Geomancy
Overview
 
Geomancy is a method of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

, rocks, or sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

. The most prevalent form of divinatory geomancy involves interpreting a series of 16 figures
Geomantic figures
The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

 formed by a randomized process that involves recursion followed by analyzing them, often augmented with astrological
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 interpretations.

Once practiced by people from all social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

es, it was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.
Encyclopedia
Geomancy is a method of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

, rocks, or sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

. The most prevalent form of divinatory geomancy involves interpreting a series of 16 figures
Geomantic figures
The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

 formed by a randomized process that involves recursion followed by analyzing them, often augmented with astrological
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 interpretations.

Once practiced by people from all social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

es, it was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Books and treatises on geomancy were published up until the 17th century when most occult traditions fell out of popularity. Geomancy has recently seen a new interest through the works of John Michael Greer
John Michael Greer
John Michael Greer is an American author, independent scholar, historian of ideas, cultural critic, Neo-druid leader, Hermeticist, environmentalist/conservationist, blogger, novelist, and occultist/esotericist who currently resides in Cumberland, Maryland after living in Ashland, Oregon for a...

 and other practitioners, with more mainstream occult circles practicing and teaching geomancy.

History of geomancy

Geomancy, from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 geōmanteía translates literally to "foresight by earth"; it is a translation of the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 term ‛ilm al-raml, or the "science of the sand". Earlier Greek renditions of this word borrowed the word raml ("sand") directly, rendering it as rhamplion or rabolion. Other Arabic names for geomancy include khatt al-raml and darb al-raml.

Geomancy is thought to have established roots in the Middle East when returning Arabic merchants brought the esoteric knowledge from East Asia via the Silk Road. The original names of the figures were traditionally given in Arabic, excluding a Persian
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 origin. The reference in Hermetic
Hermeticism
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

 texts to the mythical Ṭumṭum al-Hindi potentially points to an Indian origin, although Skinner thinks this to be unlikely. Having an Islamic or Arabic origin is most likely, since the expansive trade routes of Arabian merchants would facilitate the exchange of culture and knowledge. It is theorized that related systems of divination in sub-Saharan Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, such as Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

 and sikidy, either were based on or co-developed with Arabic divination systems; the use of binary numbers is a distinct trait in the culture of the African plains.

European scholars and universities began to translate Arabic texts and treatises in the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, including those on geomancy. Isidore of Seville lists geomancy with other methods of divination including pyromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, and necromancy without describing its application or methods; it could be that Isidore of Seville was listing methods of elemental scrying
Scrying
Scrying is a magic practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and less often for purposes of divination or fortune-telling. The most common media used are reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals,...

 more than what is commonly known as geomancy. The poem Experimentarius attributed to Bernardus Silvestris, who wrote in the middle of the 12th century, was a verse translation of a work on astrological geomancy. One of the first discourses on geomancy translated into Latin was the Ars Geomantiae of Hugh of Santalla; by this point, geomancy must have been an established divination system in Arabic-speaking areas of Africa and the Middle East. Other translators, such as Gerard of Cremona
Gerard of Cremona
Gerard of Cremona was an Italian translator of Arabic scientific works found in the abandoned Arab libraries of Toledo, Spain....

, also produced new translations of geomancy that incorporated astrological elements and techniques that were, up until this point, ignored. From this point on, more European scholars studied and applied geomancy, writing many treatises in the process. Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Christopher Cattan
Christopher Cattan
Christophe de Cattan was a reputed astrologer of the sixteenth century. The title page of one of his books gives him as Swiss, from Geneva....

, and John Heydon
John Heydon
John Heydon was an English Neoplatonist occult philosopher, Rosicrucian, astrologer and attorney.-Life:Rosicrucian sources, including Heydon's own English Physician's Guide and Frederick Talbot's The Wise Man's Crown, give a florid biography for Heydon, in which he is descended from a King of...

 produced oft-cited and well-studied treatises on geomancy, along with other philosophers, occultists, and theologians until the 17th century, when interest in occultism and divination began to dwindle due to the rise of the Scientific Revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

 and the Age of Reason
Age of reason
Age of reason may refer to:* 17th-century philosophy, as a successor of the Renaissance and a predecessor to the Age of Enlightenment* Age of Enlightenment in its long form of 1600-1800* The Age of Reason, a book by Thomas Paine...

