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Geomancy (
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
: γεωμαντεία, "earth divination") is a method of
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural ...

divination
that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
,
rocks In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proc ...

rocks
, or
sand Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock (geology), rock and mineral particles. Sand has various compositions but is defined by its grain size. Sand grains are smaller than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer ...

sand
. The most prevalent form of divinatory geomancy involves interpreting a series of
16 figures
16 figures
formed by a randomized process that involves
recursion Recursion (adjective: ''recursive'') occurs when a thing is defined in terms of itself or of its type. Recursion is used in a variety of disciplines ranging from linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning tha ...

recursion
followed by analyzing them, often augmented with
astrological Astrology is a pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidenc ...
interpretations. Geomancy was practiced by people from all
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
es. It was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Africa and Europe, particularly during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
. In
Renaissance magic Renaissance magic was a resurgence in Hermeticism and Neo-Platonic varieties of ceremonial magic which arose along with Renaissance humanism in the 15th and 16th centuries. These magical arts (called ''#Artes magicae, artes magicae'') were divide ...
, geomancy was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts", along with
necromancy Necromancy () is the practice of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprin ...
,
hydromancy Hydromancy (Ancient Greek ὑδρομαντεία, ''water-divination'',Liddell, H.G. & Scott, R. (1940). ''A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie.'' Oxford: ...
,
aeromancy Approaching thunderstorm Aeromancy (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
,
pyromancy Pyromancy (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million ...
, chiromancy (
palmistry Palmistry, also known as palm reading, chiromancy, or chirology, is the practice of fortune-telling Fortune telling is the practice of prediction, predicting information about a person's life.J. Gordon Melton, Melton, J. Gordon. (2008). '' ...

palmistry
), and spatulamancy (
scapulimancy Scapulimancy (also spelled ''scapulomancy'' and ''scapulamancy'', also termed ''omoplatoscopy'' or ''speal bone reading'') is the practice of divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') i ...
).


History

The word "geomancy", from
Late Greek Late Greek means writings in the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek ...
''geōmanteía'', translates literally to "foresight by earth"; it is a
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...

calque
translation of the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
term ''‛ilm al-raml'', or the "science of the sand". Earlier Greek renditions of this word borrowed the Arabic word ''raml'' ("sand") directly, rendering it as ''rhamplion'' or ''rabolion''. Other Arabic names for geomancy include ''khatt al-raml'' and ''darb al-raml''. The original names of the figures in Middle Eastern geomancy were traditionally given in Arabic, excluding a
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
origin. The reference in Hermetic texts to the mythical Ṭumṭum al-Hindi potentially points to an Indian origin, although Stephen Skinner thinks this 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.Eglash, Ron (1997). "Bamana Sand Divination: Recursion in Ethnomathematics." ''American Anthropologist, New Series'', Vol. 99, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 112–12

/ref> European scholars and universities began to translate Arabic texts and treatises in the early
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, including those on geomancy.
Isidore of Seville Isidore of Seville (; la, Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560 – 4 April 636) was a Spanish scholar and cleric. For over three decades, he was Archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ...
( 560 – 636) lists geomancy with other methods of divination – including pyromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, and necromancy – without describing its application or methods.Skinner, Stephen (1980). ''Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy''. London: Routeledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. It could be that Isidore of Seville was listing methods of
elemental An elemental is a mythic being that is described in occult and alchemy, alchemical works from around the time of the European Renaissance, and particularly elaborated in the 16th century works of Paracelsus. According to Paracelsus and his subse ...
scrying Scrying, also known by various names such as "seeing" or "peeping", is the practice of looking into a suitable medium in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions. The objective might be personal guidance, prophecy A prophecy is ...
more than what is commonly known as geomancy. The poem ''Experimentarius'' attributed to
Bernardus SilvestrisBernardus Silvestris, also known as Bernard Silvestris and Bernard Silvester, was a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and t ...
, 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 ( early 12th century). 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 European depiction of the Persian physician Rhazes, in Gerard of Cremona's ''Recueil des traités de médecine'' 1250–1260. Gerard de Cremona translated numerous works by Arab scholars. Gerard of Cremona (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical ...
( 1114 – 1187), also produced new translations on 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. (1486–1535), Christopher Cattan (''La Géomancie du Seigneur Christofe de Cattan'' (1558)), and John Heydon (1629 – 1667) 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 The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that marked the emergence In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, ...

