Symbolic Charge in the Tarot
I have long held onto the notion that Tarot cards are neither “positive” or “negative,” and that every card has aspects of both. Many disagree, however, and when reading about other peoples’ interpretations of the cards, I see a lot of talk about positive and negative cards, and I’ve seen spreads whose interpretation is based on whether a card in a certain spot is “positive” or “negative” (most obviously in the “Yes/No” spread, where a positive card indicates a Yes and a negative card a No; I really dislike this spread, if it can even be called that, for several reasons I won’t go into here). Naturally, this way of thinking is antithetical to my own conception of the Tarot and of life; there is good and bad, Yin and Yang, and positive and negative in everything. I can, however, understand the appeal and utility of thinking of cards as positive or negative. Naturally, there is no codebook or set of formalized guidelines for what makes a card “positive” or “negative,” and it all comes down to an individual’s reactions to a card. In fact, I would argue, whether or not a card is positive or negative can change depending on the situation. That, I think, is the beauty of the Tarot.
However, a discussion with a friend entering the world of Tarot got me thinking about positive and negative cards. While I don’t ascribe to the belief that certain cards have inherently positive or negative energies, I do think that I tend to view some cards as negative more often than others, and some cards definitely strike fear into my heart when I see them pop up in a spread. As such, I do think there is something to this notion of positive vs. negative cards, even if it’s not particularly clear-cut.
In many esoteric situations in which symbols are put into one of two opposite categories, I would call this “polarity” (such as in Geomancy). In this case, I don’t think this term is appropriate, though, because polarity implies two complete opposites with no middle ground. If a card was either entirely positive or entirely negative, then perhaps the term “polarity” would work, but in this case I think the less-loaded term “charge” can better describe how I view the cards. Cards have a tendency to be positive or negative, but mix both charges, so they are negative or positive to different degrees.
As I said before, this is all just my own opinion, and what follows are my own personal thoughts on the charges of the Tarot cards, based on the Thoth deck. I have grouped them into strong negative, negative, neutral, positive, and strong positive. However, even the strong negative cards have positive in them, and vice versa. The strong positive and negative cards are cards that instantly give me a negative feeling, just on sight, and usually color my reading of other cards in the spread. The negative and positive cards usually give me a negative vibe, but are more likely to be influenced by context than the strong negative and positive cards. The neutral cards are entirely context-dependent, and I either attach no charge to them on sight or else there are equal amounts of positive and negative charges that war in my mind when I see them. The cards are ordered according to their number.
Three of Swords (Sorrow)
Five of Wands (Strife)
Five of Cups (Disappointment)
Five of Swords (Defeat)
Five of Disks (Worry)
Seven of Swords (Futility)
Seven of Disks (Failure)
Nine of Swords (Cruelty)
Ten of Swords (Ruin)
Ten of Wands (Oppression)
The Tower (XVI)
The Moon (XVIII)
Seven of Wands (Valor)
Seven of Cups (Debauch)
Eight of Cups (Indolence)
Eight of Swords (Interference)
Ten of Cups (Satiety)
The Devil (XV)
All Court Cards
Eight of Wands (Swiftness)
Four of Cups (Luxury)
Four of Swords (Truce)
The Priestess (II)
The Emperor (IV)
The Hierophant (V)
The Chariot (VII)
The Hermit (IX)
The Aeon (XX)
Ace of Disks
Two of Wands (Dominion)
Two of Disks (Change)
Three of Cups (Abundance)
Four of Disks (Power)
Six of Cups (Pleasure)
Six of Disks (Success)
Eight of Disks (Prudence)
Nine of Disks (Gain)
Ten of Disks (Wealth)
The Fool (O)
The Magus (I)
The Empress (III)
The Lovers (VI)
The Hanged Man (XII)
The Star (XVII)
The Sun (XIX)
Ace of Wands
Ace of Cups
Ace of Swords
Two of Swords (Peace)
Two of Cups (Love)
Three of Wands (Virtue)
Three of Disks (Works)
Four of Wands (Completion)
Six of Wands (Victory)
Six of Swords (Science)
Nine of Wands (Strength)
Nine of Cups (Happiness)
The Universe (XXI)
A few interesting patterns emerged when I sorted the cards this way. Most obviously, I truly believe all of the court cards are neutral and don’t lean in any direction; they all have about equal amounts of negative and positive. Furthermore, I have about the same number of very negative as very positive. However, I tend to view most of the cards in the deck as positive, as there are many more “positive” cards than “negative” cards. Also, most of the numbered cards I do consider either mostly positive or mostly negative, while a good chunk of the Major Arcana (especially near the beginning) I consider neutral and dependent entirely on context. Most of the Majors, however, I consider positive, save for most of those relating to larger forces outside of an individual’s control (hence why Fortune is a negative for me, instead of a neutral).
The Devil is also a strange outlier; most interpret his presence as negative, but I usually tend to view it as a card urging you to reinterpret the situation, and flip around the good guys and the bad guys. The Devil, for me, is usually a card of moral relativism, and can represent either ignorance and blindness or else a need to shift one’s perspective, and realize that the villain is the hero. As such, my interpretation of the Devil tends to be torn between two poles, and hence its placement in the Neutral category.
Another card in which people might disagree with my placement is the Seven of Wands. The name Valor usually evokes positive feelings, but for me, that interpretation is colored by my view of the Seven of Wands as a card representing breaking off from one’s friends and foolishly galloping off into danger alone. It is individual courage, which is less powerful than the Victory that comes from the Six of Wands before it (which I inevitably compare the Seven to), and more divisive and foolish. So, to me, the Seven of Wands is a negative card.
The distribution of suits is also interesting. The Cups cards are fairly evenly distributed, with a slight preference for the positive. The Wands and Disks have a strong preference for the positive. On the other hand, half – five cards out of ten – of the Suit of Swords I consider strongly negative. Three more of them are negative, and only two are (strongly) positive. My pessimism really shows here, as the Swords are the suit I identify the most with and are also by far the most negative. So, I consider Cups neutral, Wands and Disks positive, and Swords negative. This is also interesting because I dislike the materialism of the Suit of Disks as a whole (hence why the Ace of Disks is the only Ace not strongly positive), and yet think positively of the individual cards of that suit. Similarly, the abstractness of Swords appeals to me, yet I don’t think positively of most of the individual cards.
Even more telling is the distribution of numbers, but this is not surprising given the design of the Thoth deck. Each number corresponds to a Sefirot on the Tree of Life, and these have positive and negative connotations that influence the card’s meaning. This is why all of the Aces are some form of positive , as well as the Twos and the Sixes. Three of the Threes and Nines (Swords being the exception to the rule) are also some form of positive. Half of the fours are neutral, and the other two are some form of positive. All of the fives are strongly negative (seeing as they are associated with the Sefirot Geburah, which I associate with instability), and all of the Sevens are negative to some degree as well. The Eights are more evenly distributed, similar to the Fours, with two negative, one neutral, and one positive. Three of the tens are some form of negative, and only one is negative.
What does this mean, overall, for my interpretation of the Tarot? Namely, that I view the deck as largely positive, and that the good in the cards comes out before the bad does. Usually, in life, I see the bad before the good, however. Furthermore, the Suit I dislike the most I view the most positively, and vice-versa. The Tarot seem to reflect my life as in a mirror, with everything reversed. Perhaps that is why I find the Tarot so calming.
I’m Still Alive!
Hello everybody! This post doesn’t contain any new esoteric content, but it’s just a note that I am still alive, and I have kept up with doing readings. However, I haven’t had the time to sit down and make a new post in its entirety as I have been incredibly busy, though I am slowly working on getting some done. I hope to get another one up sometime next week! For now, I will leave you with this gem from the depths of the Internet:
Ta-ta for now!
Simple Deadly Sins Tarot Spread
After watching all of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I managed to get the idea of the Seven Deadly Sins stuck in my head, bouncing around aimlessly. Eventually, as everything does, that turned into me thinking about the Seven Deadly Sins as represented in the Tarot! I did some internet research and first found a detailed and very useful spread about the role of the Seven Deadly Sins in your life here.
However, many of us don’t have the time or the emotional strength of will to go through such a detailed analysis of our own flaws. As such, I spent a bit of time thinking about a much simpler spread involving the Seven Deadly Sins. In fact, it hardly gets any simpler than what I’ve come up with!
The spread detailed below – which I have titled “The Simple Deadly Sins Spread,” is a seven-card one: one for each deadly sin. Each position in the spread represents the influence of its associated sin over any given situation, person, or life. Taken together, this spread gives a picture of the interplay of the Seven Deadly Sins in a situation specified by the question you ask.
Because this spread is so simple – consisting of only seven cards – and covers a very broad topic, a very in-depth analysis of each card is necessary, and a very well-phrased and specific question is as well. When considering this spread, you must spend a lot of time on each card, trying to apply it in every way possible to the situation. Let your mind guide you, as always.
When considering each position, there are three factors coming together to think about: the meaning of the card itself, the possible ways it relates to the Deadly Sin in question, and how both of those apply to the specific situation addressed in the question.
The question for this type of spread should generally follow a formula similar to: “How do the Seven Deadly Sins influence ______?” The “______” is the hardest and most important part of this question, as it defines the third factor listed above. In that spot, insert a situation, person, object, event, or anything that you would like to break down and analyze in terms of the Seven Deadly Sins, such as “my life,” “my love life with ____,” “my education,” “my personality,” “how other people see me,” and other things. The question in this spread is more important than in many other spreads.