.

Geomancy made a revival in the 19th century, when renewed interest in the occult arose due to the works of Robert Thomas Cross
Robert Thomas Cross
Robert Thomas Cross was a British astrologer.Cross was one in a series of editors of Raphael's Ephemeris, started by Robert Cross Smith in 1827, who all took the pseudonym Raphael...

 and Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC , was an English politician, poet, playwright, and novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling dime-novels which earned him a considerable fortune...

, Franz Hartmann
Franz Hartmann
Franz Hartmann was a German physician, theosophist, occultist, geomancer, astrologer, and author. His works include several books on esoteric studies and biographies of Jakob Böhme and Paracelsus. He translated the Bhagavad Gita into German and was the editor of the journal Lotusblüten...

 published his text, The Principles of Astrological Geomancy, which spurred new interest in the divination system. Based on this and a few older texts, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development...

 began the task of recollecting knowledge on geomancy along with other occult subjects, with them, Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

 published his works that integrated various occult systems of knowledge. However, due to the short time the members of the Golden Dawn desired to learn, practice, and teach the old occult arts, many elaborate systems of divination and ritual had to be compressed, losing much in the process. In effect, they had reduced geomancy from a complex art of interpretation and skill in recognizing patterns to looking up predefined answers based on pairs of figures.

Like other systems of divination, geomancy has a mythological origin. According to one Arabic Hermetic
Hermeticism
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

 text, Idris
Idris (prophet)
Idris‘ is an Islamic prophet mentioned in the Qur'an whom the Qur'an says was exalted by God to a high station in life. Although Idris is, at times, identified with the Biblical Enoch, the true Biblical identity of Idris remains uncertain...

 (or Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus is the eponymous author of the Hermetic Corpus, a sacred text belonging to the genre of divine revelation.-Origin and identity:...

) witnessed the angel Jibril
Gabriel
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

 in a dream. Idris asked for enlightenment, and Jibril proceeded to draw a geomantic figure; upon being asked what he was doing, Jibril instructed Idris in the geomantic arts. Keeping this secret, he sought out Ṭumṭum al-Hindi, an Indian king, who then wrote a book on geomancy. This book was passed down through clandestine circles into the hands of Khalaf al-Barbarĩ, who traveled to Medina and converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 by the prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 himself. Confessing to knowing a divinatory art, he explained that pre-Islamic prophets
Prophets
Prophets may refer to:* High Prophets , The Covenant leaders in Halo 2* Prophets , one of the five Ascension Gift Ministries* LDS Prophets, modern day Prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

 knew geomancy, and that by learning geomancy, one may "know all that the prophet knew."

Another mythological story for the origin of geomancy also involves Idris. After praying to God that He give Idris easily a means to earn his living, Idris rested one day, bored and without work, and began to draw figures idly in the sand. As he did so, a stranger appeared before him and questioned what he was doing. Idris replied that he was simply entertaining himself, but the stranger replied that he was doing a very serious act. Idris became incredulous and tried to deny this, but the stranger explained the significance of the meaning of the figure Idris drew. He then commanded Idris to draw another figure, and upon doing so the stranger explained the meaning and significance of that figure. The pair continued this until Idris had discovered and understood the sixteen figures. The stranger then taught Idris how to form the figures in a regular manner and what the results meant, teaching him how to know things that could not be known with just the physical senses. After testing Idris' newfound knowledge and skill of geomancy, and revealing himself to be the angel Jibril
Gabriel
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

 in the process, the stranger disappeared. Idris, thankful to God and His messenger that he learned this art, never revealed the art to anyone. Before his death, he wrote a book describing the art as Jibril had taught him, and from his successors.

Other tablets and records from antiquity
Antiquities
Antiquities, nearly always used in the plural in this sense, is a term for objects from Antiquity, especially the civilizations of the Mediterranean: the Classical antiquity of Greece and Rome, Ancient Egypt and the other Ancient Near Eastern cultures...

 identify Idris with the prophets Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 or Enoch
Enoch (ancestor of Noah)
Enoch is a figure in the Generations of Adam. Enoch is described as Adam's greatx4 grandson , the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah...

