Some More Minor Updates…

Over the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of little tweaks on the back end that hopefully don’t affect the layout, but should make the pages load more quickly and smoothly. Let us know if that is not the case by commenting on this post or contacting us.

We also now have a facebook group, for anyone who would like to be notified of updates through that service.

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Book Review: The Art and Practice of Geomancy

The Art and Practice of Geomancy, by John Michael Greer with a preface by Lon Milo DuQuette

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I came across this book entirely by accident while I was looking up what Lon Milo DuQuette had written recently. Geomancy, in essence, is the art of reading seemingly random patterns in nature and from basic tools: marks in the sand, flips of a coin, flocks of birds, ripples in a pond. The theory goes that the world has a spirit–called the anima mundi (soul of the world)–that can be tapped in to.

All in all I consider this book to be an excellent resource for learning geomancy, and it also sold me on the importance of learning geomancy for my own practice. I have always been somewhat dubious of ripple counting methods for determining a yes/no answer that are any more complicated than a pendulum or flipping a coin, but this gave me more of a systemized framework for working with such information beyond just whether whatever I happen to be looking at turns out positive or negative.

He also discusses modern ethics in divination practice, something that I am going to write more on at a later point, but am extremely thankful to Greer for including here. It’s something we need to be having a deeper conversation on in the occult community.

The book is divided into three parts and then contains an appendix of various forms of invocation related to the figures, useful for ritual magic.

The first part of the book covers the figures themselves and the meaning of geomancy. We are first given an overview of geomancy as a kind of hook to draw us into the material and introduce the terms used. This is all excellent material and gives you a feel for geomancy without getting too far into the weeds. After that we are given information about how the individual figures are constructed and the internal meaning of how they are put together, and then given a more in-depth analysis of each of the figures. This is generally useful information and it is presented well, but is hampered by the lack of summary charts or tables.

The second part covers geomantic divination. We are introduced to how to construct a shield chart and interpret it, then are given information on how to read an astrological house chart with geomantic figures, and then given some advanced (or rather, alternative) interpretation methods. The flexibility and capability of the method is really on showcase here, and Greer overall does a good job of explaining it. I wish, however, that he had fleshed out the information on interpreting a house chart a little more and given some more attention to the advanced interpretive methods, as both of these sections feel a little shallow.

The third section aims to cover geomantic meditation and magic. In describing geomantic meditation, he starts out by talking in terms of a common misconception about Eastern meditation (that it seeks to stop the normal flow of thought through the meditator’s mind and empty the mind’s content), which is unfortunate, since Asian meditation practices are significantly more diverse and linking the forms of meditation he talks about with the Buddhist or Hindu practices would give readers a great body of material with which to work from.

He then goes on to advocate practicing discursive meditation, which is the form of meditation that involves intense focus on a particular theme, which is then explored in depth. He then goes on to give a series of exercises designed to take the reader into a deeper understanding of the geomantic figures.

It should be understood that none of these exercises are the sort of thing you do quickly. For example: He advocates doing the first preliminary exercise (which is, essentially, body awareness) for ten minutes daily for two weeks before starting the second preliminary exercise (fourfold breath), and the second exercise for ten minutes daily for two weeks before moving on from there. The preliminary exercises are not going to be new to anyone who has occult training, but then he gets into the geomantic meditations themselves, which are:

  • Meditation on the individual figures (~16 days)
  • Meditation on correspondences of the figures (~6 months, meditating every day)
  • Meditation on combinations of figures (~11 months of meditating, minimum, meditating every day)

After this he gets into The Art of Scrying, which people familiar with shamanic methods would simply call journeying: you journey for each of the individual figures, and then can meditate on the various images that you see in your journeys.

All of this is basically sound advice and culminates in building the associations into deeper levels of consciousness in the mind. While essential for geomantic magic, this is an extremely powerful technique for people who are interested in divination as it allows the mind to see deeper into the figures and their meaning and interactions.

After this, Greer gets into deeper discussion of ritual magic and the construction of talismans and gamahes, the materials used for such, setting up altars for various purposes, timing, and essentially everything that is required in setting up modern ritual magic for geomancy. This is all good stuff for anyone with a ceremonial bent. It is written clearly and well, and covers all of the basic material in a way that introduces the concepts to people who may not be overly familiar with western ritual systems.

Conclusion

While overall I feel that this book is excellent, I do have some issues with the way the content is laid out and presented.