Scientific Revolution
and the Age of Reason. Geomancy underwent a revival in the 19th century, when renewed interest in the occult arose due to the works of Robert Thomas Cross (1850–1923) and of
Edward Bulwer-Lytton Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, PC (25 May 180318 January 1873) was an English writer and politician. He served as a Whigs (British political party), Whig member of Parliament from 1831 to 1841 and a Conservative P ...
(1803–1873).
Franz Hartmann Franz Hartmann (22 November 1838, Donauwörth – 7 August 1912, Kempten im Allgäu) was a German medical doctor, theosophist, occultist, geomancer, astrologer Astrology is a pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of stateme ...
published his text, ''The Principles of Astrological Geomancy'', (English translation: 1889) which spurred new interest in the divination system. Based on this and a few older texts, the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ( la, Ordo Hermeticus Aurorae Aureae; or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn ()) was a secret society A secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership ...

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
(founded in 1887) began the task of recollecting knowledge on geomancy along with other occult subjects, with them,
Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley (; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entit ...
(1875–1947) 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 mythological associations. According to one Arabic Hermetic text,Brenner, Louis (2000). "Muslim Divination and the Religion of Sub-Saharan Africa." ''Insight and Artistry in African Divination.'' ed. John Pemberton III. Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 50–1 Idris (or
Hermes Trismegistus Hermes Trismegistus (from grc, Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος, "Hermes the Thrice-Greatest"; Classical Latin: la, label=none, Mercurius ter Maximus) is a legendary Hellenistic figure that originated as a Syncretism, syncretic comb ...
) witnessed the angel
Jibril In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic people, Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the anci ...

Jibril
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 was converted to
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
by the prophet
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
himself. Confessing to knowing a divinatory art, he explained that pre-Islamic
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
s 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 In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic people, Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the anci ...

Jibril
in the process, the stranger disappeared. Idris, thankful to God and His messenger that he had learned this art, never revealed the art to anyone. Before he was risen to God, he wrote a book describing the art as Jibril had taught him, and from his successors. Other tablets and records from
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or arti ...
identify Idris with the prophets
Daniel Daniel is a masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling ...
or with
Enoch Enoch may refer to: Biblical occurrences *Enoch (ancestor of Noah), son of Jared, father of Methusaleh, great-grandfather of Noah, subject of the deuterocanonical Book of Enoch * Enoch (son of Cain) *Hanoch (Enoch), son of Reuben (son of Jacob), ...
. 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 who argued against geomancy, such as
Ibn Khaldun Ibn Khaldun (; ar, أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي, ; 27 May 1332 – 17 March 1406) was an Arabs, Arab The Historical Muhammad', Irving M. Zeitlin, (Polity Press, 2007), p. 21; "It is, of course ...
in his '' Muqaddima'' (1377), countered that it was a pre-Islamic system of knowledge, and that all such were rendered obsolete with the revelation of the
Qur'an The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation in Islam, revelation from God in Islam, God (''Allah''). It is widely rega ...

Qur'an
. 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 ''One Thousand and One Nights'' ( ar, أَلْفُ لَيْلَةٍ وَلَيْلَةٌ, ) is a collection of Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a ...
'', both the African Magician and his brother use geomancy to find
Aladdin Aladdin ( ; ar, علاء الدين, ', , ATU 561, ‘Aladdin') is a Fairy tale, folk tale most probably of Middle Eastern origin. Despite not being part of the original text of One Thousand and One Nights, ''The Book of One Thousand and One ...

Aladdin
in order to do him harm. Geomancy's first mention in print came in
William Langland William Langland (; la, Willielmus de Langland; 1332 – c. 1386) is the presumed author of a work of Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of ...

William Langland
's ''
Piers Plowman ''Piers Plowman'' (written 1370–86; possibly ) or ''Visio Willelmi de Petro Ploughman'' (''William's Vision of Piers Plowman'') is a Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English ...

