Reading the Shield Chart
The heart and soul of Geomancy lies in the interpretation of the chart cast. The Shield Chart is the most common Geomantic Chart, and provides the basis for other charts generated, which are generated by rearranging the Figures in the Shield Chart. Interpreting the Shield Chart, then, is one of the most important skills to master in the art of Geomancy. When I read Shield Charts, I do so in a very specific order and a very specific way.
The Judge and Witnesses
I always start my interpretation of the Shield Chart by reading the Judge, the Figure that sums up the rest of the Chart, being as it is derived from every single Figure present. The Judge is the Figure that best sums up the answer to the question that you asked, and represents the present situation, the relationship between past and future, and the relationship between the person asking the question and the question itself (or what or who the question is about). This is the most important Figure in any Geomantic Shield Chart, and so it deserves special attention. When interpreting the Judge, make sure to not only interpret the meaning of the Figure, but also its role in relation to the next two positions, the two Witnesses.
After an initial examination of the Judge, I examine the two Witnesses, Right first and then Left. The Right Witness represents the past and the one asking the question. The Left Witness represents the future and the question’s influence. After examining how the Figure present fits into its position, and doing that for both Witnesses, one should go back and re-examine the Judge in terms of it serving as a link between the two Witnesses, paying any special attention to any similarities between these Figures.
The Way of the Points
Following a close examination of the Judge and Witnesses, I then check to see if there is a Way of the Points. Often, the questions one seeks answers to are complex, and often the true answers lie hidden beneath several layers. The Way of the Points serves to help your inner guide find the true source of a problem if it is hidden. Divining the Way of the Points involves looking at the Fire, or Head, lines of the Figures.
Start with the Judge’s Fire line, and note whether it has one or two points. Then, look at the two Witnesses. If neither of them have the same Fire line, then there is no Way of the Points, and the influences on the situation are in plain sight. If one, or both, of the Witnesses has the same Fire line, however, then the Way of the Points exists. Transfer your attention to the Figure(s) with the same Fire line, and then examine the two Nieces making up the Witness(es) on the Way of the Points. If any of them have the same Fire line, then they form part of the way, too. Repeat this process down to the Mothers. Wherever the Way of the Points ends – the last Figure to have the same Fire Line as the preceding Figure on the way – you can find the Figure that represents a hidden, underlying influence on the whole situation. Sometimes the Way of the Points ends with multiple Figures, and in this case all of these Figures contribute to the hidden influences.
Once the Way of the Points has been formed (if it can be), and the Figure(s) making up its end located, one can interpret the Figure(s) just like it is a Figure in a position representing unconscious, hidden, underlying influences.
The Four Triplicities
Once you have examined the underlying causes of a situation, I recommend examining the four Triplicities, each made up of one Niece and its two associated Mothers or Daughters. Each Triplicity is interpreted in the same way as the Judge and Witnesses, with the Right Mother or Daughter representing the past and the one asking the question, the Left Mother or Daughter representing the future and the question itself, and the Niece representing the present, the relationship between the past, future, questioner, and question, as well as the sum of the Triplicity.
Each Triplicity also has its own meaning, and this is where their interpretations differ from that of the Judge and Witnesses. While the Judge and the Witnesses represent the situation as a whole, each Triplicity represents a specific aspect of the situation, and so when reading the Figures, one must keep in mind the aspect they are pondering.
The First Triplicity represents the questioner, or querent, and their larger role in the situation. The Second Triplicity represents the role that large events and powerful forces shape the situation. The Third Triplicity represents the role that the querent’s home environment and family affect the situation, and the Fourth Triplicity represents the larger influence of society on the situation.
Once each Triplicity has been interpreted on its own, I myself look at my own two sub-Triplicities. The first sub-Triplicity, made of the Right Witness and its associated Nieces, represents a more in-depth look at the Querent’s role in the situation, with a focus on how the Querent perceives the situation, and how that affects the answer to the question (Witnesses are never completely objective, after all). The second sub-Triplicity, made of the Left Witness and its associated Nieces, represents the larger role of the Question itself in the situation, as well as how others perceive the question and the situation.
