Geomancy: A Method of Divination – Franz Hartmann
Ibis, 1889. 2005. 222pp. 0892541016.
Geomancy is one of my favourite methods of divination, there is something beautifully elegant in the way the figures change into each other, the flux and flow leading from a handful of simple dots into a complex reading of twelve or more figures. Yet it is also a system that is often overlooked, and the reprinting of Geomancy will hopefully help with that. Using a stick and sand, paper and pencil, or even dice (my preference), and a bit of practice and you can quickly be engaged in some very deep explorations of the world.
Hartmann’s Geomancy was originally published in 1889 but despite being an excellent book and still being relevant today it never saw much circulation. This edition, published 115 years later, is the original book but the contents have been reorganized to make it easier to use and navigate. This book starts off with the basics of geomancy as a system: the symbols, the casting, the associations, and quickly moves into detailed examples. The layout, with the previous one unknown to me, is a very useful method building up in complexity as you read, as well as being logically laid out for later examination.
The method and style of geomancy in the book is an older form, the astrological and planetary associations taken from Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy. This might be confusing if you’re used to a newer system like that shown in John Michael Greer’s The Art and Practice of Geomancy (which is still an excellent book), and I’m not sure how to synthesize them. The book also gives a new order for the planetary hours that I’ve never seen before and I do find confusing, the order of the planetary days.
The book has a structural position that I enjoy, it starts off with saying it is “recommended to keep a book for the purpose of entering the result of one’s calculations in practising Geomancy concerning future events.” (4) Without recording and analyzing your results you’ll never know how good you actually are, how helpful your reading is. Simple, and a dead horse I beat, but I love seeing authors stress the importance of recording your readings.
Related perhaps to being so structural is how much detail is put into the examples of the book. These examples explain what everything means according to the position/house they fall in when using an astrological cast. To get even more detailed 16 questions are asked and every possible outcome of the Witnesses and Judge is detailed so you can learn that reading as well as to begin to understand how it all comes together. These 2048 answers aren’t Hartmann’s original work, but are translated from a German text from the sixteenth century.
In order to be complete, the book (now) ends with a section on astrology, detailing the traits of the planets as well as their sympathies/antipathies with each other, and an explanation of the zodiac. The book’s appendix gives several different geomancy charts that the reader can photocopy and make use of to organize their readings.
If you’re looking for more information on this relatively unappreciated system of divination then this would be the book you’d want. If you’re looking to combine it into more of a magickal practice I’d suggest pairing it with The Art and Practice of Geomancy. Some of the attributions are different, but the rest of the procedures will work well together, especially with the deeper divinatory insight from Hartmann’s book.