In addition to the three factors listed above, when considering the meaning of each card, keep in mind the following questions:
–Where: What sphere of life – “House” in many esoteric arts – does the Sin express itself in? The home? Friends? Family? The workplace? The card itself might hold the answer to this question – for example, the Empress could hint that this Sin expresses itself when you are near nature – or the question might if you are focusing intentionally on a particular area of your life.
–When: Under what circumstances does that Sin display itself most prominently? When do you most often fall under its influence?
–How: How the Sin expresses itself in your life. For example, Greed may be expressed in a person by theft, by ruthless business actions, or simply be desire for something you do not need. Gluttony can express itself through a literal over-fondness of food, or through shopping binges. Is the Sin overtly or covertly displayed? Is it something you keep under control or not? Additionally, each card can, depending on the question, sometimes give you hints as to how to deal with the Sin and get it under control.
–Why: Why does the Sin manifest itself as it does? Why does it appear where and when it does? What past factors of your life has contributed to the Sin’s appearance? Are any other particular people involved in the expression of this Sin?
It may sound simple, but reading such detailed nuances into one individual card is difficult. This spread is not detailed and focused on interpreting the delicate interplays between multiple cards, but its simplicity forces the reader to examine the full message of each individual card on its own merit. However, some interplay between the positions is possible, particularly if several positions are held by cards linked by number, element, or theme.
In the spread chart below, all I’ve given are the positions of each Sin as they, in my own perception of them, relate to the body – Pride is the head, Envy the heart, Greed one hand and Wrath the other, Gluttony the stomach, Lust the genitals, and Sloth the legs (the spread also forms the shape of a cross) – as well as some (but by no means even close to all) Major Arcana cards that generally indicate that the Sin plays a large role in your life (Strengthens) and cards that generally indicate that the Sin is mostly under control in your life (Weakens). More cards that strengthen or weaken the severity of a Sin’s impact on your life will come up as they appear in spreads, without a doubt, and the connections will sometimes be very obvious. Reversed cards in this spread often mean that the Sins influence is very subtle and hard to feel or see, may be disguised as a virtue, or its influence might be weaker than the card would normally suggest.
Lastly, some numbers of Minor Arcana can play a specific role in the spread, as well. Aces mean the Sin is newly manifested and powerful, while Twos often indicate that the Sin is even more powerful. Threes can indicate that this particular Sin acts as a “gateway” to other Sins, while Fours often represent a temporary shelter from their influence, a strong defense against them, or else some sort of understanding with that Sin or moderation. Fives represent the circumstances around you causing you to Sin. Sixes and to a greater extent Nines, for example, often represent a near-total conquest of the influences of that Sin in a given situation, sometimes indicating that it does not play a major role. Sevens represent an excessive amount of that Sin, or a particular weakness to or proclivity towards that Sin. Eights sometimes represent trying to overcome the Sin, but failing to through overcompensation. Of course, in each of these cases, the numbers only might imply the above; sometimes the animus mundi and your subconscious are using that card to tell you something completely different. Just keep the above in mind!
For those unfamiliar with what each Deadly Sin is (colored by my own interpretations; feel free to use your own understanding of the Sins for your own readings, or use a more in-depth online resource such as this):
Pride: Arrogance, particularly excessive self-confidence that undermines one’s ability to see clearly. The belief that you are better than others. The root of all other sins. The card in this position can also be used as a “summation” of all of the other cards.
Envy: Coveting, or wanting, what is not yours. Jealousy. Being unhappy with what you have because you believe that was those around you have is better; never being content with what you have because everyone else has something better.
Greed: Desiring large amounts of material possessions.
Wrath: Uncontrollable rage, fury, or hatred. Causing violence or harming oneself.
Gluttony: Overconsumption of anything – from food to resources – to the point of impoverishing others while wasting it on yourself.
Lust: Intense desire for anything, particularly sex or any sort of pleasure of the flesh. Wanton hedonism, desire for pleasure in general.
Sloth: Laziness, indolence, apathy, a wasting of potential due to an unwillingness to apply oneself.
Keep in mind that many of the Tarot cards are associated in one way or another with a Deadly Sin (most obviously Lust (XI) and the Seven of Cups (Debauch) with Lust and the Eight of Cups (Indolence) with Sloth), beyond what is listed below. When a card representing a Sin shows up in that Sin’s slot, pay attention to it! Also remember that in moderation, the Seven Deadly Sins can be a good thing, and help to define everyone’s personality.
I realize that the above has all been very general and not specific, but this spread is meant to be very broad. To help give people an idea of how to use this spread, here are two sample spreads, one very general and one a little bit more specific(though both spreads have abbreviated interpretations, for time’s sake and privacy’s sake):
Question: What role do the Seven Deadly Sins play in my life?
The spread (notice that Greed and Wrath both point inwards when not reversed; they point outwards when they are):
Pride: Death (XIII)
So, my Pride expresses itself as Death. In my own life, I see this as coming out in my youthful belief that I can supersede the inexorable laws of the universe, change and the cycles of time; in other words, the youthful belief in invincibility. My pride is my irrational belief that I can somehow make things not change and remain as they are. I am very opposed to drastic change, whether it occurs quickly or slowly, even though it is inevitable. I am currently going through a transitional phase in my life – undergraduate studies as a university – and despite my wishes, my life is changing rapidly as old friends are lost and new ones gained. I find it difficult to let go of the past and embrace the cycles of loss and gain that Death represents, and I try very hard to prevent it from happening in the belief that I can conquer change.
Envy: Prince of Swords
The Prince of Swords is the distant intellectual. In my mind’s eye, this is who I want to be; in many ways, the goal I strive for. Deep down, I’ve always longed to be mysterious and hard to understand (sounds silly, I know), as well as a paragon of intellect. Because I want to be the distant intellectual, I also do envy those who are distant intellectuals themselves; famous scholars and academics who have changed their fields of study. That is who I want to be, and at times I am, despite my efforts, jealous of those who are successfully on their way towards doing this. This has at times become apparent at awards ceremonies at university; no matter how hard I try, someone always does better, and I am not happy for them; I am envious of their success.
Greed: Sorrow (Three of Swords)
This is an interesting card to have in the Greed position. I certainly don’t desire things that make me sad. However, I am fully aware of my social class standing; I am from a rather wealthy family (though we would never admit it). I have a lot of material things already, and as such, whenever Greed does set upon me in any desire for a physical thin (such as, say, a new deck of Tarot cards), I feel intensely guilty for wanting that thing because I already have so much. I can get rather upset over this; perhaps more so over this than my giving in to any other sin. I want to be able to want things without feeling terrible about it; the world does not live up to my expectations (a Three of Swords idea), and so I feel terrible about my own position as a member of a class who has things other’s don’t, and I feel angry and depressed about any feelings of desire for material possessions I might have.
Wrath: Peace (Two of Swords)
Even though this card is a 2, which normally might indicate that this Sin is powerful within me, the card itself has the opposite meaning. Peace represents control of emotions, putting aside differences, and striving to improve the world around us; quite different from Wrath. In this case, this card indicates that I don’t express my rage outwardly; I get angry a lot, but no one can ever tell, and my anger is primarily directed towards the world as a whole, not any given individual. I successfully block my anger and Wrath in the hopes of making myself and everyone else happier, and so this Sin, while it exists within me, is mostly under control.
Gluttony: Queen of Cups
These two cards go together reasonably well. I consume dreams, fantasies, and imagination; realms of the Queen of Cups. Not of other people, of course, but of myself; in my attempts to distance myself from what I view in many ways as a corrupted, spoiled world, I spend a lot of my time in the realm of my mind, writing and creating things so that I don’t have to think about it. This has the effect of me consuming my time and depriving others of it; I have friends who sometimes complain that I am not social enough and I lock myself in my room too much and don’t go out and do fun stuff (though I don’t think most of the aforementioned stuff is fun). I consume my own time and keep it to myself, not letting others spend it with me, sometimes. I consume myself by locking myself in my mind.
Lust: Debauch (Seven of Cups)
Well, this is awkward. Enough said. Moving on…
Sloth: Swiftness Reversed (Eight of Wands Reversed)
The Eight of Wands is a card that has a meaning that is the opposite of Sloth; energy and speed. However, it is reversed, so its meaning is not on the surface. I am very, very efficient when I want to be; I can pull out ten page papers in a few hours if I have my mind set to it. I can write 10,000 words in a novel in four hours. I can write entire children’s books, complete with full-color illustrations, in about ten hours total. I can run very quickly, and I can do a lot in one day if I set my mind to it. That seems to the be opposite of Sloth. However, it is also very difficult for me to get myself to be productive (take writing this post, for instance; a couple hours of work, but about a week of procrastination), which is where the reversed comes in. I am usually good about getting things done well ahead of time, but it still takes me a lot of will to overcome my urge to not get that stuff done. I can and will overcome my Sloth, but not after a lot of laziness first.
Very general readings like the above are very difficult, and I have only included the most important of my interpretations above. It is also not always easy drawing links between the cards and the Sins; it can seem downright impossible at times. However, if you think hard enough about it, eventually it will come to you.
Question: What role do the Seven Deadly Sins play in my current formal educational experience?
