Geomancy for Beginners as first presented at Pennsic War XXXVIII While "geomancy" is often used now to describe feng shui and related Asian practices, in medieval Europe it was the earth branch of a suite of divination methods including pyromancy, aeromancy and hydromancy. Astrology was the best-respected technique for telling the future, but required a great deal of study and mathematical sophistication. Geomancy was more adapted for popular use; books of interpretations were available, much like modern dream interpretation books. There were many competing methods of This handout covers a simple adaptation of one school of interpretation based on the astrological houses. It became popular in the 12th century, probably several centuries after its development. Based on published works on the topic, geomancy was practiced until at least the 17th century.
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Anonymous, Curieuse und ganz neue Art zu Punctiren. Alternate version available here. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim.
John Case, The Angelical Guide shewing men and women their lott or chance in this elementary life, in four books.
I would recommend this source first , then using this source as an alternative version. However, the excellent Dr. Alexander Cummins has informed me that he has a PDF scan of the text, along with a pure text transcription, available up on his other blog, Grimoires on Tape. Download it when you can! Of course, it should be made clear that this list is by no means comprehensive! Between the manuscripts that cannot be read except with eyes trained in particular handwriting styles, books that have not yet been digitized or that have but not been made publicly available, and all the books that are still under copyright, and all the other books that are available but which are in Middle Eastern and Asian languages, there are dozens, hundreds of books that discuss geomancy that are not yet available like the ones above.
Hopefully, this list of texts can help further the research and study of geomancy and encourage those with the skills to translate whatever texts still remain in obscurity and bring old, buried knowledge to light once more. If you, dear reader, have any other tips, clues, or links to other historical, Renaissance, or medieval resources that are digitized in some way or are in the public domain, please share in the comments!
Occasionally, someone will ask a question about geomancy that will get me to my proper computer to type a proper response, which would be burdensome on my phone. Recently, someone asked just such a question, and this time about one of the bits of geomantic systems I really enjoy discussing: that of the elemental rulerships of the figures.
The forum member was in a state of confusion about how the elements were assigned to the figures, what the difference was between inner and outer elemental rulerships, and whether these rulerships had any system at all behind them or whether they were just spurious and irrelevant.
You can bet your last coin I gave a response to this, especially to that last part of the question. In short, the outer element of a figure is the element of the sign of the Zodiac he associates with a geomantic figure, while the inner element is more closely tied to the nature and elemental structure of the figure itself.
In every case but one—Populus, which has no manifest elements at all—the inner element is a manifest element, marked by a single dot. The outer element shows how the figure expresses itself in the world around it, while the inner element shows what kind of power is in the figure itself. Fortuna Major, for example, has Fire as its outer element, which represents its power to reshape the world in a favorable way.
There are at least as many ways of assigning the elements to the figures in this way as there are for linking the figures with the Zodiacal signs. Two of them seem to work well in divination. The first of these simply uses the elements that correspond to the Zodiacal signs just given. I have made one change in the system as Agrippa gives it; he assigned Laetitia to Air and Rubeus to Fire, but I have reversed these in order to bring the inner element and the elemental structure into harmony. But if any one will constitute these triplicities according to the nature of the Planets, and Figures themselves, let him observe this Rule, that Fortuna major, Rubeus, Puer, and Amissio doe make the fiery triplicity: Fortune minor, Puella, Laetitia and Conjunctio triplicity of the Ayre: Acquisitio, the Dragons taile, Via, and Populus doe governe the watry triplicity; and the earthly triplicity is ruled by Carcer, Tristitia, Albus, and the Dragons head.
And this way is rather to be observed then the first which we have set forth; because it is constituted according to the Rule and manner of the signes. This order is also far more true and rationall then that which vulgarly is used, which is described after this manner: of the Fiery triplicity are, Cauda, Fortuna minor, Amissio, and Rubeus: of the Airy triplicity are, Acquisitio, Laetitia, Puer, and Conjunctio: of the watry triplicity are, Populus, Via, Albus, and Puella: And Caput, Fortuna major, Carcer, and Tristitia are of the earthly triplicity.
As it turns out, Agrippa gives three separate ways to associate the elements with the geomantic figures: The first is given at the end of the second paragraph, where Agrippa associates the elements to the figures based on the sign of the Zodiac he gives them. To show which systems were used where in the European geomantic literature, I went through some of my books and texts and came up with the following table showing which author used what elemental rulership system for the figures.
This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list, but just a small sample of texts to show how varied this can get between authors.
Khatt in Arabic originally meant a straight furrow or line drawn in the sand by a stick or with the finger. In time the word came to mean a line drawn on parchment or paper, or a line of writing, and finally, the art of calligraphy. For our purpose, the earlier meaning is the most interesting because it especially applied to the lines which a diviner hazi drew in the sand to prognosticate the happy or unlucky outcome of an undertaking or event about which he was consulted. At first sight, khatt is the line which the geomancer traces on the sand when, strictly speaking, he is practising psammomancy. This is also the meaning of rami.
Geomancy for Beginners
Anonymous, Curieuse und ganz neue Art zu Punctiren. Alternate version available here. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. John Case, The Angelical Guide shewing men and women their lott or chance in this elementary life, in four books.
TOP Astrological geomancy is an ancient method of divination. The word geomancy means earth divination and is believed to have come from the use of sand to generate the geomantic figures, the basis of prediction in geomancy. This also accounts for its Arabic name, ilm al-raml, literally the science or wisdom of the sand. In the modern era the ancient art of divinatory geomancy has been confused with Chinese feng shui which is not a method of divination, but a science of spatial arrangement, architecture and landscaping. Divinatory geomancy has also had its name appropriated by the modern New Age study of ley lines and earth "energies" which are also not techniques of divination.
One of the things I compiled for students taking this course was a list of links to download scans of early modern geomantic texts. Considering these links are all available on my tumblr, Grimoires On Tape , it made sense to turn this list into a full survey blogpost for those interested in diving into the geomancies of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Anglosphere. This piece can also be considered a sister-post to my brief survey of modern secondary sources on geomancy, An Earthly Garden. And so I present links and summaries to my favourite early modern geomancy texts. The geomancie of Maister Christopher Cattan Gentleman A booke, no lesse pleasant and recreatiue, then of a wittie inuention, to knowe all thinges, past present, and to come. Translated out of French into our English tongue. His correspondences of zodiacal signs to figures are a little idiosyncratic, but the teachings of the techniques are relatively solid, and the treatments of the geomantic figures in their various houses is straightforward.