Mishkan ha-Echad

Thursday, 25 June 2009

What is Geomancy?

Geomancy (from the Greek ge, meaning earth, and manteia, meaning divination or prophecy) is the practice of divination by reading the signs of the earth, or more properly by a method relating to sixteen figures made up of a number of points or dots, an example of which can be seen above (they number sixteen because that is the maximum possible permutations of the binary figures over four lines). These figures are given various meanings, good, bane, and neutral, and are associated with a number of other things, such as zodiacal signs, planets, elements, and so forth. It is through these meanings and associations that an interpretation of a reading can be garnered by the geomancer. A chart of these geomantic figures and some of their associations is given below.

The method of practice for geomancy requires that the geomancer obtain fifteen geomantic figures for their reading, divided into four Mothers, four Daughters, four Resultants (or Nieces or Nephews), two Witnesses, and one Judge. The method for obtaining these varies, but the two most common approaches involve randomly poking holes in the soil or randomly marking dots on a piece of paper, which, when added up, will give an odd or even number, and thus a single or double dot for the first part of the first geomantic figure. This process, and further processes or rearrangement and addition, is repeated until all fifteen of the figures are obtained.

Interpretation then depends on a number of factors, but the simplest approach is to check what the last figure, the Judge, means, and also what the two Witnesses mean in relation to it. This is a good approach for simple "yes" and "no" questions. More detailed analyses can be worked out, however, including a full astrological chart reading, where the various figures are entered into a traditional square chart and interpreted accordingly.

A number of genii (the plural of genius, a "guardian spirit") rule the sixteen geomantic figures, and thus this method of divination places a larger role on the ability to work with these spirits than on only the intuitive faculties of the diviner. The Ciceros, in their Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition, expand on this point:

"This system of divination is unlike others in that the psychic awareness of the diviner is of less importance than in a system such as Tarot. It is the diviner's ability to evoke the Spirit that becomes the focus of consideration for a successful Geomantic divination. This is the reason why Geomancy is perhaps a better method for individuals who have trouble visualizing or interpreting a reading."

Golden Dawn procedure generally requires that the sigil of a genius relating to the question being asked be drawn within an Invoking Earth Pentagram in a circle (to contain the force). Mathers gave the following instructions in his Geomancy lecture:

"The symbol of a Pentagram either within or without a circumscribed circle should be made at the top of the paper on which the dashes are made. The paper itself should be perfectly clean and should have never been previously used for any other purpose. If a circle be used with the Pentagram, it should be drawn before the latter is described. The Pentagram should always be of the “invoking” type, as described in the Pentagram Ritual. Since the Pentagram concerns the element of Earth, it should therefore be drawn beginning at the top point descending to the lower left hand point, carefully closing the angle at the finish. While slowly tracing the Pentagram, the divine name associated with Earth should be intoned or vibrated ADONAI ha-ARETZ. It could be intoned two or three times before proceeding with the drawing of the Sigil. This will help to concentrate the mind and to elevate it to the highest notion compatible with the method. Do remember that in one of the Ritual obligations, the aspirant swears that in all his magical workings he will always invoke the highest divine names that he knows. Thus he will always be working under the aegis of the divine. Within the centre of the Pentagram, the Sigil of the “Ruler” to which the matter of the question specially refers, should be placed."

Originally geomancy was taught in the 3=8 grade of Practicus, but many modern Orders have employed it in the 1=10 grade of Zelator instead, to tie it into the Earth energies relevant to that grade.


Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

Thought you might be interested in this as a method of drawing up a geomantic reading: http://witchdoctorjoe.blogspot.com/2008/08/sortior-virgae.html

Frater Yechidah said...

Very cool. Thanks for the link. I'm planning an upcoming post on various methods of acquiring the initial figures - I'll need to add this one! :)


Anonymous said...

Very interesting Dean. Thanks for the lesson. :-)

Soror FSO said...


It is appreciated that you take the time to do these little reviews of the differnt topics in the Outer Order. I think it is helpful for those who are seeking the Golden Dawn to be able to get a feel of what it has to offer, before deciding if this is a good path for them.

Soror FSO

Frater Yechidah said...

Thank you Kate and Soror FSO. I enjoy writing these, and am glad they are of some use :)