Category Archives: divination

Intro to Geomancy: Interpreting the Shield Chart

Now that you are familiar with the signs and the charts, let’s look at how to interpret the chart in order to get answers.
First we will examine the shield chart.
The most basic way to interpret the shield chart is to look at the Judge. In a simple yes or no question, the judge will provide the answer. When you handle more complex questions, the judge is still the primary figure to look at, as the favorable or unfavorable nature of the judge will color the whole of the answer.

What is a favorable sign? Well that depends upon the question. However, the names should give you an idea of what is favorable. As there are only 8 possible judges which are made up of the previously listed impartial figures, it can be pretty easy to break it down.
To recap, here are the only figures who can be judges

Populus, Via, Carcer, Conjunctio, Amissio, Acquisitio, Fortuna Major, Fortuna Minor

In a general sense we can say that Fortuna Major and Acquisitio are fortunate in most things. The other two figures that could be seen as generally fortunate are Populus and Conjunctio. But again, this depends upon the question. For example, if the issue is regarding being released from prison, Fortuna Major is a bad sign, as it indicates slow progress, although, you will eventually be released, and probably be well and whole, but it may take a while. If you want to lose something, then Acquisitio would not be favorable either, because it indicates gain and increase.
So, it stands to follow that the general unfavorable signs are Via, Carcer, Amissio and Fortuna Minor. Via is seen as unfavorable because it indicates changes, which can cause good things to turn bad (although bad things can also turn good, but it seems the first quality is more emphasized) Carcer or Prison because it indicates solitude, confinement and restriction, Amissio because it signifies loss and losing things, both physical and metaphysical. Fortuna Minor is considered bad because it is less than Fortuna Major. It also indicates a short term or short lived fortune, one that could be quickly lost, or that has a limited window of opportunity. But, again, it depends upon the question. If you want to lose something, Amissio is your good friend. If you want to be alone, Carcer is going in your favor.

Past Present Future
You can read the Past, Present and Future from a Geomantic shield chart. The common method and perhaps traditional method is in looking at the Right Witness, the Judge, and the Left Witness. The Right Witness is the Past, the Judge is the Present, and the Left WItness is the Future.
Personally, I don’t favor that method. To me, it doesn’t line up with the flow of the chart in how it presents things.

I like to see the witnesses, both right and left, as the past. The Right Witness is the client’s personal past. The left Witness is the Environment around the client and its past. Obviously it is possible that a fortunate client and a supportive environment could create a fortunate present. But just as well, many combinations could create a fortunate or helpful present situation. The present is indicated by the Judge. This is after all, the culmination of all the prior figures and will indicate the impartial situation that the client is dealing with.  The future is indicated by the Sentence (ie adding the 1st Mother with the Judge together). It is kind of a deep symbolism for me that the future is indicated by using the 1st Mother, the kind of primal seed figure for the chart when combined with the present, indicated by the Judge, creates the future, as indicated by the Sentence.

If you don’t wish to calculate the Sentence, as some people don’t, another method that I prefer is to read the Left Witness as the Present, and the Judge as the Future. It is for me, a feeling of how the chart flows and leaves the Judge as the ultimate decider, giving indications of how your desired or undesired actions may turn out.

Way of Points

There are two other practices that can be done in the shield chart that I feel are simple and easy to understand. The first of these is called the Way of Points of Via Puncti in Latin. This simple process is done by looking at the headline in the Judge and then examining the head lines in the Right and Left Witnesses. If the headlines match up (that is, if they are single points or double points) you then progress to the next row of signs, the nieces. If the niece’s heads match with the witnesses, you then progress to the Mothers and Daughters Line. Any Mothers or Daughters that match give indications of subtle, underlying or hidden influences in the Shield chart. If the head lines don’t match, that is the end point and you don’t move on. So, if the Head Line of the Judge doesn’t match the Witnesses, you don’t progress to the next higher level. That serves as a further indicator showing that everything is up front and forward, and there are no hidden or subtle motives or actions in relation to the client’s question or situation.

An interesting quirk of geomancy is that when the Way of Points is formed, the single point will always start it,  and it will always lead back to one specific figure in the Mothers or Daughters. One and Only one. If the head line has two points in the judge, it is possible that every mother and daughter could be indicated. It could just as easily stop short in the witnesses, or nieces as well. This is a handy technique to know and use if it seems like there is more going on than the client indicates.

Sum of Points
Another useful technique is called the sum of points. Similar to the Index and Point of Fortune in the House Chart, the sum of points involves counting all the points in all the figures in every line, including the sentence if you have one. The sum total of the points gives an indication to the nature of the chart. This indication is in relation to the number 96. 96 is the total sum of every point of all 16 figures. If the sum of points in the chart is less than 96, this indicates a quick but unstable resolution to the client’s question. If the sum is equal to 96, this indicates a resolution will come without slowness or obstacle or doubt and will be stable and reliable. If the sum is greater than 96, this indicates that the resolution will experience delays, and only resolve slowly. That resolution will also be fixed, regardless of favorability of the outcome.

There is an additional interpretation technique known as the four Triplicities. However, it is not as simple, and can easily fill a post explaining it as well, and will be explained in the future..

Examples

Will I win this lawsuite shield Chart

In this first example, the client is asking about if they will win a lawsuit. It is given as a simple yes or no question.

