On the Emergent Practice of Geomancy, and the Need for Clearly Defined Ethics
by Patrick MacManaway
At the present time, there are very few practitioners of geomancy in Western Europe and North America. Certainly, in the past, there have been many - countless. Certainly in the future there will be countless more. In the past few centuries, geomancy both as a subject and a practice disappeared under a wave of materialism, industrialisation, and politicised religion. The wave of consciousness that is breaking upon us now is one that includes geomancy once again. This creates an opportunity - a necessity in fact, perhaps even an inevitability - that geomancy be rediscovered, renewed, recreated, and re-integrated into contemporary culture.
For this to occur, several things are required. Those who will become practitioners will be inspired - hear the call, follow their hearts towards the calling of that spirit - and forums for discussion, training and exploration will emerge. A contemporary paradigm of geomancy will develop, one whose conceptual framework and language has acceptability and relevance to the public at large and allows the geomancer a professional relationship with culture and currency. All of these are large and long-range projects, which are likely to occur ad hoc in the first instance and gradually be refined and re-modelled with the passing of generations.
Those of us who are passionate about geomancy are eager to press ahead with the work and are greatly encouraged and excited by the many intiatives and developments currently occuring. Sig and I are especially excited to be opening the School of Mid-Atlantic Geomancy’s training programme in Modern European Geomancy this autumn. The way forward is not entirely clear and uncomplicated however, and the road is somewhat cluttered by fallen branches and stones.
Some of these obstacles and potential distractions relate to ethical practice. I admit to worrying about this issue, even while I can simulataneously keep a philosophical perspective on it. I am fortunate to hold a generational view of a parallel consciousness - the cultural integration of holistic healing.
My father, Major Bruce MacManaway, felt the call of healing in 1939 aged nineteen whilst involved in rearguard combat outside Dunkirk. No soft tones of new-age music or pastel colours were involved in his early practice - as an infantry officer he had two pressing tasks to concern him - how to confront a division of Panzer tanks without artillery and how to attend to wounded and dismembered soldiers without recourse to any medical facility.
In the heat of battle he discovered the profound human miracle of laying-on-hands, and spent the rest of his life serving the healing spirit that had inspired and guided him.
For twenty years his healing practice was quiet and private. Healing outside of Christian ministry was not widely sanctioned. The Witchcraft Act was still in effect at the end of the war.
In 1959 he felt the call to go public and open a healing centre. Pursuing this against all economic reason and public opinion, he trusted the spirit that guided him and The Westbank Healing and Teaching Centre in Strathmiglo, Scotland, blossomed and flourished as an international venue for healing practice, teaching, discussion and conference.
Public opinion and the commercial climate changed slowly, however - indeed at a generational pace. Distanced and dropped by many casual friends and aquaintances, my parents found themselves isolated and pushed outside many social edges. My eldest brother John, born the year the Centre opened, was not allowed to play with the doctor or ministers children so great was the taboo against lay-healing. The virtually ubiquitous familiarity with healing practices such as Reiki forty years later show us how public awareness and the integation of holistic prinicples can emerge and occur to the point that they become commonplace and widely accepted.
Something has been lost in the process however. Depth, quality, and commitment to the tutelary spirit.
Of Depth and Quality
I do not for a moment suggest that there is no depth, quality or commitment in today’s healing practices or healing practitioners. Nor do I have a nostalgia for times past. There has been a dilution however, and an accomodation of the healing spirit alongside the meeting of other and more personal agendas. I have been priveledged to witness those who through the greatness of their inspiration and vision and through the profundity of their dedication returned the spirit of healing to the public, regardless of class, education or income. Indeed, my father’s lifelong practice was to tutor all with ability, to grant no certificates (believing them deceptive and valueless) and never to charge community members (in a village of over 1000) for his services.
To create widespread cultural paradigm change of the degree that members of his generation and calling did requires an almost messianic degree of self sacrifice and service. I do not often meet that in contemporary practitioners. And perhaps that is just as well. That time is past, and our task is different now. There is a large enough body of holistic practitioners to open more serious public and professional debate about their sevices, and to integrate them ever more fully into the pragmatic and the commonplace. The healing spirit is more dilute, but that dilution is part of the integration. For a period however, the dilution of such a process is also associated with a certain degree of shallowness, as with those who feel touched by the spirit do not have the time or attention to give themselves wholly to it, and the culture as a whole does not have a sufficient body of information or experience for them to tap easily into.
