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 whereby specific meanings are assigned to the first four triads of the Shield Chart which are comprised as follows:
|1st Triplicity||1st Mother + 2nd Mother = 1st Niece|
|2nd Triplicity||3rd Mother + 4th Mother = 2nd Niece|
|3rd Triplicity||1st Daughter + 2nd Daughter = 3rd Niece|
|4th Triplicity||3rd Daughter + 4th Daughter = 4th Niece|
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 occult author John Michael Greer. 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 also the case with the Court, each triplicity can be read in one of two ways, depending on the nature of the query and the reader’s intuition. The first approach is temporal, whereby the top right figure (Right Parent) refers to the past, the middle figure (Child) to the present, and the top left figure (Left Parent) to the future (Polyphanes, 2015). The second approach is interrelational, whereby the Parents represent two factors involved in a situation and the Child represents the outcome of their interaction.
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 subject of the query primarily concerns an object or possession:
|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.
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).
Since publishing this post, I have found the following modified version of Greer’s triplicities to be somewhat more informative than the one I initially proposed:
|1st||The querent, including their relevant circumstances, behavior, characteristics, or perspective on the matter|
|2nd||Events affecting the querent’s life at the time of the reading|
|3rd||Home, family, housemates|
|4th||Work, school, colleagues, associates, authorities, rivals, people unknown to the querent|
I have also since learned that the triplicities were first introduced into the Western geomantic tradition by Gerard of Cremona during the 12th century, as noted by Thérèse Charmasson in Recherches sur une Technique Divinatoire: La Géomancie dans l’Occident Médiéval (1980, 133–134). The meanings of the triplicities presented by Gerard (MS: Venise, San Marco, VIII–44, fol. 109) are as follows and have been translated here via Google Translate from the French and original Latin showed in Charmasson’s book:
|Triplicity⠀⠀||Meaning According to Gerard of Cremona|
|1st⠀⠀||The matter of the complainant and all his circumstances, complexion, size of body, quality of mind, behavior, substance and virtue|
|2nd||The matter of the question|
|3rd||The quality of the place in which he lives or is about to live, and the lord of the place, with his circumstances|
|4th||Fortune, friends, health|
Last Updated: 3-15-2023
My essential issue with the meanings given by the above people for the triplicities is that they do not follow the question or logically end up with the witnesses. The third and the fourth triplicities should develop the quested and not tell you more about the questor indeed it should mirror the second and first triplicities but for the quested. If you look at the meanings of the third and fourth they are deliberately telling you stuff you do not need to know and yet all those choices are supposed to lead to the all important witness.
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Hi, Nick, as always, thanks for the feedback. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the last time with talked. Based on my experience thus far, I still contend that the 3rd and 4th, as they are, can offer valuable details pertinent to the query and need not conform to the placement of the Witnesses to be effective. As I also mentioned in the last conversation, I have found that the psyche/intuition will try to work with whatever symbolic artifice it is offered, irrespective of its internal logic, though some models are certainly more fruitful than others.
I am, however, very very curious as to the potential of your proposed model and would love to give it an honest try. Would you mind listing the triplicities as you feel they should be here in the comments, just so I have something concrete to work with? I have a feeling that your model could produce very interesting results and offer readers another effective way of working with this technique. Thanks again for your thoughts.
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