In looking at the Judge, the figure is Amissio, indicating Loss. In regards to their question the answer is No, they will lose this lawsuit.

For more information you can look at the Witnesses. The Right Witness indicates the client who is asking the question. They are indicated by Caput Draconis, The Dragon’s Head. This is generally a favorable figure, indicating new beginnings and positive results. The client has some pretty high hopes for their lawsuit.

The Left Witness indicates their opponent in the lawsuit, aka the Defendant. In this case the defendant is indicated by Puer, the Boy. This indicates that the opponent is strong and energetic, they use their intellect and in this situation are rather unemotional. This is also a figure of Mars, a planet associated with conflict and conquest, including legal battles. This explains why the defendant is going to win. They are just stronger and more powerful than the client is. It confirms the Judge of Amissio, indicating loss.

Example #2

Is this Dream Significant Shield Chart

In this example, the client is asking if their dream is significant and if they should heed what they dreamed of. They didn’t wish to provide details to the geomancer, but only wanted an answer.

The judge in this chart is Conjunctio. As a simple yes or no, Conjunctio does fall into the more favorable indication, but it’s not very strong. This is where looking more into the chart in order to clarify the answer is needed.

In looking at the Right Witness as the Client, we again have Caput Draconis. This client is hopeful and looking for a positive outcome. The Left Witness gives us Tristitia. While this indicates sadness, it also indicates the keeping of secrets. Whatever this client is sitting on, they are not giving up their secrets easily. The dream itself may involve a secret that they are keeping, and its significance may have something to do with that. This still doesn’t really give us an answer to the question however. 

Using the Way of Points, we can track the head line of Conjunctio, leading to the 4 daughters ultimately, and the Right Witness. That it goes to the Right Witness really underscores that this is something very personal and close to the client. The Four Daughters (from right to left) are Acquisitio, Albus, Caput Draconis, and Tristitia. This repeats the pattern found in the witnesses, but with additional information. Acquisitio indicates Gain and acquiring something, while Albus indicates peace, purity, rest and intellect. Acquisitio gives a greater indication of a positive response to the client’s answer. Albus is also considered favorable, but weak, requiring assistance to bring favorable results. It may also give an indication of what the dream was about, something was gained, that is giving the client rest. Conjunctio may help explain it as a meeting. Perhaps the client was reunited in a dream with a lost loved one who passed away. The dream may have indicated that the loved one is at peace, and free from pain and suffering, and wished to also convey this message to the client. While the client is hopeful for a positive message, their grief over the passing wracks them with doubt, and so they sought out someone to give an answer to their question brought on by the dream. The answer to give is yes, the dream was significant and you should heed the message given to you.

Example #3

The next example is a question regarding real estate. The clients wish to buy property for a home, and if they will succeed in gaining what they desire.

The Judge in this question is Acquisitio. From a simple answer, it is quite clear that the clients will succeed in their goal. However, the clients want more information, not just a quick yes. To that we will look to the Past, Present, and Future, and the Sum of Points for this Question. We will also include the Reconciler or Sentence to give further information and clarity.
In the Right and Left Witnesses we see the client’s past. To the Right, Tristitia. To the Left, Rubeus. The client’s pasts have not been easy. Tristitia indicates sadness, suggesting that they have been dealing with some heavy stuff. Rubeus is easily considered one of the most evil of signs, Violence, Bloodshed, Perversion, Addiction are all indicated by Rubeus. There is one sliver of goodness from Tristitia however. It also indicates secrets, and laying solid foundations. One could interpret that even while all the bad stuff was going on, they have been hiding away money, saving up in order to get something, laying the foundation for something new. Preparing to take themselves away from the awful experiences of their past. 

The Present is indicated by Acquisitio. This indicates Gain, and is the second most fortunate sign. They will get what they want.

The Reconciler or Sentence is Conjunctio. This indicates a meeting and coming together. In seeing that their 1st Mother is Fortuna Major meeting with Acquisitio, the two most fortunate figures in geomancy, this meeting indicates that Great Luck and Gain will meet, probably creating the life they have dreamed for, and being able to put the ugliness of the past behind them. Truly a blessing. 

The sum of points in this chart, including the Reconciler is 96. This is truly a fantastical chart. They won’t have delays, and things will turn out in good time, and without doubt. When they do acquire their house, it will be theirs completely, and be a stable and lasting gain for them.
This chart is also an example of the Way of Points, when every Mother and Daughter is indicated. This suggests that a lot of situations and forces and effort have been put into what they have been working for. While it has been difficult, it is all going to pay out in a big and wonderful way for them.

Intro to Geomancy: Generating the House Chart

In the European practice of Geomancy, the next step is to generate a house chart. The house chart is a chart taken from Astrology. This is often the reason why Geomancy was called the “Daughter of Astrology” in European works describing Geomancy.

The image of a house chart showing the position of planets and signs

This process is also where you will see some variation of methods. While the shield chart method is old and pretty consistent, the house chart was an innovation with various authors using various methods.

The House chart uses twelve houses. These houses loosely correspond with the 12 signs of the zodiac, but don’t confuse the houses with the signs. They are not the same. While in astrology, the houses can be smaller or greater than 30 degrees, but the order of the houses and their general location never change. In geomancy, there are no degrees, just a format that uses a 12 part division. You can literally use any structure you want to display this division, but most geomancers that I have come across use a classic house chart structure that was used in the middle ages and renaissance. Such as the image in this article.