. This was done in order to give geomancy a legitimate standing as a gift and skill from God, especially since one of the prophets had practiced it. However, those that argued against geomancy, such as Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

 in his Muqaddima, countered that it was a pre-Islamic system of knowledge, and that all such epistemologies were rendered obsolete with the revelation of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

.

Throughout the evolution and migration of geomancy, various tales and plays incorporated aspects of the art into their stories. In one story in One Thousand and One Nights, both the African Magician and his brother use geomancy to find Aladdin in order to do him harm. Geomancy's first mention in print was William Langland's
William Langland
William Langland is the conjectured author of the 14th-century English dream-vision Piers Plowman.- Life :The attribution of Piers to Langland rests principally on the evidence of a manuscript held at Trinity College, Dublin...

 Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman is the title of a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in unrhymed alliterative verse divided into sections called "passus"...

where it is unfavorably compared to the level of expertise a person needs for astronomy ("gemensye [geomesye] is gynful of speche"). In 1386 Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

 used the Parson's Tale to poke fun at geomancy in Canterbury Tales: "What say we of them that believe in divynailes as …geomancie…" Shakespeare and Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 were also known to use geomancy for comic relief. Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Divine Comedy makes a passing reference to geomancy. In the first two stanzas of Canto XIX in the Purgatorio
Purgatorio
Purgatorio is the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno, and preceding the Paradiso. The poem was written in the early 14th century. It is an allegory telling of the climb of Dante up the Mount of Purgatory, guided by the Roman poet Virgil...

,

Generating the geomantic charts

Geomancy requires the geomancer to create sixteen lines of points or marks without counting, creating sixteen random numbers. Without taking note of the number of points made, the geomancer provides the seemingly random mechanism
Synchronicity
Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance and that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner...

 needed for most forms of divination. Once the lines are produced, the geomancer marks off the points two by two until either one or two points remain in the line; mathematically, this is the same as producing two dots if the number is even or one dot if the number is odd. Taking these leftover points in groups of four, they form the first four geomantic figures
Geomantic figures
The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

 and form the basis for the generation of the remaining figures. Once this is done, the "inspired" portion of the geomantic reading is done; what remains is algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

ic calculation.

Traditionally, geomancy requires a surface of sand and the hands or a stick, but can be done equally well with a wax tablet and stylus or a pen and paper; ritualized objects may or may not be desired for use in divination. Often, when drawing marks or figures, geomancers will proceed from right to left as a tradition from geomancy's Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

 origins, although this is by no means mandatory. Modern methods of geomancy include, in addition to the traditional ways, computerized random number generators or thrown objects; other methods including counting the eyes on potatoes, spinning specialized dice, or drawing a number of beans from a sack in a manner similar to kumalak
Kumalak
Kumalak is a form of geomancy, or divination, which originates in Central Asia. This fortune telling method involves forty-one beans, stones, or sheep dung sorted into piles, and has been used for hundreds of years in the region of present-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Siberia by...

. Some practitioners use specialized cards
Cartomancy
Cartomancy is fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. Forms of cartomancy appeared soon after playing cards were first introduced into Europe in the 14th century...

, with each card representing a single geomantic figure; in this case, only four cards are drawn after shuffling. Specialized machines have also been used to generate full geomantic charts.

The figures are entered into a specialized table, known as the shield chart, which illustrates the recursive processes reminiscent of the Cantor set
Cantor set
In mathematics, the Cantor set is a set of points lying on a single line segment that has a number of remarkable and deep properties. It was discovered in 1875 by Henry John Stephen Smith and introduced by German mathematician Georg Cantor in 1883....

 that form the figures. The first four figures are called the matres, or Mothers, and form the basis for the rest of the figures in the chart; they occupy the first four houses in the upper right-hand corner such that the first Mother is to the far right, the second Mother is to her left, and so on (continuing the right-to-left tradition). The next four figures, the filiae, or Daughters, are formed by rearranging the lines used in the Mothers: the first Daughter is formed by taking the first line from the first, second, third, and fourth Mothers in order and rearranging them to be the first Daughter's first, second, third, and fourth lines, respectively. The process is done similarly for the second Daughter using the second line from the Mothers, and so on. The Daughters are placed in the next four houses in order on the same row as the Mothers.

