The Geomantic Tarot Layout

Here is a dynamic layout system for the tarot that combines geomancy and tarot into a single form. I got the idea after I noticed a layout online that resembled a geomantic figure. It didn't take long for me to connect the dots, so to speak, and come up with this.

The method is elegant in its simplicity and has a very satisfying amount of depth and detail. It works well in both a 'hard' predicative and more open-ended spiritual guidance readings. It does require some knowledge of geomancy and its figures (although you don't need to be capable of reading a full geomantic chart). Working with the method has helped me grasp the elemental structure of geomantic figures in a much more intimate way, so it may be of interest to hardcore geomancers for that reason. Similarly, it is useful in combination with a full geomantic chart - allowing one to zoom in on any figure in the chart (usually the querent or the quesited) - using the tarot as a kind of divinatory microscope!

The Method

The method makes fluid use of all the traditional geomantic figures to form and interpret a tarot spread by dynamically generating a new spread for each question. Start by framing your question. This could be an open ended question or a yes/no question as is traditional in geomancy. Next, generate a geomantic figure using your preferred method*. I like using my geomantic dice. If you don't know what a geomantic figure is or how to generate one you might want to read up on it here.

Example question: Will John get the promotion at work?

The figure generated is amissio. This gives us a basic answer but more importantly it gives the  context for our reading below and the card layout itself. Anyone that reads cards seriously knows that it's context that allows us to tease out accurate meanings from the hundreds if not thousands of potential meanings latent in any one card. Usually, tarotists do this through the use of positional meanings - here we rely on the figure and its elemental lines instead.

Using only the major arcana (you can use the entire pack, theoretically, but I'd advise you try it my way first) shuffle and lay out cards in the shape of the figure cast. Now we can interpret the cards using the inner structure of the geomantic figure. This is where it gets very interesting.

Assuming that you have familiarity with the structure of a geomantic figure you will know that each of the four lines is ruled by an element; fire in the first; air in the second; water in the third and earth in the fourth position (from top to bottom). This allows us to interpret the cards in these positions in relation to these elements and their associated areas of influence in the querent's life also taking into account the question and the figure.

Here is my preferred elemental scheme:

Fire: Energy, effort, motivation, the spiritual
Air: Intellect, thoughts, logic, communications
Water: Emotions, intuition, relationships
Earth: Body, money, time, the physical environment

At first glance it looks like an ordinary elemental spread but there is FAR more to it when you take into account that in any geomantic figure a single dot indicates an active element and a double dot a passive, or latent, element. In fact, it's the particular way in which these active elements combine in each figure that produces its unique energy. In practical terms this means that you start by interpreting the single cards in the spread as the active forces in the situation. Start by taking note which elements are active and what that means in relationship to your question. The active cards are the dynamic forces in the situation interacting to produce an outcome. Naturally this suggests that you should read the active cards together from top to bottom, as a tarot sentence. This means you will have 1 to 4 cards giving you the active 'sentence', depending on the figure generated. Once you have interpreted the active cards you can then begin combining the latent pairs to see what the passive influences are that are contributing to the outcome. These can give valuable insights about latent influences in a scenario. Often enough, because they are passive, the querent will be unaware of these factors.


Example question: Will John get the promotion at work?

First we examine the active (single dot) elements in the layout: fire and water. Naturally, fire and water have an antagonistic interaction and this is noted and applied to our card interpretation. In our example John has The Chariot VII  reversed in the fire line of the spread and The Hermit VIIII reversed in the water line. From this we can already note that energy/exertion and emotions/relationships are the primary forces in the outcome of this question - and, most importantly, that they are at odds...

Making sure to rely on the figure to give us further  context for interpreting the 'active' cards we can begin our interpretation of John's question. Amissio is traditionally associated with loss. Similarly, the Chariot VII reversed traditionally is associated with defeat and loss. Further, taking its position in the fire line into account we could interpret this as an overly aggressive impulse - perhaps John has been pushing too hard to get this promotion. The Hermit VIIII reversed in the water line (which rules emotions and relationships) isn't a particularly good card in the context of teamwork and suggests someone who is a lone wolf. Perhaps John has alienated himself from his colleagues as a result of his blindly ambitious drive (Chariot + Hermit). There is no I in team, after all. These two active cards suggest someone who is forging ahead on their own at the expense of their colleagues.

