When one looks at the set of sixteen Geomantic Figures, it becomes apparent that it is easy to divide the Figure into two sets of “opposite” polarities. Polarities are a fact of the world around us – though not the only facts of the world around us, and it is important to remember that not everything is a binary – as everything has, in some form, an opposite. Geomancy embraces this dualistic view in terms of its symbolism, creating eight pairs of opposite Figures. Each pair of opposites presents the extreme views of both sides of a situation or crisis; and in order to resolve that crisis, one often needs to create a third option between the two, resolving the polarity and accepting both.
If two halves of the same Geomantic polarity are next to each other, it indicates that you should look especially hard at the polarity’s middle ground in order to understand the full range of the situation. It tells you that a mixing of the two polar parts is necessary to fully understand what is going on.
Puer and Puella represent the polarity of identity. Socially, humans have been taught that gender and sex are a fundamental division between humanity, based on clear biological differences. Gender was the first polarity, and to many, it is a fundamental part of our identity. Puer, the masculine, and Puella, the feminine, are the original Yin and Yang. This polarity asks who are you? Are you seeking or are you receiving? Do you act or do you let others act? Do you project or do you emote?
Amissio and Acquisitio represent the polarity of possession. Acquisitio is the Figure of Gain, and Amissio is the one of loss. It asks you what you have now, what you have to gain, and what you have to lose. This polarity does refer just to physical objects, but abstract things as well; what are you willing to lose? What have you lost? What can you gain? What have you gained? What do you care about possessing?
Albus and Rubeus represent the polarity of control. Albus is a calm, peaceful, collected figure in control of himself and his life. Rubeus is an energetic, aggressive, and haphazard figure with little to no self-control, completely given over to hedonism. This polarity asks us most fundamentally what parts of life are we willing to control through the energies of Albus, and what parts of life we are willing to let go of and abandon ourselves to the whims of the world through the energies of Rubeus. Do we maintain a separate peace with the world, understanding yet apart, or do we engage thoroughly in the world and lose ourselves in the joy of belonging, of risk, and of the most primal acts of mankind? Albus is, in some respects, a marker of civilization, while Rubeus represents the wilderness in its most primal, uncontrolled form. Do we embrace the seer within us, or the beast?
Populus and Via represent the polarity of purpose. Populus is associated with a passive orientation towards life, just going with the flow and moving with the masses. Via, on the other hand, is a lonelier path, and instead of just moving where the wind blows, one imbued with Via’s energies makes straight for their goal and does not waver. What parts of your life are working towards a goal for, and what parts of life can you just go with the majority? Which goals are important to you? What is it that you want out of life; to be one with those around you, or to work towards something else?
Fortuna Major/Fortuna Minor
Fortuna Major and Fortuna Minor represent the polarity of circumstances. Fortuna Minor is strength drawn from circumstances, and Fortuna Major is circumstances drawn from strength. Do you use the energies of Fortuna Major to shape your circumstances and make a better life for yourself, or do you rely on those around you and your existing circumstances to give you the strength you need to carry on? Where is the right balance of strength and circumstance for you?
Conjunctio and Carcer represent the polarity of interaction. Conjunctio is a confluence of forces, coming together to accomplish a task, whereas Carcer is an isolation of forces, each using solitude and focus to accomplish a task. Most fundamentally, this polarity asks if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Do you work with others, or do you work alone? When is each best for you? How do you do with social interaction? With being alone?
Tristitia and Laetitia represent the polarity of emotion. Laetitia, joy, and Tristitia, sorrow, are the two extremes of the emotional spectrum, with frustration, happiness, anger, fear, sadness, confidence, serenity, and all others in between. This polarity asks you to examine your emotional range, and when you should be sad or happy. Both emotions are a key part of life and existence, and one needs to fully understand both in order to appreciate being here; joy is less joyful without sorrow, and sorrow is less sorrowful without joy. Each depends on the other to help define itself. By accepting the polarity of emotion, one is able to understand how their feelings affect their perspectives and actions.