In the end, I almost feel like this book would be best if it were written as two volumes. One on divination and meditation, and then with a followup that covers ritual magic. There’s clearly more depth that could be gone into with both topics, and while people who want to study the ritual forms would be well advised to learn the divinatory system, the reverse is not necessarily true.

The biggest issue for me is that while Greer notes that in the Renaissance sources the divinatory aspects of geomancy are emphasized first as an introduction into ritual magic, it felt that the latter half of the book (involving ritual magic) was somewhat stronger than the first half of the book on divination. There were several instances where he would describe something that has several different possible manifestations (such as Company of Houses, which can be simple, demi-simple, or capitular) and a vague idea of what the root meaning is, but then wouldn’t get into the various possible ways it can come about.

The second major issue for me is that information feels a little scattered and sometimes buried. There are no summary tables in the appendix or really anywhere in the text, which makes cross-referencing while learning difficult. This is made more complicated by that information doesn’t always appear in the chapter where it would seem most useful. For example: the chart with the geomantic figures on it occurs somewhere in the first chapter, rather than at the front of the second where the alphabet of geomancy is actually described.

That having been said, everything is very well written and explained, and the techniques employed have clear uses in both divination and ritual magic. So, for what it is, I recommend it very highly to anyone with even the slightest interest in geomancy.

Chapters

  • Foreword by Lon Milo DuQuette
  • Part One: The Art of Geomancy
  • Chapter One: What is Geomancy?
  • Chapter Two: The Alphabet of Geomancy
  • Chapter Three: The Geomantic Figures
  • Part Two: Geomantic Divination
    • Chapter Four: Casting a Geomantic Reading
    • Chapter Five: Interpreting the Shield Chart
    • Chapter Six: Interpreting the House Chart
    • Chapter Seven: Advanced Interpretive Methods
  • Part Three: Geomantic Meditation and Magic
    • Chapter Eight: Geomantic Meditation and Scrying
    • Chapter Nine: Principles of Geomantic Magic
    • Chapter Ten: Geomantic Ritual Magic
  • Appendix: Invocations for Geomantic Magic
  • Bibliography
  • Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    Pathworking: Journey to the Plane of Water

    Ground, center, and go to your room.

    On the western wall of your room you notice a door. Opening the door, you see out over a creek running by just past the doorway. The water is clear and relatively shallow at the edge, but appears to get deeper toward the center. The stones in the creek are smooth and slightly green. On the opposite bank there are trees and you can hear the chitter of birds.

    You step forward. The water is cold but not uncomfortable to the touch as you slide your feet into it and the smell is clean and cool. You slide the rest of the way into the water, treading out to the deeper waters in the center of the creek.

    As you move with the creek you can feel that the water is cleansing to the touch. It washes away the dirt and the concerns from the day and carries them away.

    Eventually the creek connects up with a great river. You move out into the river and move with it. As you travel south you can see the rich, black soil of farmland to either side of the river, made fertile from the river’s periodic overflowing.

    On the banks you can see people fishing in the river, trying to catch a meal for their families. Above pelicans scan the water for easy meals. Here and there you can see animals come to the river to drink.

    Slowly the pace of the water picks up, and you find yourself moving through green wetlands on either side of the river. The water here is warmer, very deep, and the river is opaque from the rich sediment. Birds and other animals continue to look for fish in the river, and you can see how everything around is dependent in some way on the river’s presence.

    Then, almost suddenly, you find yourself being pushed out of the mouth of the river into the ocean. The water smells of salt spray and the is warm from the sun. Dipping under the water, you can hear whalesong in the distance.

    You travel further out into the waters and let the currents carry you deeper. You find yourself traveling along a coral wall, with the intricate structure of coral and sea fans on one side and an infinite blue expanse on the other. The water gets darker and darker as you go down, and certain colors of light start to fade.

    The water gets colder as well, and down here you find yourself contemplating the unpleasant emotions that we deal with in our lives. These are neither good nor bad–they serve a purpose in our lives–but we tend to want to bury them deep beneath the surface and not let others see them. So we hide them down here, hoping that they will just go away.

    Here they remain.

    Yet even amongst this darkness, there is still life. It swims around you and beneath you, down even further into the depths. Deep water corals replace the warm water corals, and fish sometimes bring their own lights rather than depending on the sun, but still they thrive and live on here.

    Slowly, following the current, you start to work your way back up to the surface. You find that the current has brought you far out to sea, but not far from where you surface there is a rocky island with rich green foliage. Climbing up out of the water, you feel the warm sand underneath you and again smell the salt of the sea.

