[NB] Geomancy, Souls, Texts

I’ve been thinking about what exactly a geomantic chart tells you about a spirit or spiritual issue a bit lately. I use geomancy a good bit in my spiritual practice as a means of identifying and understanding with what I am working, so the question is fairly important. I want to talk about this a little bit. That means wandering a bit into some talk about spiritual typologies, so please keep in mind some of my caveats about that sort of thing.

Some of my posts about things like the relationship of texts and experience are informed by this geomantic work. More than once, I have had to prune back my ideas about a spirit or a working because the conceptual tools I brought to the work from my geomantic study cast a speculative shadow that I mistook for the spirit or work. I have also retooled my geomantic understanding so that it seems better calibrated to the sort of work I’m undertaking.

Before I proceed, then, let me underline that I am trying to make these distinctions as carefully as I can, but such conceptual and ontological contemplation is always problematic, always introduces distortions which can only be overcome if the talking takes place against a backdrop of spiritual work. The precise relationship between the distinction I want to talk about and ‘things as they really are’ will never be perfect, only useful.

Behind the distinctions I’m drawing here is a lot of conceptual trial and error, some of which you could track on this site, some not. This discussion is part of that trial and error, not an overcoming of it.

Okay, with those caveats and links in mind, let me get to it.

One of the reasons that I like the three- and four-fold soul model (related but perhaps not identical with the three tone model) is that it provides me with some very big and meaningful baskets into which I can differentiate spiritual work. I begin with a working under the aegis of intuition and divination, then proceed to consider its source and direction. Once I have a sense of that, I can modulate it accordingly. There is also the opportunity to disentangle elements mis-aligned in the occult tradition, allowing me to rethink the relationship between them.

When I talk about the ‘highest’ soul, the soul that carries the destiny, the soul that seems to correlate with the holy guardian angel or fairy godmother, geomantic divination is almost a synecdoche of it. The astrological determinations that help animate the geomantic chart seem to be part and parcel of the destiny soul itself, of the specific ties it has to planetary bodies. The destiny is a soul that is attempting to realize these potencies in a more material fashion, and the divination itself is one expression of that. (I suspect something about this may shed some sidelong light on the sort of questions pursued here regarding the afterlife of a horoscope.)

When I talk about the heart soul, things get a little more ambiguous. The heart soul animates our vitality, which gathers and sustains the vehicle of our embodiment. It isn’t quite the same thing as our embodiment itself, mind you, but it is that which gives unity to our embodied experience. Our temperament in the classical sense has much to do with this soul and should be distinguished both from our destiny and the Jungian/MBTI psychological type.

You can get at the vital soul in a roundabout fashion because it, too, has something of its own destiny, one a bit alien or perpendicular to our own. The vital soul’s future attaches us to a lineage, a family, and the broader entanglements in which those things are wound to other lineages and families. This does make us kin to everything that lives around us, but it’s key to note that by way of the vital soul, this kinship is quite abstract and circuitous. This is also what I am tempted to call our genetic and animal destiny.

The black soul is, well, actually hard to talk about in the singular (which fits well with this discussion by Blogos about the testosterone selves). It seems to be the ‘soul’ of our being gathered into the world, so here I locate all the souls that join us to the animate and inanimate that constitute our bodies and our life. This is where I find the body as a collection of organs and cells, of something that can be broken up and reconstituted. I feel like calling it the soul of our worldliness would not be too far off.

The black souls are weird, right? They exist precisely along the point at which something moves from having a destiny to not having one, so divining around the material that manifests here is pretty tricky from a geomantic perspective. The destinies uncovered here might wink out pretty quickly. Inversely, it’s also along this edge that destiny can be projected outward into this fuzzy zone, transforming divinatory sense into sorcerous manipulation.

When I get to the soul that we are, though, divination is not terribly helpful. Whatever we are seems to come from elsewhere, to project itself into this world though these negotiations with the souls. Any divination after that being is slippery, allusive and metaphorical. When I have tried to go after this with divination, it seems like the best thing to do is to move into a symbolic and mystical register, letting the work spark images which can be used to contemplate that self more indirectly.

12 thoughts on “[NB] Geomancy, Souls, Texts

  1. Iago Pereira

    Could we correlate the Black soul with the Guph (Malkuth), and the Vital soul with the Nephesch (Yesod)?
    Once I had the insight (while on ayahuasca) that as much as we have a biological family, we have also (in parallel) an astral family of sorts. This was explained to me by an entity claiming to be an animal familiar of mine (which I did believe, for since my childhood I felt both akin and terrified with that species of animal). This animal spirit also claimed that this kind of familiar bond imparted us some of the “karma” of the animal, so we could work it through awareness, while allowing for us to learn and express the singular potencies of that animal.
    If this is all true, I suppose these ties occur at the level of the nephesh…

    1. Io

      If you look to the comments on this post (https://viagnostica.com/2015/10/30/other-souls-inside-this-skin/), you’ll see Blogos suggesting an association pinned to the triads. My instinct is that may be a more fruitful approach since it makes clear the complexity that occurs with each soul and helps to establish the way in which each soul resonates with other souls.

