Ilm-al-Raml or Science of the Sands: Western Geomancy


Already mentioned briefly in the article on Geomancy and Cleromancy, it is the geomantic system par excellence of the West - leaving aside the geomantic question of the Far East. Known through contacts with the Arab world during the Middle Ages, it is still used today in some parts of Africa. However, Arab geomancy is included among the practices of the Western world. Perhaps because of its relationship with astrology and the idea of ​​mirrored heaven and earth, it enjoyed enough popularity not to be rejected.

Its beginnings, Persian or Arab - as there is still a dispute - are given in writing in the 11th century, but it is not until the 12th century that it begins to be known and recognized in Europe, and it will have its greatest expansion and repercussion during the Renaissance. . We have samples of geomancy in literature itself, in the Thousand and One Nights, in the story of Aladdin. The Maghrebi magician, enemy of the protagonist, is versed in geomancy and he finds out that Aladdin did not die, but rather the boy has the lamp in his possession, thanks to the geomancy, that he practices on a table full of sand, which he smooths to throw on her male and female grains, Mothers and Daughters, forming geomantic figures - An important fact is that he pronounces formulas for the proper development of her oracle, a practice almost lost today among esotericists and occultists.

However, in the books used as grimoires they include some of these formulas, where it is not surprising that God is mentioned so that he is propitious and merciful in his manifestation, since the God of the three great religions is, according to tradition, also the one who makes this practice known. The most popular version, Arabic, about its knowledge and dissemination, although there are dozens of them, is the following. It is the prophet Idris who, from the angel Jibril (Gabriel), receives this knowledge. Idris traveled to India with the Hindu master Tumtum, perfecting the technique for years. The one who would extract and revive it would be a contemporary of Muhammad, Khalaf al-Barbari, the Elder. He studied in India and bequeathed a book on geomancy to his disciple Nasr al-Din al-Barbari, the Younger, who in turn transmitted the tradition to succeeding generations, with Abu Sa'id al-Tarabulusi and his disciple Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Zanati.

Idris has wanted to identify himself with the prophet Daniel, with Enoch and with Hermes Trimegistos. In any case, these are justifications that the geomantic divinatory system comes from divinity.

Each geomantic figure consists of four rows of one or two points, forming 16 combinations, each of which has a specific meaning. Another system was the making of lines of random points, which were then eliminated in pairs, leaving rows of one or two points that, arranged in four rows, made up the geomantic figures. These types of practices continue in Africa, where they are called Voodoo fa and Sikidy, and some of them have traveled to America, especially through the slave trade of the Modern Age, altering the oracles slightly, as in the case of the Santeria.

Although there are those who practice geomancy without any type of planning, using any object that shows polarity (the two sides of a coin, the even and odd numbers of a die, the front and back cover of a book, objects of two colors. ..) and interpreting the successions of four throws as a single oracle, the traditional esoteric method that appears already in the Renaissance, and that continues today, supposedly based both on the Arabic method and on writings attributed to Pietro D'Abano and Cornelius Agrippa, and in certain heraldic representations, is the habituation of the terrain on a board, whether drawn on the ground itself, sewn or painted on a cloth or other support, of what is usually called Mothers and Daughters.

Nowadays, the design of a geomantic board or its drawing on the earth, known as House, Shield or Map, is made up of houses, which are called Daughters, Mothers, Nieces, Witnesses and Judges, although these names sometimes they change according to custom, for example, Nieces can be called Resulting Ones. This drawing, or the support itself where it is made, receives the name of Almadel, and depending on the culture it can have different forms, some of which have been exhibited in grimoires such as The Clavicles of King Solomon, from the 16th century, although it is supposed to be the heir. from earlier traditions. The most common are square or circular, but there are starry, pentagonal versions... The important thing is that they are focused on a placement based on the cardinal points, which in turn alters the place where to arrange the results in correspondence with the Celestial Houses, as it will be seen later.

As It has already been said, these sixteen geomantic figures offer sixteen possible combinations of points arranged in four lines, counted even or odd, which receive different names according to the traditions they follow; commonly they meet under the invocations collected by the occultists of the S.XX, who in turn prefer the Latin forms for their simpler understanding for the western world. Puer, puella, acquisitio, albus, populus, via, caput draconis, cauda draconis, amissio, rubeus, fortuna major, fortuna minor, carcer, acquisitio, laetitia and tristitia.

