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Geomancy and Binary Divination Systems

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.occult.methods,alt.divination,alt.religion.orisha,alt.philosophy.taoism
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Geomancy and Binary Divination Systems (was Divination and Liber 963)
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 22:03:54 GMT

50021116 VII ("Liber 963" is by Fuller, URLs given herein for it) (Andralphus):
>>>Cast two geomantic figures, and determine the astrological signs 
>>>attributed to both.

>> isn't that a 16 => 12 correlation? ({ Secret Chief }):
> Yeesh, if only it were that simple.
> As it turns out, two of the figures (Caput and Cauda Draconis) 
> have no zodiacal attribution, but are instead assigned to the 
> North and South nodes of the moon.
> All of the other figures match up with the zodiac; Leo does double
> duty for Fortuna Minor and Major, and Cancer goes twice for Populus
> and Via.
> 14 => 12, with two left over.
> ...the novelty is integrating it with bibliomancy.

are you familiar with the long tradition of associating the 
figures (or a pair of them) with textual verses in 
African/-diasporic religion?

>> as I'm less familiar with this old divination type (geomancy,
>> derived of Arabic sand divination, apparently), and would like
>> to know more, ({ Secret Chief }):
> Geomancy works a lot like the I Ching.  

yeah! I noticed. I've studied the standard ways one might derive
a geomantic reading, and I was amused to notice its binary basis.

> You cast some sort of lot to get an odd or even number.  For an 
> odd number, you write down one mark, for an even, two.  This is 
> repeated a few times to yield a figure.  

I liked your coin-method mentioned below. reflects into the Yijing
there quite wonderfully also.

> Geomancy uses four rows of marks vs. the I Ching's three/six.
> I guess that makes them, what, tessarograms?

or quadragrams! :>

> The original method of casting the lot was to whale away on 
> the ground with a stick for a while, and then count the 
> number or dots you've made.  

the whole subject of sand divination has to me an aura of
exquisite mystery. Taoist sand divination incorporates a
stylus which is suspended above the sand-tray and utilized
in trance to express ideographs by (preferrably) illiterate
oracles. there's something categorically different between
a numerical derivation and a linguistic, and yet they use
some of the same basic methods (apparent 'random' marks in 
sand or soil).

> But I just toss four coins: heads=odd, tails=even.

what? no numbers for those like the Yi's 6s/7s/8s/9s
(Greater Yin/Lesser Yin/Lesser Yang/Greater Yang bigrams)? :>

>Traditionally, one casts four such tessarograms.  These are called the
>'mothers'.  Then by a series of manipulations, these mothers yield
>four 'daughters', four 'nieces', two 'witnesses', and a 'judge'....  

the similarities (trigrams are also arranged with 3 daughters and
3 sons, 1 mother and 1 father) with the Yi as a binary system is
difficult to ignore, but merely coincidental? any idea as to why
these names developed? I haven't looked into deeply enough to
have determined this, in either the Change Oracle or in geomancy.
>These are the same houses used in astrology; I've also seen tarot
>spreads done this way.  But with the geomantic figures, unlike
>constellations or tarot cards, it's not only possible to have the
>figures repeated, but quite likely.  This adds a bit of a twist.

>For instance, say you want to find a lost object.  You cast a chart,
>and notice that Tristia is in the fourth house (hidden things), so you
>probably aren't gonna get it back.  You also notice that Rubeus is in
>the first house (significator) and repeated in the seventh (love).  So
>your weed is probably at your ex-girlfriend's place; worse, she's
>pissed, and just might narc on you.
>Geomancy is a powerful tool.  (And yes, the bitch is going to narc on

LOL! thanks for the explanation.

>But it's also a bit unwieldy as used traditionally, and much better at
>down to earth matters than anything spiritual.

do you know how it varies in its practice over the course of the
communities into which it has spread (Greek, European, Muslim,
Hermetic, etc.)? for example, I gather that the fa and ifa of 
African and Afro-Caribbean diviners is essentially similar, 
though I gather (due to the distinctions made in some of
Skinner's text) that there are differences. to wit:

	In its simplest form, *raml* was called 'sand-cutting',
	which consisted in making a random number of marks in
	the sand or dust, cancelling them off two by two until
	only one or two marks are left, and from this drawing
	a single or double line. Repeated four times, this
	procedure yields one of the basic sixteen geomantic
	figures of *raml*. Sand-cutting was and is a wide-
	spread form of geomancy practised by many Islamic
	groups in both west and north Africa: its similarities
	to the Dahomean divinatory system of *fa*, and the
	Yoruban *ifa*, were first noted by Fischer in 1929,
	and later elaborated on by Monteil, Trautmann, Schilde,
	and most importantly, Bernard Maupoil in 1943, who also
	drew attention to the similarities with Madagascan
	*sikidy* divination.
	 "Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy",
	  by Stephen Skinner, Routledge and Kegan Paul,
	  1980; pp. 25-6.