Pride: Queen of Swords
The Queen of Swords is, in some ways, herself prideful. She is an individualist who does not like to rely on others, but who also sees herself as able to negotiate with others and help them. This is an apt description of my approach to academics; I almost never accept help from others (the sole exception being my thesis advisors, really), and prefer to do things on my own; not because it will be good for my mind, but because I believe that I don’t need help. I don’t like to admit that I need help, and I firmly believe that I am always good enough to do anything put before me; even when I can’t. At the same time, this pride I take in my academic abilities can sometimes cause me to sound condescending, especially because I like to help people in their own struggles with schoolwork; I like to give, but not receive, help. My Pride makes it this way.
Envy: The Emperor (IV)
The Emperor is a symbol of order and justice. I am, despite first appearance, an organized individual. However, the Emperor is also a symbol of power and authority, and it is of that I am envious. In my studies, I am jealous of those who are closer to the power and authority of the university academic (not overall social) system: professors. I am envious at times of graduate students who hold closer relationships with those professors I hold a working relationship with, and I want to have that sort of relationship with those academics responsible for establishing authority and order among both academia and the student body in the classrooms. I am envious of TA’s who get to establish order in the classroom, and I want to be able to do the same myself.
Greed: Victory (Six of Wands)
Sixes generally indicate conquering, in some way, your Sin, or at least finding a way to balance it out. In this case, Victory is an even stronger indicator that, in the academic world, I have achieved Victory over this Sin, and have mastered it. I do not believe this is necessarily the case; I certainly do have Greed in my studies, at least in that I always want to know more. I’m that student who reads the extra articles (but doesn’t do the extra work!) just to find out what they say. Other than that, though, my Greed does not play a major role in my academic environment; it is for the most part under control. I don’t even pursue academics like I do in the hope of material gain! Greed is not a problem for me academically.
Wrath: Science (Six of Swords)
Another Six, and in my other arm! This seems to indicate that my Wrath is under control, and is represented by Science. This is a very good indication of the state of my wrath, I think; my studies in sociology certainly make me angry at the world quite a lot, but I have successfully directed that Wrath towards the pursuit of a better world, devoting it towards developing a better understanding of social Science to eventually help make the world a better place and lessen my Wrath.
Gluttony: Truce (Four of Swords)
Truce is a Four, which is associated with some sort of understanding with the Sin, or temporary shelter. Reinforcing this meaning is Truce’s own association with a temporary solution to a problem. This would indicate that for now, my desire to consume to my own detriment is temporarily at bay, but might return. I actually see this as a very temporally-influenced card; I think it’s telling me that my thirst for knowledge has been temporarily removed by winter vacation, during which I am spending little time on my studies. But how, you may ask, does this hunger for knowledge work to my detriment? I overwork myself. I am working on my undergraduate thesis at the moment, and I read way too many sources and am trying to include far too much in it. My desire to learn everything possible about the topic often leaves me stressed and depressed when I can’t do it all. For now, though, this Gluttony is not a problem. Check in again in January.
Lust: The Hermit (IX)
Lust is the desire of pleasurable things. In this case, because its most obvious association, sex, is not relevant at all to the question, this will have to represent how my academics relate to me doing “fun” things, such as spending time with friends, writing, relaxing, and the like. The answer? I don’t spend much time doing that! Why? Because of my overworking myself with my thesis and classes at university, I lock myself in my room and don’t let myself do these things a lot of the time. I isolate myself from doing things for enjoyment, cloistering myself with my work and not allowing myself to relax. In this case, the card indicates that I am not giving into my Lust at all, which, in the end, is actually hurting me.
Sloth: The Priestess (II)
The Priestess is a figure of passivity, being the ultimate symbol of esoteric femininity. This indicates that I am, to some extent, passive in my studies. The Priestess is also a card of mysteries and hidden meanings. My thesis is a historical one, and so I am using primary sources from centuries ago, whose meanings and true messages are often obscured. In this case, my Sloth could very well be my reading some sources only for the surface meanings (due to me overworking myself; see above) and not bothering to dive into the deeper meanings of the authors’ words. I could, if I had the energy and will to, but I choose not to.
The Esoteric Arts
There are many kinds of practitioners of the occult and esoteric. Every single person will give you a different explanation for what they do, and every single person is right, in their own way. The occult and esoteric traditions are not rigidly defined as are many fields of more “traditional” academia, such as, for example, my own fields of history and sociology, not to mention sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology. In each of these academic fields, certain ethical, scientific, and methodological guidelines exist and are enforced by institutional boards. Despite what many “scientific skeptics” will tell you, many esoteric and occult practices do in fact have ethical, scientific, and methodological guidelines, though they differ in form and function from more traditional science. Additionally, there are no centralized authorities enforcing these guidelines, allowing for greater diversity among occult and esoteric practitioners.
This means that there is a wide spectrum of opinions about what constitutes esoteric and occult practices, and how they “should” be practiced. Just like all other practitioners of this type, I have my own opinions on the matter. Commonly, though, the fields of alchemy, astrology, tarot, geomancy, ritual and ceremonial magick, any form of divination, and numerology are considered “esoteric” or “occult” practices. I would like to take this time to point out that both of these words mean “hidden;” these practices are generally, by the way they are practiced, shielded from public knowledge and passed down between knowledgeable people.
Being surrounded by academia all of the time, many people – including some of my closest friends – have repeatedly mocked any form of occult or esoteric practices (especially Tarot, which seems to be a trigger for rants on the stupidity of superstition) as “unscientific” and “false,” claiming that they “don’t work.” I usually end conversations on the matter about there.
Whether or not it works all depends on how you perceive the practice. Many of the most devoted occultists and esotericists will say that what they do is a science in and of itself; indeed, many of these practices, most obviously alchemy, were the precursors to modern science. Many aspects of alchemy are merely chemistry in disguise, using different symbols and with different goals. Astrology is incredibly complex (my studies in the subject progress agonizingly slowly due to this) and feels like a science. Almost every single esoteric and occult practice has a great deal of practice, lore, background, and established methodologies behind it, in many cases rivaling the content in many academic disciplines. Its practitioners, however, are free to decide to abide by this background or branch out on their own, leading to, in many instances I think, a growth in these practices greater than many academic disciplines.
I am not one of those practitioners who considers himself a scientist. I never refer to what I do as an “occult science;” rather, I call them “esoteric arts.” Undoubtedly this is influenced by my perception of myself as a wordsmith and an artist of words, characters, plots, and worlds (not so much visual images; those are hard)! In my opinion, esoteric and occult practices, despite many similarities to academic disciplines, more closely resemble arts due to their ability for rapid change, the individualistic flairs they encourage, and the tradition built up behind them consisting of vast amounts of practical experience as opposed to a collection of tested theories. Neither one of these types of traditions are better than the other, a point I shall get back to soon.
Before that, however, there is one more comparison I must make between occult and esoteric practices and the arts, and that is the esoteric emphasis on intuition. In this case, most esoteric arts take a completely different view on intuition than science does. In science, intuition is merely the expression of emotions and current circumstances leading you to think something, perhaps combined with “animal instincts.” In most esoteric arts, intuition can be all of these things, but more importantly, it is also an expression of some kind of fundamental energy, whether you call it a spirit, god, nature, or anything else. I call it the universe. As such, many esoteric arts heavily involve relying upon the intuition as a means of reading and understanding the universe through one’s own subconscious. Artists do a similar thing, I believe, though they use different words to describe it.
It is because of this reliance on intuition primarily that makes me view myself as an artist rather than a scientist. However, this is not to say that there are not esoteric and occult scientists; there definitely are. However, most of them work on occult and esoteric theory as opposed to practice. I am currently at nowhere near that stage of development in my esoteric practices, and am content learning and applying theory to what I consider my art. In time I hope to move up to theory, and I am already starting to develop some ideas. Esoteric theory, in many ways, is an extension of philosophy – but that is a discussion for another day.
Every time I read a Tarot Spread or a Geomantic Chart, I am practicing an art form, not a science, in my opinion. When I make my art, I am drawing upon the world as it is expressed in myself. I believe that the world has a little piece of everyone inside them, and that by using an esoteric art my mind is better able to bring the subconscious forward by using symbols to trigger thoughts I might not otherwise have thought. That is all.
Now, I promised I would come back to the two traditions: one built on logical experimentation (science) and one built on practical experience (art). As I said, I firmly believe that neither is better than the other overall, but each has its place, and it is best when the two are mixed together in moderation. For example, in matters of theory, experimentation clearly takes the lead, and in any kind of artistry practical experience does. However, in the medical field, both are necessary; logical experimentation to develop the theories to lead to the cures, and practical experience on the ground.
The two are halves of the same coin, yet in the modern academic climate, one is almost entirely ignored (experience) and the other praised as the only way forward (experimentation). I believe this is not the best way to proceed. As much as I might disagree with occultist John Michael Greer’s criticisms of much of the Western scientific tradition, he does bring up the point that its flat, outright denial of esoteric and occult symbolism and thought hinders more than helps. Scientists don’t truly understand occult and esoteric practices, and yet still dismiss them out of hand without ever coming to truly understand them. They use only their logical experimentation, which, I might add, is imperfect at best, and are happy to ignore the experience of countless generations of occultists.
So, what am I saying? Science is very good and has gotten us to a great deal of places, and I put a lo of faith in it. Bravo, science! However, its ridicule of things it does not really understand – the esoteric arts being the primary one of these (I won’t bring religion into this right now, as I have my own very harsh views on organized religion) – doesn’t really help anyone, I think, especially if most of these practitioners have accepted science as equally valid, if not in some cases more so, as their own practices. Science should have an open mind, not a closed one.