After the eight matres and filiae are formed, the four nepotes (or Nieces) are formed by adding those pairs of figures that rest above the houses of the respective Niece. Therefore, the first and second Mothers add to form the first Niece, the third and fourth Mothers add to form the second Niece, and so on. Here, addition involves summing the points in the respective lines of the parents: if the sum is an even number, then the resulting figure's line will have two points, and if the sum is odd then the line will have one point. Conceptually, this is the same procedure in mathematical logic as the exclusive or, where a line with two points is used instead of "false" and a line with one point instead of "true".

From the four nepotes, the two testes (or Witnesses) are formed in the same manner as the nepotes: the first and second Nieces form the Right Witness, and the third and fourth Nieces form the Left Witness. From the Witnesses, using the same addition process, the iudex, or Judge, is formed. A sixteenth figure, the Reconciler or superiudex, is also generated by adding the Judge and the First Mother, although this has become seen as extraneous and a "backup figure" in recent times.

Interpretation of the charts

The shield chart most likely provided an early visual guide to generating the figures, and the interpreted answer would center on the fifteenth and sixteenth figures, the Judge and Reconciler. Skilled geomancers observe the whole chart, interpreting (among other things) meanings of the figures based on where they place in the chart, the numerical significance of the total points, and the similarities produced by added figures. Generally, the Judge represents the answer to the question, the Right Witness describes the querent's side of the query, the Left Witness represents the quesited's side, and the Reconciler represents the effect of the outcome (or Judge) upon the querent. The skilled geomancer can dedeuce root causes to the situation, hidden influences, the outcome and its aftermath, and general trends and events in the querent's life through interpreting the chart.

One division of the shield chart for interpretation involves triplets of the figures called triplicities. Each triplicity contains two of the Mothers or two of the Daughters and the Niece that results from them. They can be interpreted in a manner similar to the Witnesses and Judge, in that the right parent represents the past, the child the present, and the left parent the future; another way to interpret such a triplet views the right parent as the querent's side, allies, resources, and opinions, the left parent as the quesited's side, and the child as the interaction of the two sides.
Triplicity Figures Involved Interpretation
First Triplicity First Mother, Second Mother, First Niece The querent's health, disposition, outlooks, and habits. Current trends in the querent's life.
Second Triplicity Third Mother, Fourth Mother, Second Niece The influences in the querent's life at the time of the reading. Factors that shape the querent's life and the situation surrounding the query.
Third Triplicity First Daughter, Second Daughter, Third Niece The places most frequented by the querent, including the home and the workplace. People and objects found at those places. Family, partners, and housemates of the querent.
Fourth Triplicity Third Daughter, Fourth Daughter, Fourth Niece Friends, associates, coworkers, colleagues of the querent, as well as people in authority over the querent. Situations and factors caused by external sources.


Another method of evaluating a geomantic chart involves taking the total sum of all points from 16 figures within the shield chart. In order to evaluate how quickly the queried situation would resolve, Pietro d'Abano
Pietro d'Abano
Pietro d'Abano also known as Petrus De Apono or Aponensis was an Italian philosopher, astrologer and professor of medicine in Padua. He was born in the Italian town from which he takes his name, now Abano Terme. He gained fame by writing Conciliator Differentiarum, quæ inter Philosophos et Medicos...

 suggested that the total sum be compared to the sum of all points in the sixteen geomantic figures
Geomantic figures
The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

, which is 96. If the sum of the chart is 96, then the resolution of the query will be "swift, and neither slow nor doubtful;" in other words, that all things that could be acted upon in the situation described by the query would resolve without delay nor ahead of schedule. If the sum is less than 96, then it will resolve quickly, and in a degree proportional to the difference between 96 and the total. Conversely, if the sum is more than 96, then it will resolve slowly.