he goes on to mention the variations in-depth and I have 
not yet delved his exposition entire, but I can see the 
very wonderful use of the binary aspect to this in ifa's 
expansion of the 16 figures to 256 (deriving two of these,
for 16 x 16 possibilities) which are paired with verses 
from memorized verses ('odu', considered to be sacred by
many, to my knowledge, and one of the only things outside 
social initiation towards which I have been pointed which 
may be described as some kind of 'Bible' -- Skinner even 
mentions that a church was established in Lagos in
1934 which uses the odu as their Bible). 

this falls, therefore, in a taxonomy of divinatory
systems, within the "binary" camp, as would all which
generate these possible outcomes:

	2 monograms (e.g. yin/yang)
	4 bigrams (e.g. the Greater/Lesser Yin/Yangs as above)

	8 trigrams (e.g. those ascribed to Fu Xi amongst Chinese)
	16 quadragrams (e.g. in this type of geomancy)
	32 quincagrams (examples??)
	64 hexagrams (e.g. the various Yis)
	128 septagrams (examples??)
	256 octagrams (sort of exemplified by ifa, as two quadragrams)

>So I played around with some alternate 'spreads' for a while - none
>very satisfying - before I decided to follow the I Ching's example and
>integrate the lot-casting with bibliomancy.  As it happened, around
>the time I was trying to figure out what in hell to do with geomancy,
>I was also trying to figure out how in hell to use Liber 963.  They
>both have an astrological basis, so BAM!

>Liber 963 (The Treasure-House of Images) is a book of rather bizarre
>devotional poetry on an astrological scheme by Crowley's friend and
>collaborator JFC Fuller.  It's available in print under the wildly
>inaccurate title _The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley_ (in truth,
>it's neither pathworking nor by Aleister Crowley), and also in several
>places on the web.

very nice! that text is also online in numerous places, inclusive
of in the Lucky Mojo Archive:

if you know of something missing from these which would be essential
for use of it in the manner you've described, let me know. I'll
eventually get to looking at this system of divination more closely.

>Fuller was an interesting guy.  In addition to metaphysical painting
>and writing and editing the Equinox, he was also a high-ranking
>officer in the British army, a prolific and respected writer on
>military strategy, and an early advocate of tank warfare.  Perhaps the
>only avowed follower of Crowley who ever 'made it' in the Real World.

did he practice magic in order to obtain his success? did he claim
to have done so? it would add support to those who argue AC-success. :>

>The bulk of the book is taken up by twelve chapters dedicated to the
>signs of the zodiac, each broken down into thirteen verses for the
>signs of the zodiac and for the sun (expressing 'the unity thereof'). 
>There are also chapters for the sun and moon (broken down into
>thirteen verses which are not attributed astrologically) and the 169
>cries of adoration; these three do not concern us here - though I've
>been working on something with the cries that I just might post here

I look forward to it.

>For the purpose of this divination, one figure is cast to represent
>the querent, and the corresponding zodiacal chapter is chosen; Caput
>and Cauda Draconis pose something of a problem here, as they have no
>signs attributed to them.  I've taken the semi-cop-out of taking Caput
>D. (which signifies new beginnings) to mean 'start over', and Cauda D.
>(which means the end of something) to mean 'stop the divination'.

>A second figure is cast to represent the querent's HGA, on the basis
>of which a verse is selected from the chapter.  Again, there's the
>problem with the Draconises, but also with the Sol verse.  So I've
>just attributed the Draconises to the sun for this purpose; of course
>N and S nodes of the moon != Sol, but I do think beginning and ending
>do have something to do with the idea of unity in the Sol verse.

>Again, there's the problem that the Leo and Cancer chapters are twice
>as likely to be indicated as the other ones, and the same for the Leo,
>Cancer, and Sol verses.

yes, that is problematic as I see it, but I tend to like absolute
even chances unless the bibliomantic text used is written to 
accord with the uneven chances (e.g. yarrowstalk Yijings).

>But this isn't as big a problem as it appears.  After all, the verse
>is to be interpreted in light of the geomantic figures cast.  So the
>Leo of Cancer verse resulting from Populus and Fortuna Major is going
>to be interpreted rather differently than the same verse resulting
>from Fortuna Minor and Via.
>The first would suggest stability, harmony, and power; the second
>would suggest an unstable state on the verge of change.

sensible. such a condition in Yijing is ameliorated as it feeds
into line-construction (yarrow yielding greater propensity for
the generation of Greater/Old Yin as compared to Lesser/Young Yin)
because the line is to be part of a hexagram whose overall form
is not determined by the specific lines in question (i.e. this
places a heavier emphasis on a POOL of hexagrams, whose character
will be determined by what place the line is in the construction
rather than that it happens to be Young or Old Yin).

>> especially from one as well-spoken as yourself. :>

>You flatterer! ;)

'tain't flattery if it be a compliment in sooth. you've already
gone some distance to demonstrating my claim here. :> thanks!


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