There are a number of navigational tools within the tradition of geomancy that can be used to determine the general direction in which something is located. Most notable are the geomantic compasses presented by Robert Fludd in Fasciculus Geomanticus (1687, pp. 152–153), Emilie Savage-Smith and Marion Bush Smith in Islamic Geomancy and a Thirteenth-Century Divinatory Device (1980), and John Michael Greer in The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance (2009, pp. 142–144).
The 4-point compass devised by Fludd assigns water-ruled figures to the north, air-ruled figures to the east, fire-ruled figures to the south, and earth-ruled figures to the west in accordance with his particular model of elemental rulers. Savage-Smith and Smith provide an extensive analysis of the navigational features displayed on the Islamic geomantic device which exhibits unique correspondences between the 16 geomantic figures and four cardinal directions, based on the 28 lunar mansions and their associated seasons. The 12-point compass presented by Greer assigns figures to the four cardinal directions as well as the eight secondary intercardinal directions, significantly expanding the precision of his model in comparison to the others.
Inspired by Greer’s 12-point model, I have attempted to devise a slightly simpler 8-point compass that could be used for single-figure readings, the Novenary Chart, the Shield Chart, or the astrological House Chart:
The first phase in the creation of this compass involved the pairing of odd and even figures based on their shared ruling element (according to the French system of elemental rulers), the relationship between their secondary ruling elements (air nurtures fire, water nurtures earth), and their shared quality of movement (mobile/stable).
Pairing the figures in this way allows the Judge to be taken as the answer when the Shield Chart is consulted to the exclusion of the House Chart, as the Judge answering the query can only be an even-numbered figure due to the particular mathematical structure of the shield (i.e., Via, Populus, Conjunctio, Carcer, Fortuna Minor, Fortuna Major, Amissio, or Acquisitio). However, when working with the House Chart, the significator of the quesited should be taken as the answer. When using the Novenary Chart, the answer will be indicated by the Return (F6).
The pairs were arranged around the compass in such a manner that aligned their ruling elements with the seasons I associate with the cardinal and ordinal directions. The compass thus depicts the clockwise cycle of the four seasons, with north and northeast given to water (winter), east and southeast given to air (spring), south and southwest given to fire (summer), and west and northwest given to earth (autumn). Consideration was also given to the basic meanings of the figures as they relate to the directions they were assigned to. As a result of this configuration, the upper half of the compass is occupied by the elementally “cooler” pairs, while the lower half contains “warmer” pairs.
When using the compass to answer queries such as “In which direction is X located?”, the reader should ascertain the direction (indicated by the figure answering the query) in relation to true north. If true north cannot be determined, the direction should be estimated in relation to the position of the reader themselves.
John Michael Greer. 2009. The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance. Illustrated. Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books.
Robert Fludd. 1687. Fasciculus Geomanticus, In Quo Varia Variorum Opera Geomantica. Verona.
Savage-Smith, E., and M. B. Smith. 1980. Islamic Geomancy and a Thirteenth-Century Divinatory Device. Undena Pubns.