Cauda Draconis/Caput Draconis
Cauda Draconis and Caput Draconis represent the polarity of change. Both Figures are associated with violent change. Cauda Draconis’ change creates ends, and Caput Draconis’ creates beginnings. This polarity represents the nature of change and your reaction to it; do you adapt to it and let it take you in a new direction with the energies of Caput Draconis, or do you accept the end of a phase in your life and move on elsewhere? Do you make the changes with the focus of Cauda Draconis, or do you react to the change with the adaptable energies of Caput Draconis? The two halves of this polarity are surprisingly similar, and the middle ground is clear: acceptance of the cyclical nature of beginnings and endings and the constant change that everyone goes through.
As with any esoteric art, the order in which the Geomantic Figures normally appear has significant symbolism in and of itself. Like Tarot Trumps, the order of the Geomantic Figures tells a story: the story of initiation.
The first step on the journey of Initiation is stepping outside and embarking on your quest, seeking completion and fulfillment through initiation, heading forth determined to find it. This is the energy of Puer. As you set out and begin your journey, you will inevitably experience a loss of some kind as you leave the familiar behind you and embark into the new. Often, initiates will also be asked to sacrifice something to prove their devotion. This is the energy of Amissio. This loss and its associated new experiences often grant wisdom to the initiate, and after the initial period of mourning contained in Amissio is over, will lead to a new understanding of oneself; the wisdom of Albus. You learn to value what you have and take care of it.
As you complete the first rites of initiation, you then come into contact with other hopeful initiates and other members of the order you seek to join, and you begin to learn their ways and understand the collective consciousness. This is the energy of Populus, as you begin to integrate themselves into the communal mind, and you learn by adapting to what others do around you. You draw strength from yourself, as learned by Albus, and apply it to the new, outer circumstances around you in order to gain new things; this is the energy of Fortuna Major. As you understand how to use your inner strength to your advantage, you come together and make friends with other initiates and older members in order to help you along in the process; this is the energy of Conjunctio.
The new relationships that you forge produce harmony and peace in the form of Puella. You learn to keep the harmony of the order by adapting and reacting to the things that others do on a scale less vast than that of Populus, being better able now to focus on detail. You accept your new path and are at peace with it. The energies of Puella seek union; an urge instilled in you by Conjunctio, and that you now seek more than ever, as you realize that union is what you need in order to produce the completion you sought.
As such, you begin to seek out union, and in the process lose sight of your goal for a brief moment, and descend into the realm of Rubeus, losing yourself in the hedonistic joys of life as an initiate and forgetting your true purpose in your attempts to reach union. You become dangerous to yourself and others, and need to be forcibly restrained and firmly brought back into the fold. When you are, you realize what it is that you can gain from the order, truly understanding it for the first time as the near-reality of your loss becomes clear to you. You gain knowledge from your experience, and a greater appreciation of those around you, and thus you begin to gain new things from the order. This is the energy of Acquisitio, as you abandon quick pleasures and exchange them for hard work in order to get ahead, having learned your lesson. You focus intensely on what needs to be done, and forget to seek union, instead locking yourself up in solitary confinement: the energy of Carcer. You cut yourself off from the world in order to be as good as you can, forgetting that you need other people. Eventually you realize this, and see that getting ahead is useless when you are lonely, and so you experience sorrow: Tristitia. You are suddenly lost and confused, and don’t know how to act anymore; you are not confident in yourself, and feel as if you can’t do anything right.
As you step back into the fold, however, the sorrow vanishes as they accept you back from your period of leave with open arms, and a sense of fulfillment, completion, and joy fills you as the energy of Laetitia lifts you up. You realize then that you are approaching final initiation, and that your old life and that journey is almost complete: the energy of Cauda Draconis. You again begin to focus on achieving initiation at all costs, and move forward as fast as you can. As you work, you pass the threshold without realizing it, and begin your new journey as a confirmed initiate: Caput Draconis‘ energies. You slow down and realize you have done it, and are proud. At first you might feel overwhelmed, because your new surroundings are rich and have much influence on your inner strength, which is still recovering and developing from your speeding race. This is the energy of Fortuna Minor, when your inner strength does not match your outer strength, and you learn that you need to depend on the environment around you to survive.
