No 19: Autumn Equinox
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by Sig Lonegren
One of the major benefits of the study of geomancy is the awareness of the power of divination. While I started my training in this field as a dowser (my mother first taught me over forty years ago), I have since learned that there are many different kinds of divination, and to choose to limit oneself to only one tool is, well, really limiting. Some dowsers limit themselves to not only a single tool, but, say, "Only Y rods made of apple will work!" If you believe it, it's true. If you don't, it isn't. Dowsing was my basic training, and I was taught by one of the best, Terry Ross, past President of the American Society of Dowsers, and one of the early dowsers speaking about leys in the US in the late sixties.
Swedish Troll Dowsing with a Y rod
From Terry I learned the importance of asking the right question to get the right answer - whom/what ever answers our dowsing questions takes us quite literally.Your analytical mind must be working quite well for your intuitive mind to come up with the best answer. When looking for a place to dig for water, you don't just ask, "Where's the nearest water?" You might well have water under the point where your dowsing tool indicates, but it may be nine-hundred feet down, yields two gallons an hour, goes dry between May and September, and tastes like dead rats! You need to say, "I am looking for the nearest source of good potable water to this home that is less than twenty feet down, and flowing year 'round at at least five gallons a minute." You have to ask the right question to get the right answer.
Terry was the first to introduce me to deviceless dowsing, and well I remember his performances on the ASD stage in Danville, Vermont when he astounded us with his readings of the Earth energies under members' homes all over the US! I remember his eye going out of focus, and he'd look up and to the right, and the answers would materialize out of the ether. This awareness that one didn't need a physical tool at all was liberating, but I still take my cues from the physical world whenever I can.
In the late sixties and early seventies I sought a more complex system of divination. I spent a great deal of time with the Waite-Rider deck of Tarot cards and assiduously studied astrology as used by the Order of the Golden Dawn as my method of understanding each card. The Tarot works, and is always on. It is only the reader's ability to read that can screw up the message. I learned that any divinatory system will work as long as it it is complete within itself. Tarot takes much more initial preparation to use effectly than dowsing, but then, it's more complicated. Actually, it takes to become good at any form of divination. Dowsing can work for you the first time you try it, but it takes years to become a master dowser. Somehow it has to get in to your system and become natural. Tarot also takes time in a different way. You have to initially learn meanings for each of the seventy-six different cards, and you have to develop a way to be able to see all seventy-six as related parts of the Whole.
The Fool is the Pilgrim. Most people see as foolish, people who devote long periods of their lives walking long distances to go to some place known in history as being different and special on some kind of a quest where they come back with less money than they started! What a waste of time! Who is the Fool here?
The Fool in the mediaeval court was the only person who could tell the King where it was at and get away with it. Only the wise man knows he's a Fool. This is the beginning of the Tarot journey, and the Fool serves the same function as the little different players one uses in the game of Monopoly. The Fool is you on your journey. On your Pilgrimage to the One.
One could go on and on making more connections and spin-offs from the Fool archetype - the white flower shows pure intent. You gotta begin with that. S/he is paying no attention where s/he's going, and in fact is about to walk over a cliff, but God/dess takes care of Pilgrims. The point is to develop a number of associations one can make with each card which can then be used as key words in your divinatory story. Now about these key words.
I believe that each of us has to develop our own key words for any given object - be it astrological symbol, tarot card, number, herb, I Ching symbol, tea leaf symbol, etc. Your own words. Listen to others, but in the end, go with the key words that resonate with you.
The same is true for the card of Death in the Tarot. See the Grim Reaper marching to the setting sun (the death of day). In his slow unceasing march, all fall before him - Kings and commoners and clergy.
It doesn't mean that every time you get this card that you are going to die - necessarily. The vast majority of the time the card of Death means enormous significant, perceived as inevitable, change or transition. What in your life is at this point? Something significant in your life is going to die.
Death is important here because something has to die to make room for the new. All change requres this. Some change comes easy, some comes hard. This is going to be a big one that you gnow (to know both rationally and intuitively) is inevitable. Things aren't always what they seem, and again, the interpretation is totally up to you.