THE BASIC METHOD

This method is the easiest and most straightforward of methods. Take the shield chart you have already generated. Starting with the 1st mother, that becomes house one, the 2nd mother is house two, the 3rd mother is house three, etc. Continue this until you fill all the houses, ending with the last niece as house twelve. The witnesses and judge and sentence are not placed into the house chart.

AGRIPPA’S METHOD

In the 4th Book of Occult Philosophy, Agrippa lays out a method of placing the figures into the house chart.
The mothers are placed in the cardinal houses, that is houses 1 house 10, house 7, and house 4. These houses are associated with the cardinal directions (house 1 is east, house 10 is south, house 7 is west, and house 4 is north) and so the 1st mother goes into house 1, the 2nd mother into House 10, the 3rd Mother into house 7, and the 4th mother into House 4.

The Daughters are then placed into the Succedent houses.  The 1st Daughter goes into House 2, the 2nd Daughter goes into House 11, the 3rd Daughter goes into House 8, and the 4th Daughter goes into House 5.

It is the Cadent houses where Agrippa diverges from the shield chart, having you generate new figures for the cadent houses. Agrippa indicates that the remaining houses should be derived from their triplicity rulers, that is in Astrology, there are 4 triplicities, based around the elements. The fiery signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagitarrius, The Earth Signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, the Airy signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and the Watery signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. He applies this to the houses as well. Which Aries, being the first sign, is aligned with the first house, Taurus, the 2nd house, Gemini the third house, etc… This makes an alignment between the houses that the 1st, 5th, and 9th house are the fiery triplicity, the 2nd, 6th, and 10th house are the Earthly triplicity, the 3rd, 7th, and 11th houses are the Airy Triplicity, and the 4th, 8th, and 12th houses are the water triplicity. Agrippa’s reasoning is that this should remain consistent, so to populate the last four houses in the chart using Agrippa’s method as follows::

To fill the 3rd house, you would add together the figures in the 11th house and the 7th house.

To fill the 12th house, you would add together the figures in the 4th house and the 8th house.

To fill the 9th house, you would add together the figures in the 1st house and the 5th house.

To fill the 6th house, you would add together the figures in the 2nd house and the 10th house.

Basically look at the houses that have been filled as part of the triplicity and those two added together create the figure for the remaining triplicity house.
This will create new figures for the cadent houses, which will be different from the figures in the shield chart. There is more that Agrippa does relating to the house chart, but his method is unique in this area, and not commonly found in generating house charts.

MY METHOD

My method is a variation on the Agrippa method. I like the harmony of the Mothers equating the cardinal houses, the daughters being the succedent houses, but creating new figures for the last houses seems awkward to me, especially when you already have 4 figures ready to fill that role from the shield chart, i.e. the nieces. I place the 1st niece into the 3rd house, the 2nd niece into the 12th house, the 3rd niece into the 9th house, and the 4th niece into the 6th house. I feel that this connects the shield and house chart more fully, and I personally find the answers are more accurate, but this is my personal innovation as I didn’t care for the basic method as much. It worked, but it made it easy to predict exactly what figure would go in what house, whereas applying the mothers, daughters and nieces to respective positions in the house chart of cardinal, succedent, and cadent houses just seems very elegant to me.

Additional methods

Just as in the shield chart you could get the sentence, there are some additional methods that you can do with the house chart. These are taken from astrology as well, but are different from their astrological source.

The Index – The Index is an indicator of hidden things in the house chart. Depending upon where in the house chart it is located, or the nature of the question being answered, what the hidden thing indicates will vary. To determine the house location for the Index, you need to take all the single dots in all the figures in the houses and add them together. Once you have that sum, divide it by 12. Whatever the remainder is, that is the house where the index is located. If there is no remainder, then the index is located in the 12th house.

another example of a house chart with geomantic figures

Point of Fortune – This is an indicator of good luck and fortune in the house chart. Similar to the index what that means exactly depends upon the question and where in the chart it is located. To determine this location, you need to add all the points of the figures in the house chart. Take that number and divide it by 12. Whatever is the remainder indicates the house where the point of fortune is located. If there is no remainder, then the point of fortune is in the 12th house.

There is an interesting relationship I discovered between the Index and the Point of Fortune (PoF). They will also be in houses that when added together, make twelve. So, if you have calculated the Index and it is in the 2nd house, the point of fortune will be in the 10th house. This also means that if the Index is in the 6th house, the Point of Fortune will also be in the 6th house, and both will also occupy the 12th house as well. There is also a great tendency for these indicators to usually be in even numbered houses, but I have had an odd numbered house show up on occasion. 

Intro to Geomancy: Creating the Shield Chart

Shield Chart

The primary method of geomantic divination is done through creating a specialized table commonly known as a shield chart. The shield chart is made up of 15 sections, with various sections having specific names.

The first section is made up of four figures, called the mothers. The mothers are the only randomly generated figures in the chart, created by various methods. The oldest historical method was to use a smooth field of sand, which would then have dots tapped into by the geomancer or the client seeking answers. The dots would be counted, and the resulting odd or even count would generate a line of the figure. So either 16 lines would be tapped out at all once, one for each line to make up the four mothers, or a line would be tapped out one at a time, slowly creating this figure. Over time this process would get streamlined, either by using a field to write on, whether it was paper, or a board coated in wax, or a chalk board, or by using specialized tools that would have so many dots allocated on them. Unlike tarot or similar methods of divination where certain signs are unlikely to repeat, it is entirely possible for geomantic figures to repeat in the four mothers, or really anywhere in the shield chart.

