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Geomancy: the Morse Code of Magic


Geomancy, of all divination systems seems to be perhaps the most unappreciated and by far the least popular. I have always found this odd as it is incorporated in the teachings of Western Hermetic Traditions and many magical orders such as the Golden Dawn.  I have personally dedicated much time to it over the last several years, and have found it to be an incredibly accurate, yet simple system. But what I have always loved about geomancy is its mysticism. Geomancy literally means “earth-divination,” the concept is that the practitioner tunes into and receives messages from the Anima Terra or the “soul of the Earth.”

   Unlike most forms of divination geomancy can be performed both operatively and speculatively. Meaning the figures can be produced by physically casting objects using a variety of techniques; or by Mano Caligo, the “ghost hand” which is a form of automatic writing. Mano Caligo is always my preferred and recommended method. The theology of mano caligo is that the practitioner establishes a direct or ambiant connection with the anima Terra through a local telluric current or earth current. This link allows geomantic signals to be conveyed similar to Morse code through telegraph lines. It only requires pen and paper, a general understanding of the figures and how they are generated.

   The geomantic symbol set is composed of 16 figures, each of these figures are formed by a different combination of dots. I have found it best to explain them as buildings. Each figure is framed like a four story house, one for each element. The first floor is earth, water is second, the third is air, and fire rules the fourth floor. On every elemental floor there are either one or two “windows” or dots, indicating whither the element is active (one dot) or passive (two dots), giving us our 16 possible figure combinations.




Generating a single figure using the mano caligo method is extremely easy. First formulate your question; for the beginner I recommend simple yes or no questions and repeat the question over and over while you simply make four dotted lines, one line for each elemental floor. Once you have done this go back and count the dots for each line. If the number of dots in a line comes out to an even number than there are two windows on that floor, if the number of dots in a line is an odd number then there is only one window on the floor. Once you have counted all four lines, determined odd or even numbers and assigned one or two windows to each story, you have assembled your geomantic figure (fig.2)

   I would recommend experimentation and practice with the mano caligo technique to discover what works best for you. The most important yet challenging aspect of the ghost hand is the “ghost” part. The intent is to let go and not to pay attention to how many dots you are making. Strive for diversion and irregularity, and avoid falling into any sort of rhythm. While some personality types find it more difficult than others, everyone can achieve proficiency with a little practice.

   I recommend generating a single figure for practice. Once you have become comfortable with the technique expand your casting to four figures before moving into the traditional 12 house readings (fig.1). Lastly, I would like to emphasize the use of grounding and centering techniques. Grounding and centering has proven to be a key element to establishing a viable link with the anima Terra. Which once established, has proven to be a valuable and inexhaustible resource.


Recommended Reading

John Michael Greer, The Geomancer's Handbook, Renaissance Astrology, 1999-2006.

Recommended Websites

Renaissance Astrology


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Joseph Merlin Nichter holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling, specializing in Crisis Response and Trauma; a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, specializing in Military Resilience; and an Associate’s Degree in Religion. He is a state licensed Residential Care Administrator, and is a certified Law Enforcement Chaplain. As the first state-recognized Minority Faith Chaplain; Joseph provided religious services and facilitated religious accommodations for a diverse population of faith practitioners, on behalf of the California Department of Corrections, and has also served as an Alternative Religions Program Instructor for the California Department of Mental Health. Joseph has authored two books and a number of articles, published both online and in periodicals such as Modern Witch Magazine, Living Stones Magazine, and Witches & Pagans Magazine.


  • Larksong
    Larksong Monday, 04 June 2012

    Hi Joe,
    Great post. I was just suggest to Anne that we have a Geomancy section last week. We decided for the time being to roll the topic into the Earth Wisdom section for the time being.
    Also, readers may be interested in the Root yourself in the Earth article under Solitary Spirituality section.

  • Les Cross
    Les Cross Monday, 25 June 2012

    Dear Joe,
    I think that this is an excellent post - thank you! In fact it was the reason I signed up for this site!

    I prefer to use a sortilege (casting) method of choosing the figures using gemstones ( Am I correct in thinking that the 'ghost hand' method was called 'squinning' by the Golden Dawn?

    I can use either method, but I find that drawing the gemstones is quicker for giving readings in a relatively fast-paced Mind-Body-Spirt fair setting, for example. Deeper sessions can benefit from a slower pace of constructing the figures though - and it also depends on the nature of the question being asked - sometimes it's nice to go slower to connect on a deeper level by using a more ritualistic approach.

    I also agree with you about the necessity for grounding. Interestingly, I found that when starting to work regularly with the oracle other parts of life tend to start feeling more grounded as well, including pieces of several unfinished projects starting to fall into place. As much as you root into the oracle it will root into you too.

    (By the by, the terms and conditions link below this post doesn't seem to link to a page - hope I'm not violating anything). :D

    I'm off to check Alan's article now. . . Thanks again.

  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter Saturday, 14 July 2012

    Hey Les, sorry but I was not aware of your comment until just now.

    I don't know about "squinning," as I have a modest knowledge of GD, and I am not a member. But I do enjoy sortilege myself, I make my own wands ( but I also have a large bag of small choice stone pebbles. I love taking the bag and a wand out to the dirt for some old school barefoot Geomancy! I love your website, thanks for the link, keep in touch!

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