Rearranging the Chart
Once you have gone through the entire Shield Chart (adding your own personal interpretations, if you wish) as above, you may very well have a satisfactory answer. If you do not, then you may wish to rearrange the Figures into a different chart – such as the House Chart. Usually this is not necessary unless you are unsure of your answer or want a very in-depth analysis of the situation. Most of the time, the Shield Chart is more than enough!
Generating the Shield Chart
The Shield Chart is the basis of most methods of Geomantic Interpretation, and generating it is a very simple process that can be done quickly and efficiently. To start, one must prepare properly (a process I describe here), and then begin the process of generating random numbers.
One can use anything that can generate one of two possible results, with an equal chance of generating each one. There are many possibilities for Geomantic tools:
-Dice (Odds are One Result, Evens Another)
-Tapping a Stick/Pencil a Random Number of Times and Then Counting the Number of Marks (Odds are One Result, Evens Another)
-Random Number Generators
-Drawing Random Numbers of Pebbles From a Bag (Odds are One Result, Evens Another)
-Throwing Flat Sticks With One Dot on One Side and Two on the Other into the Air
-Anything else that can generate either a 1 or a 2! I personally use a set of four colored dice (representing the four elements) with either one dot or two on them. Rolling them all at once yields an entire figure.
Each possibility represents either one dot (traditionally represented as a 1 in the binary system) or two dots (traditionally represented as a 0 in the binary system).
The generation process begins by generating four Figures, known in the shield chart as the Four Mothers. When generating Geomantic Figures, one does not randomize between one and sixteen and select the proper Figure based upon its traditional order. Instead, one generates each of its four rows of dots separately. In order to generate one Figure, one merely has to randomly select one dot or two (using the way chosen above) four times, and in order they will yield the Fire, Air, Water, and Earth lines of the Figure. Do this whole process four times (yielding sixteen randomizations), and you will have the four Mothers. Place them in the appropriate places on the chart, writing them in right to left.
Once one has generated the Mothers, one generates the Daughters – who are called as such because they are derived from the Mothers. This is a simple process; the First Daughter is made from the Fire lines of all four mothers (in order from first to fourth, right to left), with the Fire of the First Mother being the Fire of the First Daughter, the Fire of the Second Mother being the Air of the First Daughter, the Fire of the Third Mother being the Water of the First Daughter, and the Fire of the Fourth Mother being the Earth of the First Daughter. The Second Daughter is composed in the same way from the Air lines of the four Mothers, the Third is made from the Water lines, and the Fourth is made from the Earth lines. Write these Daughters in their proper places next to the Mothers, from right to left.
At this point, the entire first row of the Shield Chart has been generated. The second row, that of the Nieces, is done differently. Each Niece is associated with either two Mothers or two Daughters, and each group of three positions makes up a Triplicity. The fact that the two Daughters or Mothers generate the Niece is why the Niece in a Triplicity represents the relationship between the two, as it is made from a combination of parts.
In order to generate a Niece from its associated Mothers or Daughters, one has to compare the two Figures. Start at the Fire line of each of the two Figures being compared. If they are the same (i.e., both one dot or both two dots), then the Niece gets two dots in its Fire line. If they are different (i.e., one is one dot and the other is two dots), then the Niece gets one dot in its Fire line. The rest of the Niece is generated by doing the same thing for the Air, Water, and Earth lines.
Once one has generated all of the Nieces, one repeats the process, using the two Nieces associated with the Left and Right Witness to generate the Left and Right Witness. The last step in generating the Shield Chart is repeating the process one more time, combining the Right and Left Witnesses into the Judge, which is made from the entire chart.
Because of this process of adding Figures together to generate higher levels of the chart, certain patterns always emerge when certain Figures are grouped together. For example, if you combine Cauda and Caput Draconis together (in the manner used to generate Nieces, Witnesses, and Judge), then you will always get Carcer, indicating the isolation of being trapped in a loop of beginnings and endings. Because of this, specific patterns will begin to have specific meanings as one reads a chart, and these patterns can become key to interpreting the chart.