European geomancers provided an alternate method of interpreting the figures through the house chart, which feature the twelve astrological houses
House (astrology)
Most horoscopic traditions of astrology systems divide the horoscope into a number of houses whose positions depend on time and location rather than on date. In Hindu astrological tradition these are known as Bhāvas. The houses of the horoscope represent different spheres of life, described in...

. Here, they assign the figures from the shield chart to the houses in the house chart; the order used differs between different circles of occultists. While European geomancers still used the shield chart to generate the figures and provide most answers, they augmented geomancy with astrological
Western astrology
Western astrology is the system of astrology most popular in Western countries. Western astrology is historically based on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos , which in turn was a continuation of Hellenistic and ultimately Babylonian traditions....

 techniques in the house chart. Based upon the query, they could provide a deeper insight into the querent's life, factors shaping the query itself, and the extent of the situations involved. They took note when several houses shared the same figure; as this figure passes from one house to the next, it generally indicates that the same situation or event affects each of those houses.

Pietro d'Abano discusses the primary modes of perfection used in geomantic interpretations with significators in his geomancy essay. In astrological geomancy, the significators are chosen based upon the identity of the querent and the identity of the quesited. Generally, except when the querent asks about a situation about a subject with no immediate connection to themselves, the querent's significator is located in the first house (see Derivative house
Derivative house
In astrology, a derivative house describes the affairs of a house as they relate to another individual. Each house in the horoscope as a specific rulership, such as the second house relating to the native's money. Every house in the horoscope also relates to a specific person known to the native,...

). The quesited's significator is identified based upon the focus of the query: this is based upon the relation of the query to the astrological houses. Some questions require more than two significators, such as in a query involving several primary factors (e.g. two parties quarelling over an estate). Queries that have a yes-or-no, or possible-impossible, answer can easily be answered with these modes of perfection. If the chart perfects, the answer is "yes"; otherwise, in the case of denial of perfection, "no". The nature of the figures themselves should also be considered; if a chart perfects with negative figures, for instance, the matter will resolve but the querent may not like the result. On the other hand, if the chart does not perfect but the figures are good, then the matter will not resolve even though the querent can make do successfully without it.
Mode of perfection Interaction of the figures Interpretation
Occupation The querent's significator and the quesited's significator are the same figure. A natural connection between querent and quesited. The matter will resolve by the querent's own nature without extra effort.
Conjunction One of the significators moves to a house directly beside the house of the other significator. The querent and quesited meet each other. The significator that moves shows which party must work to attain the resolution: if the querent's significator moves to the quesited's, then the querent will need to work for the resolution. Otherwise, the quesited will work things out without need from the querent.
Mutation The two significators appear next to each other elsewhere in the chart. The resolution will come by some unexpected or unusual manner. Try new avenues that wouldn't normally be expected.
Translation The same figure appears in houses directly beside the houses of the significators. The resolution will come through a third party. A mediator will help bridge the gap between the querent and quesited.
Denial No connection exists between the two significators. The lack of perfection in a chart. The querent and quesited cannot reach each other. No resolution.


In addition to modes of perfection, geomancers often took note of aspects
Astrological aspect
In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, and also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant, lower midheaven, and other points of astrological interest. Aspects are measured by the angular distance in degrees and minutes of ecliptic longitude between two...

 between those figures that passed to other houses, and especially ones that made aspects to the significators. Often, when a chart denied perfection, geomancers would observe how the significators aspected each other; the aspects here retain similar meanings from astrology.

Christopher Cattan
Christopher Cattan
Christophe de Cattan was a reputed astrologer of the sixteenth century. The title page of one of his books gives him as Swiss, from Geneva....

 advocates using the strength of the astrological houses in determining the resolution. By observing the nature of the figures (good or ill, depending on the query) and what type of house they fall in (angular
Angular house
In astrology, an angular house, or cardinal house, is one of four cardinal houses of the horoscope, which are the houses in which the angles of the chart are found. The angular houses of the horoscope are considered to be the most ardent, or forceful, and are considered to have the greatest impact...

, succedent
Succedent house
Succedent house is an astrological term for the houses that follow the angular houses in an Astrological chart. “Succedent” derives from the Latin succedens meaning "subsequent" or "succeeding"...