      This makes Yesod part of the black soul, too, which seems right to me (speaking of tricky Tarot–I think Tarot hovers around the lunar sphere which links Yesod and Malkuth).

      I would, off the cuff, tend to put the animal bond higher up, closer to Tifaret/Gevurah/Chesed, because I would suspect it has to do with the connection between your life as a person, your entanglement in your family history, and the vital aspect of the animal itself…obviously, your mileage may vary with such conceptual efforts.

      1. Iago Pereira

        There’s a case for linking the animal familiars indeed with Yesod/Nephesh; they’re supposed to be not only helpers but also tempters, as their instinctive/reactive patterns can also end up hindering our development.
        Tipharet, linked to the Sun, performs the opposite function (serving as a fixed referential, the source of light, the center of the circle) and thus seems to me an unfit place for such ambiguous bonds.
        As for the Tarot, Crowley links it to Mercury, being (as he says) a “Book”. I’m not sure actually when the Tarot turned into a book, but it’s historical origins as a game does indeed reinforces the Mercurial connection. However, a code made primarially of images certainly fits with Yesod/Moon aswell.
        As for the triad of Yeatsian souls, thanks for the clarification!

        Cheers from Brazil!

      2. Io

        Thanks for raising all of these points. I find myself in agreement on some of these and disagreement on others, but I think the reasons why are complex enough to merit some freestanding posts. I’ll try to get cracking on those so I can better talk about what you raise here.

      3. Iago Pereira

        Errata: It seems that these 3 souls (you refer to) come from mesoamerican material, not Yeats. Peraphs I supposed it was Yeatsian because it ressonated so closely to the triad of White/Red/Black present in european alchemical literature…

      4. Io

        Yes, to that but also to the white/red/black of a lot of other spiritual material (West Africa is rife with this sort of thing, as is a lot of Hindu material; while I think some talk of the perennial philosophy flattens out the richness through which these determinations are expressed, it’s hard not to see a lot of big commonalities showing up again and again around the world).

        That’s a big discussion itself and I think the frequency of those colors has to do with both historical, cultural, transmissions between people (the way the colors are used in mesoamerica can’t be entirely separated out from their contact with Europeans and Africans), but also with how our visual apparatus has evolved to see and make sense of color. And I think all of that is occurring alongside invisible movements in the world of spirit.

  2. Iago Pereira

    Regarding geomancy: On Liber ABA Crowley proposes that it’s appropriated to questions of a more material nature (and also that it was a generably unreliable divination method, for it’s very earthliness). This could account for the difficulty of scrying the higher souls through geomantic divination.
    He also describes the Tarot as very tricky and I-Ching as the ideal divination method. This part I have attested myself (being repeatedly tricked by the Tarot – or, more probably, by my own incompetence – while I was tenderly guided by the I-Ching to higher understandings, to the point it became my preferred divination method).

    1. Io

      The I Ching is definitely an ideal divination method for a whole bunch of topics. I have only rarely been frustrated by its advice and even then it was often possible to get the I Ching to clarify what was frustrating me.

      I may disagree (would have to read what he says before saying for sure) with Crowley regarding geomancy, though, because I have had a great deal of success using it to appreciate higher spiritual entities. Quite the opposite, it is the ‘lowest’ that tend to be more slippery for me using geomancy.

  3. Iago Pereira

    What Crowley says is the following:
    “GEOMANCY has the advantage of being rigorously mathematical. A hand-book of the science is to be found in Equinox I, II. The objection to its use lies in the limited number of the symbols. To represent the Universe by no more than 16 combinations throws too much work upon them. There is also a great restriction arising from the fact that although 15 symbols appear in the final figure, there are, in reality, but 4, the remaining 11 being drawn by an ineluctable process from the “Mothers”. It may be added that the tables given in the handbook for the interpretation of the figure are exceedingly vague on the one hand, and insufficiently comprehensive on the other. Some Adepts, however, appear to find this system admirable, and obtain great satisfaction from its use. Once more, the personal equation must be allowed full weight. At one time the MASTER THERION employed it extensively; but He was never wholly at ease with it; He found the interpretation very difficult. Moreover, it seemed to Him that the geomantic intelligences themselves were of a low order, the scope of which was confined to a small section of the things which interested Him; also, they possessed a point of view of their own which was far from sympathetic with His, so that misunderstanding constantly interfered with the Work.”

    The rest (not specific to geomancy) can be read here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/aba/chap18.htm

    A bit later he describes the intelligences responsible for Geomancy as Gnomes, and adds: “It is a common knavery, especially in geomancy, to render an answer which is literally true, and yet deceives. For instance, one might ask whether some business transaction would be profitable, and find, after getting an affirmative answer, that it really referred to the other party to the affair!”

    Disclaimer: Though I admire his work, I don’t take what Crowley says as dogma – and I’m posting this not with the intent of antagonizing you, but wishing to learn from your experience aswell.


    1. Io

      Don’t worry–no antagonism taken. I actually appreciate you taking the time to share the references with me. It’s pleasingly more complex and I’ll have to think a little on it.

  4. Pingback: Geomancy: Gnomes, Cantombe, and Eleggua | Disrupt & Repair

  5. Pingback: Yesod, Nephesh, and Animal Spirits | Disrupt & Repair

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