To boil it all down to a single sentence, I consider myself an academic who studies society, but also an esoteric artist and a wordsmith.
The House Chart
When one is using divinatory Geomancy, like in Tarot, there is more than one way in which one can arrange the symbols to be interpreted. The Shield Chart is to Geomancy as the Celtic Cross is to Tarot; it has centuries of energy built up around it because it had become used so many times that it has become the “default” of the art. But, like I have said, there is more than one Geomantic Chart.
Geomancy works in such a way that it is possible to derive charts from other charts, and often, the Shield Chart is generated first, and the Figures in that chart are rearranged to make other charts. However, it is also possible to generate alternate charts by themselves. For the following House Chart, I find it works best if one generates each of the Twelve Figures needed separately and on their own, but others may disagree, and still others might not support the idea of generating the House Chart on its own!
The House Chart is a very useful tool for placing the influences of the world around you into a more concrete context than the Shield Chart does. The Shield Chart is rather abstract in its nature, and the House Chart is more detailed and is directly tied to distinct, concrete spheres of one’s life. There is an image here of what the House Chart looks like. It is a hollow square. To rearrange the Figures from the Shield Chart into the House Chart, simply move them in order of their generation: in houses 1-4 put the Four Mothers in order, 5-8 put the Daughters in order, and 9-12 put the Nieces in order. Place the Witnesses and Judge, as they appear, in the center of the Chart.
Like with any Tarot spread or the Shield Chart, each space on the chart has a different meaning. In this chart, each space represents a Geomantic House. Astute readers may have noticed that there are many links between Geomancy and Astrology, and all of the Figures have links to astrological symbols. The twelve Geomantic Houses are very, very similar to the Astrological Houses. The Geomantic Houses are described here. Each Geomantic House represents a certain sphere of life and existence, and Figures found within a specific House manifest themselves in that particular sphere of life. In the House Chart, then, each of the Houses acts like a position in a Chart, with the meanings of the positions instead being the spheres the influences manifest in as represented by the twelve Houses.
After placing all twelve Figures around the House Chart, the next step is to determine the Chart’s Significators. A Significator is a specific Figure within a House that holds special meaning. The first Significator, the Significator of the Querent, is easy to determine: the Figure in the First House is the Significator of the Querent. The Significator of the Querent represents the questioner, or the person who the question is asking about. This Significator can also tell the reader how the questioner will be affected by the situation being questioned.
The second Significator is the Signifcator of the Quesited, and represents the question itself, and the situation surrounding. It provides an additional layer of complexity to the Signifcator of the Querent, and can act as a simple (or simplified) answer to the basic question being asked. The Significator of the Quesited is determined based upon the question being asked, and to determine it, one has to match the nature of the question with the nature of the House (read the Geomantic Houses post to better understand this). A handy chart follows to help you determine the Significator of the Quesited:
First House: The Significator of the Quesited is never in the First House.
Second House: If the question involves property or finances.
Third House: If the question involves family, neighbors, surroundings, the media, rumors, or early education.
Fourth House: If the question involves moving, living, building on, or cultivating land, or endings.
Fifth House: If the question involves fertility, sex, children, crops, entertainment, enjoyment, or books.
Sixth House: If the question involves employees, servants, servicepeople, domestic animals, occultists, or sickness.
Seventh House: If the question involves close relationships between partners, treaties, conflict, love, marriage, thieves, enemies, searching, or doctors.
Eighth House: If the question involves death or missing things.
Ninth House: If the question involves long journeys, spiritual searching, or late education.
Tenth House: If the question involves social status and position, politics, or weather.
Eleventh House: If the question involves friends, acquaintances, hopes, helpers, or you don’t know the question.
Twelfth House: If the question involves harm, limits, debts, wild animals, or imprisonment.
The final Significator is the Significator of Completion. The Significator of Completion is always in the Fourth House, and represents how the situation posed by the question will end.
Once you have located all of the Significators, it is important to see if any of the Figures appearing as a Significator appears elsewhere in the chart (called “passing” or “springing”). If it does so, then the situation is more complex, and another layer of meaning is added to the Significator in question. The House of the Significator is most important here; while the Figure is most important in interpreting the Signifcators, in adding meaning to them through springing, the House is more important, as the meaning of the Figure is the same. The House of the springing Figure indicates where to look for other factors that influence the Significator.
“Perfection” refers to the relationship between the Significator of the Querent and the Significator of the Quesited. There are six “Modes of Perfection,” or ways in which the Chart can be “Perfected,” which can help the reader determine how the Querent can succeed in what he or she wishes to do.
-Occupation: This Mode of Perfection occurs when the same Figure appears in the House of the Querent and the House of the Quesited. This indicates a powerful flow of energy helping the querent achieve his or her goals, and that things will likely just go in the way of the Querent.
-Mutation: This Mode of Perfection occurs when the Figure of both Significators appear out of their Houses, adjacent to each other in another place on the chart. This generally means that the path to success can be found in a surprising way, and encourages you to look in a place you might normally not think of. The House that both Figures appear in can give you a clue as to where to start.
-Conjunction: This Mode of Perfection occurs when the Figure of the Significators is found in one of the Houses adjacent to the other Significator. For example, if the Significator of the Querent (First House) is Albus, and the Significator of the Quesited is Cauda Draconis in the Eleventh House, but Albus also appears in the Tenth House, adjacent to the Eleventh, then the chart is perfected through Conjunction. Conjunction generally means success is likely, but might be difficult to achieve.
-Translation: This Mode of Perfection occurs when a Figure that is not either of the Significators appears in a House adjacent to both the Significator of the Querent and the Significator of the Quesited. This generally means that an outside force or help will be necessary to succeed. Again, the Figure and the Houses it appears in can give valuable clues.
-Company of Houses: This Mode of Perfection occurs when a specific relationship appears between either Signifactor in its “paired” House. The “pairs” of Houses are one and two, three and four, five and six, seven and eight, nine and ten, and eleven and twelve. Six and seven are not paired Houses. There are four types Company Houses can have: Simple (when the same Figure is in both), Demi-Simple (when Figures ruled by the same planet are in both), Compound (when opposite Figures are in each House), and Capitular (when the two Figures have the same Fire line). In any of the above cases, the Figure that is not the Significator acts like a second one, and should immediately be treated as such, and any Translations, Mutations, Occupations, Conjunctions, and Favorable Aspects should be checked for it! However, in terms of interpretation, it “counts” as the original Significator having made the connection, not the new one! In many cases, this Mode of Perfection indicates that one’s associations can be of great help in succeeding.
-Favorable Aspect: This is a sixth Mode of Perfection that I personally do not ascribe to. I almost never think of any sort of esoteric reading in terms of “favorable” and “unfavorable,” as I feel that it clouds the issue by making it too binary. As I do not practice this Mode of Perfection, I am not adept in its use, so will not discuss it here. I will, however, mention its existence so you may do further research into it.
Denial of Perfection
Just as there are ways in which “Perfection” can be achieved in a Chart, to point the Querent to success, there are a few ways (fewer than there are Modes of Perfection) by which the Chart can indicate that success might not currently be in the cards (or the Chart, so to speak).
-Impedition: This Denial of Perfection happens when there is no relationship whatsoever between the Significator of the Querent and the Significant of the Quesited. This means that success may currently lie out of the Querent’s reach in his or her current position.
-Company of Houses: If, after checking for Company of Houses as above, you find that the new, second Significator has a Translation, Mutation, Occupation, or Conjunction that results in an Impedition, this can make a Denial of Perfection. In this case, it often means that someone the Querent knows is responsible for obstructing success.
-Unfavorable Aspect: Like the Favorable Aspect, I do not practice this Denial of Perfection, so am not skilled in its interpretation, and so will not discuss it. It does exist, though.
It is important to keep in mind that multiple Modes of Perfection are possible, and each one should be considered independently and along with the others. The more Modes of Perfection there are, the more paths to success! The same is true of Denials of Perfection. In very rare cases, both Modes of Perfection and Denials of Perfection are possible. In these cases, Modes of perfection win out over Denials.
Another way to gain insight into the House Chart is by combining any two Houses together to better understand how they interact. To do this, simply combine the Figures in both Houses together like you do the Mothers and Daughters to get Nieces, and Nieces to get Witnesses, and Witnesses to get Judges in the Shield Chart: add up the dots in each line of the two figures, combining them, and if there is an even number of dots, put two dots in the same line of the Combination Figure, and if there is an odd number, put one dot there. This Figure is the symbol of and describes how these two houses will interact. As with any Geomantic interpretation, all three Figures and the Two Houses the original Figures exist in are important to consider. It can be helpful to designate one house (often the one with the lower numbers) as the Right Witness of this specific examination, and the other as the Left, and the Combined Figure as the Judge, and interpret them that way.
Projection of Points
Like the Way of the Points in a Shield Chart, this method can be used to find any hidden factors in a chart. Simply add up all of the single points on all of the Figures in the Twelve Houses, and then subtract twelve from that number until you get a number less than twelve (zero counts as twelve in this). Then, locate the House indicated by that number, and there you will find the energy and location of a the most subtle, hidden influence on the situation.
A similar process, called the Part of Fortune, is done in the exact same way, except one adds up all of the dots, not just the single ones. The House and Figure indicated by this result indicate where one might possibly gain the most by focusing their efforts on, or more traditionally, the House most likely to grant them fortune.
While there are many other ways to further increase one’s understanding of the House Chart, I do not prescribe to them. If you want more information on the House Chart, please look at my bibliography.
