Poem: Quatrains on Geomancy

Like the Digital Ambler, I’m pretty interested in Geomancy. Geomancy is one of the divination systems of uncertain origin, although Ron Eglash and others believe it originated in west Africa, possibly among the kingdom of Mali, Ghana and the like.  It eventually became part of medieval European lore by translation through Dar al-Islam and Caliphate-era Spain.  Thanks to Alphonso the Wise and other medieval royal patrons, it entered the Western magical vocabulary, and was in use frequently from Spain to Slovenia up through the mid-1500s, when its use began to decline. There was a brief revival in the mid and late 1800s, but now it seems to be making a genuine comeback.

Which means that it’s the perfect time to launch a poem about the sixteen signs of Geomancy, this Double-Quatrains on Geomancy.  Each of the unrhymed stanzas deals with one of the sixteen signs of Geomancy, and serves as a way of encapsulating the lore and information about each sign.  Enjoy.

The first four figures of geomancy: Loss, Boy, White, People.
BOY more strong than good,  beardless sword-swinger
acting before thinking: heading for trouble.
Fire-headed ram: martial, heady, rash,
blood-spattered white-head, questing here and there.
LOSS — escaping wealth, purse emptying fast;
transience and loss, all things pass away...
Earthy-throated bull, loving yet losing.
yellowing white-neck: all beyond your grasp.
WHITE chalice upright, mind's peaceful wisdom,
favors intellect, rarely works alone.
Twins of strong shoulders, stable quicksilver,
pure white spotted red, mystical madness
PEOPLE mill in crowds: multitude muddles
without goal or plan: stable inertia.
Crab full of sweet milk: watery full moon:
unfocused sea-green — no real direction.
The second set of four figures of geomancy: Great Fortune, Crossroads, Girl, and Red
GREAT FORTUNE coming: fair river valley!
inner strength achieved; stabilized glory.
Great-hearted Lion noble in Sunlight:
green, yellow and gold...press onward: succeed!
CROSSROADS diverging: multiplied choices,
ranges of options, many paths open.
Virginal belly — Mercury's swiftness
honest purple earth: temperance restored.
GIRL of bright beauty: desire's mirror,
fickle happiness, impermanent joy.
kidneys on the scales, breath born of Venus —
white and bright greenness: impermanent joy.
RED and hot-tempered, shot-glass upside-down
passion, pleasure, sex: drunk on life and love.
big-cocked scorpion: wild-running Mars
red, for town-painting — hard-partying star!
The third set of four figures of geomancy: Gain, Prison, Sorrow, Joy

GAIN, the full wallet: fat purse of bounty,
successful prudence, profitable care.
Hips of the archer, Jove upon firey throne;
red, yellow and green, material gain.

PRISON, cold jail cell: lonely enclosure.
binding, restriction, impairment, delay:
the kneeling sea-goat beached on Saturn’s lead;
fixed russet and dun: focused work alone.

SORROW, in the pit: illness or failure,
grudging permanence — woe, pain and trouble.
hobbled water-man breathing Saturn’s myrrh:
dirty, tawny, dark, grounded in mourning.

JOY, singing, laughing, raw vitality,
creative genius, health and inner light,
koi swimming ’round feet — Jove swimming in pond,
glittering emerald — health, success and smiles.

The fourth set of four figures of geomancy: Dragon's Head, Dragon's Tail, Small Fortune, Road

DRAGON’S TAIL — endings, completed efforts,
concluded cycles, and finished labors.
Left-handed archer, Moon in south station
robed in dark crimson, endings wreathed in flame.

DRAGON’S HEAD — blessings, beginnings, grand starts,
benefic outset, change for the better.
Virgin on her throne, Moon in north station.
pure white with citrine: well-made beginnings.

SMALL FORTUNE — lucky, happy accidents
man on mountain-top, luck comes from outside.
Fast-leaping Lion, breezes of summer,
yellow fickleness, unstable success.

ROAD — Journey begins, change can’t help coming,
travel and motion, nothing stays the same.
Crab swims in Ocean, Moon has full stomach.
White flecked with azure, Pilgrim walks alone.

— Andrew Watt, 2013

This piece bears more in common with the Rune Poem than most of the poetry I’ve ever written.  It’s a mnemonic device more than it is a poem, although the sound of the lines being read aloud is kind of cool.  And I suppose that it could be turned into a mini-book of sorts.  I may have to work on that.  A note on the text: in English, it’s customary for the Geomantic signs to be given their Latin names, e.g. Puer, Amissio, Albus, Populus, Fortuna Major, Conjunctio, Puella, Rubeus, Aquisitio, Carcer, Tristitia, Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Caput Draconis, Fortuna Minor, and Via.  I belong to the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn, and we learn the Welsh names of the signs: Mab, Colled, Gwyn, Pobl, Bendith Fath, Cyswllt, Merch, Coch, Elw, Carchar, Tristwch, Llawenydd , Bendith Fach, and Ffordd.  I was tempted to work those names in.  But something John Michael Greer said recently in a private list made me realize how much of this lore is hidden behind that veil, so I’ll leave it out for now.

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