Piers Plowman
'' where it is unfavorably compared to the level of expertise a person needs for astronomy ("gemensye eomesyeis gynful of speche"). In 1386
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

Chaucer
used the " Parson's Tale" to poke fun at geomancy in ''
Canterbury Tales ''The Canterbury Tales'' ( enm, Tales of Caunterbury) is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. It is near-unanimously seen as Chaucer's ''Masterpiece, mag ...

Canterbury Tales
'': "What say we of them that believe in divynailes as …geomancie…".
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
and
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
were also known to use geomancy for comic relief.
Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian poet A poet is a person who creates poetry Poetry (derived from t ...

Dante Alighieri
's ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aes ...

Divine Comedy
'' (early 14th century) makes a passing reference to geomancy. In the first two stanzas of Canto XIX in the ''
Purgatorio 250px, Elevation of Mount Purgatory. As with Paradise, the structure is of the form 10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine ''Purgatorio'' (; Italian for "Purgatory Purgatory (, via Anglo-Norman language, ...

Purgatorio
'',


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

geomantic 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 In and , an algorithm () is a finite sequence of , computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always and are used as specifications for performing s, , , and other ...

algorithm
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 A wax tablet is a tablet made of wood and covered with a layer of wax Waxes are a diverse class of organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon ...
and
stylus A stylus (plural styli or styluses) is a writing utensil A writing implement or writing instrument is an object used to produce writing. Writing consists of different figures, lines, and or forms. Most of these items can be also used for othe ...

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 (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
origins, although this is by no means mandatory. Modern methods of geomancy include, in addition to the traditional ways, computerized
random number generators Random number generation is a process which, often by means of a random number generator (RNG), generates a sequence of numbers or symbols that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by a random chance. Random number generators can be truly ra ...
or thrown objects; other methods including counting the eyes on potatoes. Some practitioners use specialized
cards {{Redirect, CARDS, other uses, Cards (disambiguation){{!Cards The CARDS programme, of Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation, is the EU's main instrument of financial assistance to the Western Balkans, covering spec ...
, 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 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 1874 by Henry John Stephen Smith and introduced by German mathematician Georg Cantor in 188 ...

Cantor set
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 Mathematical logic is the study of formal logic within mathematics. Major subareas include model theory, proof theory, set theory, and recursion theory. Research in mathematical logic commonly addresses the mathematical properties of formal sys ...
as the
exclusive or Exclusive or or exclusive disjunction is a logical operation In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic ...
, where a line with two points is used instead of "false" and a line with one point instead of "true".
Marcia Ascher Marcia Alper Ascher (April 23, 1935 – August 10, 2013) was an American mathematician, and a leader and pioneer in ethnomathematics. She was a professor emerita of mathematics at Ithaca College. Life Ascher was born in New York City, the daughter ...
, ''Malagasy Sikidy: A Case in Ethnomathematics'', New York: Academic Press, 1997.
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.


Interpreting 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 deduce 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. 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, also known as Petrus de Apono, Petrus Aponensis or Peter of Abano (Premuda, Loris. "Abano, Pietro D'." in ''Dictionary of Scientific Biography The ''Dictionary of Scientific Biography'' is a scholarly reference work that was publi ...

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

geomantic figures
, which is 96.Greer, John Michael (1999). ''Earth Divination, Earth Magic.'' St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. . pp. 195–214. 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. 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 Astrology is a pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidenc ...
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.Cattan, Christopher (1591). ''The Geomancy of Master Christopher Cattan, Gentleman''. 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). 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 quarrelling 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. In addition to modes of perfection, geomancers often took note of
aspects Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, ...
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 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, succedent, or cadent), 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 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 65,536, 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 8,192 charts associated with it. Traditional practitioners of geomancy use this knowledge as a type of
parity check A parity bit, or check bit, is a bit The bit is a basic unit of information in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of alg ...
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. 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. 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


Other forms of geomancy

The
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
tradition consists of sketching sixteen random lines of dots in
sand Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock (geology), rock and mineral particles. Sand has various compositions but is defined by its grain size. Sand grains are smaller than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer ...