    Two women approach you carrying a chest between them. These are undines–spirits of water–and in the chest are various items that you recognize as representing water in its various forms. They bid you to take an item from the chest to remind you of your journey here.

    Once you have made your selection, they bid you farewell. As they turn to leave you stop them, wondering how you are supposed to get back. They seem puzzled, and say with the clouds, of course.

    One of them steps up to you and takes your hands. She seems to start turning translucent and mislike. Looking down, you see that you are as well, and you both start to evaporate and move up to the clouds.

    You follow a current of air with the clouds–over the ocean and the coast–until you see the creek where you started far beneath you. You start to fall to the earth in the form of rain, coalescing into a solid being once you hit the ground.

    Finding your door, you step through it back into your room.

    When you are ready open your eyes relaxed and refreshed.

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    Book Study

    One of the things that I find to be extremely valuable in my practice is the study of books. Not just reading them, but contemplating them, doing the exercises, and trying to understand them and the viewpoints being offered.

    Unfortunately, it can be hard to make the time to do the exercises when working on your own, and others can be provide valuable insight into what you are struggling with. Initiatory organizations handle this by having everyone read a common core of books and have a common core of exercises, thus helping everyone achieve a common symbol library and grow a body of knowledge around that particular path.

    For those of us who aren’t part of an initiatory group, we tend to piece together what we can in the absence of a dedicated curriculum. This has the advantage of that we can learn a lot of very interesting off the path things that may (and often are) be useful later, but it also can make it difficult to progress or–just as often–to know whether we are progressing.

    After a conversation at an open Samhain last year, I got together with Wolvie and a few other friends of mine and we started talking about having an open occult book study group. Basically have a series of books that we work through, do the exercises where applicable, and discuss them on a regular basis with others who are interested.

    The idea was to let us split the difference: have some of the advantages of an initiatory group, but bringing in more diverse viewpoints and being able to open it up to anyone who wanted to join in.

    The result of the discussion settled on these two books:

    • Israel Regardie’s The One Year Manual: Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment
    • Dion Fortune’s What is Occultism?

    The idea is that we have a group that meets a couple of times a month and keeps up actively with the books, using the exercises out of Twelve Steps (which is nothing but exercises) with the more theoretical What is Occultism?

    If anyone is interested in participating locally, we will be meeting twice a month in the central Denver area. I also welcome anyone who wants to follow along wherever they are and share their insights through our online discussion group. Just Contact Us for more information or check out our services page for periodic updates.

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    Elemental Pathworkings Update

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I am definitely still working on them. Water has been giving me difficulty but I should have it up soon.

    Other than that, I wanted to wish those who operate off of the Gregorian calendar a happy and prosperous 2011. We’re hoping to bring lots of good material to Weaving Wyrd this year!

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    Wholeheartedness

    This video was shared from another list.

    This video is not religion/path/worldview specific.

    But is it an illustration of how we could/would/should be living.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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    The Residue of Birth Worldview

    People are attracted to alternative spiritual paths for many different reasons, but usually for one category of reasons; their worldview/religion is not meeting their emotional/intellectual/spiritual needs. Whether it is because he or she as an unique individual does not resonate with their birth worldview(that worldview that is passed on to us by our parents, grandparents, etc.) or he or she feels a lack of worldview, or the strictures of their worldview no longer make sense to them.

    Worldview can be a touchy thing in pagan practice. For many(used to be “most” but we are seeing second and sometimes third generation pagans now) pagans, we were raised in a different tradition than the one we currently practice. And despite many years of work and belief, our birth worldview can seep out.

    I belong to a seidr list. It’s an interesting group of people that are trying to reconstruct a practice mentioned once in the lore, and then only in an oracular sense. I found it to be more flexible in thought and practice than strictly heathen lists, until today.

    My co worker Hrafn posted a link to Huginn Magazine. But before he posted, it has been posted on my seidr list. Almost immediately, there was a negative response, based on who was involved with the magazine, i.e. the Cauldron Farm folk or Raven Kaldera, Galina Krasskova and Elizabeth Vongvisith.

    I have read some of Raven Kaldera’s books. I find him a fascinating person. But I was doing many of the things he describes before he wrote them down. And my attitude toward practice and the gods is different. So I am impressed by him, but not influenced by him.  Galina Krasskova is a brilliant scholar. And Elizabeth Vongvisith is a inspired poet as well as another fascinating person.