- The development of the Geomantic oracle.
In geomantic divination, twelve of the sixteen figures have to be obtained. These can be obtained by throws based on even and odd polarity, or on the random drawing of dotted lines, which are then joined two by two, and if there are excess points, it will be taken as odd, while if there are no excess points, will be taken in pairs. In one of these ways, the first four figures will be obtained, called Mothers, which also correspond to the four cardinal points. The rest of the figures are obtained by combining the points of these.

Each Mother has a Daughter, so that the First Daughter obtains its result from the combination of the superior points of each one of the four Mothers: if the sum of the points is even, it results in two points; if the sum is odd, it will result in odd and therefore, in a single point. The Second Daughter takes it from the second row of points of each Mother, and the Third Daughter takes it in the same way with the third row and the Fourth with the last one.

After this, we draw the Nieces or Resulting Ones, which are the result of the combination of initial points of the Daughters and Mothers. The First Niece is formed from the fusion of the first points of the First and Second Mothers. The Second Niece, from the Third and Fourth Mothers. The Third Niece, from the First and Second Daughters, and the Fourth Niece, from the Third and Fourth Daughters.

In some cases, the geomantic map or shield ends here. But there are other frames in which the so-called Witnesses or Wisdoms are extracted from the figures of the Nieces, following the same procedure, and from these in turn the Judge, already closing the possibilities of fusion.

Twelve figures (Mothers, Daughters, Nieces) will fit into the Twelve Celestial Houses of traditional astrology, that is, the twelve fragments into which the sky is divided for astrological study, each house having relevance to a specific matter. The most widespread tradition states that the First Mother must go in the Tenth Celestial House (X). House X is the mother as the family bosom and as the head of the home, as government, but it also indicates issues related to the profession or work, studies and reputation. The Second Mother would go in the First Celestial House (I), which refers to the inquirer, which can also be indirect (that is, if someone asks in his/her/them place). The Third Mother is located in the Fourth House (IV). House IV refers to the father figure in terms of inheritance and heritage, but also as a home. The Fourth Mother is located in the Seventh House (VII), which speaks of relationships, especially love relationships, of marriage, but also of partnerships and friendships, as well, it is a warning of close enemies.

The Daughters would be arranged as follows. The First Daughter would correspond to the Eleventh House (XI), the house of friendship and close trust relationships. The Second Daughter would go in the Second Celestial House (II), which speaks of money, goods and profits. The Third Daughter would correspond to the Fifth House (V). House V talks about fun, games, childhood, children. The Fourth Daughter, which is the eighth figure, goes in the Eighth Celestial House (VIII). The VIII House is nefarious, evil and death, although it must be taken into account that there may be advantages such as the end of a problem or receiving an inheritance.

The Nieces or Resulting Ones would be classified in the four remaining Houses. The First Niece, in the Twelfth Celestial House (XII), the last one, which indicates hidden enemies, bad luck, confinement and imprisonment, even curses. The Second Niece would go in the Third House (III). House III speaks of the environment of the person who consults, of his family (siblings) or neighbors, of his journeys, trips, and even personal writings. The Third Niece would be located in the Sixth House (VI), which indicates matters related to illnesses and misfortunes, as well as "characters" (people or animals) of lesser value. Finally, the Fourth Niece would correspond to the Ninth House (XI), referring to the spiritual and religious world, art and education, knowledge and long journeys.With this, the Twelve geomantic figures would have been applied to the Twelve Zodiacal Houses. But, for the three remaining figures (Witnesses and Judge), in the case of having followed this procedure, there are some "Houses" applied. The Thirteenth House (XIII) would speak of the past and personal, private life. The Fourteenth House (XIV) would refer to the future and social, public life. The Fifteenth House (XV), as a climax, belongs to the Judge and is usually interpreted as the whole, as the general response to the query made. There is in some circles a Sixteenth House (XVI), which results from the combination of the First Mother with the Judge, but it is not very popular, as it does not add much value to oracular interpretation either.