Once you have generated the four mothers, those four figures are used to generate the next figures, called daughters. The method for doing this is that from the head lines of all the mothers, that becomes the head neck body and feet of first daughter. The neck lines of all the mothers becomes the head neck body and feet of the second daughter. The body lines of the all the mothers become the third daughter, and the feet lines become the fourth daughter.

Once this process is complete, the rest of the chart can be generated. This is done through a process of simple addition. The process is like this. Two signs, side by side and add the lines together. If the result is an even number (2 or 4) then you put two dots. If the result is an odd number (3) then put a single dot. For example:

Addition Geomantic Signs

You apply this process as follows. The 1st and 2nd Mothers. The 3rd and 4th Mothers. The 1st and 2nd daughters, and the 3rd and 4th daughters. This produces the section known as the nieces.
Then you add the nieces together in the same way. 1st and 2nd nieces, and the 3rd and 4th nieces. This produces the figures known as the witnesses.

The two witnesses are added together, and this produces the Judge. While historical examples often show that the Judge was the final figure, some geomancers would add the Judge to the 1st mother, which generates a figure known as the Sentence, or the Result of the Result. I often use this additional figure and I see many others use it as well.

The shield chart is the primary method for doing geomancy divination. The next post will discuss the house chart, a method that was added in Europe, but little used elsewhere.

With the shield chart you can effectively answer any question posed with little difficulty. Quite simply, the answer is the Judge. Especially for a yes or no question, the judge if it is a favorable figure, would indicate a yes, while the unfavorable figure would indicate a now. Since there are only 8 judges possible (Populus, Via, Carcer, Conjunctio, Amissio, Acquisitio, Fortuna Major, Fortuna Minor) the favorability or unfavorability will depend upon the question. Although in most cases, the figures of Acquisition and Fortuna Major will almost always be favorable indications.

There are additional methods that assist with interpreting the shield chart, but that will be for a future post. If you are interested, I highly recommend just practicing generating the shield chart and making yourself familiar with the process.

Intro to Geomancy: Geomantic Signs

In Geomancy, we use sixteen signs that are interpreted to give indications. These signs are made up of four lines in which there are either one or two dots. It is essentially like binary code, in that you could consider the single dot indicates something as being “on” or active and the two dots is the equivalent of “off” or “inactive”.  This combination of dots shapes the figures.
The four lines are considered like a body, with a head line, neck line, body line and feet line. That is top line, second from the top, the second from the bottom, and the bottom line.These are also associated with the elements, with the head/top line equated with fire, the neck/second from the top is Air, the body/second from the bottom is Water, and the feet/bottom line is Earth. 

This combination of active and inactive lines in the four sections creates the sixteen signs of geomancy. 

These combinations have given values to certain signs, interpreted in various ways. One of these ways is elemental. Depending upon the active elemental lines, the figure has been assigned a certain element correspondence.
These same signs have also been assigned to the seven classical planets of astrology, which has also given them an additional set of elemental correspondences. While the elemental values given upon the active lines in the figure are fairly consistent, the addition of the planet qualities are not as consistent, and so this elemental quality changes depending upon the author. This variation between elements caused the planetary elemental quality to be considered the outer elemental quality, while the more consistent elemental value is considered the inner elemental quality.
The arrangement of the figures also creates several more categories of signs. A stable and mobile sign, entering and exiting signs, and partial and impartial signs.
A stable sign is one that indicates long term influences, and events that aren’t changeable.
A mobile sign is one that indicates short term influences, and events that are more changeable.

An entering sign is similar to a stable sign, while an exiting sign indicates a mobile sign. Some signs are neither exiting or entering, and need to be considered in relation to the signs around them.
Because these signs are made of combinations of one or two dots, some of these signs have even numbers, and some are odd numbered. The even numbered signs are considered impartial, and these numbers are the only ones that become judges. If you get an odd numbered sign as a judge, it means that you have miscalculated the shield chart and should go back. It makes it a kind of failsafe, knowing that an error has been made. That is why the even numbered signs are considered impartial, representing objective, factual conditions that are apparent to anyone. All the odd numbered signs are thus considered partial, and represent subjective and emotional states.

The sixteens signs are as follows:


Puer (Latin for Youth, or a Adolescent Male) – Inner element Air: Outer element: Fire Planet: Mars Sign: Aries Mobile Exiting, Partial

Puella (Latin for Maiden or an Adolescent Female) – Inner element: Air Outer Element: Water Planet: Venus Sign: Libra Stable Entering Partial

Albus ( Latin for White) -Inner Element: Water Outer Element: Air Planet: Mercury Sign: Gemini Stable, Entering Partial


Rubeus (Latin for Red) – Inner Element: Air Outer Element: Water Planet: Mars Sign: Scorpio Mobile, Exiting, Partial

Amissio (Latin for Loss) – Inner Element: Fire Outer Element: Earth Planet: Venus Sign: Taurus Mobile, Exiting, Impartial 

Aquisitio (Latin for Gain) – Inner Element: Air Outer Element: Fire Planet: Jupiter Sign: Sagittarius Stable, Entering, Impartial