This situation will surely pass, but slowly and again as a generational consequence, as practitioners and practitioner bodies develop and mature, as a body of experience and knowledge develops into cultural lore, and as the public learns to successfully discern and meet its needs in this area.
Seeing this process unfold gives us information about the path of emergence that the contemporary practice of geomancy is likely to follow. It has some differences, and some similarities. The holistic movement is well established now, various levels of professionalism are recognised and professional bodies are emerging to regulate and represent, and practitioners can easily take training courses and be rapidly offering their services on the basis of known-name holistic practices rather than their own earned reputation.
This brings us to the point of my worry. Geomancy is a powerful tool. Having studied a wide variety of holistic practices and trained and practiced in conventional medicine, I have chosen to direct my healing work through a geomantic practice because I find it to be more powerful and impactful than any other tool or technique. It is at once a great gift and a great burden to have a clear vision of something prescious and golden that is invisible to other members of one’s culture and community. I had the advantage of serving an apprenticeship - first at my father’s knee, dowsing, working with geopathic stress and doing all manner of work with discarnate spirits, and secondly by invoking and serving the spirit of geomancy totally, studying with Sig in a focussed and dedicated manner and continuing subsequently to learn as a journeyman geomancer "on the job".
I have followed, in my own way, my father’s example, endeavouring to serve the spirit of the process rather than more personal agendas, in order to bring it through in as pure a form as I can, trusting that by getting myself out of the way, the quality of work that this will inspire will serve as something of a "gold standard" by which the work can become known and embraced by the public as having value and merit, and allowing a subsequent development of a contemporary geomantic profession.
The concern then, is that as geomancy becomes marketable and as training courses and practitioners proliferate, it will take it’s place as the next in an increasingly long line of holistic therapies, and receive the now standard rather shallow attention from the public and the media, and be represented by those with a superficial grasp of the nature and relevance of the subject, whose agenda is as much self-promotional as it is to forward the body of knowledge itself. This would not be an entirely bad thing. The practice of geomancy has historically been restricted and controlled because of it’s power and impact, and serving it up as "just another therapy" may allow it to be widely dispersed and disseminated into the public consciousness before high-level political or commercial interest can appropriate it as in times past.
An Ethical Code of Practice
I personally believe that the field will be best served by the early establishment of an ethical code for practitioners. This is quite different from estabishing a code of geomantic practice - and I beleive that the field will be best served if we do not codify geomantic practice - perhaps ever. But an ethical code acts as a guarantor - that the practitioner places the spirit of the practice above his or her personal agenda, and ensures that geomancy be used in service of the community rather than to it’s detriment. Writing codes is a tricky business, and the human instinct is to rebel against any set of rules to re-assert the freedom of human will. Ethics are a little different from arbitrary cultural law however. Geomancy allows the practitioner to intervene directly with the Spirit of Place. This spirit has immense psychic mass and inertia, and laws of cosmic correspondence and karma play out fast when dealing with large amounts of psychic energy. One function of an ethical code is therefore to align a practitioner with purity and clarity of intent in their work. Ethics come out of an understanding of the nature of the subject, it’s relevance and likely effects. Effectively they are an honour code, that defines respectful and aware practices that ensure right-relationship with powerful elemental forces.
Every practitioner already has their own ethical code of practice, although they perhaps would not percieve or language it in this way. With the increase of training opportunities, a more clearly defined and stated code will soon be necessary. I have recently been through a similar process, establishing a code of ethical conduct for those registered as dowsing practitioners with the British Society of Dowsers, many of whom practice geomancy to some degree. This code is specific to the spirit of the dowsing community, and is not necessarily directly transposable to the geomantic community, but nevertheless I offer it here as a starting point for ethical debate. It defines areas of ethical concern, and sets out one way of addressing these issues.
Geomantic ethics are imortant, and are a legitimate and high-priority concern for any serious student or practitioner of the subject. If we can define a good set of basic ethics early in the geomantic revival - however rudimentary and simple(and the more rudimentary and simple, the better) then we will have gone a long way towards honouring and offering the spirit in purity to the next seven generations that will follow us.
Here is the current Code of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Professional Register of the British Society of Dowsers. Use the MAG Forum to open any points of ethical concern to debate - we must all take council with each other as we consider core geomantic ethics.
"Good Dowsing Practice"
Code of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Professional Register of the British Society of Dowsers
The British Society of Dowsers, in maintaining and continuing to promote dowsing and dowsing practitioners in a manner consistent with the highest standards of personal integrity and professional behaviour, requires the following code of ethical conduct to be followed by Members of the Professional Register. A Member whose conduct is considered by the Council to be in breach of the ethical code may be removed from the Register.