Eventually, however, your inner and outer strengths and selves begin to match up, and you are at peace, having come to terms with your initiation and your new life. You no longer wear any masks, and know more about who you are. But the journey is never over, and so you must wander on and start new quests, seeking more. This is the energy of Via, and reminds you that your initiation was only one step on a long road.
At the request of a good friend of mine, I did another reading looking at the world. This time, I am using one of my own recently-created spreads – my Conquering Fear spread – to examine what the world might be afraid of. The question I asked was “What factors should I look at if I seek to understand what the social, environmental, physical, and metaphysical world fears and what it might hope can be done to assuage those fears?” I used the Necronomicon Deck.
Position 1: The Underlying Cause of the Fear/Root of the Fear – Six of Cups
The underlying cause of the world’s fear is the Six of Cups, or the Satisfaction of Water. This indicates that the deepest root of the world’s fear is of increase, gain, happy expectation, and hope. This very interesting, as it seems to indicate that the cause of the world’s fear is optimism itself; it is afraid on its deepest level of hoping for the best. Why is this? It could possibly be because the world is afraid of hoping for better things, because it believes that its hopes and dreams will always be unrealized. I can understand this attitude; I feel this way quite a lot, and with the current situation of the world, these feelings are understandable; just look at how we’re handling climate change and all of our social issues. Despair and surrender are the cause of the world’s fear.
Position 2: The Form the Fear Takes – The Star
Again very interesting; the form that the world’s fear takes is Ishtar, the Star. They key thing here, I think, is that the form the fear takes is that of a guiding light; the Earth feels as if it is being misguided by its caretakers: the human race. We have caused many of the problems that the world is facing, and we are either doing little to fix things or exacerbating the problems. Our failure to effectively regulate environmental pollution is one example of this. Society also might feel that it is being misguided by its rulers, and is actually afraid of its guiding lights. The Star is also associated with a renewal of energy, and perhaps, again, the Earth is afraid of the form that this renewal of energy will take. Humans are sapping the Earth of its energy, and maybe it fears that we will be unable to find a renewable source of energy (literally and figuratively) before it dies. This explanation would make more sense if the card was reversed, but holds this way, too.
Position 3: The Effect the Fear Has on You – The Lovers
The Deep One and Bride represent the effects that the fear has on the Earth. In this case, I think it is safe to interpret the two Lovers as the Earth and the human race. The Fear, then, is directly affecting the loving and caring relationship we have with the world: natural disasters are striking more often, social unrest is occurring everywhere, and everyone is doubtful about the future. Looking at the situation from an outsider’s angle, the current world situation could be seen as a spat between two lovers, with the two needing to understand each other once again. Of course, the blame is not equally distributed, and humanity is more at fault here. The Fear, then, is creating a disconnect between the Earth/world and humanity, which just makes everything worse.
Position 4: The Reaction That May Benefit You – Judgment
The Guardian of Eden. Interesting; a reaction to the fear of hoping for too much is to bring about a final judgment and just end it all, righting all wrongs in one blow. Perhaps a good reaction of the world – materially and in the social sense – would be to punish those responsible for misguiding the human race (see Position 2), or just punish the entire human race. In the end, that is what will end up happening if we can’t stop our levels of pollution; climate change will punish us all, and the Earth will take this road to deliver herself from its fear, and wait for a new guiding light.
Position 5: The Reaction That May Harm You – Hireophant
Dagon. A harmful reaction to the fear of the guiding light is to stick with tradition. This, to me, seems like a blatant jab at conservatives; it will be harmful to do things just as we have always done, or to rely on the current authority (the current guiding lights) or religion to save us. To look at the past and make our responses based upon it will not help us in our moment of crisis, as we have never seen anything like this before. Tradition is not the answer; innovation is.