Like in Astrology, Figures in Geomantic Charts – particularly the House Chart – can be associated with Geomantic Houses, which are very similar to Astrological Houses. For ease of reference, the twelve Geomantic Houses are described below. In cases where the Geomantic House differs from the Astrological House, I have noted it at the end of the description.
First House: House of Self
The First House in Geomancy represents oneself, one’s identity, how one is perceived by others, and how one perceives oneself. It is associated with the one asking the question of the spread, or of the person who the spread is asking a question about. It is closely related to the First Triplicity. In the House Chart, this House is never the House of the Quesited.
Second House: House of Value
The Second House concerns assets, property, and material possessions. This house represents financial profits and losses, thefts, and other things involving possession of physical objects and finances. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving day-to-day finances and personal belongings.
Third House: House of Relationships
The Third House involves relationships with family, neighbors, friends, teachers, and people in one’s general area. It also is concerned with the media, gossip, talk between people, and any other form of communication. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving relationships with those who live nearby, and with the media. In Astrology, this is the House of Communications.
Fourth House: House of Land
The Fourth House involves anything involving physical location or infrastructure: land, real estate, farming, buildings, cities, moving, age, fathers, endings, and the subterranean. This house is concerned with things involving the land, whether it be settling, cultivating, or moving to or from it. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving physical location and the use of land. In Astrology, this is the House of Home and Family.
Fifth House: House of Pleasure
The Fifth House in Geomancy is concerned with growth, crop yields, pregnancy, children, and sexuality. This House is also concerned with entertainment, pleasure, food, drink, and water, as well as writing and books. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving fertility, growth, enjoyment, writing, and reading.
Sixth House: House of Health
The Sixth House involves employees and those involved in the service economy, as well as occultists and esotericists. This house also is involved in pets and disease, and other questions of health. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving servicepeople, pets, and sickness.
Seventh House: House of Partnerships
The Seventh House represents love, lovers, spouses, one-on-one partnerships, treaties, agreements, predator/prey relationships, conflict, and competition. Enemies, robbers, finding, and doctors (often privy to people’s deepest secrets) are also found here, as well as any deep relationships between (usually two) parties. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving deep human relationships between two individuals.
Eighth House: House of Death
The Eighth House represents death and absences in any form. It can also represent things loaned out or borrowed to others; essentially, things absent for a time. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving missing people, death, the effects of death, absences, and loans. In Astrology, this is the House of Reincarnation.
Ninth House: House of Journeys
The Ninth House is concerned with journeys of all kinds, physical and spiritual, long and short. These include occult divination, trips to other places, deep meditation, spiritual quests, religious pilgrimages, philosophical journeys, and education in order to learn something specific, among other things. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving travel, lessons, and spirituality. In Astrology, this is the House of Philosophy.
Tenth House: House of Social Status
The Tenth House involves social status, reputation, occupation, politics, and any thing involving one’s place and role in society. This House also covers medical treatments and mothers. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving social roles and politics.
Eleventh House: House of Friendships
The Eleventh House involves close friendships (not acquaintances), hopes, dreams, coworkers, advisors, hidden questions, unknown questions, promises, and oaths. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving friendship and pacts.
Twelfth House: House of Harm
The Twelfth House in Geomancy governs the realms of harm, pain, limitation, debts, danger secrets, and wild animals. This House is associated with the unpleasant and miserable parts of life. In the House Chart, this House is the House of the Quesited in questions involving harm, misery, and secrecy. In Astrology, this is the House of Self-Undoing.
Geomantic Elements and Modalities
Every Geomantic Figure is associated in various ways with the four elements of Fire (Energy), Air (Reason), Water (Emotion), and Earth (Practicality). As mentioned in this post (which is key to understanding this post), each Figure has active and passive elements in it, depending on if the appropriate point on the Figure has one (Active) or two (Passive) dots there. Each Figure also has an Outer Element, representing their orientation towards the world, and an Inner Element, representing the source of their energy and strength. I also have assigned each Figure a Modality (similar to those in Astrology) according to its Outer Element, which is also known as the Figure’s Ruling Element; its defining characteristic. There are four Figures with each of the four Ruling Elements, and each Figure in its classification has a unique Modality that defines how it expresses its energies to the world: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable, and Closing.
The meaning of each and every Figure can be derived from these three classifications: Outer/Ruling Element, Inner Element, and Modality. In order to illustrate this, I have made a chart explaining the relationship between Outer Element, Inner Element, and Modality for each Figure. In the chart, this explanation can be found after the word “Combination,” representing what the combination of those three unique factors mean.
Because the table’s format is difficult to read on a browser, I have also attached a .doc file of the table for downloading. If you share the table with anyone else, please make sure to credit EsoTarot. The download link is here: Geomantic Elements and Modalities Table.
The difficult-to-read browser version is here:
|Puer||Fire||Air||Cardinal||Outer Fire: This Figure displays a great amount of outward drive and enthusiasm when interacting with the world around it.Inner Air: This Figure is driven by willpower and energy, and it draws its strength from vast reserves of these two things.Cardinal Modality: This Figure is in initiator, and has the will to set things in motion.Combination: Puer’s boundless energy is fueled by high-minded ideals of what the world should be like. Puer combines the willpower to change the world with the ideas to change it. This Figure is very good at starting things, as it is of the Cardinal Modality, its Airy thoughts causing it to go out into the world with Fire, and does so with a lot of force and willpower, but may have trouble sustaining it without material fuel.|
|Amissio||Earth||Fire||Mutable||Outer Earth: This Figure moves cautiously and carefully when interacting with the world around it, and focuses on the material and practical.Inner Fire: This Figure is driven by willpower and energy, and it draws its strength from vast reserves of these two things.Mutable Modality: This Figure adapts and changes to better suit its environment, and allows for its survival by constant adjustments to its state of being.Combination: Amissio is a contradiction: it is the material of Earth fueled by the abstract spirit of Fire, and represents in many ways the annoyance associated with the reality outside you frustrating your inner fire. It represents a loss of spirit and will as the pure energy of Fire becomes the locked energy of Earth. As losses change the character of anyone, this element’s Mutability represents the constant changes in the Figure’s energy as it adjusts again and again to loss in the massive change it makes from Fire and Earth.|
|Albus||Air||Water||Mutable||Outer Air: This Figure interacts with the world in a detached manner, living by high-minded principles and applying conscious thought to communicate with those around it and understand its surroundings.Inner Water: This Figure draws its strength from compassion and nurturing, as well as intuition and the realm of dreams and the subconscious.Mutable Modality: This Figure adapts and changes to better suit its environment, and allows for its survival by constant adjustments to its state of being.Combination: The Figure of Albus cares deeply about the world, as seen by the fact that it draws its strength from Water and empathy. However, though its motives are pure, it interacts with the world in a distant, often aloof manner, so that its intentions are not realized. As a Figure of Mutable Modality, Albus is also a keeper of peace and a superb diplomat, able to quickly adjust to suit his own needs and the needs of others. He uses his ability to adapt and understand other sides of disagreements to resolve conflicts, along with great communicative skills (from Air) and empathic skills (Water).|
|Populus||Water||Water||Mutable||Outer Water: This Figure shows itself to the world as caring and kind, but also passive and willing to go with the flow.Inner Water: This Figure draws its strength from compassion and nurturing, as well as intuition and the realm of dreams and the subconscious.Mutable Modality: This Figure adapts and changes to better suit its environment, and allows for its survival by constant adjustments to its state of being.Combination: This is the ultimate passive Figure, as it draws its energy from Water and expresses that energy as Water. This is further reinforced by its Mutable Modality; it goes with the flow and does whatever everyone else is doing. It is thus easily led by the mass, but difficult to be swayed by an individual. It represents mass opinion and consciousness, and the mutual care and thoughts of everyone coming together to survive and live with each other in harmony.|
|Fortuna Major||Fire||Earth||Fixed||Outer Fire: This Figure displays a great amount of outward drive and enthusiasm when interacting with the world around it.Inner Earth: This Figure draws its strength from the material world and stability; its power is strength and stubbornness itself.Fixed Modality: This is a stabilizing Figure that maintains the status quoas best as it can.Combination: Fortuna Major interacts with the world with energy and enthusiasm that is fueled by the rock-hard stubbornness of the material world. Unlike Puer or Amissio, Fortuna Major endures, and its flame always burns bright (picture the Figure’s Fire energy as the flame, and its fuel as the Earth energy). Fortuna Major represents a strength and confidence of character inside that leads to confidence and passion on the outside. Combined with a Fixed Modality, this means that this Figure’s inner character is strong enough to withstand the changing circumstances of the world around it, and serves as a bastion of stability that keeps the flame burning strong.|
