What is Geomancy?
An Inquiry into the Realm of Relationship
In its narrowest definition and its most literal sense, the term geomancy means "divination of the earth".
One might expand this by saying that it is to enquire into or attempt to perceive the subtle or spiritual nature behind the physical appearance and presence of our surroundings and environment.
For many, such a definition might arouse casual interest, seeming perhaps a little exotic, a little new-age, a little abstract.
Those whose interest was sufficiently stimulated might go so far as to read some books or take some classes, perhaps discuss the ideas with sceptical friends.
Even amongst practitioners, many hold their study of geomancy as something of philosophical interest. It something which adds a rich layer of meaning to a world which otherwise seems sadly and barrenly devoid of magic or dialogue with creative forces, something which gives a sense of linking to ancient history and primal cultures, to the notion of a more wholistic and wholehearted lifestyle. Perhaps it is a technology that can open doorways to an otherwise remote or absent sense of divinity.
Very few would consider geomancy in terms of the daily and inevitable meeting of immanent and essential survival needs. My assertion is that geomancy is not only a core part of our daily survival both individually and culturally, but that it is also the single most fundamental defining factor in the psyche of the culture as a whole.
The late twentieth century sees western culture emerging - perhaps painfully slowly but nevertheless in a steady and progressive fashion - from the bondage that it has experienced to the materialistic world view of Newtonian science.
Unfair perhaps, given that Newton is know to have been a member of a Druid order and may reasonably be supposed to have inhabited or at least been familiar with and friendly toward Druidical philosophy. It is necessary to attach Newton's name to the disregard of spirit and psyche which became inherent in the increasingly zealous study of isolated physical forces apparently acting on isolated material substance.
Nevertheless, the separation through cultural, political and economic forces of the philosopher / priest / priestess archetype, and the rationalist, materialist scientist is causing great concern. It is increasingly being seen and understood to be not only a phenomenological error as demonstrated by Heisenberg and elucidated in his Uncertainty Principle, but also as a source of disintegration and disease of health in the human individual.
Acknowledging the reality and the inevitability of the body-mind-spirit connection and reclaiming the awareness and the tools to address human health by working with the subtle energy fields that inform and determine the embodiment of matter is generating the emergence and proliferation of philosophies and practitioners of holistic healing. To understand the nature and role of geomancy is simply to extend this philosophy outward from the relationship that we have with ourself and the way in which we create and mould our emotional and physical experiences through the weavings of spirit and mind, into the realm of the interaction between our energy field and the larger energy field of place.
By their nature and their form, energy fields create and define a field of potential and opportunity.
The vast majority of people spend the vast majority of their time reacting to external forces of circumstance. These may be perceived as absolute imperatives, but are a consequence of the interaction between the individual human energy field, the energy field of the cultural psyche, and the energy field of place.
For the African Bushmen and the Australian Aboriginal, the knowledge of the energy field of place and the material embodiments of that potential is the very thing which allows their survival, placing them in available and sustainable proximity to their needs of food, water and shelter. Interacting directly and intuitively with the energy field of the place itself allows the meeting of material needs, and their mythology encodes for them the manner in which material form follows psychic perception.
What we might retrospectively define as geomancy is so central and inevitable to such people that it would be hard for them to perceive it as a thing apart from the rest of their cosmology.
Geomancy as a separate, definable entity only occurs when a culture moves from a nomadic lifestyle to a settled agrarian one. It is at this point that geomantic technologies become necessary, and the manipulation of the energy field of place to create the possibility of sedentary occupation is sanctioned and can begin.
Interestingly, this shift appears to be one of philosophy rather than one of expedience or necessity in the first instance. As a culture became increasingly established and the nature of the Genius Loci more intimately known and increasingly taken for granted, the role of geomancer first emerges as being of central importance and then progressively declines as the footprint of the culture becomes increasingly firmly established and taken for granted.
Only when economic, political or cultural forces change to a significant extent can the role re-emerge, as the relationship between culture and place is once again called into question and re-explored.
This is happening in our culture and in our time.
I assert that the energy field of place is typically much larger and holds much greater inertia and psychic mass than that of an individual human. If the person is primarily living in reaction to external forces, their lives will be largely dictated by the energy field of place.
The realm of the Geomancer is to explore the consequences and ethics of this interaction, and to make this visible to the culture in an empowering and relevant fashion.
The contemporary expedience for this to occur is daily visible in the destructive dysfunction that presently exists between our culture and its landscape, and it is of wonderful paradox that this very destruction liberates the psychic energy now available for the art and science of geomancy to re-emerge.
Patrick MacManaway can be contacted at:
Whole Earth Geomancy, "Healing in Common" 2031 Shelburne Road Shelburne, Vermont 05482, USA