Populus (People or Crowds) – Inner Element: Outer Element Water: Planet: Moon Sign: Cancer Stable, Both, Impartial


Via (The Way or Road) – Inner Element: Outer Element: Water Planet: Moon Sign: Cancer Mobile, Both, Impartial

Carcer (Latin for Prison) – Inner Element: Earth Outer Element Earth: Planet: Saturn Sign: Capricorn Stable, Both, Impartial


Conjunctio (Latin for Conjunction) aka a Meeting or Crossroads – Inner Element: Air Outer Element: Earth Planet:Mercury Sign: Virgo Mobile Both Impartial

Fortuna Major (Latin for Greater Fortune) – Inner Element:Earth Outer Element: Fire Planet: Sun Sign: Leo Stable, Entering, Impartial

Fortuna Minor (Latin for Lesser Fortune) – Inner Element: Fire Outer Element: Fire Planet: Sun Sign: Leo Mobile, Exiting, Impartial

Laetitia (Latin for Joy) – Inner Element: Fire Outer Element: Water Planet:Jupiter  Sign: Pisces Mobile, Exiting, Partial


Tristitia (Latin for Sadness) – Inner Element: Earth Outer Element: Air Planet: Saturn Sign: Aquarius Stable, Entering Partial

Caput Draconis (Latin for Head of the Dragon) – Inner Element: Earth Outer Element: Earth Planet North Node of the Moon: Sign: Virgo Stable, Entering Partial


Cauda Draconis (Latin for Tail of the Dragon) – Inner Element: Fire Outer Element: Fire Planet: South Node of the Moon Sign: Sagittarius Mobile, Exiting, Partial

You will also notice another pattern with the signs, based upon how I presented them above. The combinations above show opposite pairings. Youth and Maiden, White and Red, Gain and Loss, etc… You will also notice that these signs are either Reversions or Inversions of each other. This expresses a relationship between these signs that when they are found together may influence your reading.

One of the practices done in generating a chart (which we will cover in another post) is the adding of the signs together. This creates a third sign from their combination, creating new active and inactive lines. It also expresses a relationship between those signs that is a little tongue and cheek. For example, Puer and Puella when added together creates Conjunctio or Meeting. This could be interpreted as literal meeting of a man and woman, or as “sexual union”, depending upon the reading.

Intro to Geomancy

One of the types of divination or fortune telling I use is called Geomancy. It is a very old method of forecasting future events, that in the medieval period and renaissance, was second only to Astrology, and in many ways much more accessible. Mainly because it wasn’t as complicated as astrology and didn’t require as much knowledge, education and well, funding in order to learn and practice it.

An example of a geomantic shield chart

Geomancy’s origins are actually in what we now call the Middle East. While we don’t know exactly where it came from, the basic method was developed in those lands, and it is actually a translation of the arabic name for it that we call it geomancy. ‛ilm al-raml (a more exact translation would be the science of the sand) was translated into Greek as geomanteia, which from latin and into English became geomancy. This is of course, not to be confused with the other geomancy, which would be reading literal omens by looking at rocks, the earth, and natural events, which was included in groupings of pyromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy etc…
I came across geomancy purely by accident, seeing a book being published in my local bookstore and finding i’s cover and back interesting. It was hooked by the unusual method of doing geomancy, compared to the familiar methods of cartomancy using Tarot and playing cards, which parallel reading and casting runes in some ways, and many other methods of divination. In a sense, the more comparable, but in no way the same, methods would be I-Ching readings, divination using astragalli, or knuckles bones, or diloggun. 

Later, this method of divination would fall out of favor, and as playing card games arose, it would be forgotten almost completely. However, as only medieval manuscripts would be translated, the plethora of geomancy books that were written would ensure that it would be noted. With the occult revival of the 19th century, this caused geomancy to be revived in a limited scale. The Order of the Golden Dawn actually had a means of practicing geomancy as a means of divination, and it’s pamphlets that initiates received detailed the complicated process of making a set to practice geomancy, essential creating a ritual sandbox where marks would be made and formed into a reading. However, those early translations were often very mechanistic and lacked the depth that later translations would provide, and so this geomancy would be often overlooked. Although interestingly, an often overlooked source of geomantic education was the much recommended Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson, which in its first chapters on divination described a simple method of casting a geomantic chart and the meanings of the signs, although without much detail beyond that.

An example of a geomantic house chart

There are now many more books about geomancy, and quite a few academic publications about it, from a history of the occult perspective, to understanding it culturally in its different iterations around the Middle East and Africa, and more. If you want a practical manual that can help you get started and give detail to really work it, I recommend The Art and Practice of Geomancy by John Michael Greer. I also run a group on Facebook called Geomantic Campus, which has various files of translated works describing Geomancy to those who are interested, among other things. 

