October saw the first run of my Foundation Course in Geomancy, which was both well attended and a delight to teach. In all, the course was eight sweet hours of going through the geomantic figures, chart-setting, interpretation, and the complexities of particular clarifying and focusing techniques. I mean no false aggrandisement to say it was both a pleasure and an honour to share this work and this craft with those new to geomancy. As always, I feel we all really benefited by going back to the fundamentals of this system of divination.
(I am also incredibly grateful to my friends and colleagues Jesse and Troy at Wolf & Goat for hosting these classes and for extending professional and personal support to myself and my students. If you aren't up on the fantastic work that these two do, you should check out their website and, if you're on those Facebooks, their forum which hosts great discussion on their products and services.)
One of the students on my Geomancy course was kind enough to post a public testimonial about how they found the classes and my teaching. It was very complementary, which is of course always nice, but more to the point I think it gives folks pondering taking the course next time a sense of what it's about, as well as a more general feel for what all this geomancy business is about:
'Without a doubt, Al is among the handful of people who I rate as doing the best work out there within the field of occultism right now. I don't think there are too many people around who combine having literally studied the history of English magic at a doctorate level, with involvement and immersion in multiple initiatory African Diaspora Traditions.
And that's really the one-two punch of Al's courses (and work in general). Depth of knowledge about the historical basis for Renaissance and Early Modern magic, plus an instinctive understanding of how this sort of material is grounded in, and can administer to, real life circumstances. So not just historically accurate information on how Geomancy was done and what it meant within its cultural context, but pressure-tested insight into solving real world problems with it as a working geomancer.
Why Geomancy? It used to be the most popular and widespread method of divination throughout Europe for centuries, and has close connections with similar Arabic forms as well as interesting parallels with West African divinatory methods. It goes hand-in-hand with the magic of the grimoires, and in many ways draws together the building blocks of classical elements, planetary powers and astrological houses into a practical diagnostic method. If you’re interested in any aspect of the ‘Grimoire Revival’, then you’re missing a trick if you’re not also supporting that with Geomancy.
Geomancy fell out of usage among western magicians around the time of the Victorian occult revival, and the little that was written on it by the Golden Dawn did not do justice to its depth and practicality. Other divinatory methods such as Tarot became ascendant during the 20th century, which often emphasize a psychological understanding and are geared towards in-depth life readings. Geomancy, on the other hand, is divination by earth and deals in the concrete and tangible. It’s about getting specific answers to specific questions, and is best used as a problem solving method for gaining insight into real world situations that may be unclear. In more recent years, it has experienced a revival as researchers have gone back to texts overlooked for years and brought the fullness of the system and its practicality back into contemporary usage.
In Al’s course you will learn the meanings of the 16 geomantic figures and the real world conditions they describe; how specific combinations of the 16 figures interact to create divinatory narratives; how to cast a geomancy reading using a variety of practical methods; how to read a geomantic chart (known as a shield) including methods such as the ‘way of the points’, the four triplicities, and reading by astrological house; and how to put all of this together into a highly workable system for providing accurate answers and solutions to divinatory questions.
The course makes the Geomantic figures come to life as living experiential principles, not least through Al’s description of them in terms of a Geomantic pub crawl, where each of the characters are imagined as a particular type of pub. Puer as sports bar, Aquisitio as banker’s pub, and so on. Geomancy is a worldly form of divination concerned with specific answers to worldly matters, and imagining the characters in this way serves to anchor what they represent in worldly experience.'
Dates are not formally set yet, but I expect to be teaching this Geomancy Foundation course again in February. The easiest way to keep abreast of such an announcement will be to sign up to my mailing list here, if you haven't already, as I'll be shouting about it from there/the rooftops once we have our dates.
As always, if all this talk of geomancy is new to you, you might like to check out my introductory two-hour illustrated lecture on the history, practice and magic of this divinatory art here.