Practitioners of Western geomancy who read the Shield Chart independently of the astrological House Chart rely primarily on six techniques to interpret the figures and their distribution throughout the shield: (a) the temporal/interactive interpretation of the Court, (b) the mobile/stable quality of the figures, (c) the elemental composition of the figures, (d) the Viae Punctorum, (e) the Four Triplicites, and (f) the chart sum.
The Four Triplicities, in particular, can be understood as an interpretive framework that assigns specific meanings to the first four triads of the Shield Chart (see header image). Speculated to have been introduced into the tradition by Robert Fludd in his 1687 treaties, Fasciculus Geomanticus, In Quo Varia Variorum Opera Geomantica Continentur, this approach has proven itself to be an effective means of gaining insight into a wide range of queries. The triplicities will often help clarify the message of the Court while also offering valuable details pertinent to the subject of the query. While older models are believed to exist within the corpus of geomantic literature, the contemporary presentation and widespread use of this system can, however, be accredited to author John Michael Greer.1 The tables presented below attempt to chronicle the evolution of the triplicities thus far.
|Triplicity⠀||Meaning (Fludd, 1687, in Block, 2015, para. 10)|
|1st||The querent and all of the circumstances of [their] place, as one may know the complexion, magnitude, thoughts, mores, substance, virtues which of this Triplicity the figure denotes, just as is demonstrated in the following example, where a man is boastful, greatly rich, and of a cold and dry complexion.|
|2nd||All that the first does, with the sole exception that the first denotes the principle of the thing, and the second its fortune.|
|3rd||The quality of the place where people frequent, as one may see whether one be great or small, beautiful or deformed, and so forth, according to the figures that are found there. It also signifies damage of the place, likewise what sort of person it may be, whether good or evil, brave or timid.|
|4th||The fortune and stature of friends, and principals of the court, and officers.|
|Triplicity⠀||Meaning (Greer, 2009, p. 97)|
|1st||The querent, including his or her circumstances, health, habits, and outlook on life.|
|2nd||The events shaping the querent’s life at the time of the reading.|
|3rd||The querent’s home and work environment, the places he or she frequents, and the kind of people he or she meets there. Family members and housemates appear in this triplicity.|
|4th||The querent’s friends, associates, and authority figures.|
|Triplicity⠀||Meaning (Block, 2015, para. 6)|
|1st||The querent’s current self, circumstances, and nature.|
|2nd||The current situation inquired about.|
|3rd||Places and surroundings of the querent, including the people and activities involved there.|
|4th||People involved with the querent’s life, including their friends, colleagues, coworkers, and the interplay of the relationships among them.|
As is the case when reading the Court, a triplicity can be read in one of several ways, depending on the nature of the query and intuition of the reader. The first is referred to as the temporal method,2 whereby the Right Parent indicates the past, the Child indicates the present, and the Left Parent indicates the future. The second approach is an interactive method,3 whereby the Right Parent indicates the querent, the Left Parent the quesited, and the Child the outcome or nature of their interaction. The third approach can be referred to as the intuitive method, whereby the meaning of the Parental figures and resultant Child are determined by the intuition of the reader.
After having conducted over 60 Shield Chart readings employing Greer’s model, I have found two persistent issues with his assigned meanings that could possibly be resolved by a few simple modifications.
The first issue concerns the general nature of the triplicities’ meanings. Many of us simply assume that each triplicity is communicating something relevant to the query, but this direct relation is not explicit in the meanings of the triplicities themselves and is not always apparent during a reading, occasionally resulting in confusion or in the abandonment of the technique altogether.
The second issue concerns the demarcation between the 3rd and 4th Triplicities. For example, my work environment and the people with whom I interact there are clearly 3rd-Triplicity subjects according to Greer, yet these people are a mixture of friends, colleagues, and associates, individuals that are also 4th-Triplicity subjects. Alternatively, my home environment and those within it are 3rd-Triplicity subjects, yet a housemate could also be both a friend and a colleague, simultaneously making them 4th-Triplicity subjects.
In light of these shortcomings, and after careful consideration, I have begun to experiment with the following model which attempts to fine-tune the meanings of the triplicities such that each directly relates to the subject of the query and the overlap between the 3rd and 4th is eliminated. This model also proposes a new meaning for the 2nd Triplicity that may be particularly useful when the grammatical subject of the query is an object or possession unrelated to the querent or another person.
|1st||The querent’s attributes, condition, intentions, actions, or experiences as related to the matter inquired about.|
|2nd||Objects, property, or possessions involved in the matter inquired about and their characteristics, condition, or function.|
|3rd||The environment of the matter inquired about and its characteristics, atmosphere, or the types of activities occurring there.|
|4th||Other people involved in the matter inquired about and their attributes, condition, intentions, actions, or experiences.|
The model herein proposed is merely intended to serve as starting point in an effort to initiate the next evolution of this technique. As such, any suggestions or alternative ideas that readers may have to offer are welcomed and appreciated.
- John Michael Greer, The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance, Illustrated (Newburyport: Weiser Books, 2009), 96–99.
- Polyphanes, “On the Geomantic Triads,” The Digital Ambler (Blog), March 21, 2015, Accessed November 13, 2021, at https://digitalambler.com/2015/03/21/on-the-geomantic-triads/.
Fludd, Robert. 1687. Fasciculus Geomanticus, In Quo Varia Variorum Opera Geomantica Continentur. 1st ed. Frankfurt am Main: Verona.
Greer, John Michael. 2009. The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance. Illustrated. Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books.
Polyphanes. March 21, 2015. “On the Geomantic Triads.” The Digital Ambler (Blog). https://digitalambler.com/2015/03/21/on-the-geomantic-triads/ (Accessed November 13, 2021).
Last Updated: 4-13-2022