Geomancy, Elemental Lines, and the Saadia Tree

I have talked a little about this, but I want to resume the discussion at a different level. We can look at the individual signs as a map of affinities, yes, but we can also look at the structure of the sign itself as a model of the middle pillar. To do this, though, we need to take a look at the conflict between the rule of three and the geomantic sign.

While it is interesting to note that the trigrams which form the building blocks of the I Ching do not suffer from this problem, the geomantic figures the are employed west of China are quadrigrams, seemingly rooted in an elemental model with four points rather than three. Conveniently, there are three lines that divide the left and right pillars from each other that are also associated with the elements. What is absent here is a fourth line which would, in theory, occupy a place just above or below Malkuth.

The easiest way to resolve this would be to identify each line of the quadrigram with one of the sefirot of the middle pillar (Keter+Tifaret+Yesod+Malkuth=4), but that would violate the apophatic evacuation of the sefirot in a big way, attaching them to the gross elements of the cosmos.

The fourth line is best understood as a record of the distorting fourth that operates along the middle pillar more generally, the dual present of the transcendent and the less than fully real component (hereafter called the ‘negligent’). Given the absence of the earth from the three elemental lines, it is easiest to posit it as the negligent, but easiest is not here necessarily right. Rather, as the fourth, it needs to be perceived as both the transcendent and the negligent.

It is the negligent because it is the most inert aspect of the elemental forces, a residue that can only be reactivated with effort and oriented toward the higher elemental forces that put it in sympathy with the divine. At the same time, though, it is the materiality of the elements themselves, the substance from which they derive their existence. In this way, the earth transcends and encompasses the other elements.

Identifying the structure of the geomantic sign with the the elemental lines also captures the generative relationship of the elemental lines, of them being the ‘mothers’ from which the other channels are born. Within the model as I understand it, the full geomantic signs have the greatest affinity with the planetary channels. If the elemental dimensions of the geomantic sign reference the elements of the diagram, then what the elemental mothers give birth to are the planets composed of elemental forces.

This suggests that the highest and lowest planetary channels also possess the purest expressions of the geomantic affinities. These affinities manifest at each line of the geomantic figure, representing two dimensions of the elemental forces’ mediation of the sefirot. The highest planetary channel is that of Saturn, with Carcer and Conjunctio as charges. The lowest planetary channel is the Moon, with Via and Populus as charges.

Via represents the active, and Populus the passive, aspect of each element. Carcer represents the emitting, and Conjunctio the fusing, aspect of each element. Each element recieves and modulates potencies from their associated sefirot and emits them back into the sefirot, allowing an indirect communication to take place between them.

In this microcosmic affinity, the single dot is joined to Via and Carcer, as the point at which the elemental channel is emitting material to the sefirot. The double dot, in turn, is joined to Populus and Carcer, as the point at which the elemental channel is receiving and transforming material received from the sefirot. In order to understand any given elemental channel (and its corresponding geomantic line), we need to contemplate both the nature of the element and the two sefirot that it joins.

In comparing the geomantic line to the Saadia chart, we have to think a bit as to whether to preserve the traditional pattern of lines (top to bottom: Fire, Air, Water, Earth). While Earth remains the bottom in all cases, a thorough Saadia alignment would be quite different (top to bottom: Air, Water, Fire, Earth). I’m not sure where I stand on that yet. Meditating on the signs from the Saadia perspective has been useful, but both could be partially preserved by appealing to permutation.

I guess I’ll just see how this shakes out in practice.

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One thought on “Geomancy, Elemental Lines, and the Saadia Tree

  1. Pingback: [NB] Shifting Crowns: Geomantic figures (2, 4, 8, 16) and the Saadia Diagram (3, 7, 12) | Disrupt & Repair

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