|Conjunctio||Earth||Air||Closing||Outer Earth: This Figure moves cautiously and carefully when interacting with the world around it, and focuses on the material and practical.Inner Air: This Figure is motivated by powerful ideals and a supremely rational understanding of the world around them.Closing Modality: This Figure brings things to an end in preparation for new beginnings; it resolves that which needs to be finished.Combination: Conjunctio presents itself to the world as supremely practical, and backs up this Earthy practicality with the logic and reason of its Inner Air. As a Closing Element, this Figure also represents new beginnings; it is the end of long process of building up a team and friendships (Air) that can then be used to build something new (Earth). Air and Earth are also opposites, but unlike other Figures made from opposite elements, Air and Earth can actually support each other very well, and so Conjunctio also represents the coming together of opposites.|
|Puella||Air||Water||Closing||Outer Air: This Figure interacts with the world in a detached manner, living by high-minded principles and applying conscious thought to communicate with those around it and understand its surroundings.Inner Water: This Figure draws its strength from compassion and nurturing, as well as intuition and the realm of dreams and the subconscious.Closing Modality: This Figure brings things to an end in preparation for new beginnings; it resolves that which needs to be finished.Combination: Puella shares the same Inner and Outer Elements as Albus, yet differs in its Modality. While Albus is concerned with establishing peace and maintaining stability, Puella is concerned with finishing what was started and moving on to something new. As such, Puella is driven by emotions and intuition, and the subconscious rhythm of cycles of beginning and ending. She interacts with the world with the world around her through the application of her emotional knowledge, using her intuition to better communicate with and shape the world. Her emotions drive her to seek out all that she gone to complete what has begun, applying Airy principles to her Watery feelings.|
|Rubeus||Water||Air||Fixed||Outer Water: This Figure shows itself to the world as caring and kind, but also passive and willing to go with the flow.Inner Air: This Figure is motivated by powerful ideals and a supremely rational understanding of the world around them.Fixed Modality: This is a stabilizing Figure that maintains the status quoas best as it can.Combination: Rubeus’ elements don’t seem to match up with its meaning at first glance. It expresses itself to the world, though, as a very go-with-the-flow kind of Figure; it doesn’t care or worry about the future or the past, and just lives in the moment. Yet, at the same time, this Figure is driven by the energies of Air, and a deep understanding of the world around it. Rubeus understands the world around it, but rejects it, instead denying its Inner Air for the sake of its outer Water, and living in its emotions, running away from reason. It also is detached from the world around it, and it is this desire for detachment that drives it to lose itself. Rubeus is also of the Fixed Modality; by going with the flow, Rubeus gets trapped in itself and its dangerous, hedonistic lifestyle, and it can be hard to break free from that.|
|Acquisitio||Fire||Air||Mutable||Outer Fire: This Figure displays a great amount of outward drive and enthusiasm when interacting with the world around it.Inner Air: This Figure is motivated by powerful ideals and a supremely rational understanding of the world around them.Mutable Modality: This Figure adapts and changes to better suit its environment, and allows for its survival by constant adjustments to its state of being.Combination: This figure has the energy and vitality of fire in its interactions with the world, and it is this energy that allows it to acquire and gain whatever it wants. It is fueled by the logic and reason of Air, which allows its gaining to be as efficient as possible. As Fire naturally needs off of Air, the pairing of Air fueling Fire is very powerful, and allows for Acquisitio to make itself a place in the world through its constant gains. This Figure is also Mutable, and so it is able to adapt and change in order to achieve its ends, using the cold logic of Air combined with the drive to succeed of Fire to get what it wants.|
|Carcer||Earth||Earth||Fixed||Outer Earth: This Figure moves cautiously and carefully when interacting with the world around it, and focuses on the material and practical.Inner Earth: This Figure draws its strength from the material world and stability; its power is strength and stubbornness itself.Fixed Modality: This is a stabilizing Figure that maintains the status quoas best as it can.Combination: Carcer is Earth through and through, drawing its energy from the material world, stability, and stubborness, and expressing these same thoughts and characteristics to the world as it interacts with it. Unfortunately, because it is completely Earth and lacks the understanding of Elements beyond the material, Carcer traps itself in its own narrow mind. It is of the Fixed Modality because it inadvertently sets limits on itself through its stubbornness and refusal to budge.|
|Tristitia||Air||Earth||Fixed||Outer Air: This Figure interacts with the world in a detached manner, living by high-minded principles and applying conscious thought to communicate with those around it and understand its surroundings.Inner Earth: This Figure draws its strength from the material world and stability; its power is strength and stubbornness itself.Fixed Modality: This is a stabilizing Figure that maintains the status quoas best as it can.Combination: Tristitia is another Figure of contradictions, and it leads to sorrow. Tristitia’s energy is drawn from the Earth, the material world, and practical-mindedness, and it tries to reach the height of Air, but its groundedness sometimes causes it to fall flat on its face. It expresses itself in a detached way with the rest of the world, yet has the potential and strength of the Earth behind it. It is of the Fixed modality because it has given up hope of reconciling Air and Earth, the two parts of its character, and cannot see any way out, losing itself to despair.|
|Laetitia||Water||Earth||Closing||Outer Water: This Figure shows itself to the world as caring and kind, but also passive and willing to go with the flow.Inner Earth: This Figure draws its strength from the material world and stability; its power is strength and stubbornness itself.Closing Modality: This Figure brings things to an end in preparation for new beginnings; it resolves that which needs to be finished.Combination: Laetitia, like Tristitia, draws its strength from the Earth, the material world, and practicality, but is able to bridge the link between Earth and Air, through the element between them: Water. As Water naturally feeds the Earth and helps it grow, Laetitia’s energies reinforce each other; Laetitia uses Water to interact with the world, which makes the Earth go stronger, which in turn makes its inner strength more powerful. Through the emotions and intuition of Water, Laetitia understands the joys of life and the Material World, and is content with where it is, representing the Closing Modality.|
|Cauda Draconis||Fire||Fire||Closing||Outer Fire: This Figure displays a great amount of outward drive and enthusiasm when interacting with the world around it.Inner Fire: This Figure is driven by willpower and energy, and it draws its strength from vast reserves of these two things.Closing Modality: This Figure brings things to an end in preparation for new beginnings; it resolves that which needs to be finished.Combination: Fire fueled by Fire does not last long, and usually signifies the end of the flame. This is true with Cauda Draconis, whose one list burst of flame pushes it towards its Closing Modality. Cauda Draconis is the Fire on the verge of burning out, eager and ready to start again from the ashes once it dies. Cauda Draconis’ inner drive and Fire is to start again, and so it pushes itself towards it ending, its Fiery inner strength dominating its outer appearance as it strives to finish what it has started so it can begin anew.|
|Caput Draconis||Earth||Earth||Cardinal||Outer Earth: This Figure moves cautiously and carefully when interacting with the world around it, and focuses on the material and practical.Inner Fire: This Figure is driven by willpower and energy, and it draws its strength from vast reserves of these two things.Cardinal Modality: This Figure is in initiator, and has the will to set things in motion.Combination: Like Carcer, Caput Draconis is Earth through and through. However, it differs in one crucial aspect: Caput Draconis is of the Cardinal Modality, not fixed. While Carcer’s expressions of Earth trap itself, Caput Draconis’ expressions of it allow it to begin a new journey. Carcer’s Earth energies are stubborn and immoveable, whereas Caput Draconis’ are brimming with potential and growth. Caput Draconis uses the fertile seed of Earth as its inner strength, and expresses that inner strength in outer strength as it just continues to grow and grow, using all of its Earthy potential. Caput Draconis represents the ashes of Cauda Draconis’ burn-up Fire, and is ready to rise and bloom from the rich ashes left behind.|
|Fortuna Minor||Air||Fire||Cardinal||Outer Air: This Figure interacts with the world in a detached manner, living by high-minded principles and applying conscious thought to communicate with those around it and understand its surroundings.Inner Fire: This Figure is driven by willpower and energy, and it draws its strength from vast reserves of these two things.Cardinal Modality: This Figure is in initiator, and has the will to set things in motion.Combination: Fortuna Minor is backwards; its Fire fuels Air. As Fire naturally consumes Air, the energies of Fortuna Minor burn out quickly. Fortuna Minor is motivated by an inner Fire and indomitable spirit, but its energy is quickly sapped and expended as it strives to interact with the world in a logical, rational way. It sees the Fiery energies of Fortuna Major in its interactions with the world, and so takes that lesson to heart and draws its strength from that Fire – but it misses Fortuna Major’s Earthy fuel. As such, it ends up weakening itself, and letting circumstances and chance rule it, unlike the ability of its brother Fortuna Major to rule circumstances and chance. The weakness of Fortuna Minor allows it to get pushed around. It is of the Cardinal Modality because these pushes will reignite Fortuna Minor’s Fire, setting it out on a journey to rule its own fate.|
|Via||Water||Water||Cardinal||Outer Water: This Figure shows itself to the world as caring and kind, but also passive and willing to go with the flow.Inner Water: This Figure draws its strength from compassion and nurturing, as well as intuition and the realm of dreams and the subconscious.Cardinal Modality: This Figure is in initiator, and has the will to set things in motion.Combination: Via is Water through and through, like Populus. However, the difference between them is their Modality. Populus is Mutable, constantly changing to suit its environment. Via, on the other hand, is Cardinal; it makes the change. While Populus represents the constant motion of the sea, Via represents the mighty force of the ocean and rivers, carving out its own path through the earth, capable of destroying whatever is in its path. Via is motivated by its feelings, and longs to experience and feel everything. Via draws its strength from its intuition and natural, instinctive understanding of its environment, and expresses itself in the same way, traveling where the wind blows it, but still having a fixed goal in mind. It knows where it is going, but is unsure of how to get there, and is willing to make adjustments to its path as it sees fit.|
Of course, not every combination is explored in the Geomantic alphabet. As an exercise, it can be useful to create your own pseudo-Geomantic Figures that do not exist by randomly generating an Outer Element, and Inner Element, and a Modality. For example, what would a Figure with Outer Air, Inner Air, and a Fixed Modality mean?
