Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Geomancy- the Signficance of Space

Traditional astrology shows the significance of the orientation of the heavens for a particular time and place, with an emphasis of when. At any given time, there is a unique chart that can be cast. In addition to time, there are ancient systems of understanding the significance of space. For ease of description, and because it's an awesome name, these systems of understanding the significance of the space around us can be called geomancy, 'foresight by earth'.

A practice developed in ancient China, and has continued to grow and be used since then, called Feng Shui, 'wind-water'. Feng Shui is a system for harmonizing the objects and buildings in one's environment according to the cosmic interplay of magnetic orientation and energy flow (or Qi) around them. People, as early as the neolithic period, felt a need to orient their homes and towns along particular cardinal directions, and since then have worked to harmonize their environment in the belief that there is a direct connection between our circumstances and the harmony of the environment around us. This concern for environmental harmony has led to thousands of years of study in the significance of the directions, elements, shape, color, and feelings connected to the space in which we live. In fact, this was all so important in that, in order to help facilitate Feng Shui analysis, the Chinese invented the compass.

Healthy skepticism is always important in maintaining a balance in any study, but I feel like there's some significance to the motivation behind the compass here. For hundreds of years, empirical western thought has had a rather patronizing attitude towards traditional systems of understanding the world around us- be it astrology, shamanic ritual, or Feng Shui. Unfortunately, people for the most part aren't stupid, and (especially in a time before grocery stores and cars) wouldn't waste thousands of years developing these systems, and inventing new tools to help, if there wasn't some importance to them.

Luckily, recent decades have seen an increase in interest for astrology and geomancy alike. Especially in these tumultuous times, more and more I feel people are losing the illusion of separation, and realizing how connected our world may actually be. Feng Shui helps analyze the interplay of our thoughts, feelings, and environment, and how they flow together to facilitate or block the functions of our daily lives. It is based on the flow of Qi, or life force, in a living space, as well as the balance of the elements. In Chinese tradition, there are 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Water, Metal, Earth) and they play together in either a constructive cycle ("it's super effective!") or destructive cycle ("it's not very effective..."). Sound familiar yet? It will after you look at this diagram of elemental balance in Feng Shui:

Who'd have thought that those years of playing Pokemon have actual geomantic significance? These elements can be balanced in one's environment according to the traditional areas of living space, based on a traditional octagon called a Bagua, which is laid over a living space:

This system of harmonizing Qi and polarity in one's environment speaks to the idea that we live in a cohesive field of connected forces, and that actions, intentions, and environment are all affected by each other. But the Chinese aren't the only ones who have worked to map the connections between our environment and our lives. We can also look to local space astrology.

In local space astrology, the same planets are considered for the birth time of an individual- Sun, Moon, all the way up to Pluto. However, instead of analyzing the planetary position based on the celestial backdrop of the zodiac (i.e., "Sun in Pisces"), the location of the planets along the horizon visible from the given location at the given time is considered, and mapped against a circle, like wheel spokes. When this circle is laid against a map, starting where the individual was born, the spokes radiate outward, showing places of significance geographically. Metaphorically, this shows the significance of the planets around the individual, from their point of view as opposed to the significance of the planets in a given zodiac sign. It looks like this:

In analyzing such a chart, one would look at the areas under the path of the planetary lines, and the meaning of the planetary lines along the cardinal directions. Like the zodiac chart, with meaning in the left, right, top and bottom parts, there is a distinct significance to planetary lines depending on whether one follows them north, south, east or west.

These fields continue to grow in popularity and develop applications in our increasingly connected world. As we face more changes and challenges, we now have the opportunity to explore our immediate environment, and access improvements in our lives by working with such systems. People across the world have found significance in the subtle meaning of their environment, now's the perfect time for our modern world to catch up.

Readers, what do you think about your environment? Do you believe in Qi? Is there anything you'd like to know more about in a future post? Leave a comment!

Also, here are some good introductory books on these systems:
Astrolocality Astrology
Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life