The Geomantic Compass

 

Lately I’ve been experimenting again with Psychogeography.  If you’re not familiar with Psychogeography it has to do with experiencing the landscape in an abnormal way. Some people do this by walking their city-scape using the map of a different city, or by allowing queues experienced in the landscape to determine their destination, or using a tool or trigger to notice ignored things with a new eye. As a Pagan wanting to live more wholly, I see it also as a way to commune with the Genius Loci of where I live and to better understand the spirit of a particular place. As a Sociologist I also study and am aware of how structures controlled by State and Corporate actors can impose certain actions upon residents, groups, and people.  All these areas of the sacred and the profane are of interest to me and nothing is ignored when on a Psychogeographic adventure whether in an urban or natural setting.

I’ve done a bit of this in the past with pendulums,dowsing rods, and tarot – I am now using Geomancy when out for walks to determine where I walk and what to focus on.  It’s a bit like dowsing, but I am not a good dowser, and it is easier to use Geomancy cubes than to walk around with dowsing rods. I’ve crafted a Geomancy Compass from an old tin. I place my Geomancy cubes inside and give it a shake at crossroads to point me in the right (or wrong) direction or to point out things that may be of interest.

Geomancy is composed of 16 figures (see image below).  I won’t go over them here…but each figure has several Aspects to it as well as a main meaning. These Aspects, which I will discuss below, are what I used to construct my Geomancy Compass.

Brief overview of the 4 Aspects:

Each of the 16 geomancy figures has 4 Aspects; An Inner and Outer Aspect as well as a Mobile and Stable Aspect.  The Inner Aspect of each figure is assigned an Element (Earth,Air, Fire Water) – the Inner Element is the ruling Element of the figure. The Outer Aspect is also assigned an Element (Earth,Air,Fire,Water) – The Outer Element is how the figure relates to or exists in the world at large.

Each of the 16 figures also has either a Stable or Mobile assignment, this primarily has to do with the image of the figure itself.  When you put these 4 Aspects together, Inner – Outer – Stable – Mobile,  they help you interpret what the geomantic figure means in a general sense.

So what you’ve probably noticed is that being that there are 16 figures and 4 Elements, under each Element you’ll have 4 geomancy figures.

The Components of the Compass

4 Elemental Dice – in order to generate a figure – Red/Fire, Yellow/Air, Blue/Water, Green/Earth,  each line of a geomancy figure has a Fire, Air, Water, Earth line in that order, always.

Elemental Cheat Sheet – This, as you can see from the example, shows the Element symbol with each figure that belongs to its sphere either above or below it.  Being that this is a compass and therefore means that I am seeking a real Outer world conversation and effect on the physical plane this cheat sheet only includes the Outer Aspect Element assignments for the figures.  Yet, it does include both the Stable and Mobile Aspects – The Mobile is above the Element symbol and the Stable is below.

Also, for the purposes of using the figures as a Compass I have assigned directions to the 4 Elements. These are the common associations of Fire-South, Air-East, Water-West, Earth-North and for the purposes of using these as walking directives I have made Fire-South-go Behind, Air-East-go Right, Water-West-go Left, Earth-North-go Forward. The Stable figure which is below the Element tells me to only look in that direction and stay where I am, the Mobile figure which is above tells me to walk that way.

 

Using the Compass

The figures are always generated Top to Bottom in this order – Red die, Yellow die, Blue die, Green die – each line of a geomancy figure has a Fire, Air, Water, Earth line in that order, always.

Example: I put on my sunglasses, my shoes, and leave the house with my Geomancy Compass in hand.  I get to the end of my driveway and shake the compass.  I read the outcome of the dice  Red die, Yellow die, Blue die, Green die in that order. The result is Conjuctio an Earth sign; Conjuctio is a Mobile sign being above the Earth symbol so I walk forward crossing the street.  I walk about a block and reach the next street or crossroad or obstacle and shake the Compass again. The result is Albus an Air sign; Albus is a Stable sign being below the Air symbol so I look to the right and look for things of interest – maybe an odd sign, or a car, or anything else – In this case I take in the beautiful sunset and cloud cover over the mountains. I shake the Compass after a few minutes and get Via a Mobile Water sign; I continue my walk to the Left.

A single walk can turn into many turns of looking and walking. Also I have experimented with, when walking in a certain direction, shaking the Compass in order to ask where I should be looking which has garnered some interesting things I’ve missed when walking down familiar streets.  Another thing you can do is assign minutes or seconds to the four elements – so when asked to look in a certain direction a shake of the Compass can tell you how long to sit or stand looking depending on the figure generated, or upon seeing ‘something’ of interest you could ask whether or not the ‘something’ is the thing that was meant for you to see, more single dots may mean ‘no’, more double dots ‘yes’.  There are many ways this system can be worked with intuitive sincerity – just make sure there is consistency.

As an extra bit of interest you may want to work out a relationship with the Genius Loci where you are walking.  I keep a large stone by the front door of my home which I pour offerings upon for the Genius Loci of my neighborhood and area in which I live. I have taken to also touching it before I go for a walk or pouring a dribble of water upon it before I leave.  Simple acts like this will help establish a relationship with the land and possibly improve the power of your Compass communications.

Sources:

Greer, John Michael (1999). Earth Divination, Earth Magic.St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 1-56718-312-3

Greer, John Michael (2009). The Art and Practice of Geomancy. San Francisco: Weiser Books. ISBN 978-1-57863-431-6

Pennick, Nigel (1995). The Oracle of Geomancy. Capal Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-898307-16-4.

Skinner, Stephen (1980). Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy. London: Routeledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

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Meandering

Last week I created a labyrinth in my backyard.  It’s a simple three circuit labyrinth, very small and simply placed.  I haven’t outlined the whole thing, and I’m not sure if I will or not at this point.

labyrinthbridge3-circuit

My simple labyrinth

 

I merely placed large stones at the major points and turns, and hope to be able to ware the grass away where the path has been formed.  So far it’s working out great and I should have a nicely seen path very soon.  My experience walking it so far has been calming.  I find it a very reflective process and even strangely liberating.

Doing research on labyrinth myths and folk beliefs leads one to believe that labyrinths were used not just for meditation and reflection, but also as a way to purge oneself of worry and evils.  In the folk history of nothern europe one finds that these stone labyrinths were used to insure good fishing expeditions by trapping trolls or beings/spirits not conducive to such endeavors.  Literally people would walk a labyrinth to trap a following negative spirit in the center…seems a bit metaphoric doesn’t it.   They can also be, according to some sources, related to seasonal changes, that walking them may have emulated the awakening of the earth goddess in spring and her ‘greeting’ of the sky-god.  This interaction would have been ritualized with a young woman being placed in the center and a boy walking the labyrinth in order to find and claim her to enact the drama of spring.

Again, the benefits of labyrinths seem pretty clear to me; They offer a time of reflection, a time to put aside worry, a time of meditation, and a time of focused seperation from anything and everything else in your life.  It’s no wonder that one finds labyrinths all over Europe, in churches and at sites thought to be sacred to pagans.  Whether or not pagans were using labyrinths prior to Christians in Europe or just alongside them is anyone’s guess, but certainly in the Mediterranean labyrinths were being discussed and utilized well before the Christian era.

some references:

http://www.labyrinthos.net/pagansweden.html

http://www.ukforsk.se/nya/vhm.htm