Geomancy is one member of a large family of divinatory methods founded on what modern mathematicians call binary or base-2 numbers. The most famous member of this family is the I Ching or Book of Changes, the most ancient and most important of the divinatory systems of China; in fact, the basic concepts of binary mathematics were introduced to the West by way of early translations of the Book of Changes. Certain random or quasirandom events can be used to produce one of two definite results; if meaning is assigned to the results, a clear answer can be found to any desired question.
Geomancy, by contrast, makes use of a smaller vocabulary of symbols. In geomantic divination, four binary events - odd or even counts, generated through the processes of divination - make up a figure; there are thus 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 or 16 possible figures, which make up the basic units of meaning. These figures, with their most common medieval names and their basic meanings, are given below.
They should be studied and, if at all possible, memorized, so that they and their significance come readily to mind; this greatly simplifies the process of divination.
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Other names: bearded, laughing, singing, high tower, head lifted, candelabrum, high mountain, old man. The four parts single or double dots which make up each of these figures were called, from the top down, the head, neck, body and feet of the figure, and were assigned respectively to the elements fire, air, water and earth. Little if any of the meaning of the figures, though, seems to have been explained by way of the kind of line-by-line analysis which plays a central part in the interpretation of the I Ching ; rather, the geomantic figures are presented primarily as stylized visual images, and are to be read as such.
I suspect, however, that there is a deeper logic underlying the structure of the figures, probably based on the relationship of the elements. The most important of these, the division into favorable and unfavorable figures, is also the one where the various authorities disagree most extensively. Albus and Puella were seen as favorable but weak, while Rubeus and Puer were not so much unfavorable as violent and unruly, favorable for struggle but harmful in most other situations. This scheme is of particular use in questions of time, and in weather prediction - once an important use of geomantic divination.
Yet another scheme assigns the figures to the various symbolic systems of medieval astrology - planets, signs and elements. The planetary attributions are standard throughout the tradition. Caput and Cauda Draconis, in this system, are assigned respectively to the North and South nodes of the Moon, which played a much larger role in medieval astrology than they do in most current approaches to that art.
The attributions to elements and signs, on the other hand, follow a dizzying variety of schemes, most of them contradictory.
The set used by the Golden Dawn, which is based on the planetary attributions, is found among them, and makes more sense than most; it will therefore be used here. In interpreting the figures, a good deal of latitude was given to intuition, and to the sort of symbolic thinking that treated the figures as images rather than fixed concepts.
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The relationship between the figure and the question also played a large role. Thus Tristitia, normally a figure of sorrow, had a positive meaning when it appeared in questions having to do with land, buildings or earth; this is partly because it is ruled by Saturn, partly because it is a direct or stable figure, but partly also because it appears to point downward into the earth. In traditional geomantic practice, though, a much more complex procedure was used.
The first step in this traditional method is to generate four figures by a random process. In medieval Europe, the standard method involved making a line of some random number of dots across smoothed sand or earth with a wand or, in a pinch, across parchment with a pen. The number of dots were then counted; an odd result gave a single dot, an even result two dots, and this was taken as the head of the first figure.
Another line was made to produce the neck, another for the body, and so on; a total of sixteen such lines had to be drawn to produce the first four figures, the Four Mothers. A sample of the process for generating one figure is shown below:. The next four figures, the Four Daughters, are generated from the Four Mothers by a simple process.
In the same way, the necks of the Mothers produce the Second Daughter, their bodies the Third Daughter, and their feet the Fourth Daughter, as shown below. At this point a third process comes into play, to create what the medieval handbooks called the Four Nieces in modern geomancy, the Four Nephews. To produce the First Niece from the First and Second Mothers, the points in the heads, necks, bodies and feet of these two Mothers are added together.
If the number of points in the heads of the Mothers comes to an even number, the head of the Niece is a double point; if it comes to an odd number, the Niece's head is a single point. The same process is done with the rest of the two Mothers, as shown below. This additive process continues, giving rise to three more figures: the Witnesses and the Judge. Finally, the Judge is created by adding together the Witnesses according to the same process.
The result is shown below. At the end of this process, the complete geomantic chart has been produced, and the mechanical part of geomantic divination is finished. What remains is the interpretation of the chart, where the patterns that have come out of this first phase become bearers of meaning. The first and most important step in interpreting a geomantic chart is based on the relationships among the Witnesses and the Judge.
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A more complex question often finds its answer in more specific details of the meaning of the figure which appears as Judge. The two Witnesses, the figures from which the Judge is produced, add an additional level of meaning. A favorable Judge derived from two favorable Witnesses is made more positive still, while an unfavorable Judge derived from two unfavorable Witnesses is the worst possible sign.
A Judge, favorable or unfavorable, which is produced from one favorable and one unfavorable Witness takes on a middle significance, representing a situation in which good and ill are combined. A favorable Judge coming from this combination often means success, but with difficulty and delay; an unfavorable Judge from the same situation often means failure, but with some mitigating factors.
When Idris asked what he was doing, the angel began to teach Idris the geomantic arts.
This book was passed down through clandestine circles until it reached Khalaf al-Barbari, who traveled to Medina and converted to Islam. Confessing to knowing a divinatory art, he explained that pre—Islamic prophets knew geomancy, and that by learning geomancy, one may know all that the prophets knew. Late fifteenth-century magician and astrologer Cornelius Agrippa devised magical symbols as a way to harness the powers of the planets. Traditionally, geomancy is drawn in the surface of sand using the hands or a stick, but it 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. Modern methods of geomancy include computerized random number generators, counting bricks on a wall, throwing unknown amounts of stones on a flat surface, counting the eyes on potatoes, drawing a number of beans from a sack, and a wide range of creative numbering devices.
Some practitioners use specialized cards, 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, such as the geomantic instrument that originated from Egypt or Syria. The Arabic tradition of geomancy consists of sketching sixteen random lines of dots in sand, whereas in Africa another traditional form of geomancy involves throwing handfuls of dirt in the air and observing the way in which the dirt falls.
Originating in West Africa, Ifa, one of the oldest forms of geomancy, uses the same sixteen geomantic figures as in Arabic and Western geomancy but they have different meanings and names.
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Buy from an Online Retailer. Moon's Node. An Arabian astronomical term applied to the center of the Solar disc. It is employed to describe a planet located within an arc of seventeen minutes 17' of the Sun's longitude : or by some authorities within half a degree of the Sun's center. These two nodes are always exactly opposite one another.
The North Node is only one that appears on many computer generated horoscope charts and the position of the south node is derived from this.