astrological chart is recreated by counting pebbles and arriving as ones, and twos to produce a chart read like a horoscope. Geomancy is most developed in Western Nigeria.

It is important to realize that all divinatory systems have to connect the Conscious Mind to the Sub-Conscious and thence to the Universal Consciousness. Successful divination and, hence, our personal "psychic empowerment" depends on our abilities to consciously channel our questions to these lower realms and to take the answers into our awakened consciousness for their analysis and application.

Divination, in contrast to "fortune telling" is not a passive mere acceptance of answers from the "cards" or the "stones" or the "stars" or other objects that are converted into "tools," but uses those tools in interactive communication between the Unconscious and the Conscious Mind. The "language" of that communication—ultimately—is symbolism but the symbols themselves are not static but instead constantly evolve in response to "the times."

The challenge for the diviner is to use symbols as a frame or vehicle in asking questions, and then to newly interpret those symbols conveying the answers.

Geomancy has evolved from a relatively simple, "primitive" system to a very complex one, and one that currently lacks the "glamour" of the Tarot, Runes, and others, and hence has not benefited from the development that it deserves.

This basic geomancy is shamanic in origin, and your divination can possibly benefit from the use of alcohol—like a natural beer—and by singing a monotonous song of spontaneous words reflecting your question. For the solitary practitioner, this form of geomancy provides a map of the Unconscious at that moment. While it can be used to gain some insight and alternative views of events, it will primarily relate to your personal state of awareness rather than of the fully objective "outside" world.

There are alternatives to sand, but stay close to the Earth in all geomancy work—using sand, dirt, pebbles, chips of crystal, dried beans, seeds, jewels, and even metal (not plastic) coins. While there are computer programs available, the value of "dirty hands"—actual contact with an earthy substance—would seem to contraindicate a computer application.

At its most fundamental and simple level, geomancy can be compared to playing in a miniature sandbox and letting your Unconscious do the talking. The box shouldn’t be too large—perhaps three inches deep and no more than twelve inches on each side. A wood "in" box from an office supply store would be excellent, or one might be cut from a cardboard box, or you could construct one out of a piece of plywood and four pieces of board glued together. A suitable stylus could be a wood pencil.

In this form, determine a question or concern you have, and then using a pointed stick or stylus, make four lines of random dots in the sand—however many dots in each line that feels correct to you for each line. Then count the number of dots in each line, and on piece of paper record one dot if the total is odd, and two dots in the total is even. Complete one line, shake the sand box to clear the dots, and repeat the process

When you have completed the four lines, you will have made one of the 16 geomantic figures or tetragrams. Each figure is composed of four lines, each line containing either one or two points. Each line represents one of the four classical elements: from top to bottom, the lines represent fire, air, water, and earth. When a line has a single point, the element is said to be active; otherwise, with two points, the element is passive. Much of the art of geomantic interpretation rests on this simple construction.

You need to repeat the whole process to produce four complete figures of four lines each. From these four "Mothers," you will create the next tetragrams in a further process we will clarify later. Subsequently, you need to refer to a table of geomantic signs to determine the ones you have created, and read the descriptive associations to find the answer to the question.

The four Mothers are placed in the top row of a chart, called a "Shield." The first Mother is placed to the far right; the second Mother is placed to her left, and so on, right to left.

The next four figures, called the "Daughters," are formed by taking the first line from the first Mother, then the second Mother, and so on (again moving from right to left) and assembling them to constitute the first Daughter. The second Daughter is formed the same way using the second line from each of the Mothers, and likewise for the third and fourth Daughters. These four Daughters are placed on the top row of the Shield next to the Mothers to that there are eight positions in total on the top row.

Beneath the top row of eight figures (four Mothers and four Daughters) we next form just four figures for the second line. In medieval sources these are named the four Nieces, but in modern books they are called Nephews. We will continue with the earlier tradition.

The first Niece (again moving from right to left) is formed by adding together the two Mothers above the first Niece; the third and forth Mothers are added together to form the second Niece; the first and second Daughters (positions five and six in the top line) are added together to form the third Niece, and the fourth Niece is formed by adding together the third and fourth daughters.

Thus, if the top line of the first two Mothers consist of three dots, that will "reduce" to an odd number and so the top line in the first Niece will have one dot; if the second line of the first and second Mother consists of two dots, they add to an even number so the second line of the first Niece will have two dots, and so on to produce four lines. The same process is repeated with the third and fourth Mothers to product the second Niece, and again the same process is followed with the first and second Daughters to produce the third Niece, and likewise the fourth Niece is produced from the third and fourth Daughters.

A similar process taking the first and second Nieces is used to form the Right Witness on the third line, and the Left Witness from the third and fourth Nieces.

From the two Witnesses a third figure is derived and placed in the middle of the bottom line—the Judge.

Sometimes a sixteenth figure is formed, called variously the Reconciler or the Superior Judge. However, two different processes are described in the literature: the first involves adding lines from the Judge and the First Mother; the second is more complex and involves adding the Judge to whatever figure corresponds to the subject of the question asked as found in the chart of the twelve houses to be found in more complete expositions than can be provided here.

In further evolvement, the first twelve tetragrams are placed in a square zodiacal chart for a more in depth answer. The figures are placed in the houses of the square zodiac with the first Mother from the Shield placed in the first House, the second Mother in the second House, and so on.

The Houses are those of traditional astrology, showing their essential European origin. Their meanings are:

  • Querent (person asking the question)
  • Money, moveable property
  • Siblings, neighbors, short trips
  • Father, home, real estate
  • Children, pleasure, gambling
  • Illness, servants, small animals
  • Marriage, romance, partners, open enemies
  • Death, inheritance
  • Higher education, long trips, spirituality
  • Career, government, reputation
  • Friends
  • Curses, secret enemies, imprisonment

In other operations, the Golden Dawn used the sixteen tetragrams as skrying symbols, as part of the Enochian magical system, and in creating geomantic sigils painted on talismans to attract particular energies. (See pages 526-527 of The Golden Dawn for convenient tables of Geomantic Attributions)

Suggested Reading:

Greer, John Michael: Earth Divination, Earth Magic – A Practical Guide to Geomancy, 1999, Llewellyn, Woodbury

Greer, John Michael: The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, 2003, Llewellyn, Woodbury

Jung, C. G.: Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933, Harcourt, New York

Regardie, Israel: The Golden Dawn - the Original Account of the teachings, rites & ceremonies of the Hermetic Order, 6th revised & corrected edition, 1989, Llewellyn, Woodbury

Regardie, Israel: Practical Guide to Geomantic Divination, 1972, Aquarian Press, London

Schwei, Priscilla & Pestka, Ralph: The Complete Book of Astrological Geomancy – the Master Divination System of Cornelius Agrippa, 1990, Llewellyn, Woodbury

Skinner, S.: Geomancy in Theory & Practice, 2010, Golden Hoard-Llewellyn

Webster, R.: Geomancy for Beginners, 2011, Llewellyn, Woodbury

 

Slate, J. & Weschcke, C.: Psychic Empowerment – Tools & Technologies, 2011, Llewellyn


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