sand
. 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 is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
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 is a Yoruba people, Yoruba religion and system of divination. Its literary corpus is the ''Odu Ifá''. Orunmila is identified as the Grand Priest, as he is who revealed divinity and prophecy to the world. Babalawos or Iyanifas use either t ...
, one of the oldest forms of geomancy, originated in West Africa, and uses the same sixteen
geomantic figures The 16 geomantic figures are the primary symbols used in divinatory geomancy. Each geomantic figure represents a certain formed state of the world or the mind and can be interpreted in various ways based upon the query put forth and the method us ...

geomantic figures
as in Arabic and Western geomancy with different meanings and names; the process is shortened to using only two figures. In
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, 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, also known by various names such as "seeing" or "peeping", is the practice of looking into a suitable medium in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions. The objective might be personal guidance, prophecy A prophecy is ...
involving the patterns seen in rocks or soil. The Chinese divination practice of the
I Ching The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ''Book of Changes'' or ''Classic of Changes'', is an ancient Chinese divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the at ...
has several striking similarities to geomancy. It includes a series of binary trigrams (as opposed to tetragrams 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.
Vastu shastra ''Vastu shastra'' (' - literally "science of architecture") are texts on the traditional Indian system of architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallic ...
is a traditional Indian system of architecture which literally translates to "science of architecture." These are texts found on the Indian subcontinent that describe principles of design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space arrangement, and spatial geometry.Acharya P.K. (1946)
An Encyclopedia of Hindu Architecture
Oxford University Press
Vastu Shastras incorporate traditional Hindu and in some cases Buddhist beliefs. The designs are intended to integrate architecture with nature, the relative functions of various parts of the structure, and ancient beliefs utilizing geometric patterns (
yantra Yantra () (literally "machine, contraption") is a geometrical diagram, mainly from the traditions of the . Yantras are used for the worship of deities in temples or at home; as an aid in meditation; used for the benefits given by their supposed ...

yantra
), symmetry, and
directional Direction may refer to: *Relative direction, for instance left, right, forward, backwards, up, and down ** Anatomical terms of location for those used in anatomy *Cardinal direction Mathematics and science *Direction vector, a unit vector that ...
alignments.Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple Volume 1 & 2, Vastu Shastra are the textual part of ''Vastu Vidya'', the latter being the broader knowledge about architecture and design theories from ancient India. Vastu Vidya knowledge is a collection of ideas and concepts, with or without the support of layout diagrams, that are not rigid. Rather, these ideas and concepts are models for the organization of space and form within a building or collection of buildings, based on their functions in relation to each other, their usage and to the overall fabric of the Vastu. Ancient Vastu Shastra principles include those for the design of ''Mandir'' (
Hindu temple A Mandir or Hindu temple is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Ind ...

Hindu temple
s), and the principles for the design and layout of houses, towns, cities, gardens, roads, water works, shops and other public areas.GD Vasudev (2001), Vastu, Motilal Banarsidas, , pp 74–92Sherri Silverman (2007), Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature, Gibbs Smith, Utah, Kumalak is a type of geomancy practiced in
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
,
Tuva Tuva (; russian: Тува́) or Tyva ( tyv, Тыва), officially the Tyva Republic (russian: Респу́блика Тыва́, r=Respublika Tyva, p=rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə tɨˈva; tyv, Тыва Республика, translit=Tyva Respublika ...

Tuva
, and other parts of
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. 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, this tradition was popularized in the ninth century by the Buddhist monk Toson(Doseon). 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.Peter H. Lee and Wm. Theodore de Bary eds, ''Sources of Korean Tradition Volume 1'', New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. In the 19th century, Christianity in China, Christian missionaries in China translated ''feng shui'' as "geomancy" due to their observations of local shamans and priests manipulating the flow and direction of Qi, energy 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'', 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. In recent times the term has been applied to a wide range of other occult and fringe activities, including Earth mysteries and the introduction of ley lines and Bau-Biologie.


In fantasy literature

In some fantasy literature, especially that which deals with the four classic Greek elements (air, water, fire, earth), geomancy refers to magic that controls earth (and sometimes metal and crystals).


See also

*Dowsing *Feng shui *Ley line *Tiang Seri *Quackery


References


External links


Medieval Geomancy, Elizabeth Bennet's web site

Collegium Geomanticum, John Michael Greer's web site







Astrogem Astrological Geomancy

A Potted History of Geomancy, article by Richard Creightmore
{{Authority control Geomancy, Divination History of astrology