I is for Runes

Isa

Isa is the rune of Ice and cold. Ice, perfectly frozen with very very air bubbles can look like precious stones, so much so that people once believed that clear quartz was in fact a kind of ice that could not be melted.
Ice, the power of cold, to freeze things and lock them into a state where they are well preserved for as long as they stay frozen. That is part of the power of Isa. Whether it is to cool a situation down or you want to put someone “on ice” Isa is the rune to turn to. While heat is a very popular and widely used tool, from “hot footing” to melting wax dolls in order to soften someone’s heart, or even in the form of candle burning (which bring heat and light to the spiritual and magical work) cold can play a useful role, one that is often overlooked. As soon as methods of cooling things became available with items like iceboxes and then later freezer and refrigerators, people started using them to work cooling freezing magic.
Another useful parallel is language found in African diaspora groups of spirits that are “hot” and “cool” The cool spirits are often the main ones that people have allegiance to, like the Orishas, although they can turn hot when needed (or offended) but often the desire is to cool them down and to keep your spiritual essence cool. The practice of rogacion is about cooling the head and the spirit of the head to help bring clarity, insight and wisdom. A cool intellect often literally sees things much better then a raging hot head, something that is actually scientifically true.

Inguz
Inguz/Ing/Yngvi is name that Sweden and seems to be a later addition to the Futhorc. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem refers it to the the leader of Ynglings, but it also seems connected to Freyr, usually in the form Ingvifreyr, which suggests that while Freyr was his title, Ingvi may actually be his real name. But the truth of that is lost to time. However connection to the god Freyr remains, and this rune seems to resonate with some of the powers of Freyr, the shining brother of Freya. He is the lord of seasons, and by some he is the compared to the Horned God of Wicca, believing that the rituals of which Wicca was seeking to revive was the older rituals of Vanir, the tribe and gods who predated the arrival of the Aesir and the establishment of Asgard. So, like the Horned God, he is through to rise anew each year, only to be sacrificed again with each harvest, that his sacrifice may give renewal to the ground in gratitude for the gifts of food that it has given. The Vanir might have even been the Gaelic people who inhabited Europe for a much longer time until the arrival of the nomadic and conquering Aesir.
The magic and mystery of Inguz is the masculine birth/death/rebirth cycle expressed by seasons. It is the masculine complement to the Beorc. It’s various shapes always remind me of a seed, which one might compare to the seed of sperm, the tiny activator that starts the process of pregnancy once it reaches and fertilizes the egg, but in doing so, it is gone, as the egg begins a new process, catalyzed by the sperm to start cell division and create a new life.
To some ancient cultures that saw this present in nature as well. Noticing that areas of land struck by lightning would produce more abundant crops (as the lightning would fix the nitrogen in the soil) they equated lightning with fertilizing force of the gods. The same with rain as well, as it brings growth to plants and food crops, which without it, they would lay fallow in the ground until sufficient water is brought to help the plants to grow.
A similar metaphor can be found internally. Sometime the formative idea or concept is there, working on itself until a catalyst, the lightning flash of insight, inseminates it and it starts to grow and form itself into the new work that you are creating.

Ior
Ior is the rune of the World Serpent, that beast born of Loki and Angrboda, a giantess who gave Loki three children, one of which was the Midgard Serpent, Jormungandr. As it is one of the much later Anglo-Saxon runes, and it’s rune poem is odd, describing a river fish that lives in both land and water. To older cultures, they readily identified anything that lived in water as being a fish, whether it is actually a fish or not by today’s scientific classification. The “river fish” that they indentified may have been an otter or a beaver, or some other kind of amphibious mammal that lives in and surrounded by water.
Part of the mystery of Ior is the dual natured, or polymorphous nature of this river fish. Something that inhabits both land and water, but is not tied to both. Some have seen this as a fitting description for Jormungandr, the world serpent, as it was born on land, and lives in the sea, mainly because it is so huge that is the only place with room for it. But the coils of Jormungandr are seem to identify what is within Midgard and what is outside of it, the serpentine “hedge” of in-lying and out-lying on a cosmic scale. Being able to cross those boundaries is usually part of the tool kit of the spiritual practitioner, being able to leave the physical world behind and enter in the other worlds, but also being able to think outside the limits of place, time and culture to see things differently and recognize beneficial change but also harmful change. Working with Ior can cause you to experience that boundary, and being able to cross it, but also to affirm it, and somehow to become it. Making yourself polymorphous and no longer locked into one state of being, thinking or doing. No longer a person who is something or is not something, but simple a person.

G is for Geomancy

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Geomancy is the word which I use to refer to a method of divination. It was a method that seems to have originated from Arabic lands, where it goes by the name khat al raml and many others. From this name it was translated into Greek as Geomancy meaning “earth divination” It reached it’s heyday in Europe during the middle ages and the renaissance, and like many other occult arts, dwindled with the flowering of the Age of Reason. During it’s hey day, it was widely practiced and a number of authors wrote treatises about it, even more so then most other methods of divination. It was mainly very easy to use, unlike astrology which required complex calculations and instruments to view the sky, or other methods of sortilege, like card reading, which means you needed to have cards on hand (which not everyone did). At it’s simplest all you needed was some kind of blank field that you could use to make dots which could be used to count and create the figures that build a geomantic reading.

There are sixteen figures used in geomancy. During the middle ages and Renaissance in Europe, these figures were identified with astrological forces, with each classical planet being given two figures, and two more figures attributed to the North and South nodes of the Moon. Each of the figures are composed for 4 lines, which will have either one or two marks. One mark is an indication of active energy in that line and the presence of that force. Two marks are the indication of passive energy of that line, and the absence of inactivity of that force. From top to bottom the lines are named Head, neck, body, feet. They are also identified with the four classical elements from top to bottom of Fire, air, water, earth. These lines and their elemental values, combined with the planetary symbolism, help to give depth to a reading, but also in understanding the symbolism of each sign and it’s interaction with the world and with other signs.

