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What is Geomancy?

The word Geomancy derives from the Greek geomanteia (geo meaning earth and manteia meaning divination), and is a method of divination which interprets markings on the ground, or how handfuls of dirt land when someone tosses them in the air.  It formed part of the required study of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century, and still survives in modern occult practices.  The Arabic tradition consists of sketching sixteen random lines of dots in sand.

Western occultism defines geomantic technique as marking sixteen lines of dashes or holes in sand or soil with a wand or on a sheet of paper.  The marked dashes or dots should not be counted as they are made, thus constituting a form of spontaneous divination.  The geomancer then counts the number of dashes or holes made in each line and draws either a single dot (for an odd number of marks) or two dots (for an even number of marks) next to the lines.  The pattern of dots produced by the first to the fourth lines inclusive is known as a 'figure', as are the fifth to eighth lines and so on.  This should produce four 'figures' known as 'Mothers'.

The four figures derived from the sixteen lines are entered into two charts, known as the 'Shield' and 'House' charts, and through binary processes form the seed of the figures that fill the whole charts.  These charts are subsequently analysed and interpreted by the geomancer to find solutions, options and responses to the question, along with general information about the geomancer (unless the geomancer is performing the divination for another, in which case information is shown about the person the charts were cast for) providing an all-round reading into the questioner's life.

The four binary elements of each figure allow for 2×2×2×2, or 16 different combinations.  Since there are four root figures in each chart, the total number of possible charts is equal to 16×16×16×16, or 65536.  The charts are also interpreted differently depending upon the nature of the question, thus making it one of the most thorough kinds of divination available.  With only 16 figures to understand this form of Geomancy is simple to learn and easy to perform.  It was once practiced by commoners and rulers alike, and was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout the Middle Ages.

Because traditional Western geomantic divination was dependent upon astrological technique, it was often referred to as astrological geomancy, the idea being that at the time a question becomes imperative to the inquirer, the conditions of the cosmos, whether in the macrocosm or microcosm, will be reverberating with the inquirer's mind.

There are many sites on the internet explaining the layout of the charts and their interpretation, one such being Accessnewage, so I shall not elaborate on them here.  It could also be worthwhile obtaining a copy of Aleister Crowley's A Handbook of Geomancy for reference.  In it he states:

"THIS MS. is now first printed from the private copies of certain adepts, after careful examination and collation.  It is printed for the information of scholars and the instruction of seekers.  By the order of the A A certain formulae have been introduced into it, and omissions made, to baffle any one who may seek to prostitute it to idle curiosity or to fraud.  Its practical use and the method of avoiding these pitfalls will be shown to approved students by special authority from V.V.V.V.V. or his delegates."

Whichever system you eventually opt for, you will find that practicing geomancy can be great fun, and you will probably be amazed at some of the results.

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