Another point that must be considered, in conjunction with the Celestial Houses, is their benevolence or malevolence. Those that are in the cardinal points tend to have a more decisive value: The X, to the north; the IV, to the south; the VII, to the east and the I to the west. North and East tend to be considered positive, unlike South and West. In addition, it must be taken into account that the meanings can be interrelated between all the figures, since if the interpretation of the north figure or X House is negative, it would reflect on the rest, and a long list of interrelations, also through the triangles and margins of the board, considered "the roof" of the geomantic house. Likewise, the interpretation also depends on whether it is done at night or during the day, just as the stars change their position and influence. This is where a true expert geomancer would bring out all his astrological skills and knowledge related to ascendants, hours, dates, the position of the planets, fixed and mutable stars, exaltations, rulerships, falls, etc. ... Unfortunately, in most cases, astrology occupies this place of complex analysis and banishes geomancy to specific questions with a simpler answer.

-Geomantic figures: relationships and links.

These figures have an intrinsic meaning, the result of their literal translation, and a connection with a specific planet, a ruling planet. The fusion of this planet with the Celestial House will shed more light on the oracles. A planet is applied to each figure, being the Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis the two that remain to be assigned, according to some modern geomancers, for the sheer ease of obtaining better and simpler answers. This link follows as a rule what appears in the IV book of Occult Philosophy, a compendium attributed to Cornelius Agrippa, with texts attributed to Pietro D'Abano, Gerard of Cremona and Georg Pictorius, although this book was actually published decades after the death of the alleged author.

Puer and Puella are Boy and Girl, and are identified with Mars and Venus respectively. Rubeus, which means Red, is also linked to Mars. Other associations are not so explicit, but in some of them we can identify a "pattern". For example, Jupiter is associated with the positive: Acquisitio, acquisition or gain, and Laetitia, joy or happiness, are under its influence. The same thing happens with the Sun or Helios, it is always positive, which is why it dominates over Fortuna Minor and Fortuna Major, the small and large fortunes. For Saturn they are negative things, like Carcer, jail or prison, and Tristitia, sadness. The changes are represented, of course, by the Moon, so Via, the road, and Populus, the town or people, are its figures. The remaining three do not show a clear meaning. Albus, white, and Conjuctio, union, are ruled by Mercury, and Amissio, loss, is ruled by Venus.

Continuing with the idea that the universe is like a mirror, the figures are also "reflected" by giving inverted combinations of points. Therefore, they will be celestial figures Albus, Puella, Fortuna Mayor, Amissio, Tristitia and Caput Draconis. The inverted figures will be terrestrial: Rubeus, Puer, Fortuna Minor, Acquisitio, Laetitia and Cauda draconis.
In the same line of reversal, the figures that seem to "point up" are usually taken as mobile figures, of change, outgoing, while their opposite, those that "point down", symbolize stability, incoming. However, as in the previous case, there are figures that would not enter this classification, since their shape is balanced.

The figures are also associated with one of the four elements of nature, according to the western current. Puella, Carcer, and Conjunctio are ruled by Earth. Puer, Laetitia, Fortuna Maior and Fortuna Minor are ruled by Fire. Albus, Amissio and Tristitia are ruled by the element of Air. Populus, Rubeus, Via and Acquisitio are ruled by Water. Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis accompany the figures ruled by Earth and Water. These elements were in turn deduced from the zodiacal relationship of the figures.

Just as specific places are assigned on the Almadel or board, the Celestial Houses, there are also Zodiacal implications of the figures themselves. As a rule, and in order from Aries, the signs of the Zodiac can somehow influence the Celestial house that corresponds to their position. Thus Aries would affect the I House, Taurus the II, Gemini the III... Except in the cases in which it is considered that this order should be altered because we are in the Age of Pisces or Aquarius. However, all sixteen figures have ruling signs, which in turn relate directly to their own associated planet. On the one hand, the planets are related to the zodiac signs that belong to them. The moon counts as a "planet" because it was considered that way in ancient times, despite its status as a satellite.