This verb "to gnow" is important here. Geomancers must have lots of facts at hand, and also have her/his intuitive skills well honed. Gnowing occurs when something checks out both rationally and intuitively, and the results of both are valued EQUALLY. Divination usually requires this method of functioning. The left brain has to ask the right question, and has to know all of the meanings and key words, say, in Tarot, of the cards. The right brain then takes these meanings and key words and applys them to the question.
The Tarot taught me a lot by leading me in to such divers subjects as astrology, mythology, numerology, Mediaeval history and Carl Jung. Hell hath no fury like a recent convert, and I found myself at the beginning going to parties and saying, "Hi, my name is Sig. Can I read your cards?" Boring. I got over that, and the cards have served me well over the years - especially in counseling situations.
Right-handed Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth
Construction beginning with the seed pattern
These magical single path tools of divination were a gift to me from Jeff Saward, whom I met in at the first Glastonbury Earth Mysteries Gathering at Samhain, 1983. He taught me the miraculously simple way of drawing a classical labyrinth using its seed pattern, and gave me a wonderful initial boost in the study of this winding path - opposite of the straight energy leys I had studied for my Masters' Degree in the Seventies. In terms of divination, while I initially had amazing experiences in labyrinths, it was with the development of a system for walking the pathe that the power of these tools became apparent to me.
Any divination begins with a question. Once you have that in mind, you can begin the divination process. One of the the best divination system I've found is given to us by Mother Nature Herself. I call them "Daysigns" - things that happen in the day that really catch your attention. Then treat this as if it were a dream. It can be anything Mother Nature brings your way from a cute little pesky squirrel carrying its nuts to a secret a secret store, to butterfly sitting on a daisy. For example,let's say you are thinking of going to Peru to deepen you study of Native people in the Western Hemisphere, and on your walk, you see an owlswoop by you while out on your walk, how would you apply that synchronous natural event to the question you have in mind? If your roots are in Europe, "Wisdom" might well come in to your mind. The wise old owl. So it is wise to go to Peru to continue your studies. Now, if you have Native American roots, you will interpret that owl completely differently. Owl means danger. Stay away! Each diviner muts develop their own code - one that works for and resonates with you.
In your divination process, what you were thinking about just before something in Nature catches your eye can be clarified by your interpretation of that event. Let's say you had been wondering if you should quit your job and do something new. What does the squirrel putting away for later say to you in this situation? The butterfly on the daisy reminds me of it's connection with Air and the mental world. The daisy? "She loves me, she loves me not." Love seems to be a factor worth thinking about here. Plants are usefull allies when working with daysigns as they have medical and magical connections that can be applied to your daysign walk. Maple is sweet, Mountain Ash, or Rowen, is protection, dock is a remedy to getting stung by nettles. What's nettling you? (Puns actually seem to be very significant tools in this process.
Unlike the Tarot, where you really should know the individual meanings of all seventy-six cards before you begin to read for others, with plants, start with the ones you already know. They are the ones that will stick out anyway because you know their names. Make associations with each. Pun on their name, find a medicinal use, be aware of its magical attributes. The idea here is that each time you go out, learn another one, and very quickly (assuming you go out frequently) you will know most of the plants in your area!. (See, it's subversive as well. It gets you to learn more about Nature.)
The Four Directions can be the stage where Daysigns can be played on. Each Direction has meaning - again, totally up to you. For me, East is where the day begins, that first slash of an idea. South marks the brightest time of the day in the physical world, so the spiritual world in the North is at your back. You have to take that spiritual world on faith and trust that it is there. West has to do with the end of the day and the conclusion of projects. Transition. North, in the darkness, is Wisdom. What would it mean if that squirrel was putting away his nuts to the North of you? (I'm assuming here that you know where North is.) Perhaps it might be wise to put away a bit more cash in the bank before moving on to a new job.
