Easing Back into Geomancy: Tools of the Trade

As promised, I’m moving toward exploring forms of divination beyond cartomancy and horary astrology. Several years ago I spent a good deal of time pursuing the art of geomancy but let it lapse as my tarot practice grew. I found it to be quite accurate in its predictions about practical affairs and accumulated a small binder full of material to accompany my main sources: Stephen Skinner’s The Oracle of Geomancy, Israel Regardie’s The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, Aleister Crowley’s brief A Handbook of Geomancy, Techniques of High Magic by Francis King and Stephen Skinner, and one of the foundational geomantic documents, The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, subtitled “of Geomancy” by Henry Cornelius Agrippa (but assumed to be by “the pseudo-Agrippa”). More recently, I acquired John Michael Greer’s The Art and Practice of Geomancy, which delves much more deeply into the astrological intricacies of advanced geomantic technique. This more complex study is where I now intend to take my renewed interest in the subject. But first I need to refresh a bit on the basics.

Although traditional geomancy employed a wand and a patch of bare earth on which to poke the random number of dots that yield  the four “mother” figures of the geomantic chart, this was not always practical for the less rustic practitioner. The concept moved indoors in the form of a “box of dirt,” and Israel Regardie further refined it by proposing the use of a bowl of small stones from which to intuitively draw an odd or even number to represent the single (odd) or double (even) marks of the initial figures. This is the method I adopted in my own work; however, I felt that it was still necessary to maintain a link to the Earth (after all, “geo-” is the root of the word). So I spent a couple of years gathering 32 small, smooth round-ish stones in as uniform a size and shape as possible with which to fill my casting bowl. (My goal was to have a large enough group to avoid tactile “selection bias” and ensure randomization of the draw.) I have also experimented with rolling six-sided (“cubic”) dice and and drawing dominoes from a face-down set for this purpose.

Next I designed a pair of charts based on classical versions that I found in my books. One is the traditional “shield” pattern that holds the completed set of figures ready for interpretation, and the other is the old-style square horoscope chart in which the figures are placed for more elaborate examination. Trying to come to grips with the latter is where I left off in my earlier efforts to master the art. Here is a visual display of the tools as I use them. In subsequent posts (when more pressing tarot topics don’t inspire me), I will work through some examples of their use.

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