On the Ways of Geomancie

Geomancy must not be confused with simple fortune-telling. It strives to know and understand all things uncertain, present, past and to come, and upon them to give counsel. It requires great care in the examining of the figure, well and diligently, which has been made upon each demand, following the rules which I will tell you hereafter.

It is the most easily understood of the four elemental divinations, of which pyromancy is concerned with fire, hydromancy with water, aeromancy with the wind and geomancy with the earth itself. At its most ancient it relies on patterns made in sand or soil, but often now with nothing more than pen and paper. It can provide answers to all sorts of matters, but the more specific the demand the more complex the interpretation and the greater the skill required to divine it.

It is both a science and an art. The science requires understanding of the connections between the elemental earth and the heavenly stars and planets, following a system devised by wise and learned astrologers in which the celestial sphere is divided into twelve houses. The art depends on the skill of the diviner, and his choice of questions, his connection with the earth and his interpretation of the figures.

The manner in which the geomantic figures are constructed is simple. With eyes half-closed, and thinking only of the question, you must create the first figure by making four lines of random dots, marking as many as you feel inclined in each line. Next, mark off each line, a pair at a time, so that each ends either with a pair or a singleton, to be transcribed in the order in which they appear, to create one of sixteen possible figures, each with its own characteristics and associations.

The operation is repeated four times, to create four figures, the Mothers, from which, by a process of addition, are created four Daughters, four Nephews, two Witnesses, the Judge and finally the Reconciler.

Each dot signifies a star, every line an element, every figure a quarter of the world. Geomancy is therefore knowledge of earthly things by the power of superior bodies: the elements, Earth, Wind, Water and Fire; the four quarters, East, West, North and South; the seven planets, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, the Moon and the Sun; and, lastly, the twelve celestial houses signified by the signs of the zodiac. Each element, quarter, planet and constellation bears its own characteristics, and it is their interaction that provides the key.

A simple question may be answered by the Judge alone, but more insight and subtlety will require consideration of the whole chart. Sometimes, if divination provides conflicting answers, it will be necessary to look to the Reconciler. A complex divination requires a detailed understanding of the heavens. It must take account of the planetary influence, which sets the day and the time at which it should be undertaken.

For the reading to be reliable, the conditions must be right. It should not be attempted light-heartedly, for mere amusement or to gratify idle curiosity. The diviner must be in a calm state of mind; and he should not repeat the same question hoping for a better answer, for none will come, or none that will assist him.

If after the figure has been made according to your demand, to know whether it shall come to good effect or not, you must first seek out which of the twelve houses of the heavens your demand belongs to.

The first house is commonly called the Horoscope, or the Angle of the Orient, and signifies the beginnings of life and of all works.

The second house is the Succedant of the Angle of the Orient and signifies substance, trafficks, riches and other things necessary for life.

The third house, which is the Cadant from the Angle of the Orient, signifies brothers, sisters, cousins, kinsfolk and associates, judges and prelates.

The fourth house, called the Angle of the Earth, or the Septentrionall, signifies fathers, mothers, possessions, inheritances, houses, treasures hid and things secret.

The fifth house, which is the Succedant of the Angle of the Septentrionall, otherwise called the Good Fortune, signifies daughters, nephews, and their inclination, messages, embassages and profits of inheritances.

The sixth house, which is the Cadant from the Angle of the Septentrionall, called the Ill Fortune, signifies banishments, bondages, sicknesses, false accusations and witnesses.

The seventh house, called the Angle of the Occident, signifies marriages, weddings, women, quarrels, wars and things lost.

The eighth house, which is the Succedant from the Angle of the Occident, otherwise called the House of Death, signifies heaviness, sadness, enemies, long torments, imprisonment and the quality of death.

The ninth house, the Cadant from the Angle of the Occident, otherwise called the House of God, signifies voyages, navigations, faith, religion, ceremonies, divinations, dreams, wonders and tokens of God’s wrath.

The tenth house, called the Heart of Heaven or the Meridionall Angle, signifies honours, dignities and governments of kings and of great lords.

The eleventh house, which is the Succedant of the Angle Meridionall, otherwise called the Good Angel, signifies amity, company, good adventures, favour, aid and succour.

The twelfth house, which is the Cadant of the Succedant of the Meridionall Angle, otherwise called the Evil Spirit, signifies secret enemies, prisons, captives, vengeances, treasons, deceits, horses to be sold and the end of a person.

Once the house has been identified, you must then have recourse to the figure formed of the twelve figures, two Witnesses and a Judge. And taking the first according to the order and course which shall be told to you, you shall examine according as you shall find in the first house the things making to your demand, be they good or ill. And so must you do of all the other figures, each one according to the house, order and degree. Afterwards, you shall look to the general rules of this art by which with the knowledge and practice you may have of astrology and your own good wit, you may judge the said figure, and so shall you know this science.

I have explained the basic technique, but geomancy has developed over many hundreds of years, and many wise and learned men have added their understanding, refinements, supplementary tools and tables, which I have acquainted myself with over many years of study.

But if there be any person of so perverse and corrupt judgement which will say that this science is ill, and for that cause ought to be prohibited, forbidden and rejected from amongst men as a thing pernicious and damnable, I desire him not to judge so lightly, for this science (which I call not foolishly and rashly) is no enchantment, as some may suppose it to be, or divination made by diabolicke invocation. I am no warlock, to be burned at the stake, although many have gone that way under this king and his father. Saint Thomas of Aquine himself, a doctor of the church of no small estimation, says in his Quolibet that it may be allowed.

It is a part of natural magicke, called of many worthy men the daughter of astrology. It is no more nor less mysterious than mathematics with its formulae, circles, squares, letters of the alphabet and other varied and strange symbols; indeed, much of what I know I learned from Dr Dee. A geomancer is one of the respectable philosophical brotherhood that includes mathematicians, astronomers, alchemists and conjurors.

Not that I or any other should give credit to it as unto an undoubted certainty, but only to give good spirits an argument to pastime and recreation in matters of earnest. It cannot be practised but with diligence of spirit and no small invention, for those who meddle with this art, and others which are treated of in the same, must have some sight in them.

In fine, gentle reader, if you find any faults in this my book, I pray you think that we are all but men, and thereby may err, and, if it so please you, hold me excused.

From the Preface of the Author unto the Reader

The Geomancie of Maister Christopher Cattan

Translated and revised by Francis Sparry

Moneyhill Hall


17th day of January 1648

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