The most commonly used Geomantic chart, the Shield Chart (conveniently labeled in that link), is divided into five distinct sections, each section with the same general structure. Looking at the Geomantic Shield Chart, these sections are visible as groupings of three boxes: the first and second Mothers and the first Niece, the third and fourth Mothers and the Second Niece, the first and second Daughters and the Third Niece, the third and fourth Daughters and the Fourth Niece, and the Left and Right Witnesses and Judge. Each of these sections, the first four of which are called “Triplicities” and the latter of which is merely known as “The Judge and Witnesses.” Each area of the Chart helps to shed insight on a particular aspect of the question asked.
As stated above, each of the Triplicities has a distinct structure. Looking at the chart from the bottom down (in the same way that you read the chart), it becomes apparent that two elements from the first row combine to form a larger element in the second row; i.e., two Mothers or Daughters form a niece. When the Shield Chart is generated, the same two first-row Figures are the ones who generate their associated Niece, and so each Triplicity is linked from the very moment of generation.
In terms of reading a Triplicity to try and understand its meaning, each one is treated in the exact same way. The Nieces in each Triplicity represent the relationship between the two Mothers or Daughters below it, as well as influences on the present and as a summary of the Triplicity as a whole. The right Daughter or Mother represents the influence of the past and of the person asking the question, while the left Daughter or Mother represents the effects of the subject of the question, as well as a likely course for the future.
The Judge and Witnesses: The Sum
The Judge and Witness are not technically a Triplicity, but they have the exact same structure (with the Judge acting as a Niece and the Right and Left Witnesses like Mothers or Daughters). The Judge and Witnesses taken together represent the sum of the question being asked; the Right Witness represents the overall influence of the past and of the one asking the question, while the Left Witness represents the possible future and the effects of the subject of the question on the chart as a whole. The Judge serves to represent a summary of the present, and of the relationship between the two Witnesses. The Judge also serves as a summary of the chart as a whole, and can be used to quickly sum up a reading. As a group of three Figures, the Judge and Witnesses represent the question as a whole, and as a summary of the four Triplicities.
First Triplicity: The Querent
The First Triplicity, made of the first and second Mothers and the first Niece, as a whole represent the querent, or the person asking the question the chart is attempting to answer. It represents everything that the querent brings to the table: backstory, attitudes, status, perspective, belongings, energies, and anything else. The first Niece serves as a brief summary of this influence, and also represents the relationship between the Mothers and the present situation. The first Mother represents the querent’s past, and the second Mother represents the querent’s future and the influence of the subject of the question on the querent.
Second Triplicity: Events
The Second Triplicity, made of the third and fourth Mothers and the second Niece, as a whole represent the events that have a bearing on the reading. The Niece serves to summarize these events in the present, and sheds insight on how the events of past and future (third and fourth Mothers respectively) are related. The third Mother can also represent events directly involving the querent, and the fourth Mother can also represent events directly relating to the subject of the question (sometimes called the quesited).
Third Triplicity: The Home
The Third Triplicity, made of the first and second Daughters and the third Niece, as a whole represent the home. It represents the influences that the querent’s home and work environment’s might have on the querent and the question. Environments, family, and very close friends influence this Triplicity, which is summed up by the Niece, who also represents the relationship between the first and second Daughters. The first Daughter often represents, as usual, the past influence of the home, but also can represent the influences of one’s environment. The second Daughter represents the future, as well as the influences of the people close to the querent.
Fourth Triplicity: Society
The Fourth Triplicity, made of the third and fourth Daughters and the fourth Niece, as a whole represent society. It represents the influence of your larger culture, your acquaintances, your friends who are not very close, and figures of power. The Niece, as always, sums up this influence and helps describe how the third and fourth Daughters relate to each other. The third Daughter represents not only the past, but also the influence of society on a micro level; your friend’s social circle, for instance. The fourth Daughter represents the future as well as the influence of larger cultural trends that have an impact on your life.
