Art and Practice of Geomancy, The: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance , by John Michael Greer
Weiser Books, 9781578634316, 243 pp. (incl. appendix), 2009
Geomancy is a form of divination that reached the height of popularity and practice in the middle ages and renaissance. Ignored for centuries, it became part of the Golden Dawn’s teaching, but it never really caught on, and there is a chance this book will help change that.
Greer first places the reader in a fictionalized narration of some historical accounts of geomancers and their clients. While not a traditional opening to a book on magic, I found it surprisingly effective to draw me into a world I knew little about.
Aside from the wealth of uncommon knowledge in this book, it was a pleasure to read simply because of Greer’s down-to-earth philosophy of magick. Perhaps one of my favourite lines from the book, for how closely it parallels my view would be: “Most people nowadays might say chance, or synchronicity, or perhaps the subconscious mind. Yet if you can ask chance, synchronicity, or the subconscious mind a question and get a useful answer, then for all practical purposes chance, synchronicity, and the unconscious mind fill exactly the same role as spirits such as Hismael and Sorath.”1
The book covers the history of geomancy, known and suspected roots, which flows into the elements and the symbols of geomancy. From there you are led into the practice of casting a chart, and reading it. While I have come across geomancy before, I have never found anything remotely as helpful as this book when it comes to casting and reading a chart, for Greer pushes beyond the single sentence meaning of the symbols, and explores the patterns and depths of their meaning, as well as encouraging active personal exploration into the meanings.
Geomancy as a system of divination was all I’d ever seen it as, but this work takes the reader farther, to lesser known uses of geomancy, such as the creation of talismans, associative meditations and the invocation of the Guardian Genus, a ritual that Greer calls “the geomantic equivalent of the famous magical practice of the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.”2 While I’m unsure if I’d agree to their equation, having performed neither ritual and only read about them, I was none the less surprised by the presence of such a profound ritual based around what I had once just known as a system of divination, largely dead.
Greer has a way of leading the reader along, through technical aspects, to practical experiences in a very enjoyable flow. Personally this feels like one of the few books I’ve actually devoured in recent months, I put more time aside to read it than most books, as I found both the content and the portrayal of it deeply interesting.
For students of western occultism, divination, and astrology, this is an extremely interesting text, that I highly recommend.Footnotes: