“Is it like Feng-Shui?”

An article published in the Spring 2011 issue of the WHG magazine.

That’s probably the most common question I get asked when trying to explain what geomancy is. It’s also the easiest explanation for most people to grasp.  I can say, “Geomancy is the art of placing structures upon the Earth so that they are in harmony with the telluric energies”; or perhaps, “Geomancy is the art of designing and constructing spaces that enhance our connection to spirit”; but few people can understand what it’s about until you mention that it’s ‘like Western Feng-Shui’.

Western geomancy is based on three main disciplines; dowsing, sacred geometry, and astronomy/astrology. Dowsing lets us detect and analyse the flow of subtle energies within and underneath a building. Almost all of our sacred structures, from the megalithic to the Gothic, are sited over confluences of underground water flows and lines of subtle energy – rising vortices of earth energy called ‘power centres’. These natural telluric hotspots can be harnessed by the geomancer and used to power the space. The geomantic act of foundation – ‘pinning the dragon’ – captures the meandering dragon lines of telluric energy and channels them into the straight flows of yang energy that we nowadays call ley lines. These emanate out across the landscape, connecting spiritual sites into an invisible network of subtle energy that can be detected through dowsing.

But that’s just the start of the story. A suitable container needs to be constructed to shape and tune the energies, and the form and proportion of the final edifice can have a dramatic effect on the ‘feel’ and use of the space. Gothic cathedrals are designed to resonate on a subconscious level in such a way that the possibility of a spiritual connection is maximised. Specific numbers and geometric ratios are employed to impart a subtle, yet palpable, resonance to the structure. These ratios are not simply human-made mathematical constructs designed to solve a particular problem; rather they are universal principles and natural constants, the very building blocks of creation that can be found by anyone who cares to look for them. Early philosophers discovering these numbers and ratios in nature believed they were seeing evidence of a divine hand in action; hence the study and utilisation of these archetypal patterns became known as sacred geometry.

Temple of Ramses IIIt is also important that a space is fully anchored in time and space, and this is where the astronomy/astrology comes in. By designing significant astronomical alignments into the space, we energetically connect it with the celestial energies and create ties with the surrounding landscape. For instance, it is well known that the passage of Newgrange is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, and Stonehenge has several alignments, in particular the rising summer solstice sun that it is most famous for.  The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Egypt, rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the building of the Aswan dam, was originally aligned with such precision that the rising sun would shine down the passage and illuminate Ramses’ statue on October 21 and February 21, the dates of his birthday and coronation. After the temple was dismantled and relocated, they could not match this level of precision despite the best efforts of several astronomers, so the solar alignment is now a day out.

Many churches and cathedrals are aligned to a specific direction, often the sunrise at equinox, or on the feast day of the patron saint. Planetary influences may also be incorporated in the design, and ceremonies and dedication rituals can be planned so that they take place at the most propitious conjunction of heavenly bodies, infusing the space with the desired energies.

Geomancy is a powerful tool, and can have a significant effect on the larger landscape and populace. When Japan invaded Korea in 1910, they symbolically imposed their Imperial power on the country by modifying the geomancy of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul. The palace is situated at the foot of two mountains, one a craggy granite peak, the other slightly more rounded (tiger and dragon in Feng-Shui terms). In direct southerly alignment from this is the palace complex, a warren of wooden buildings and passages through which it is easy to imagine black-clad ninjas intent on assassination prowling in the dead of night. The north-south alignment continues out of the palace gates where a wide avenue runs through the town centre to City Hall, thus linking the two centres of royal and administrative power. It is immediately clear that this is the major geomantic axis in the city, and so the Japanese agreed, for they demolished ten palace buildings including the royal throne hall and erected their government building athwart this axis of power. It was constructed in the shape of the Kanji character for ‘Japan’, thus geomantically emphasising the Japanese control over the Korean nation. So effective was this tactic that it took the Koreans until 1995 to finally demolish the hated building.

Much of the geomantic knowledge of sacred construction was lost in the West following the Reformation, and it is rare to find a geomancer involved in the construction of any European building these days, except in some parts of Austria where a dowsing survey is required as part of the sale process of any property.  We are gradually rediscovering the Art through the work of modern researchers like Robin Heath, Nigel Pennick, Paul Devereux, Peter Dawkins and the like; but there is still a long way to go.  Consequently much of the day-to-day work of the modern geomancer involves transforming the energies of existing ‘sick’ buildings to create a more beneficial environment for the inhabitants. Primarily this involves dowsing the subtle earth energies to identify areas of geopathic stress, but it will also include space-clearing techniques akin to Feng-Shui, and even a spot of ghost-busting if there are any psychic disturbances. Some practitioners also work to minimise exposure to microwaves and electromagnetic radiation, as this technopathic stress is a growing problem resulting from our modern, gadget-rich lifestyles. Groups like The Geomancy Group and the British Society of Dowsers are at the forefront of research in the UK, and the BSD’s Earth Energies training courses are consistently the most popular courses on their curriculum.

Grahame Gardner
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