While the above Triplicities are the only “accepted” Triplicities of the Shield Chart, I personally also make us of two “Sub-Triplicities.” The first of these Sub-Triplicities is made up of the first and second Nieces and the Right Witness. The second of these Sub-Triplicities is the third and fourth Nieces and the Left Witness. Like the other Triplicities, the two Nieces derive the Witness. I read both Sub-Triplicities like I would read any other Triplicity, with the Witnesses serving as a summary, the present, and the relationship between the two Nieces. The Sub-Triplicity of the Right (Witness) represents the Querent, and the first Niece represents the querent and his past, while the second Niece represents the events that might affect the querent and the querent’s future. The Sub-Triplicity of the Left (Witness) represents the Subject of the Question, with the third Niece representing the past and one’s home, and the fourth Niece representing one’s culture and future. Essentially, I read each position in the same way as above, but in a different combination, to help shed light on the rest of the spread.
An easy and useful way to look at the Shield Chart is as a constant division; the Judge becomes the Witnesses, the Witnesses become the Nieces, and the Nieces become the Mothers and Daughters. By looking at the two “lesser” positions that make up the larger one, in all cases yields a better understanding of the larger one.
Casting the Geomantic Chart
The heart and soul of Geomancy is the casting and reading of Geomantic Charts. Geomantic Charts have the same function as Charts in Astrology and Spreads in Tarot. They are the medium through which the reader interprets the messages of the animus mundi, or consciousness of the world.
Like with Tarot and Astrology, Geomancy relies upon the interpretation of symbols laid out in certain patterns before the reader. The interpretations of the symbols – in the case of Geomancy, the sixteen Geomantic Figures – is done through conscious thought processes while in a state of open-mindedness, allowing you to receive influences from your subconscious, bringing them to your consciousness’ attention. Your subconscious, in turn, is influenced by the animus mundi, which can help guide you in your interpretations if your mind and soul are willing to listen.
Geomancy is much simpler than most systems of esoteric “divination,” and requires almost no materials. All that you need is a way to generate a random number from one to two. You can do this by tapping on the ground and counting odd or even, by drawing cards from a deck, by rolling dice, by flipping coins, or by any other completely unbiased process. Personally, I use special Geomantic dice I made: four dice in the colors Red (Fire), Yellow (Air), White (Water, should be blue but I couldn’t find a blue die of the same style), and Green (Earth). On each die I drew either one dot or two dots, so that there were three of each. In order to generate one Geomantic Figure, I roll all four dice and arrange them in order to generate a Figure. For example, if I roll a 2 on the Red, a 2 on the Yellow, a 1 on the White, and a 2 on the Green, I have generated the figure Albus.
Like with Tarot spreads, there are multiple Geomantic charts that one can use depending on the question asked. Depending on the chart, methods of generation are different, but most charts are based off of the Shield Chart.
To generate the shield chart, the very first thing you must do is formulate the question you wish to ask, just like in a Tarot reading. The process can be found in this post. Clear your mind and prepare yourself for the task at hand in whatever way you wish. I personally focus on my inner self and my connection to the animus mundi, and call upon both of them for guidance. I think of the question I seek an answer to and keep it in my head. Once I am ready and I am sure that my mind is receptive to any answer and will not lean towards a biased interpretation, I draw the chart itself, as seen here. I then generate the first figure and write it in the upper right-hand slot. Then I generate the second, third, and fourth Figures – the Mothers – and place them in their proper places, before then using those symbols to derive the remainder of the chart (a process which will be discussed in a later post).
Once that is done, you have the basis for a Geomantic reading. There are ways to interpret the Shield Chart directly (a process discussed here), and once the Shield Chart has been interpreted, other charts (such as the House Chart) can be generated from it, to further shed light on the situation. Like with any other esoteric reading, when interpreting the chart, it is important to evaluate both the meaning of the Figure and its specific Position in the Chart. The two of those combined together. The Figure represents the energy, and the Position represents how it manifests. The House Chart can also help you explain where the energy manifests in your life.
Unlike with Tarot, a Geomantic chart is easy to finish. Generally, thanking the animus mundi and your inner guide for their guidance is a good plan, and generally after that all one needs to do is put away he materials and move on.
As a word of caution, the weather around you and the world’s environmental state can sometimes affect the results of a Geomantic reading. The purest results are achieved in a place far from the clutter of human civilizations, during a clear and sunny day. Troubled weather indicates that the animus mundi is troubled, and pollution in the body of the world – or corpus mundi – can also influence the interpretation of a reading negatively.