They would interact with the world in a lofty, detached way, and would do so because they are fueled by high-minded ideals and logic. They might view the world as being beneath them and not worthy of their attention. Their Fixed Modality could mean that they are unwilling to listen to the reason of others, and so trap themselves in their own mind. This would make the meaning of the Figure similar to Carcer, except instead of being trapped by materialism, they would be trapped by abstraction, becoming arrogant and naive in their aloofness from the world.
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.
In the art of astrology, the sky is viewed as a giant sphere, which on paper translates into a circle. Astrological charts reflect this view, and are circular in shape, and operate on the ideas of cycles and turning. Because the chart is circular and involves ideas of movement, there are certain points on the circle, as seen on any chart, that have special significance. These points are evenly spaced around the chart, and are four in number, based around the intersection of the veritcal and horizontal axes of the sky. Each one of these points, called “Angles,” has a spcial significance. There are two Polarities of Angles. The first of these Polarities is the Polarity of Interaction (Self vs. Other), made up by the Ascendant and Descendant, which describe how you express yourself to others and how others express themselves to you.
The first Angle is the Ascendant, and the Sign that lies on this Angle is rising over the eastern horizon (the left of the chart). This is also called the Rising Sign, and is one of the three aspects of an astrological personality. It represents how your Sun Sign expresses itself to the rest of the world, and the mask that you wear when out in public; it is how you appear to others, and how your energy manifests.
The second Angle is the Descendant, and it lies opposite the Ascendant, setting over the western horizon (the right of the chart). The Sign here shows what it is that you seek when interacting with others; what you look for in your relationships, what qualities you seek in companions, and what energies manifest themselves in your relations with others.
The second Polarity of Angles is the Polarity of Function (Role vs. Actor). This polarity deals with how you as an individual interact with the larger world around you, and is made of the Medium Coeli (Midheaven) and the Imum Coeli (Undersky), which describe how you fit into larger society and how you as an individual fit into your own life.
The Medium Coeli is the Angle highest in the sky at the time of the chart, and so is also called Midheaven. This Angle represents your role in the world at large, and your utmost public face (not the Ascendant mask you wear, which appears even to close friends; this is the public self that even strangers can know, such as your internet profiles). It also represents how you fit into society as a whole, including your job, social circles, social class, race, gender, among other things.
The Imum Coeli is the Angle lowest in the sky at the time of the chart, and is also called the Undersky, as it was not visible during the time of the chart. It lies directly opposite the Medium Coeli, and represents your “backstage” and role, and corresponds to your private self, and how you express yourself outside of the public eye. It represents the emotions, feelings, and thoughts of you as an actor in the great social game, playing the role of the Medium Coeli.
The Astrological Personality
The purpose of the art of astrology is to better understand oneself and the world around you. In fact, that is the purpose of every esoteric art; to attain a new understanding of the life that you live and what makes it – and you, as an integral part of your life – work they way it does. Astrology explores this understanding through the use of astrological charts: explaining and understanding different parts of yourself, an event, or another object based upon the position of planets and zodiacal signs at certain times. In this way, astrology is unique among esoteric arts, because it not only deals with static interpretation, but also of changing interpretation, by adding a concrete element of time into the mix.
Most commonly, astrology is used in the context of natal, or birth, charts, in order to help discover what astrological forces acted upon someone at the moment of their birth. These forces do not wholly or completely define who you are, and the position of the astrological planets, and even the very evolution of the art of astrology, are merely manifestations of the universe’s consciousness, or animus mundi, in the corpus mundi. The state of the universe at the time of birth affects the shape of that child’s life, expressing itself through biological and social factors, as well as bringing its own addition to the soul into the mix. These factors coming together, as expressed in a natal birth chart, represent the shape of one’s life. A more fundamental aspect of this shape is one’s personality, the baseline of which is laid down by three astrological Signs, and is then modified over the life course. These three Signs are the Sun Sign, the Moon Sign, and the Rising Sign (or Ascendant).
The Sun Sign – the Sign that the Sun was passing through at the time – is the most well-known of the three Signs, and is often used as the primary, defining factor of one’s personality. The Sun Sign defines one’s conscious perception of oneself, one’s purpose, and one’s sense of their own identity. It represents the present, and the progression of the years. It is the realm of the mind. It represents how you manifest to yourself.
The Moon Sign – that which the Moon was in at the time – represents one’s inner self and the subconscious; those parts of ourselves that we are not aware of, and those most private feelings that no one else is aware of. It also represents the past, and the passage of months. It is the part of one’s personality most in tune with intuition and emotions, and is the realm of instinct. It represents how your subconscious manifests itself to you.
The Rising Sign – the Sign that was emerging on the eastern horizon at the time – is also known as the Ascendant, and represents one’s outer personality and appearance; the mask that everyone has and presents to the world. It also represents the future and the passage of days, and represents how you attempt to achieve your purpose. It is the realm of perception. It represents how you manifest yourself to the rest of the world.
In order to truly understand someone’s astrological personality, they must understand these three Signs and how they interact. Common characteristics in any of these Signs indicate that that trait is particularly strong in someone’s personality. In interpreting the three Signs, one looks at the Sign’s meaning, and then at the position it occupies; for example, a Leo as a Moon Sign indicates that one is naturally creative and that they have a sense of pride deep inside of them that they may not be aware of, and are emotionally secure and assured. Leo as a Sun Sign indicates that your drive is to be creative, and your purpose is to display your abilities to the world. Leo as a Rising Sign indicates that outwardly you focus on elevating yourself in the eyes of others, and appear prideful or even arrogant, and are confident and self-assured, and in pursuing your Sun Sign’s purpose you are creative and confident.
Thoughts on the Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross Spread is perhaps the single most commonly used Tarot spread in the Western world, or perhaps the entire world. It is generally the first spread – other than the simple three-card Past, Present, Future spread – that most Tarot books teach. The spread itself has been used so often that it has built up a lot of energy and interpretations as to its meaning.
The Spread itself is composed of two parts: the Cross and the Staff. The two parts of the Celtic Cross represent the two basic polarities that inhabit everyone’s life: Yin and Yang. Yin, the masculine, is represented by the four upright cards of the staff, and reminds us that everything progresses towards a goal (the top card of the staff represents the ultimate outcome). Yang, the feminine, is represented by the four cards surrounding the central two in a circle, and reminds us that everything also has a cyclical nature. The two cards in the center of the Cross – the central and supporting factors – represent the resolution of the duality of the Staff and Cross. In Druidic thought, dualistic thinking is resolved through the creation of a third choice, to avoid living in a world dominated by either ors. The two central cards connect the Cross and the Staff, and represent the third choice; the two dots in the Yin Yang symbol colored differently than their surroundings.
A rough image of the shape is the spread is below:
The Cross is on the left, and the staff is on the right. Those of you familiar with the Spread may immediately notice that I have numbered the positions differently than is standard. This is because, to me, the “standard” Celtic Cross numbering has never seemed to ring true, and the way above has always seemed much more natural to me; it was the way the cards naturally dealt themselves, rising from the influence of the unconscious to the influence of time, to the influence of the subconscious, focusing on rising through the levels of consciousness. Who am I to argue with the animus mundi?
When I throw the spread, I lay out the cards in the above order. The card in the first position represents the central factor of whatever question you have asked, and tells you what the most powerful energy in any given situation is. The second card is the secondary factor, and it can be either supporting, neutral, or contradicting. If it is a supporting factor, its energy will be similar to that of the central factor, and will work in harmony with it (such as The Lovers and Love). If it is neutral, the energies will have no interplaying effects on each other. If it is a contradicting factor, the energies will oppose each other in some way. In all cases, the energy of the central factor takes priority and has the most strength, but its energy is modified by the energies of the secondary factor, changing it, strengthening it, weakening it, or sometimes, as in the case of a neutral factor, merely adding another layer of complexity and another central factor to the situation.
After dealing those two, I deal the rest of the cross in a zig-zag motion, starting at the bottom, going up to the left, then the right, then up. As I said before, this just feels natural to me. The four cards of the wheel are the influences on the situation, and represent how the querent’s own mind and the passage of time affect the situation. The third position represents unconscious influences on the situation, such as what might be going through the mind of the querent (most commonly) or those closely involved with him that they are not aware of that shape the querent’s perception of the situation. If this influence is a card associated with deception, the querent may not be being honest with himself.
The fourth position represents past influences; the weight of history and their past experiences, and how those things have shaped their worldview and approach to the situation. It can represent receding influences as well, and influences whose hold over the querent are weakening. The fifth position represents future influences or goals, and represents what the querent or others strive to achieve, and what might (remember that the cards do not tell the future) lie in store there. The sixth position represents conscious influences: those things that are at the forefront of the querent’s mind that they are very much aware of, affecting their actions with regards to the situation. If this card is associated with deception, then the querent (if it is not yourself) might not be being honest with you! It could also mean that they are possibly a dishonest party in the situation.
The Cross is made of two axes: a vertical one and a horizontal one. The horizontal axis deals with the passage of time; on the left is the past and on the right is the future. The secondary factor (the second card placed) is also associated with this axis, as it lies horizontally. It represents the present situation as well as what I listed above, and the transition between past and future. I should note here than many practitioners of the Celtic Cross spread lay out the cards so that the past is on the right and the future on the left. This interpretation is seen in Geomancy as well. This is a perfectly valid viewpoint, and I believe it arises out of the common trend of many languages (particularly Semitic languages like Hebrew, from which the Tarot derives some of its symbolism) to read from right to left. As I am a native English speaker, I read left to right, and so also read the passage of time in that manner. The difference is as simple as that.