, or cadent
Cadent house
In astrology, a cadent house is the last house of each quadrant of the zodiac. A quadrant begins with an angular house, proceeds to a succedent house and ends with a cadent house...

), he judges the total effect of the figures on the query. The figures that fall in cadent houses have little to no effect, those that fall in succedent houses have a transient effect, and those that fall in angular houses have the strongest and most lasting effect upon the query.

Other examples of astrological technique used in geomancy include assigning zodiacal rulerships to the geomantic figures, linking geomantic figures to parts of the body based on zodiacal rulers, and assigning planetary spirits, intelligences, and genii to the figures based on their ruling planets.

Geomancy and mathematics

The four binary elements of each figure allow for 16 different combinations, each called a tableau. As each chart is generated from the four Mothers, there are a total number of 164, or 65536, possible charts. Due to the mathematics of the chart, only figures that have an even number of points total can become Judges; each of the eight Judges then has 8192 charts associated with it. Traditional practitioners of geomancy use this knowledge as a type of parity check on the chart to ensure that no mistakes have been made while computing the figures.

In each chart, if all sixteen figures are observed (the four Mothers, the four Daughters, the four Nieces, the Witnesses, Judge, and Reconciler), at least two of the figures must be the same. However, as the Reconciler is usually termed an optional figure, 16 combinations of Mother figures can yield a chart where the Mothers, Daughters, Nieces, Witnesses, and Judge are all unique. Notably, Populus cannot appear in these charts, since mathematically it either requires two figures to be the same in order to be formed, or produces a duplicate figure when added to another figure. In such charts, the Judge will always be one of Conjunctio, Amissio, Carcer, or Acquisitio. The sixteen combinations of Mothers, in order from the First to the Fourth Mother, are
  • Puer, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  • Conjunctio, Puella, Fortuna Major, Tristitia
  • Puella, Puer, Tristitia, Albus
  • Puella, Cauda Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  • Rubeus, Laetitia, Puella, Puer
  • Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Puella
  • Rubeus, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis
  • Rubeus, Laetitia, Caput Draconis, Puer
  • Acquisitio, Puella, Albus, Fortuna Major
  • Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Puer, Conjunctio
  • Laetitia, Fortuna Minor, Acquisitio, Cauda Draconis
  • Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis, Tristitia, Albus
  • Caput Draconis, Amissio, Fortuna Major, Tristitia
  • Caput Draconis, Carcer, Albus, Fortuna Major
  • Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Puer, Amissio
  • Fortuna Minor, Rubeus, Carcer, Cauda Draconis


Mathematician Ron Eglash
Ron Eglash
Ron Eglash is an American cyberneticist, university professor, and author widely known for his work in the field of ethnomathematics, which aims to study the diverse relationships between math and culture...

, while studying fractal structures in African culture, identified a binary recursive process that used self similarity to create a random number generator from an initial set of lines that the geomancer draws on the ground. Unlike the practices in many other regions (e.g. the Middle East and China) which utilized base 10 numeric systems, the base 2 system utilized in geomancy had long been widely applied in sub-Saharan Africa. Inspired by the geomantic technique, Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, a German mathematician, developed the binary code theory, which later was the base for Boolean algebra and modern computers.

Other forms of geomancy

The Arabic tradition consists of sketching sixteen random lines of dots in sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

. This same process survived virtually unchanged through its introduction to Europe in the medieval era, and survives to this day in various Arabic countries. Sikidy and other forms of African divination also follow techniques that have remained virtually unchanged.

In Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 one traditional form of geomancy consists of throwing handfuls of dirt in the air and observing how the dirt falls. It can also involve a mouse as the agent of the earth spirit. Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

, one of the oldest forms of geomancy, originated in West Africa, and uses the same sixteen geomantic figures
Geomantic figures
The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

 as in Arabic and Western geomancy with different meanings and names; the process is shortened to using only two figures. In China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, the diviner may enter a trance and make markings on the ground that are interpreted by an associate (often a young or illiterate boy). Similar forms of geomancy include scrying
Scrying
Scrying is a magic practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and less often for purposes of divination or fortune-telling. The most common media used are reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals,...

 involving the patterns seen in rocks or soil.