The two methods of using the figures were in generating charts. The oldest and most traditional method is known as a shield chart, which requires one to generate 4 figures, however you wish to do that. These four figures are identified as “mothers” and from them the rest of the figures of the chart are created, about 11 or 12 figures, depending upon the inclusion or exclusion of a final figure. From the mothers one generates 4 daughters and from the mothers and daughters are generated the Nieces, which are then used to generate two witnesses, which are combined to form the Judge. The Judge is considered the answer to the question, sometimes with an additional figure formed by combining the judge and first mother to form the Reconciler, which makes a total of 16 figures used in the chart. Additional methods of shield chart interpretation help to give more precise and particular answers through the relationship of the judge to other elements in the chart.

From the shield chart, a second chart can be generated, known as the house chart. This chart is based upon the 12 house system of astrology, where each sign is placed into a house. The most basic ordering is taking the 1st mother which is given to the first house, 2nd mother to the second house, 3rd mother to the third house etc… There are other methods of assigning figures, depending upon whose treatise you read, or your own insight from gaining proficiency and skill with it. From the house chart it is also possible to answer questions, which can further influence the indications given in the shield chart and also given more depth and precision to a reading.

I came into geomancy a few years ago when I discovered a newly published book by John Michael Greer. It talked about Earth magic and divination, and as I was very much feeling the earth magic vibe, I was very intrigued by the book title. That introduced me to this method and I quickly took to practicing it and using it as often as I could, in order to become proficient with casting charts and understanding the signs. I also was very taken to how simple the signs were, which can be easily used in making talismans for magic, calling upon the forces symbolized by the geomantic signs.

There does seem to be a rebirth for geomancy occurring right now. While this practice did disappear in the West (although it did survive in some interesting ways and get small revivals during other blossoming of interest in the occult) there are a good number of sources available. Quite a few books have been written, as well as academic research into it as a item of historical interest. It also seems that in Arabic countries, the practice of geomancy has never fulled disappeared. It also bears some resemblance to I Ching, but also methods if Ifa divination. Whether they are related, or only bear passing resemblance is not fully decided or clear yet to researchers. There are some geomancy groups in existence right now, which can be found in Yahoo and also on facebook, where people can share techniques, and get assistance with their interpretations of charts they have cast. Another great resource and modern intrepid explorer is Polyphanes over at Digital Ambler. His work with geomancy is quite fantastic and he does contemplate it in order to advance this once forgotten divinatory art.

Crafting your own runes

A comment made on a post has been floating around in my head as perhaps something I should blog about. So here I go.

When making your own set of runes (main for divination purposes) there are a few considerations that go with it. To me, I see them as:

Material
Coloring
Finish

There are many materials you could make runes in. From a historical perspective, the main materials would be wood, metal, bone and stone. The modern perspective opens up that a little by including in clay, plastic, and precious stones. Each has their users, their proponents and their opponents. I myself chose wood.

When it comes to wood, lore-based information indicates a fruiting tree (so anything that bears fruit, including nuts). But, in this day and age, where there is a multitude of wood available, even to the amateur wood carver making his own set of runes, you might want to visit a specialty woodshop and see what is available. When I did this, I choose a piece of rosewood. It doesn’t produce fruit (at least nothing edible) although it is known being rich with volatile oils, and can be steam distilled to release them. As I was working with it, I realized why it was called rosewood. One of them is that, when the wood is freshly worked, it’s pink. The other one is that there is a faint odor that is realized from the wood, that is vaguely floral and rose-like. I really quite enjoyed it.

I did make a set before this one, with simple basswood that I purchased at an art supply store. The basswood is excellent to learn on, as it is very forgiving and easy to work with. The rosewood, well, not so much. Fortunately, I had already done it once before, so I was somewhat prepared for the experience. That is one of the lessons I found with wood. Depending upon the wood, carving can be very easy, or challenging. If you want to know about the kinds of wood you can choose from, I have found an internet search to be a font of information. You could also burn them into the wood as well, but I find that leaves out the option of coloring them later.

Stone is plentiful and readily available medium. While historically, stone was reserved for marking important sites or memorials, I have met quite a few people with stone runes, usually the rune being painted on. One was even made of small river pebbles, with the runes sharpied on. They were quite nice, and very durable. You could also get larger stones used in gardening, and then paint or mark runes on them. If you really wanted to develop a unique skill, try stone carving. There are even simple power tools that can do this, but they need to be handled with skill and safety.

Bone is also a good medium and traditional. While I have never personally seen a bone set, I have some listed for sale online, and suggested it to others. Finding bone that you can cut and carve, well I am not very sure where to get that. If you had a connection with someone perhaps with a farm, or in a slaughterhouse, you might try getting a bone. A good consideration is the animal that it is taken from.

Metal, while a good idea, is also not the easiest of materials to work with. Having taken a jewelry class, you will need a great deal of specialized equipment to make a decent working set. It will also way as much as a role of quarters. Depending upon the metal, it might also cost you a great sum of money as well, as silver is rather expensive, and if you want a gold one, well, um yeah. You might look into stainless steel, or copper or brass, but keep in mind that you might need to clean them periodically to keep oxidation off, although an oxidized copper rune set might be very aesthetically pleasing.