Numbers are always a part of divination. Each number has its own meaning - for you. You see 2 butterflies dancing in the air to the west. You better think twice before leaving this job! Three black crows always mean TO ME that the triune Goddess (Virgin, Mother, Crone) is present. How does She figure in this decision? How would four swans flying in the East effect your thought about leaving your job to do something new? For me, 4 is the number of physical manifestation. Standing four square. Swans (love) in the air (mental/thinking) about the East (new possibilities). Prospects for leaving your job and manifesting a new one that you will love that will be mentally more challenging are literally in the air!
In addition to all of the other tools they have in their bag (straight edge, pair of compasses, magnetic compass, clinometer, etc., geomancers need these kinds of divinatory skills. When you are out in the field, intent on finding the best place for a client's healing center, Nature will speak to you in many ways if you can only open up your senses to what She is saying. The same could be said of divination as a whole. Divination is an integral part of what we call modern European Geomancy.
Issue No. 18 >>
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Moon and Onion:
A Small Piece About a Small Piece of Geomancy!
My partner and I were asked to create and co-ordinate the Spirit Zone at the Big Green Gathering this year, and part of our job, as well as hiring speakers on the topic of Green Spirituality, was to actually manifest the Spirit Zone along the avenue leading to Green Henge, the new stone circle built in the ninety’s by John Martineau.
I enclose a site map to help explain this set-up. We felt that the site layout put us in the position of the 6th chakra of the Festival, leading to the Stone Circle as the crown.
So, what to do? After much thought about:
- the temporary nature of whatever we did (the cows return when the gathering is over)
- the practical reality that we would have only two to three days on site before the folk arrived, and
- all would have to be prepared and transported from Wales to Wiltshire.
We made a big banner to announce the entranceway to the Avenue (and the camping field!) as the Spirit Zone*, and a large Green Witch (hazel and canvas) Being, to stand outside our workshop dome.
And finally, we marked the Avenue with medicine shields and green man/witch faces, hanging from hazel pole supports, every 15 feet/5 meters or so, with glittering ribbons hanging from them. Each shield was double sided, with symbols from lots of spiritual paths painted on them, both conventional, such as the Celtic cross, and unusual, like the Eye of Ra, and the Saturn square (magic square).
So as people walked along, they passed through the energy of many faiths, from all over the world, and also passed the gaze of Mother Nature Herself.
We shared the Avenue with the Buddhist café and temple, the Celtic Christians bender and the Hare Krishna café and music scene, and all got in very well.
Chanting filled the air from morn to night, each having some time, so "Earth Mother," Shiva, Krishna and Christ all had a chance to be heard. It felt as though our geomancy had worked very well, and many commented on the lovely atmosphere, leaving the main site, with its hurly-burly energy, and returning to the peace of the stone Circle field.
It all took a month or two to make, a day to put up and a day to take down, a very worth wile exercise in temporary geomancy!
Oh, and another piece of temporary geomancy is that each year a beautiful labyrinth is made on site, with chalk or sand, by little Tess from Glastonbury way, which is also very popular, and well walked. These pieces may not be permanent on the land, but many take their influence home to savour.
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On the Emergent Practice of Geomancy, and the Need for Clearly Defined Ethics
by Patrick MacManaway
At the present time, there are very few practitioners of geomancy in Western Europe and North America. Certainly, in the past, there have been many - countless. Certainly in the future there will be countless more. In the past few centuries, geomancy both as a subject and a practice disappeared under a wave of materialism, industrialisation, and politicised religion. The wave of consciousness that is breaking upon us now is one that includes geomancy once again. This creates an opportunity - a necessity in fact, perhaps even an inevitability - that geomancy be rediscovered, renewed, recreated, and re-integrated into contemporary culture.
For this to occur, several things are required. Those who will become practitioners will be inspired - hear the call, follow their hearts towards the calling of that spirit - and forums for discussion, training and exploration will emerge. A contemporary paradigm of geomancy will develop, one whose conceptual framework and language has acceptability and relevance to the public at large and allows the geomancer a professional relationship with culture and currency. All of these are large and long-range projects, which are likely to occur ad hoc in the first instance and gradually be refined and re-modelled with the passing of generations.
