Like almost every esoteric art, Geomantic thought is strongly based around elemental theory and thought. The four elements play a very important role in determining the character and nature of each of the Geomantic Figures, and indeed, the very structure of the Figures reflects the elements.
Geomantic Figures’ Elemental Structure
The Geomantic Figures are each make up of four rows of dots. Each row of dots symbolizes and element, and the number of dots in each row indicates whether the element is passive or active. Thinking of the Figure as a Human body, the first row represents the head, the second the throat, the third the abdomen, and the fourth the feet. Each of these body parts has an elemental association: the head, full of ideas, creativity, and energy, is associated with Fire. The throat and its association with wind, communication, and the ability to reason with others in combination with the head is associated with Air. The abdomen and its association with the gut, instinct, and the heart are associated with Water, and the feet and their stability, grounded nature, and support are associated with Earth.
So, then the Geomantic Figure’s rows represent the elements of Fire (Spirit), Air (Abstract), Water (Emotion), and Earth (Material). Each of these rows has either one or two dots in them; one dot means that that row – and therefore that element – is active in the figure, and two dots mean that that row and element are passive. Every single Geomantic Figure reflects all four elements at some level, as all four elements are present in everything. However, passive elements are not expressed as strongly or “actively” as their active counterparts. Conversely, active elements are reflected strongly in their figures’ character.
For example, take the first Figure, Puer. In Puer, the active elements are Fire, Air, and Earth, while Water is passive. Fire is reflected in Puer’s drive to complete his quest. Air is reflected in the lofty, abstract ideals he abides by. Earth is reflected in the practical nature of his quest, and the stability he draws upon to complete his quest. Water, the sole passive element, is what he lacks, but is reflected still, as it is the thing that he desires, making it still an influence, but just not as powerful a one as the others.
The shapes of the Figures that result from these groupings of dots also often create images that reflect the character’s nature; for example, Puer is a sword, Amissio is an overturned bag, Albus is an upright goblet, Populus is a mass, Fortuna Major is a valley with a river flowing into it, Conjunctio is two triangles coming together, Puella is a breasted female, Rubeus is an overturned goblet, Acquisitio is two full bags, Carcer is two triangles facing away from each other, Tristitia is a stake driven downwards, Laetitia is a mountain, Cauda Draconis is footsteps leaving a door, Caput Draconis is footsteps approaching a door, Fortuna Minor is a mountain with a staff atop it, and Via is a road. Many of the Geomantic polarities can be seen in these figures, as opposite Figures generally have opposite shapes.
Outer and Inner Elements
In addition to active and passive elements, each Figure also has Inner and Outer Energies, which are also defined in terms of elements. An Inner Energy/Element is the element from which the Figure draws its strength, whereas an Outer Energy/Element is the element with which the Figure imprints itself upon the world.
Going back to Puer as an example, this means that its Outer Element of Fire means that Puer expresses itself to the world as a paragon of will and energy, and it is this youthful spirit that defines its outward appearance. Its Inner Element is Air, meaning that Puer draws its strength from ideals of justice and truth, and reason and abstract principles drive his spirit. More practically, Air fuels Fire (a very Earthy comparison). In all of the Figures save Populus, the Inner Element is an active one.
The Outer element is also known as the Ruling Element, because this is the element most strongly associated with the Figure. Like with Astrology, each of the Ruling Elements represent one aspect of the element’s energy, expressed in a certain way. Due to the way Geomancy is structured, the Outer Elements are repeated in many Figures, and so that is not enough to know in order to understand how they express themselves; doing that would be using the Tarot system. A more apt comparison would be to use the Astrological system of Modalities, and examine each of the elements as expressing Cardinal (Beginning), Fixed (Stabilizing), and Mutable (Adapting). In addition, I have added a fourth Modality: Closing (Ending). However, it is always important to remember that endings always lead to new beginnings. The Ruling Element and the expressions of each of the Figures are:
Fortuna Major (Fixed)
Cauda Draconis (Closing)
-Fire’s energy begins with the drive of Puer, seeking to complete himself and find what he is missing. His spirit is kept steady and his journey is kept on track by his strength of character, drawn from the energies of Fortuna Major. Using his indomitable spirit and personality, Fire uses the mutable energies of Acquisitio, translating the energies of Fortuna Major into an ability to gain things from the environment around him, changing himself as he continues on his quest. His journey ends when he finds what he is looking for after a final push, with the energies of Cauda Draconis.
-Water’s journey begins with a desire to travel and take in all that there is to see; the energy of Via. On the way, however, Water’s emotions intefere with her goal, and she gives into the temptation of Rubeus, going wherever the wind blows her and enjoying life for what it is. She gets stuck as she gets lost in herself, unsure of who or what she really is. As her sense of self gradually vanishes, she realizes her connection with everyone around her, and is soon able to react and adapt to anything as she merges with the collective consciousness. At the end of her journey, she realizes that being sidetracked was the best thing that could have happened, as she is now content and happy with the energies of Laetitia and her understanding of her connection to the world.
Fortuna Minor (Cardinal)
-Air’s journey begins with the instability of Fortuna Minor, as circumstances around the energy forces Air to embark on a journey to discover the nature of things. As Air descends from its lofty peak, it finds that reality does not match its pure thoughts, and suffers great sorrow and disappointment as she gets stuck in place by the stakes of Tristitia. After losing herself in sorrow, Air experiences the energies of the peacemaker and nurturer Albus, who helps Air to realize that any two things can be reconciled. Given strength once more, Air realizes that it must receive the world around it to truly understand it, and descends from its high-mindedness, willing to receive its material surroundings, exhibiting the energies of Puella.
Caput Draconis (Cardinal)
-Earth’s journey begins with a desire for a new beginning, as expressed by Caput Draconis. However, the limited viewpoint of the overly materialistic Earth limits his ability to truly make a new beginning, as he does not see all of the options available to him. He thus becomes imprisoned by his own mind, succumbing to the energies of Carcer. He becomes stuck until a tragic loss in the form of Amissio shakes him out of it, and he realizes that his stubbornness and limited view have made him miss out on what’s really important: meaningful interaction with those around him. Realizing he cannot continue on his own, Earth reaches out to the people around him, and everyone comes together in the form of Conjunctio to build a new life together.
In Geomancy, unlike Tarot and Astrology, there is no real canonical Geomantic order.
Though the name of the art of Geomancy contains the prefix Geo-, this does not mean that the art places any special emphasis on the element of Earth. Rather, the term Geomancy refers to the fact that when you practice the art, you are reading the animus mundi of the world, universe, or whatever you choose to call it. As Geomancy is an old art, the title refers to the animus mundi of the Earth: Geo. The Earth is made up of all four elements, and all four are reflected in the art.