Position 6: The Source of Your Courage – Ace of Wands [Reversed]
Purpose. Motivation. Energy. The Matrix of Fire – reversed. The source of the Earth’s courage to do what must be done will come from hidden (hence the reverse) reserves of Fire and drive we never knew it possessed (if it’s going to bring the day of judgment to us all, then Fire will be necessary). The Fire it will draw its courage from is not a blazing bonfire, but rather a more subdued, steady flame; perhaps a reflection of the long path it will take, and its boundless reserves of inner Fire and spirit. The Earth thinks on a different timescale that people do, and so do society. The Fire that will give the collective consciousness and the physical Earth courage burns slowly but steadily and strongly, allowing for a stable source of courage.
Position 7: The Form Your Courage Takes – Three of Wands
The Establishment of Fire. The form the world’s courage will take will, paradoxically, be optimism. The underlying root of the fear of the world is hope itself, and in order to conquer the despair of having given up, the world will need to learn how to take control of its optimism. It will face its fear head-on and meet it, and absorb and transform the optimism. Optimism can provide the fuel for the drive for change, and the world will learn to harness its optimism despite its strong misgivings, perhaps using this optimism and slowly-building fire to bring about the Judgment that may come to pass, cleansing the world of those who defile it. This card is also associated with discovery, which again hints that the to create change courage will come (as it tends to do with social change) from progressives, who innovate and expand upon the old, not content just to accept things as they were or return to the past. A new order will be established, one that restores the balance of the Loving relationship between humanity and the world.
Position 8: The End Result of Conquering Your Fear – Three of Swords
Not a positive ending note; the Regret of Air. After conquering the fear through the energies of Fire, the world will experience regret. This indicates that there will be much loss before the world’s fear can be overcome, and its guiding lights are once again people it can trust and people it can believe in. This card can represent kept promises, as well, and perhaps could indicate that people will realize that they have a promise they must keep with the Earth, and will respect that covenant once more and care for it. Sorrow and grief will accompany the loss of fear and the gaining of optimism, which will be caused by this to transform into realism, and hopefully the world will be a better place for it.
Overall, a very unique reading. The world is afraid of its caretakers, and those in power – such as corrupt governments and humanity itself – because it is afraid of putting too much hope of trust in them. This has affected the relationship between humanity and the larger world, leading to a disconnect between the two that will end in a purging of fire fueled by the slow buildup of energy and willpower. Let’s see how this unfolds…
This spread is not particularly useful for these abstract questions, I think, and is really meant to be more for practical readings. Still, it was a very interesting exercise!
The Traveler – Way – Change, Road, Wayfarer, Candle, Journey – Outer Water, Inner Water
Via’s Figure resembles a road, and it is from a road that it derives its name. Every element is active in the Figure, making it an active manipulator of events, like the Tarot Magus or Magician. Its Inner and Outer Energies are both of Water, making this Figure completely at home with itself, with nothing to hide; its inner strength is matched by its outer strength, and the Figure is at peace with his emotion and can rely upon his intuition. Its inner life often goes unnoticed, however, due to its watery nature; it hides hidden depths, but only because others do not understand it. It is an active manipulator, but also is calm and receptive; over the course of a journey, this Figure reminds us that everyone can grow to master themselves. This Figure emphasizes the idea that the point of a journey is not to arrive; it is to grow, and the journey never really ends.
Via is associated with travel, and specifically directed, purposeful travel; Via does not wander, but rather knows exactly where it is going, whether or not it will ever reach it. It represents working towards attaining some grand goal in the distant future, and also reminds us that once that goal is reached, there will be another; life is an endless cycle of journeys. Via is a patient Figure with a clear direction and purpose, and represents the constant Change in our lives. This change, however, is under our control, and Via is the master of its life. Via seeks to experience everything and absorb it (another reflection of its watery qualities), and often remains silent, instead preferring to observe. Via is adaptable and always changing, and is slow to anger and equally slow to forgive. Unsurprisingly, Via is a Mobile Figure, as it is always moving. Astrologically, Via is associated with the compassion and passivity of the Moon and Cancer. Though Via possesses the ability to manipulate, it watches and waits instead.