Those of us who are passionate about geomancy are eager to press ahead with the work and are greatly encouraged and excited by the many intiatives and developments currently occuring. Sig and I are especially excited to be opening the School of Mid-Atlantic Geomancy’s training programme in Modern European Geomancy this autumn. The way forward is not entirely clear and uncomplicated however, and the road is somewhat cluttered by fallen branches and stones.
Some of these obstacles and potential distractions relate to ethical practice. I admit to worrying about this issue, even while I can simulataneously keep a philosophical perspective on it. I am fortunate to hold a generational view of a parallel consciousness - the cultural integration of holistic healing.
My father, Major Bruce MacManaway, felt the call of healing in 1939 aged nineteen whilst involved in rearguard combat outside Dunkirk. No soft tones of new-age music or pastel colours were involved in his early practice - as an infantry officer he had two pressing tasks to concern him - how to confront a division of Panzer tanks without artillery and how to attend to wounded and dismembered soldiers without recourse to any medical facility.
In the heat of battle he discovered the profound human miracle of laying-on-hands, and spent the rest of his life serving the healing spirit that had inspired and guided him.
For twenty years his healing practice was quiet and private. Healing outside of Christian ministry was not widely sanctioned. The Witchcraft Act was still in effect at the end of the war.
In 1959 he felt the call to go public and open a healing centre. Pursuing this against all economic reason and public opinion, he trusted the spirit that guided him and The Westbank Healing and Teaching Centre in Strathmiglo, Scotland, blossomed and flourished as an international venue for healing practice, teaching, discussion and conference.
Public opinion and the commercial climate changed slowly, however - indeed at a generational pace. Distanced and dropped by many casual friends and aquaintances, my parents found themselves isolated and pushed outside many social edges. My eldest brother John, born the year the Centre opened, was not allowed to play with the doctor or ministers children so great was the taboo against lay-healing. The virtually ubiquitous familiarity with healing practices such as Reiki forty years later show us how public awareness and the integation of holistic prinicples can emerge and occur to the point that they become commonplace and widely accepted.
Something has been lost in the process however. Depth, quality, and commitment to the tutelary spirit.
Of Depth and Quality
I do not for a moment suggest that there is no depth, quality or commitment in today’s healing practices or healing practitioners. Nor do I have a nostalgia for times past. There has been a dilution however, and an accomodation of the healing spirit alongside the meeting of other and more personal agendas. I have been priveledged to witness those who through the greatness of their inspiration and vision and through the profundity of their dedication returned the spirit of healing to the public, regardless of class, education or income. Indeed, my father’s lifelong practice was to tutor all with ability, to grant no certificates (believing them deceptive and valueless) and never to charge community members (in a village of over 1000) for his services.
To create widespread cultural paradigm change of the degree that members of his generation and calling did requires an almost messianic degree of self sacrifice and service. I do not often meet that in contemporary practitioners. And perhaps that is just as well. That time is past, and our task is different now. There is a large enough body of holistic practitioners to open more serious public and professional debate about their sevices, and to integrate them ever more fully into the pragmatic and the commonplace. The healing spirit is more dilute, but that dilution is part of the integration. For a period however, the dilution of such a process is also associated with a certain degree of shallowness, as with those who feel touched by the spirit do not have the time or attention to give themselves wholly to it, and the culture as a whole does not have a sufficient body of information or experience for them to tap easily into.
This situation will surely pass, but slowly and again as a generational consequence, as practitioners and practitioner bodies develop and mature, as a body of experience and knowledge develops into cultural lore, and as the public learns to successfully discern and meet its needs in this area.
Seeing this process unfold gives us information about the path of emergence that the contemporary practice of geomancy is likely to follow. It has some differences, and some similarities. The holistic movement is well established now, various levels of professionalism are recognised and professional bodies are emerging to regulate and represent, and practitioners can easily take training courses and be rapidly offering their services on the basis of known-name holistic practices rather than their own earned reputation.
