What is Geomancy?
by bobcat x
a.k.a. Emma Restall Orr

Primarily it seems appropriate to say that I would not describe myself as a 'geomancer'. The terms we use that classify ourselves into various categories of person and practitioner are not necessarily helpful, other than to allow another person to contextualize us and our perspective. From that standpoint, I would call myself a pagan shamanic Druid, a priestess of the land and of the deities whom I revere. Yet having said that I would not classify myself a geomancer, my considered understanding of the word 'geomancy' - being the art of divining by clearly sensing the earth - brings me to a point of realizing that the practice of geomancy is deep in the heart of my spirituality, both in attitude and in practice.

The art of divination I like to distinguish from that of prophecy, though the two words are all too often used interchangeably. The divine element is important. Divination is the act of reaching for the highest truths, for an understanding of the laws of existence with a grasp unmuddied by human self-consciousness, of reaching for the most extreme reservoirs of power that we can perceive or tolerate, for the sources of creative and destructive energy, for the clarity of pure potentiality. The geomancer looks to the planet on which we live, delving into its realities, its patterns and tendencies, its currents and tides in time and space, in order to reach the divine as well of vision, teaching and inspiration.

Druidry is a spirituality which reveres, above all, the powers of nature. Although it exists now as a critically modern philosophy, it does so only because it has continuously evolved in tune with the clearest visions of humankind, and has done so with its roots spread deeply into the soil beneath our feet, around the rockbase of these islands on the western edge of Europe. Honouring the earth and the ancestors it is the indigenous spiritual tradition of our land.

The path of becoming a Druid, which is an ongoing process with no clear endpoint, one which I would perhaps describe as a journey of self-location. In Druidry we search for our self. We learn of the earth, of nature, of the stars, studying the elements of creation and of destruction, slowly reaching a profound consciousness of where it is we are. In honouring our ancestors, those of our bloodline, of our spiritual heritage and of the land beneath our feet, and acknowledging the cyclicity of live that exists in each day, in each moon tide, in each solar year and stellar revolution, in each life time after life time, so honouring our descendants, we come to a consciousness of where we are in time. This act of locating ourselves in time and space guides us into perfect presence, with an understanding that it is only in that momentary gap that exists between the past and the future, here and now, that we have power, the power that offers us freedom of soul and body.

Yet to reach this point is a long journey and fraught with challenge and adventure, grief and bloodshed. In Druidry then we also learn the craft of creating sanctuary within which we are able to explore every moment, to find its potential, to break through the barriers, to face the shadows, to dance our rage and glory, to learn of intimacy and trust, that we may progress along the way. That sanctuary, the "nemeton", may be within a circle of stones, a grove of trees, a line marked with a finger in the mud or sand, or it may simply a circle created through intention and ritual. A Druid may habitually create her sanctuary in one way in one place, or she may adapt to each moment, making sacred time and sacred space in countless different ways. Either way, she will be always learning how to take that place with the minutes or hours spent there deeper into a sense of perfect sanctuary, lifting it with reverence closer to the source of pure power and potentiality that is her deity.

The circle sanctuary is the container within which the Druid intensifies and progresses along his path to perfect presence. Yet there is another key element to Druidry without which the faith would have lost its essence many stellar tides since, and that is the focus on flow. "Awen," meaning "flowing spirit," is the heart of the Druid tradition that has been pumping life energy through its being for these millennia past.

Some would define "awen" as meaning divine inspiration, for it is that act of reaching into the source of creative/destructive energy, of touching the gods in sacred communion, that floods us with inspiration. That inspiration may be felt in many ways, from a mental clarity to a physical ecstasy, but its nature is holistic, flowing through every part of our being which is able to take it. Blocks of illhealth, in mind, body and soul, will slow up or stop the flow, unless the connection is strong enough to blast through the barricades. The more often the Druid makes that connection with his deities, receiving the "awen", the better able is he to use the inspiration, to allow it to flow through him, and to express it through his living.

This flow of divine energy is ever moving through the web of spirit connectedness which is our reality and that of the worlds we live in. We may find a moment of divine communion as we take in the beauty of a exquisite moonrise, as we walk into the ocean, as we sit under an old tree sensing it holding us gently. If we understand that every element of creation is animate with its own spirit, its own spark of divine energy, we can understand the flow to be about communication, about relationship. There is awen in the interaction between the rocks and the waters of the stream, there is awen in the touch of the birdsong on the wind in the leaves of the tree. Yet too, where there is ill health in the natural world beyond the human psyche, where there are blocks, where there is friction, the flow of spirit energy is staggered or damned. The result is continued disease, disorientation, dislocation and perhaps death.

The sanctuary of the Druid, the "nemeton" which is a place of learning perfect presence and the powers of "awen" is not always closed to the reality of shared worlds beyond the temple ritual. The Druid who has learned how to create sacred space learns too the ways in which the flow of spirit energy pours from that sacred space, integrating and inspiring, as she learns how to express the inspiration received in a way that is as true to spirit and as close to potential as is possible.

Geomancy then, from a Druidic perspective, is about location and flow. It is the art of finding where and when we are, of seeing - with all our sensory receptors - the flows of spirit connectedness, of divine inspiration and shimmering "awen", that run through the here and now. And as we step forward, from this moment to the next, conscious of relationship, conscious of self, geomancy is about the responsible and appropriate placement of each footstep, each sound and move of the hand in creation and destruction, aware of the flow, spirit to spirit.

May we be guided by the old gods to do it well.

Emma Restall Orr (bobcat) The British Druid Order


August 1998

Blessings of the Season

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