The Chinese divination practice of the I Ching
I Ching
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" , also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts...

 has several striking similarities to geomancy. It includes a series of binary trigrams (as opposed to tegtragrams used in geomancy) that are generated at random, the resulting figures of which are taken in combination. However, the figures are not added or reorganized as in geomancy, but are instead taken to form a single hexagram. While there are 23, or eight, trigrams, there are 26, or 64, hexagrams. This yields a smaller set of resulting charts than geomancy.

Kumalak
Kumalak
Kumalak is a form of geomancy, or divination, which originates in Central Asia. This fortune telling method involves forty-one beans, stones, or sheep dung sorted into piles, and has been used for hundreds of years in the region of present-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Siberia by...

 is a type of geomancy practiced in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Tuva
Tuva
The Tyva Republic , or Tuva , is a federal subject of Russia . It lies in the geographical center of Asia, in southern Siberia. The republic borders with the Altai Republic, the Republic of Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, and the Republic of Buryatia in Russia and with Mongolia to the...

, and other parts of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. Kumalak makes use of a three by three grid, wherein a shaman will ritually place up to 41 beads. These shamans use kumalak more to connect with their ancestors and spiritual guides than to obtain information through divination. Further, shamans who use kumalak must be initiated and taught how to perform the rituals of kumalak correctly. According to them, kumalak is an ancient system of knowledge reaching back to the roots of their civilization.

In Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, this tradition was popularized in the ninth century by the Buddhist monk Toson. In Korea, geomancy takes the form of interpreting the topography of the land to determine future events and or the strength of a dynasty or particular family. Therefore, not only were location and land forms important, but the topography could shift causing disfavor and the need to relocate. The idea is still accepted in many South East Asian societies today, although with reduced force.

In the 19th century, Christian missionaries
Christianity in China
Christianity in China is a growing minority religion that comprises Protestants , Catholics , and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as the institutional religions of Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism, and the social system and ideology of...

 in China translated feng shui
Feng shui
Feng shui ' is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ....

as "geomancy" due to their observations of local shamans and priests manipulating the flow and direction of energy
Qi
In traditional Chinese culture, qì is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts...

 based on aesthetics, location, and position of objects and buildings. Although it stems from a distinct tradition, the term "geomancy" now commonly includes feng shui. Similarly, the introduction of a similar Indian system of aesthetics and positioning to harmonize the local energies, vastu shastra
Vastu Shastra
Vastu Shastra is an ancient doctrine which consists of precepts born out of a traditional and archaic view on how the laws of nature affect human dwellings. The designs are based on directional alignments...

, has come under the name "geomancy". Due to the definition having changed over time (along with the recognized definition of the suffix -mancy), "geomancy" can cover any spiritual, metaphysical, or pseudoscientific practice that is related to the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. In recent times the term has been applied to a wide range of other occult and fringe activities, including Earth mysteries
Earth mysteries
The term Earth mysteries describes an interest in a wide range of spiritual, quasi-religious and pseudo-scientific ideas focusing on cultural and religious beliefs about the Earth, generally with regard to particular geographical locations of historical significance.The study of ley lines...

 and the introduction of ley lines and Bau-Biologie.

See also

  • Dowsing
    Dowsing
    Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation , without the use of scientific apparatus...

  • Feng shui
    Feng shui
    Feng shui ' is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ....

  • Geomantic figures
    Geomantic figures
    The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in the art of divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain state of the world or the mind, and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method used to generate the figures...

  • Ifá
    Ifá
    Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

  • I Ching
    I Ching
    The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" , also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts...

  • Ley line
    Ley line
    Ley lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords...

  • Vastu Shastra
    Vastu Shastra
    Vastu Shastra is an ancient doctrine which consists of precepts born out of a traditional and archaic view on how the laws of nature affect human dwellings. The designs are based on directional alignments...

  • Tiang Seri
    Tiang Seri
    Ilmu tajul muluk is the Malay pseudo-science of metaphysical and geomantic principles considered when siting or designing buildings to improve well-being. It was traditionally practiced by shamans and architects from Malaysia and Indonesia...


External links

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