    The charges against Huginn and the Cauldron Farm crowd were:

    “promoting that the Jotun’s are before the
    Aesir and Vanir.Their practices have BDSM play, and they honour and have
    blotted the likes of Fenris and Angrboda.”

    “they do not have the right to subvert or change
    what is accepted Heathenry here in the US as they are want to do.”

    “their views are their own and antithetical to any Trú
    Heathen. They are claiming they are interpreting the Lore correctly, and
    thus are being persecuted by mainstream Heathenry. What they promote is a
    perversion, an obfuscation, and misdirection from what is Heathenry in the
    US.”

    So I asked,

    “Are you defining Heathenry as Asatru? Or by the Troth?
    What is accepted Heathenry here in the US? Defined by whom?
    What is a Tru Heathen? Defined by whom?
    Perversion, obfuscation, and misdirection, do you have examples? Defined by whom?”

    And the response back, not from the original poster, but from some other knight of orthodoxy:

    “As far as justifying what is “Tru Heathen”, I dare you first to substantiate
    where these abhorrent practices are documented in lore and secondly if you
    can, show that it was an accepted practice.

    All the definitions you are asking for are well defined in not only history
    but the lore.”

    Ahh, the lore.

    Lore is flawed.

    I’m not saying it’s not important.

    It gives us the framework to hang the rest of our practices based in changes in time and space.

    But time and space have changed practice. We don’t hang people as offerings to Odin anymore. We don’t fight duels to protect our reputations anymore(although, sometimes I would like to, I would kick ass).

    The Eddas were written 200 years after Iceland became Christian, by Christian Snorri Sturlson, as a manual to write poetry. How much was left out? We don’t know.

    The Germania was written by Tacitus. Tacitus never went to Germany.

    The sagas were written by different authors 50 to 200 years after the events they described.

    For those of you with religious cross training, this should sound eeriely familar. Why?

    The New Testament of the Bible is constructed in a very similar way. The gospels were written 75 to 200 years after the life of Jesus. The books of Paul were written 50 years after the life of Jesus.There have been several “reconstructions” of the Bible, the most famous the Council of Nicea and James I of England’s rewriting of the Bible. How much was left out? We don’t know.

    The New Testament of the Bible is also the most important in the worldview of Christians. Because it’s all about Christ. And they to this day, believe it is the unchangeable word of God.  Just like orthodox Heathens and the lore. Heathens that most likely converted from Christianity to Heathenry.

    Dogmatism is a common residue of Christianity that sticks to pagan practice. I have seen it in Heathen practice most often, although it sticks to Wiccan and ceremonial magic practice also. That “there is a right way to do ____ and any other way is WRONG!” mentality.

    I don’t find the fact that the Cauldron Farm Folk or orthodox Heathens are different(or similar for that matter) to be threatening. My worldview is mine, I have acquired/accumulated/built it for over 25 years. And their world view only affects mine as much as I let it.

    But I have to ask the question, what is so threatening about different points of view? We don’t have a pope or a body of religious work supposedly inspired by God, so what’s so horrible about change?

    We don’t live in 10th century Iceland. Thank the gods, I like central heating and hot water and indoor plumbing.

    Your mileage will most certainly vary.

    Posted in Essays | 7 Comments

    Huginn: The Trouble…

    The first edition of Huginn has finally been published. The Huginn is a woo-friendly journal that looks at various issues within the Heathen community. The first issue’s theme is The Trouble…, described as:

    This issue deals with THE TROUBLE with the various controversies and figures in heathen practice, theology, mythology, history and politics, and examines how heathenry fits into the greater neopagan community.

    You can check out the first issue along with their website.

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    Yule

    In the north, there is no sun today, but the tiniest sliver of light at the horizon at noon.

    For our ancestors, that made light and fire all the more precious.

    Tonight we rekindle the light

    In anticipation of the return of the sun

    This is the light

    As folk, we share, the light and anything else we have

    Take this light, add your light, and the light will spread over the world

    This is the gift

    As the folk, we share, the gifts and anything else we have

    Take this gift, add your gift, and the gift will spread over the world

    This is Yggdrasil, the great tree that holds up all the nine worlds

    As folk, we share, the world and anything else we have

    Take part of this world, and be merry

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    Happy Yule!

    Have a happy and safe holiday season. For Northern Tradition practitioners, Yule is a time for oaths and a celebration of the coming of the new year.

    For those who are watching the total lunar eclipse tonight, here are the times:

    begin partial 12:32 am CST
    begin total 1:40 am CST
    end total 2:54 am CST
    end partial 4:02 am CST
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