Those ruled by the Sun, Fortuna Major and Fortuna Minor, are influenced by Leo. Those ruled by the Moon, Via and Populus, will be ruled by Cancer. Acquisitio and Laetitia, Pisces and Sagittarius, are ruled by Jupiter. Puella and Amissio, from Venus, correspond to Taurus and Libra. Carcer and Tristitia, Capricorn and Aquarius, are under the rule of Saturn. Conjunctio, Virgo, and Albus, Gemini, are ruled by Mercury. Puer and Rubeus, ruled by Mars, correspond to Scorpio and Aries.
Once again, Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis are found separately, so they each have a different zodiac sign, being Capricorn for the Caput or Head, and Scorpio for the Tail or Tail, and can be framed in Saturn and Mars respectively, although they tend to be kept apart.

However, if we are guided by their implicit link, their zodiac signs would be the following: Aries would correspond to Acquisitio. Taurus would have Fortuna Maior and Fortuna Minor for themselves. Gemini, to Laetitia. Cancer would match Puella and Rubeus, while Leo would only have Albus. Virgo, with the figure Via; Libra, with the Caput Draconis. Scorpio would have Puer associated with it, while Sagittarius would have Amissio and Tristitia with it. The Cauda Draconis would continue to belong to Capricorn. Aquarius would have Populus and Pisces, Carcer.

Despite the fact that this system is considered the most accurate, it is true that there are as many interpretations of geomantic use as there are practitioners, who can relate the zodiac signs, for example, with the element that governs them. Thus, for example, Populus, Rubeus, Via and Acquisitio could correspond to the signs of water.

The figures themselves have their own meaning, taken from their origin: if a positive Daughter is obtained from two Mother figures considered positive, even if its main meaning is not graceful, it should be taken as a good opportunity and propitious response. But in the event that a bad Daughter was obtained from two bad Mothers, the answer would not be an outright denial, but a rethinking, a pause, a wait, guiding us by the original meaning. When a mixed figure is produced, that is, formed by the combination of two figures, one considered good and the other considered bad, the figure should not be taken as balanced or neutral, rather, it returns to its original meaning alone.

It is also said that sometimes the answers can become ambiguous. For example, in the case of asking about money, a positive figure may correspond that can give a positive answer, but being in the VIII House, which in turn announces illnesses, misfortunes and death. It could be interpreted as an inheritance or a misfortune that will attract money accordingly, such as a lawsuit or insurance. If the answer, on the contrary, was negative, but it had fallen in House IV, related to heritage, it could indicate that the money will not come from where it is expected.

On the other hand, there may also be reversed answers, in which a positive figure can become negative. Acquisitio or Fortuna Maior or Minor may have no effect in Houses XIII or XIV, which speak of the past or the future. In these cases, it is said that the figure has undergone a mutation.

About the speed of the event that is to come, there are different opinions. Most consider that in the narration extracted from Almadel, the consultant will be able to deduce the situations that must occur to achieve their objective, so that they will be able to foresee when their expectation will happen or be fulfilled. There is a system, not very widespread, in which the total points of the figures are counted, and on that basis, if it corresponds to a greater or lesser extent with the number ninety-six, which is considered the total sum of all the points. of the geomantic figures, predict the nearness or remoteness of the event.

At this point, and once the need for in-depth study to carry out this practice has been verified, it will be possible to verify that, in any case, with the exception of certain circles, complex geomancy is completely in disuse. Currently, many practitioners rely more on polarity and numerical keys, sometimes even ignoring the astrological part and the board itself. On the other hand, the geomantic figures themselves can make sense by themselves, as seals or amulets, in a way close to that in which runes are understood, but with a much lesser diffusion. Oriental geomancy, however, does enjoy a certain popularity, but its astrological part is also clouded by the fascination with its culture.

Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada -

-Flores Arroyuelo, F.J. Diccionario de supersticiones y creencias populares, Alianza Editorial, 2000, Madrid
-Genta, N. Geomancia. Editorial Kier, 1980, Buenos Aires.Servier, J. (dir.) Diccionario crítico de esoterismo, Akal, 2006, Madrid.
-Skinner, S. Geomancy in Theory and Practice: The Most Complete History of Western Divinatory Geomancy in English. Golden Hoard Press, 2011

Related posts:

Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.