John Michael Greer, in his book The Art and Practice of Geomancy, sums up this Figure well, as reminding us that “roads actually go nowhere, it is the travelers who follow them that go somewhere, leaving more of the road behind with each step” (p. 64).
The Gambler – Lesser Fortune – Swiftness, Mountain with Staff Atop, Outward Fortune, Protection, Omen, Outside Help – Outer Air, Inner Fire
Fortuna Minor is the opposite of Fortuna Major, and represents the concept of “Lesser” Fortune. Unlike its opposite, Fortuna Minor represents fortune and luck that come not from one’s inner strength, but rather instead from their outer circumstances. Fortuna Minor represents Outer Strength and Outer Success, and indicates favorable circumstances. Unlike Fortuna Major, Fortuna Minor’s success is not steady; it is inconstant, in flux, unstable, fickle, and full of unexpected shifts, rapid change, and sudden changes in fortune. This is the luck that the Gambler depends on, hence its archetype; Fortuna Minor represents outer circumstances allowing someone to win big, but also warns us that fortune is fickle and fleeting, and that wealth won in this way will not stay forever.
Astrologically, Fortuna Minor is associated with Leo, the Sun Sign of creativity, and also with the Sun and its spiritual energy. Fortuna Minor is a very Mobile Figure because of this, and represents, in part, the ability to adapt and use one’s surroundings to their advantage. This Figure is opportunistic, presumptuous, bold, and proud. However, this is sometimes a facade, and this mask often hides insecurity, humility, and inner conflict. Inner strength is Fortuna Major’s forte, not Fortuna Minor’s. This is a sign of economic mobility, and context can help you decide if this movement is up or down. This Figure reminds us that resources flow, and are finite; if you gain resources, someone else loses them. As such, this card also reminds us to be generous and thankful for what surrounds us.
Fire and Air are the Active elements in this Figure, and Fire and Air are also the Inner and Outer Energies of this Figure (respectively). Fortuna Minor possesses the will of Fire and the logic of Air, but lacks the empathy of Water and the Grounding of Earth. Fire fuels Fortuna Minor, but all it produces is hot Air; masks and false bluster and bravado can be part of Fortuna Minor.
The Fool – Head of the Dragon – Beginnings, Doorway With Footprints, Entering, Inner Threshold, Upper Boundary, Staff – Outer Earth, Inner Earth
Caput Draconis, or the Head of the Dragon, is the opposite of Cauda Draconis. Caput Draconis is the Geomantic Figure associated with beginnings and new journeys. Astrologically, it is associated with the North Node of the Moon, indicating integration, the spirit, and most importantly, the future and the opportunities awaiting everyone. It is also associated with Virgo and the order she brings. The shape of the Figure is that of footsteps leading towards a door, again symbolizing its association with new beginnings and future integration. Caput Draconis is associated with stepping forward into something new, looking forward to the future, and a new journey. It is similar to the Tarot card the Fool, which is also its archetype.
In the Figure of Caput Draconis, the only passive element is Fire. As such, Caput Draconis has the grounding of Earth, the intuition of Water, and the rationale of Air, and is striving towards the spiritual energy of Fire. Its Outer and Inner Energies are both Earth, and as such Caput Draconis is a very Earthy Figure, and the new journey, as with many journeys, is based on the material. This Figure is associated not only with new beginnings, journeys, and opportunities, but also with drastic change, improvement, fertility, and potential; things that all can come with embarking on something new. Caput Draconis looks to the future, and represents working towards gain, trusting fate and taking that first step, and starting anew and refreshed. The journey that begins with Caput Draconis will probably be difficult in the beginning, but it reminds us that it will be worth it in the end. Generally, the new beginning of Caput Draconis is change for the better, but depending on its surroundings, it can be the opposite.
Caput Draconis is associated also with calmness, kindness, trustworthiness, expression, and good nature. Unlike Cauda Draconis, it is a Stable Sign, representing the stable sense of mind and self one needs when embarking on something new. Caput Draconis is a Figure of the future.