This brings us to the point of my worry. Geomancy is a powerful tool. Having studied a wide variety of holistic practices and trained and practiced in conventional medicine, I have chosen to direct my healing work through a geomantic practice because I find it to be more powerful and impactful than any other tool or technique. It is at once a great gift and a great burden to have a clear vision of something prescious and golden that is invisible to other members of one’s culture and community. I had the advantage of serving an apprenticeship - first at my father’s knee, dowsing, working with geopathic stress and doing all manner of work with discarnate spirits, and secondly by invoking and serving the spirit of geomancy totally, studying with Sig in a focussed and dedicated manner and continuing subsequently to learn as a journeyman geomancer "on the job".
I have followed, in my own way, my father’s example, endeavouring to serve the spirit of the process rather than more personal agendas, in order to bring it through in as pure a form as I can, trusting that by getting myself out of the way, the quality of work that this will inspire will serve as something of a "gold standard" by which the work can become known and embraced by the public as having value and merit, and allowing a subsequent development of a contemporary geomantic profession.
The concern then, is that as geomancy becomes marketable and as training courses and practitioners proliferate, it will take it’s place as the next in an increasingly long line of holistic therapies, and receive the now standard rather shallow attention from the public and the media, and be represented by those with a superficial grasp of the nature and relevance of the subject, whose agenda is as much self-promotional as it is to forward the body of knowledge itself. This would not be an entirely bad thing. The practice of geomancy has historically been restricted and controlled because of it’s power and impact, and serving it up as "just another therapy" may allow it to be widely dispersed and disseminated into the public consciousness before high-level political or commercial interest can appropriate it as in times past.
An Ethical Code of Practice
I personally believe that the field will be best served by the early establishment of an ethical code for practitioners. This is quite different from estabishing a code of geomantic practice - and I beleive that the field will be best served if we do not codify geomantic practice - perhaps ever. But an ethical code acts as a guarantor - that the practitioner places the spirit of the practice above his or her personal agenda, and ensures that geomancy be used in service of the community rather than to it’s detriment. Writing codes is a tricky business, and the human instinct is to rebel against any set of rules to re-assert the freedom of human will. Ethics are a little different from arbitrary cultural law however. Geomancy allows the practitioner to intervene directly with the Spirit of Place. This spirit has immense psychic mass and inertia, and laws of cosmic correspondence and karma play out fast when dealing with large amounts of psychic energy. One function of an ethical code is therefore to align a practitioner with purity and clarity of intent in their work. Ethics come out of an understanding of the nature of the subject, it’s relevance and likely effects. Effectively they are an honour code, that defines respectful and aware practices that ensure right-relationship with powerful elemental forces.
Every practitioner already has their own ethical code of practice, although they perhaps would not percieve or language it in this way. With the increase of training opportunities, a more clearly defined and stated code will soon be necessary. I have recently been through a similar process, establishing a code of ethical conduct for those registered as dowsing practitioners with the British Society of Dowsers, many of whom practice geomancy to some degree. This code is specific to the spirit of the dowsing community, and is not necessarily directly transposable to the geomantic community, but nevertheless I offer it here as a starting point for ethical debate. It defines areas of ethical concern, and sets out one way of addressing these issues.
Geomantic ethics are imortant, and are a legitimate and high-priority concern for any serious student or practitioner of the subject. If we can define a good set of basic ethics early in the geomantic revival - however rudimentary and simple(and the more rudimentary and simple, the better) then we will have gone a long way towards honouring and offering the spirit in purity to the next seven generations that will follow us.
Here is the current Code of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Professional Register of the British Society of Dowsers. Use the MAG Forum to open any points of ethical concern to debate - we must all take council with each other as we consider core geomantic ethics.
"Good Dowsing Practice"
Code of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Professional Register of the British Society of Dowsers
The British Society of Dowsers, in maintaining and continuing to promote dowsing and dowsing practitioners in a manner consistent with the highest standards of personal integrity and professional behaviour, requires the following code of ethical conduct to be followed by Members of the Professional Register. A Member whose conduct is considered by the Council to be in breach of the ethical code may be removed from the Register.
The reputation and usefulness of dowsing depend on the behaviour of dowsers. All dowsers owe it to their colleagues, and to members of the public who can benefit from dowsing skills, not to bring dowsing into disrepute.