The vertical axis of the Celtic Cross deals with levels of the mind, and how the querent acts upon and perceives the situation. At the top is the conscious mind, and at the bottom is the subconscious mind. As the central factor is vertical, it is also associated with this axis, and represents the ultimate reason for the querent’s interest in the situation, and the sum of their conscious and unconscious drives, as well as everything else discussed above. The three cards on this axis are reflected in Sigmund Freud’s conception of the mind: the conscious influences are the Superego, the police for of the mind that makes judgments and imposes values on the individual’s actions; the central factor is the Ego, which does its best to provide a realistic view of any situation; and the unconscious influences are the Id, the primal drives and unconscious desires that ultimately drive us all, and are repressed by the Ego and SuperEgo.
The Staff consists of four cards aligned vertically. The seventh position represents the querent’s position, and in some ways serves to sum up the Cross. It represents the biases and prejudices the querent might have, as well as how they have been approaching the situation up to this point, how they are dealing with it, and their role in the situation and how they effect their surroundings. The eighth position represents environmental factors, and the querent’s relationship to everything that surrounds him or her. This can be the people surrounding him, the physical environment she lives in, or anything else. Most commonly, it represents the influences that the environment have upon the situation and the querent, but can also sometimes represent the influences that the querent as upon the environment (a role shared with the previous position). These two positions are also associated with the horizontal axis of the Cross.
The ninth position represents the querent’s hopes and fears, as well as advice. it is strongly associated with the future influences position, as well as the secondary factors position. It is also a summation of the vertical axis of the Cross, and represents what the querent hopes to get out of the situation, or what they fear to lose from it. It can also give the querent something to think about, or a piece of advice that might help them deal with whatever is going on.
The tenth and final position of the Celtic Cross is the summation of the rest of the spread. It represents the probable outcome of the situation. Depending on the way that the energies of the spread work out, this can either represent the result of things don’t change, or the result if the spread’s advice is followed (the latter is more common). It tells you how the querent, the environment, and everyone else involved will be affected by and changed by the situation when it is resolved. It is strongly associated with the central factor as well as the conscious influences positions, as it represents the central factor of what is most likely to happen given everything else, and serves as a sort of second central factor card for the spread.
When I read any spread, unlike many people, I lay out the entire spread first before looking at the cards, rather than interpreting each card on their own before looking at their relationships to each other. This is a personal thing, and I feel like I can better understand the cards if I do it this way. Additionally, I do not read the Celtic Cross in the same order I lay it out. Generally, I begin with examining the first two positions, then move on to the horizontal axis of the cross (past to future), then the vertical access (unconscious to conscious), and then go onto the Staff. If I need clarification on anything, I generally look first to the cards linked with the confusing card’s position, then at the cards surrounding it and the general energies of the spread, and if that fails me, I draw another card.
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.
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.
The World’s Greatest Fear
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.
The Old Godfather – Tail of the Dragon – Endings, Doorway With Footprints, Leaving, Outer Threshold, Lower Boundary – Outer Fire, Inner Fire
Cauda Draconis means “Tail of the Dragon” in Latin, and its significance is reflected in this name. This Figure represents the “tail” end of things, and is associated with endings. It represents the past, and the state of near completion. It is thus associated with the south Node of the Moon, and its association with past skills, experiences, and knowledge. It is also associated with Sagittarius, the Teacher and Philsopher, also due to its association with knowledge. It is a Mobile Figure, as it is associated with endings, and not keeping things as they were; Cauda Draconis is a Figure of radical change and disruption. It also advises us to let go of the past and be willing to move on to something new. The shape of the Figure itself represents footsteps leading away from a doorway, thus associating the Figure with departures and again with endings. All of the energies in this Figure are active save for Earth, which is passive, indicating that the only thing Caput Draconis lacks is the traditional final Element of Earth, and then the end of your journey will be completed. Its Outer and Inner Energies are both of Fire, which associates Cauda Draconis with the fiery end that comes to many things, as well as the violent nature of change and endings. This Figure can be seen as being strongly associated with the Tarot card of The Tower.
In addition to Endings, Cauda Draconis is associated with selfishness, single-mindedness, and blind focus. As one approaches the end of anything, their concentration can become intense as they strive to make that final jump to finish. They will do anything to achieve that end and final rest. Those imbued with the energy Cauda Draconis are often near to finishing some stage in their life, and while they can be generous, it is generally only so that they may gain from their generosity. The interests of Cauda Draconis are often pursued with little or no regard for others; they are utterly focused on their goal, and seek only to finish what they have started. Corruption and danger are also associated with Cauda Draconis, as well as destruction.
Cauda Draconis also looks to the past, and is focused on what has already happened, reflecting on what is no longer. Combined with the above, this makes the archetype of Cauda Draconis an Old Godfather, and not in the Christian sense of the world. Cauda Draconis is an ancient mob boss, with no scruples or conscience (except for where his family is concerned), who is focused completely on setting all of his affairs in order and increasing his family’s power before he dies. He uses his experience from the past to help him achieve his goals, and is willing to do anything to achieve them. He works for himself and his family, and no one else. He is corrupt, dangerous, and destructive, with nothing personally to lose. Cauda Draconis’ opposite Figure is Caput Draconis, or the Head of the Dragon.
The Reveler – Joy – Tower, Bearded, Laugh, Sing, Peak, Candelabrum – Outer Water, Inner Earth
Unlike its opposite Tristitia, Laetitia’s Inner and Outer Energies complement each other nicely, allowing for Laetitia to be a positive figure: the Inner Energy of the Figure is Earth, and this materialistic, practical, stubborn, and powerful nature is what supports and allows for the emotional and intuitive development of its Outer Energy of water. The emotional energy of Laetitia is extremely powerful and strong, which is why in the Figure itself, Fire is the only active element, representing the strength of Laetitia’s emotions. The shape of the figure brings to mind a mountain or tower, with the focus at the peak. Laetitia, then, is associated with being at the top of one’s life and game, filled with joy, happines, and long-term fulfillment. Interestingly, Laetitia’s emotional fulfillment can also be short-term as well, and the context in which the Figure appears will affect whether long-term fulfillment or momentary pleasure awaits.
This Figure is also associated with ascent and upward mobility, in contrast to Tristitia. It signifies good prospects, fortitude, and honest convictions to help you achieve more with the help of a supportive community. It is very similar to the Four of Wands, Completion, in the Tarot, in that it represents fulfillment within a community. Laetitia can also represent innocence, honesty, goodwill, naivete, and strong convictions and beliefs, while still remaining open-minded and open to new ideas. Laetitia is a Figure of sharing and openness, and so is not a good figure when secrets are involved; the key concept of Laetitia us that the free flow of unblocked energy will lead to fulfillment and happiness. Laetitia is approaching completion, and the peak has almost been reached, and is associated with celebration and gladness. Astrologically, it is associated with Jupiter and Pisces; good fortune, inner strength, good ideals, and knowledge of and integration with the larger universe. It is a Mobile Figure, representing its adaptability and constant movement, and its opposite is Tristitia.
The Heartbroken – Sorrow – Pit, Stake, Cross, Diminished, Cursed, Fallen Tower – Outer Air, Inner Earth
Tristitia is the Geomantic Figure of sorrow and sadness. Like the Tarot card Sorrow (Three of Swords), this sorrow is the result of a disconnect between the world as you see it in your mind, and the world as it is. In other words, the disconnect between Lacan’s Real and Reality. This disconnect is represented in the Figure by its Energies; its Outer Energy is Air, and it is sustained by the Inner Energy of Earth. Air and Earth are opposite elements, and to do touch, so the Earth supporting the Air is an inherent contradiction that leads to disappointment and sadness. In terms of the Figure itself, only Earth is active, representing the unfulfilling life one has when they only concern themselves with the material, ignoring reason, emotion, and passion. The shape of the figure suggests a bottomless pit or stake driven firmly into… something, or an upside down tower (associating it the the Tarot Tower, and therefore with ruin and downfall).
Surprisingly, Tristitia is a Stable Figure, which indicates that the sorrow that this Figure causes is not fleeting, like perhaps the loss of Amissio is, but rather longer-lasting, hence its association with curses. This is also why its archetype is the Heartbroken, as Tristitia’s sorrow can sap the will from one who suffers from its energies. Its permanence is a crucial part of the figure (as reflected in Earth being its only active element), and Tristitia can be associated with less negative things as well: sinking one’s roots in and permanence (though this permanance can be either positive or negative). It is more commonly associated with sorrow, difficulty, pain, trouble, and low anything: spirits, vitality, and expectations included. It can also signify low amounts of negative things, as well, but generally does not.
Tristitia is Figure of despair and depression, but also of creativity and benevolence, for blessed are the poor in spirit, which is really what Tristitia is. As such, it is also associate with paradoxes. In this vein, it is associated with the wisdom that ones gain through suffering, and perspectives one gains from misery; essentially, the positive side of torment. It also represents downward mobility and spirals, kept secrets, idealism (usually idealism failed), unconventional styles, grief, and being stuck in an unresolvable situation. Saturn and Aquarius are Tristitia’s astrological equivalents, which is interesting, as the two are not normally complementary. This further serves to illustrate Tristitia’s sense of disconnect; the Figure is limited by Saturn, while at the same connected to the rest of the world through Aquarius, but not necessarily in a positive way. Tristitia is the opposite of Laetitia, or Joy.