by Sig Lonegren
When I first began working in this field in the early seventies, no one knew the word "Geomancy." It was a forgotten art. There was an esoteric classical study of divination of the land as a system of augury, of looking in to the future. But this definition has changed from it's earlier meaning which was "Earth divination." Goemancy has expanded since then to encompass the numerous activities we now know were part of the constructors of the Neolithic stone rings' bag of tricks - astronomy, astrology, sacred geometry, dowsing, mythology, surveying, ability to deal with discarnates and shamanic/Merlin/Medicine Man skills, just to mention some of them. I remember how hard I had to work to gather the information back then, now there are numerous books on the subject, and new ones are coming out almost monthly - after a dry spell in the late eighties and early nineties.
I wanted to make a comment on this recent usurpation, or at least expansion, of the meaning of the word "geomancy." I find that because of our in our mad dash into out left-brained, rational, analytical world we now live in, the English language doesn't have words to describe less tangible things that are now of interest once again. "Chakra" is a good example. English doesn't have a word for these energy centers - because Western Man decided long ago that they were of no use to the rational/analytical though processes. We needed to borrow from a language (Hindu) that still had these nodes of power in their conceptual framework. So as the awareness came back that there are ancient sites of sanctity that have special intangible but definitely apprehendable beneficial energies, we needed a term that would cover the multidisciplinary tools that were necessary to do this work. That word has become "geomancy." Perhaps Eitel, who wrote that early book on Chinese feng shui for Western ears in the late nineteenth century, first (?mis?)used the word to describe Oriental practitioners' efforts to harmonize the land.
To be honest, we owe most of the current awareness of the concept of geomancy to feng shui. Originally though of as a strange practice in China where they objected to the British rail system because they were laid in straight lines, today feng shui is a rapidly growing concept both in the United States and here in Britain - and I suspect in many other places around the world. It was not the path I followed.
Having studied how our foremothers and fathers built their sacred places, I developed a three pronged approach in the seventies that still works well for me today. When I go to a prehistoric sacred site, I look for evidence of astronomical orientation. Is there an obvious alignment to some significant horizonal astronomical event? I seek geometry. Was this place laid out using a handfull of sacred geometrical ratios - pi, phi, and the square roots of two, three and five? And finally, were the Earth Energies there? At the same time, I also had an interest in the secular uses of this ancient art in homes and in businesses - the aspect of geomancy that feng shui deals with.
Can one apply the principles learned in the construction of sacred spaces to secular space? Well, they don't correspond exactly for me. I know I am opening myself to the, "But, ALL the Earth is sacred!" charge, and that's true, but there are differences as well, though, it might be better to see sacred and secular as part of the same Whole, but when I dowse that habitation sites of ancient Peruvian,s or Bronze Age Britons, or Adena People in Ohio, except for the shawo/man's domicile, none of these prehistoric homes were built over the energies that I dowse at sacred sites around the globe. In dealing with homes and businesses, astronomy and geometry become less significant (though certain architects have used sacred geometry - Corbusier, for example - made a thing of using phi). But the secular geomancer usually arrives at a home long after the walls have been put up (though, that's changing too, and some people are beginning to seek geomantic advice before building). So, in most secular geomantic work, it boils down to the Earth Energies and the things that are attracted to them that are of import to secular geomancers in homes or businesses. In this work dowsing and spirit guides are important tools. You can run in to some Nasties in this kind of work.
But somehow, for me, neither sacred nor secular is the most important thing that geomancy can bring us. Yes, it is very useful in locating sacred and secular sites in such a way as to enhance the activity that is going to occur there, but for me, the value of geomancy to the world in 2000 is the actual awareness that Nature is alive. We're not just digging holes in an inert planet. She is alive, and geomancy can assist not only aspiring geomancers to realize this, but also it can wake others up to this reality as well. When working on the Earth, a geomancer needs to know how to read the signs. Now we're getting back to the earlier/classical definition of this word. I call it reading the "daysigns." As I walk into a sacred site, I pay attention to what is happening in Nature. A hawk might swoop by, or, while not in a circle, there might be a concentration of oak trees, or a spider might attract your attention, or a particular herb.
The trick is to make associations. What does the word hawk or oak or spider mean to you, and what can that tell you about that place you are entering? I can hear you saying, "How do I learn what hawk, oak or spider means?" It's very personal. You begin with what you already know. What energy does a hawk carry for you? Bird of prey? Majestic flight? Fighter? You can do the same with oak and spider. But then where? Herbal books can give you medicinal uses of plants. If you notice a concentration of a certain kind of herb - or even a particularly attractive example of one that catches your eye - it's medicinal uses might give you a clue as to the energy of the site - for you. Another place to look is to Ovid. His "Metamorphoses" is full of stories about mythological figures, plants and animals. These can tell you what certain plants and animals meant to the southern European people. There are Celtic and Norse works that also have these associations. There are a number of different animal card decks that are full of information about animals in different parts of the world. I found the OBOD (a British group, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) deck of cards very helpful in New England.
But the point here is to find ways to tune back in to Nature. Once you speak to Her, and she responds that's true geomancy! And it is this possibility of an active interrelationship with Nature that is the most important contribution that geomancy can make to the people of the earth - especially us "Westerners" (though it is quite probable that a number of cultures in other parts of the world still do have some contact). But it is that logical conclusion that the Earth is here for our taking that is ultimately killing us. Awareness of daysigns or other techniques that wake people up to the reality that Nature is awake and wanting to talk could have a lot to do with turning things around environmentally. I feel that this is geomancy's most important gift to the new millennium.
MAG E-zine 1999 >>