The reputation and usefulness of dowsing depend on the behaviour of dowsers. All dowsers owe it to their colleagues, and to members of the public who can benefit from dowsing skills, not to bring dowsing into disrepute.
The public expect high standards of behaviour in people they call in, on trust, to help them with aspects of their working and private lives. Essential elements of this are professional competence, good relationships with clients and colleagues, and observance of professional ethical obligations.
1. Good Relationships with Clients
- Treat every client politely and considerately.
- Make sure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your interactions with your clients - you must not allow your views about a client’s lifestyle, culture, belief, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, social status or perceived economic worth to prejudice the work that you perform or recommend.
- Adequately assess your clients needs and desires. Listen to and respect their views, and allow them to be fully involved in decisions about your work for them.
- Recommend and perform only the treatment or services that serve your client’s needs.
- Explain your services to your clients in a way that they can understand, and be satisfied that the client has understood and agrees to what is proposed before you begin.
- Respect the right of your clients to decline your services after these have been outlined and explained.
- Recommend and advise additional or otherwise relevant services or actions when necessary, including referring to another practitioner or other professional.
2. Maintaining Trust with Clients and the Public
- Always behave in an honest and trustworthy manner with your clients and with the public.
- Only dowse for information that concerns you personally or that lies within an area of public concern, unless you are asked or given permission by clients or others to dowse either for them personally or for groups or organisations of which they are members. Be careful to restrict and focus your dowsing to the legitimate needs and concerns of those seeking your services.
- Do not dowse for information about other people, their property, possessions or concerns without their request or permission, unless it is clearly in the interest of the highest common good to do so, and do not make unsolicited comments about other people or their concerns based on your position as a dowser. In the case of a person unable to represent themselves, either through age, illness or disability, you may dowse at the request of or with the permission of a parent, close family member, guardian or care-giver.
- Respect your client’s dignity and privacy, and do not reveal your client’s identity without their prior permission.
- Never improperly disclose or misuse confidential information that you may discover or become privileged to in the course of your dowsing.
- You must not use your position to establish improper personal relationships with clients or their close relatives.
- You must not deliberately withhold relevant or appropriate information or services from your clients.
3. Respecting Relationships with Colleagues
- You must always treat your colleagues fairly, be willing to consult with them and must be prepared to justify your actions to them if necessary.
- You must never discriminate unfairly against your colleagues, or allow your views of their lifestyle, culture, belief, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, or social status to prejudice your professional relationship with them.
- You must not make any client doubt a colleague’s knowledge or skills by making unnecessary or unsustainable comments about them.
4 Good performance
- The BSD encourages you to keep your knowledge and skills up to date.
- Keep clear and accurate records of relevant findings and work conducted.
- Recognise (and work within) the limits of your competence.
5. Providing information about your services
- When discussing or publicising your findings as a dowser, be responsible and considerate of the effects that such information may have, both on any individuals concerned and on public opinion generally. Avoid sensational or misleading statements and bear in mind the likely accuracy and completeness of your dowsing information.
- If you publish or broadcast information about your services, the information must be factual and verifiable. The information that you publish must not make claims about the comparative quality of your services nor compare your services with those your colleagues provide. For those whose work includes healing or therapies of any kind you must not, in any way, offer guarantees of cures, nor exploit client’s vulnerability or lack of knowledge.
- Information that you publish or provide about your services must not put pressure on people to use a service, for example by arousing fear for their present or future health or well-being.
6. Legal Observance and Commercial Dealings
- You must observe and keep up to date with any laws and statutory codes of practice which affect your work.
- You must obtain adequate insurance for any part of your work that calls for or allows such cover.
- You must be honest in financial and commercial matters relating to your work as a dowser.
- You must inform clients of your method of charging, estimated fees and all additional costs that may apply before you commence any work for them.
- You must not put pressure on your clients to give or lend money or their benefits to you or other people.
- When taking part in discussions about selling goods or services, you must declare any relevant financial or commercial interest which you or your family might have in the transaction.
7 Teaching and Training
- (a) The BSD encourages you to help the public to be aware of and understand dowsing and related issues and to contribute to the education and training of other dowsers.
Might it be appropriate for Geomancers to adopt something similar?
Could you live by this code? What would you change?
Is this the right approach?
Please let us know.