The public expect high standards of behaviour in people they call in, on trust, to help them with aspects of their working and private lives. Essential elements of this are professional competence, good relationships with clients and colleagues, and observance of professional ethical obligations.
1. Good Relationships with Clients
- Treat every client politely and considerately.
- Make sure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your interactions with your clients - you must not allow your views about a client’s lifestyle, culture, belief, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, social status or perceived economic worth to prejudice the work that you perform or recommend.
- Adequately assess your clients needs and desires. Listen to and respect their views, and allow them to be fully involved in decisions about your work for them.
- Recommend and perform only the treatment or services that serve your client’s needs.
- Explain your services to your clients in a way that they can understand, and be satisfied that the client has understood and agrees to what is proposed before you begin.
- Respect the right of your clients to decline your services after these have been outlined and explained.
- Recommend and advise additional or otherwise relevant services or actions when necessary, including referring to another practitioner or other professional.
2. Maintaining Trust with Clients and the Public
- Always behave in an honest and trustworthy manner with your clients and with the public.
- Only dowse for information that concerns you personally or that lies within an area of public concern, unless you are asked or given permission by clients or others to dowse either for them personally or for groups or organisations of which they are members. Be careful to restrict and focus your dowsing to the legitimate needs and concerns of those seeking your services.
- Do not dowse for information about other people, their property, possessions or concerns without their request or permission, unless it is clearly in the interest of the highest common good to do so, and do not make unsolicited comments about other people or their concerns based on your position as a dowser. In the case of a person unable to represent themselves, either through age, illness or disability, you may dowse at the request of or with the permission of a parent, close family member, guardian or care-giver.
- Respect your client’s dignity and privacy, and do not reveal your client’s identity without their prior permission.
- Never improperly disclose or misuse confidential information that you may discover or become privileged to in the course of your dowsing.
- You must not use your position to establish improper personal relationships with clients or their close relatives.
- You must not deliberately withhold relevant or appropriate information or services from your clients.
3. Respecting Relationships with Colleagues
- You must always treat your colleagues fairly, be willing to consult with them and must be prepared to justify your actions to them if necessary.
- You must never discriminate unfairly against your colleagues, or allow your views of their lifestyle, culture, belief, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, or social status to prejudice your professional relationship with them.
- You must not make any client doubt a colleague’s knowledge or skills by making unnecessary or unsustainable comments about them.
4 Good performance
- The BSD encourages you to keep your knowledge and skills up to date.
- Keep clear and accurate records of relevant findings and work conducted.
- Recognise (and work within) the limits of your competence.
5. Providing information about your services
- When discussing or publicising your findings as a dowser, be responsible and considerate of the effects that such information may have, both on any individuals concerned and on public opinion generally. Avoid sensational or misleading statements and bear in mind the likely accuracy and completeness of your dowsing information.
- If you publish or broadcast information about your services, the information must be factual and verifiable. The information that you publish must not make claims about the comparative quality of your services nor compare your services with those your colleagues provide. For those whose work includes healing or therapies of any kind you must not, in any way, offer guarantees of cures, nor exploit client’s vulnerability or lack of knowledge.
- Information that you publish or provide about your services must not put pressure on people to use a service, for example by arousing fear for their present or future health or well-being.
6. Legal Observance and Commercial Dealings
- You must observe and keep up to date with any laws and statutory codes of practice which affect your work.
- You must obtain adequate insurance for any part of your work that calls for or allows such cover.
- You must be honest in financial and commercial matters relating to your work as a dowser.
- You must inform clients of your method of charging, estimated fees and all additional costs that may apply before you commence any work for them.
- You must not put pressure on your clients to give or lend money or their benefits to you or other people.
- When taking part in discussions about selling goods or services, you must declare any relevant financial or commercial interest which you or your family might have in the transaction.
7 Teaching and Training
- (a) The BSD encourages you to help the public to be aware of and understand dowsing and related issues and to contribute to the education and training of other dowsers.
Might it be appropriate for Geomancers to adopt something similar?
Could you live by this code? What would you change?
Is this the right approach?
Please let us know.