An Earthly Garden: Towards A Geomancy Bibliography

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I’ve been getting quite a few requests for resources on geomancy lately. This is far from a definitive list, but thought I’d jot some secondary source / modern text recommendations down. I’ve also included a link to C.H. Josten’s 1964 article on the geomancy of Robert Fludd, which might be difficult for those without university privileges to access. I know, I spoil you.

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John Michael Greer, Earth Divination Earth Magic: A Practical Guide to Geomancy (Llewellyn: St. Paul, 1999)

John Michael Greer, The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance (Weiser: 2009)

This text is perhaps the best modern resource for actually learning geomancy. I say ‘this text’, because although the books are edited slightly differently, the latter is essentially a reprint of the former with a different publisher. Gentle and well-presented, Greer unfolds the art from basic introductions, to assessing the figures, to setting the chart, to breaking down the techniques of interpretation and approaches to common questions. This text also makes effort to emphasise the ritual and sorcerous dimensions of geomancy: the importance of tools such as box, sand, and wand; the planetary Spirits that rule the figures; meditation and scrying exercises and applications; and even some consideration of geomantic talismans. The magic itself is very Golden Dawn – plenty of invoking and banishing pentagrams and hexagrams – which might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it does foreground a fundamentally magical approach to this art, which I very much appreciate.

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Stephen Skinner, Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy (Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, 1980)

Stephen Skinner, Geomancy in Theory and Practice (Golden Hoard: Singapore, 2010)

Another instance of a reprint of a text under a snappier title, this book tackles the history of geomancy and geomancy-like mother-traditions: from its possible origins, to raml and Islamic developments, to the odu of Ifa, to Madagascan sikidy, to European geomancy. As one can see, the global significance of the geomantic figures is clearly emphasised in this world history of the art. Study is made of Western medieval forms, the ‘apogee’ of Renaissance geomancy, and the eighteenth-century revival, as well as modern practice. Important historical geomancers are also mentioned, significant information for considering the lineage of the tradition. It should also be noted that the 1980 edition at least has some very useful tables for comparing the wide variety of specific correspondence systems applied to the figures, and a few cross-cultural comparisons with earlier geomantic traditions.

Priscilla Schwei & Ralph Pestka, The Complete Book of Astrological Geomancy: The Master System of Cornelius Agrippa (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1990).

This book bases itself on the central idea of combining geomantic shield charts and astrological star charts (specifically horary charts), which personally is not an idea I’m terribly convinced is completely necessary. While this does not appear to have very much to do with Agrippa, it is a great example of modern geomantic experimentation and innovation, which I applaud, and interested readers may get a lot out of that. The majority of the book is taken up with not only charting what each figure in each house signifies, but also how they are modified by the presence of planets from the horary chart. This interplay of figures, houses, and planets (including the jonny-come-lately Outers) is at the very least certainly interesting in theory. The real gems of this book however are the considerations of the interpretations of the Judge and Witnesses at the end. These interpretations detail how a shield chart with, say, a first Witness of Coniunctio and a second Witness of Amissio can produce a different answer from a chart with a first Witness of Amissio and a second Witness of Coniunctio, despite both charts ending in a judgement of Fortuna Minor. This approach radically expands the subtlety and refinement of geomantic reading.

Israel Regardie, A Practical Guide to Geomancy (Aquarian Press: London, 1972)

This incredibly short treatise (honestly, 32 pages) presents the barest of the bones of this divinatory art. The figures are mostly considered in light of their corresponded astrological signs, the instruction is mainly concerned with how to construct a shield (with knowledge of house delineations utterly assumed) and some brief words on ‘aspects’. You also get keyworded house-figure charts (Puella in the Ascendant for instance signifies “Good except in war”), and some tables taken from John Heydon’s Theomagia of 1665. The Golden Dawn’s notion of inscribing the banishing/invoking pentacle and vibrating the elemental godname of Earth is presented very matter-of-factly and in an equally stripped-down manner: no planetary Rulers or spirits are mentioned at all in fact. This is very much 101 stuff, but to be fair it doesn’t really pretend otherwise.


C.H. Josten, ‘Robert Fludd's Theory of Geomancy and His Experiences at Avignon in the Winter of 1601 to 1602’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 27 (1964), pp. 327-335.

This little article is a great record of the geomantic practice of one of the most famous proponents of it in the early modern period. It gives a rundown of chart setting, before launching into a considered and detailed study of the occult philosophy underlying geomancy, touching on the rational faculties of the human soul, the spiritus mundi, and the role of the imagination. It also presents Fludd’s own account and analysis of a particular reading he gave while drinking and holding forth on the occult during a stay in Avignon. It’s a very human story, both in terms of Fludd’s mild self-aggrandisement, the demeanour and concerns of the querent, and the result. You can grab the article here.

Oh, and as always, if you're interested in my two-hour-long illustrated "Geomancy 101" lecture, you can find that here.