The procedure that we use to populate the Shield Chart from the initial Four Mothers results in an algebraic structure known as a finite communitive group.1 This structure causes the Witnesses to either be two odd-numbered figures or two even-numbered figures (never an odd-even pair) and also only allows eight of the sixteen figures to appear as the Judge, i.e., Via, Populus, Conjunctio, Carcer, Fortuna Major, Fortuna Minor, Acquisitio, and Amissio.
Despite the cromulent amount of information that is typically offered by the Court, practitioners of nonastrological geomancy who work solely with the Shield Chart occasionally find the numerical limitations of the Judge and Witnesses to be an impedance to interpretive precision. This is especially the case when the query is formulated in terms of “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “how”, or “why”, which either call for a more descriptive judgment or the use of special techniques that were originally intended to be used with the astrological House Chart. Generally speaking, many of the advanced interpretive methods used in astrological geomancy assign unique meanings to all sixteen geomantic figures, such as those used for navigation, locating lost objects, or calculating time.2
In an attempt to expand the capabilities of the shield beyond those permitted by its mathematical structure, I have begun to experiment with a technique that I call “unbinding the chart”, which basically requires that the Four Daughters be generated manually (i.e., in the same manner as the Four Mothers), rather than derived from the Four Mothers in the traditional manner. By doing this, the mathematical structure of the shield is altered in such a way that allows the Judge to be any of the sixteen figures, while also enabling odd-even pairs of Witnesses, which can potentially enhance the descriptive capabilities of the Court. Unbinding the chart can also allow one to adapt the aforementioned advanced methods to the interpretive framework of the Shield Chart.
When interpreting an unbound chart, the role of the Judge and Witnesses remain the exactly same, as does the function of the Four Triplicities and the method of reading the Viae Punctorum (“Ways of the Points”). The numerical range of the chart sum (84–128) will also likely remain the same. In short, the only differences between the traditional and unbound Shield Charts are how the daughters are derived, the number of possible Judges, and the variability of the Witnesses. You simply carry on with your interpretation of the chart as you normally would.
- Marion B. Smith, “The Nature of Islamic Geomancy with a Critique of a Structuralist’s Approach,” Studia Islamica, no. 49 (January 1979): 5–38, https://doi.org/10.2307/1595314.
- John Michael Greer, The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance (Newburyport: Weiser Books, 2009), 143, 146–147, 147–150.