Clay is readily available and using some modern version, you might create some really nice runes, all in the safety of your own home. If you are taking a ceramics course, you could even create something really spectacular with a kiln and some glaze, but that can be hard to come by. The only problem I have with clay/ceramic is fragility. The first set of runes I had was ceramic. They were very nice. Because I took them everywhere, and used them fairly often, they had a tendency, when exposed to certain stresses to break. I would be as gentle as I could, but even then, sometimes, it would break. So, if you aren’t going to be traveling with it, and will keep it in a padded container, ceramic/clay can be a very nice medium.

I have seen plastic “runes” of other types. I have never seen one made of the runes used in Scandinavian countries. I am not ever sure where you could get plastic to make those types of runes. You would probably have to buy them.

The final type is crystal. This is much like stone, except for the structure of the crystal itself, which you might have to consider if you are carving into it. It would also require skill and specific instruments to carve it. Unlike some stone, it does not lone itself well to sharpie or paint unless you have already carved out the area. Most of these are usually going to be store bought.

After the choice of medium, it is a choice of how to and what to color your runes. You may choose not to color them at all, but I have found that by using a color, it makes the runes vivid and easily seen, especially when working with natural materials. The traditional color to use is shades of red, generally darker. The most traditional coloring was blood, which has a distinctive brown-red hue when it dries. Other traditional pigments I have read about are red ochre (a type of mineral) alder sap (which is also red) and any other natural red pigment. You could also just use paint. As you can see, red is the traditional color used for runes. That is the color I used, and I highly recommend it. I have read that one could use blue, and in Edred Thorsson’s books, he give color values for each rune. You could color each rune a different color, given those values, or any other color value that you might determine, from other texts, or personal insight. Most ceramic runes I have seen were colored red, while the precious stone runes typically used a metallic pigment or leaf to color in the carvings. If you are using paint or liquid pigments, you could add essential oils, drops of fluid condenser or personal concerns, to add power or special connection to the runes.

The final question is finish. With some mediums, that will be an automatic step, namely clay/ceramic and metal. It is required to color the runes to make them stand out. The only time it would not be needed for clay is when you are using the kind you can bake at home in your oven at low tempatures, which do not require a glaze. But you might want to give it a finish anyway, afterwards, just to seal it. With wood, you don’t need to seal it, but I found that even a clear seal changes the appearance of the wood dramatically, and also makes the rune stand out more (especially in red). It also gives it a very nice finish that gives it a completed look. Stone does not necessarily need a finish, and neither does crystal, except perhaps over the painted or inked on rune, although if you are using a sharpie on granite, it will be fairly enduring even without it.

Once you have completed creating the rune set, you might wish to consecrate it. I personally find that the process of carving, coloring, and finishing actually consecrates it quite well. Once the finish dried, I would then go back, and chant/sing the name of each rune, placing them in the order given by the aettirs or in other symbolic arrangements, perhaps in an eight-pointed star, or a circle with the runes in the circumference. You could also use any of the methods recommended by other rune authors to consecrate and empower/awaken your runes.

Divinatory Methods

In contemporary runic practice, the Runes are very frequently used for divination aka fortune telling or readings. I say contemporary practice, because there is no solid evidence of divination with the Runes. However, there is quite a bit of lore that indicates that runes were probably used for that purpose, mostly from mythic sources. The sagas indicate runes being used, usually for magic, and sometimes that magic would be divinatory in purpose, but the runes were incidental to the magic, and not the main focus.

The most often quoted example of “runic divination” actually comes from a Roman historian, named Tacitus. In his history of Germania, he makes note of their method of performing lots. However, his language does not explicitly indicate the Runes only that symbols were carved in piece of wood from the branch of a fruit bearing tree, and from those symbols, answers were given from the gods. This method does work very well with the Runes however, and I often use an adapted version for readings with the Runes.

Other methods are derived from tarot, where a specific layout is used, often named after a mythic figure or symbol, or associated with cosmological forces and patterns. The simplest of these is the One Rune or the Odhinn’s Rune, where a single rune is selected and that answers the question or gives insight to the issue being asked about. This method works well for either “simple” yes, no or maybe answers. The yes answer would be an upright figure selected, a no would be an upside down figure selected, while a maybe would be any of the “non-invertible runes” with the maybe being explained more depending upon the meaning of the rune.

Another common version of a layout is the 3 Runes or the Norns Spread, named after the etin women who gather around the well of Urd (Wyrd in Anglo-Saxon), watering Yggdrasil with the well water, and patching it with white clay, who are also the mistress of Fate, or Wyrd. Their names are Urd, Verthandi and Skuld (or Wyrd, Metod and Skuld in Anglo-Saxon). When it is called the Norn’s spread, it is specifically used for looking at the past, present and future, while other values can be used for the three runes. These values are often connected in some way, such as Body, Mind and Soul, or Seed, Plant, and Fruit.
The final method of divination is based upon working magic with the runes that make information known to you. There are numerous ways to do this, from focusing on certain runes to bring you into contact with knowledgeable entities, or beings that possess the information you seek, such as contacting Gods or spirits, to summoning up the dead to ask them questions which they would have had the answer to. You could also work to travel metaphysically, popular known as astral projection, but in northern tradition it has the name hamfaring, referring to the part of the being known as the hamr (shape) which can travel from the body, which can then go seek the information that you desire.