Robert Browning says
One truth leads right to the world's end,
and in the Gospels we read
sparrow that falleth to the ground but your Heavenly Father knoweth it. What do these things mean if not that there is
nothing in Nature too small to be significant? The fall of an apple sets Newton on the road to the Law of Gravitation, and the
whole theory and practice of the steam engine was started by Watt's observation of a kettle.
Further, we know from Newton's First Law of Motion that the Universe is a whole in which even the slightest tremor is echoed by an equilibrating tremor equal and opposite. As the poet says:
My hand down on this table-thing
And the commotion widens—thus!—
And shakes the nerves of Sirius.”
An earthquake in Calabria may be recorded in California.
Even disturbances in the photosphere of the sun may be detected these 93,000,000 miles away by methods other than optical. It is all a question of the sensitiveness of the recording instrument. And so the right interpretation of even the smallest phenomenon may be the clue to great events. Just, therefore, as by sensing present causes we can anticipate their effects in the future, there is nothing unreasonable in supposing the possibility of a science of divination. It is, however, a great step from admitting a possibility to admitting an actuality.
Now when I am asked about these matters, I say that on the whole the simplest, the most reliable, the most readily tested, the most easily learnt of all these sciences is Geomancy. It requires too, the least possible apparatus. The name means “divination by earth,” and the requisites are a staff and a desert — which of course every Chaldean had ready to his hand! But in New York we use a pencil and a piece of paper, instruments which (thanks to the Free Institutions of America!) are within the reach of a majority of the people.
There are several systems of Geomancy, but all depend on the simplest possible basis; thus:
A number is either odd or even.
The first system is then to make one row of dots at random, and count them. Odd means yes; even means no. But one cannot work out problems in detail on so crude a system. So Fohi, the great Chinese philosopher, invented his system of 8 trigrams. (It will be obvious that by combining two sets of odd and even one can obtain 4 figures; by combining 3 one gets eight; 4 give 16; 5 make 32 and so on.) King Wu and Duke Chau, during years of prison, passed the time by inventing a system, in which they combined the 8 trigrams of Fohi with themselves, thus obtaining 64 hexagrams. The book in which their system is explained, the Yi King, is probably the oldest book in the world.
Before I leave this part of my subject I must refer to the Taoist system of that Master of the Temple whom some of us know as V. V. V. V. V. He joined to the odd and the even, the Yin and the Yang, as the Chinese call them, the male and female principles, a third principle, neither odd nor even, neither male nor female. Thus his Liber Trigrammaton has 27 trigrams, and this amazing book is not only an atlas and a history of the Universe, but a compendious hieroglyph of the most secret forces of nature.
In pure divination, however, there is a sevenfold scheme of 128 figures, invented by that mysterious Grand Master of the Order of the Temple who hides his identity under the name of Baphomet. It is far too elaborate even to outline in this brief account.
The common and generally received system is fourfold, and has therefore 16 figures. Its source is very ancient; it was first properly explained in public by Henry C. Agrippa, or by some one who found behind that great name a convenient shelter. The figures with their titles are as follows: I tabulate them for convenience, and give their attribution to, or sympathy with, the planets and signs of the Zodiac. But they have a certain individuality all their own, and they are governed by special “intelligences” (a higher order of “elemental spirits”) whose duty it is to give true answers. I may here interpolate that the mighty Baphomet not only invented a new and superior system, but actually went to the trouble of creating a new hierarchy of demons to subserve it! However, here is the ordinary system.
|1121||Puer||A Boy||Mars in Aries|
|1212||Amissio||Loss||Venus in Taurus|
|2212||Albus||White||Mercury in Gemini|
|2222||Populus||The People||Moon waxing in Cancer|
|2211||Fortuna Major||Greater Fortune||Sun in North Declination in Leo|
|1122||Fortuna Minor||Lesser Fortune||Sun in South Declination in Leo|
|2112||Conjunctio||Conjunction||Mercury in Virgo|
|1211||Puella||Girl||Venus in Libra|
|2122||Rubeus||Red||Mars in Scorpio|
|2121||Acquisitio||Gain||Jupiter in Sagittarius|
|1221||Carcer||Prison||Saturn in Capricornus|
|2221||Tristitia||Sorrow||Saturn in Aquarius|
|1222||Laetitia||Joy||Jupiter in Pisces|
|2111||Caput Draconis||The Dragon's Head|
|1112||Cauda Draconis||The Dragon's Tail|
In order to work this system, the proper influences are first invoked in a proper manner, and the questioner then takes a pencil that has never been used for any other purpose, and a piece of paper equally pure. He makes 16 rows of dots at hazard. These are then counted, and their total number is noted. Its meaning is discovered by reference to the book called Sepher Sephiroth. Each line is then counted and marked as odd or even. These are divided into four sets of four, and these figures are called the Four Mothers. The Four Mothers are then read horizontally, and four more figures called the Four Daughters are thus found. From these eight we form Four Nephews by combining each pair. Now we have twelve figures, which are placed according to a certain secret plan in the twelve Houses of Heaven, as in an ordinary Astrological chart. The Four Nephews are again combined to form Two Witnesses, and these again combine to form One Judge.
The figure is now ready for judgment, and this is the moment which calls forth intuition, and tests the knowledge and experience of the diviner.
I will here state only that problems can be worked out in the greatest detail. First a general question may be asked, and the minor points filled in by subsequent figures. Care must be taken to put the question in such a form that a clear answer is possible, and that ambiguity or even punning is not possible; for the intelligences serve unwillingly, and are always ready to match their wits against yours. Woe to you if you are not as alert as they!
I will conclude this too brief sketch with an actual verifiable example of how this method may be used.
A friend of mine, at that time a chartered accountant practicing in Johannesburg, learnt this science from me, and, being able to devote much time to it, the disciple rapidly out-stripped the master. One day he was called in to examine the books of a firm, and, appalled at the size of the task—for the suspected error might have been anywhere in a number of years—he determined to try geomancy. He set up a series of figures; and after only three hours went to a particular book, opened it, and put his finger on the falsification he was seeking—a saving of three months' onerous work. This, it is to be understood, is only one of many remarkable successes.
One day it struck him that, living as he was in the center of gold and diamond fields, he might as well use his powers to discover one. He formulated the question as concerning “mineral wealth”; for he did not mind very much whether he got gold or diamonds! The intelligences directed him to ride out from the city in a certain direction, which he did. Far and fast he rode, and found never a hint of anything to reward his search. At last, toward sunset, he drew rein in despair as a line of low hills sprang into view before him. And then he bethought him that a certain figure in his divination might be taken to mean “beyond the hills.” I will ride another quarter of an hour, he said, for luck. He came to the hills; still no trace of that auriferous quartz outcrop or that blue clay formation which he had hoped to find. On the contrary, in front of him stretched an unbroken plain. I will return, said he, and curse the hour when I first took up Geomancy. But, a pool of water lying a few yards ahead, he decided to give his pony a drink before he turned. The pony refused the water; and at the same moment he perceived that it was fetlock deep in mire, and ready to sink. He dismounted hastily, and dragged the beast from the quagmire. He slipped in doing so; the mud splashed his face, and at that moment he found that it was bitter.
He had discovered the biggest alkali deposit in South Africa! “Mineral wealth,” right enough; and to-day, in spite of the war, he is well on the way to his first million sterling.