We can now uncover more salient information in the latent element pairs. In the air line we find VIII Justice + XX Judgement reversed: whomever is adjudicating these applications has decided against John based on very fairly balanced criteria or data. Since these cards are in the air line (which rules rational thinking), John may find that there was some kind of standard performance audit used to make this decision by top management.

Finally, we find XVI  The Tower + XII The Hanged Man in the earth line. This could indicate financial upheaval that results in things coming to a temporary standstill. From this we might interpret that John's company, like so many businesses in this recession, has suffered some serious financial setbacks, leading to delays and a halt on spending. The financial atmosphere is tense, to say the least. They won't be taking any risks.

We can inform John that it's unlikely he will be promoted at this time and that it may want to change his style to a more team-oriented approach in future if he hopes to move up in the organization. We can offer him some comfort by letting him know that the decision was made fairly but that recent financial setbacks in his company compounded with circumstances causing a much more conservative promotion policy to be implemented. It's just not the right corporate climate for a maverick such as John.

Tips for deepening interpretation

One of the pleasing things about this method, is, that each geomantic figure has a ton of traditional correspondences which can be used to confirm and tease out deeper card interpretations. Pay particular attention to any semiotic 'rhyming' between the figure and the cards. Ammisio, for instance, is traditionally imagined has a purse that is being emptied out. In the example reading we can find this concept 'rhyming' with the hanged man who like ammissio's purse is turned upside down. In many early decks the Hanged Man is depicted with coins falling from his pocket! This teases out a specific meaning from that card: one that emphasizes halt caused by financial loss. Amissio's inner element is fire, but is ruled outwardly by earth. The core reason for John not getting the job is his maverick streak (Chariot reversed in the inner element's line) while the circumstantial contributing factor is the bad economy (Tower + Hanged Man in the outer element's line). Similarly, salient astrological symbolism from the cards and figure can be used to tease out more info since all the cards have accrued astrological and alchemical associations. Finally, we can resort to the mobility of the figure to see if a situation is stable or volatile, and the attending associations of mobility.

I hope you enjoyed this idea and find it useful. And please remember to credit me if you use it or refer to it elsewhere. I love sharing my work but I also love getting credit.

Stay tuned for the advanced geomantic relationship spread!

*You could of course opt to use the tarot itself to provide a geomantic figure. The Golden Dawn assigned a geomantic figure to each of the sixteen court cards. The symmetry of this arrangement is very pleasing until you take a closer look at their assignments and realize that they have assigned the distinctly male-gendered Puer to a female court card! The GD geomantic correspondences are not to my taste at all. I've opted to correspond them by matching the court's common meanings to each figure (rather than trying to shoe horn based on the GD's convoluted elemental associations for each court). Then you just separate out the courts from the pack and draw a card when you frame you question, instead.


  1. Thanks Layo, glad you liked it.

  2. Excellent idea and readings should prove indepth

  3. Thanks Sepherus, let me know how it works for you. :-)

  4. Balthazar, this is great. The reemergence of geomancy is dear to my heart and something that I've been involved in deeply. I've also noted many of the methods of trying to adapt geomancy or "modernize" it and can tell you that I have found much of it lacking. Maybe, I'm too much of a traditionalist, but I've simply found some of the geomantic innovations troubling.

    This on the other hand is perfect. You show a mastery of geomancy, understanding the figures intimately, and a deep mastery of the cards and the fusion of the two combine the best of both worlds while respecting the core power of each--the generating of the figure rather than just using it as a spread, for example.

    I would love to hear you perform this on air, especially since I've been doing geomantic readings there, the two would go great hand in hand.

    I plan on writing more on geomancy over at my blog later in the month--especially focusing more on khatt al raml and how it differs from European geomancy-- and I will definitely be referencing and linking this blog post as something that I think will be noteworthy to the evolution of geomancy.

  5. Well, thank you kindly sir! :-) It's especially thrilling to hear that an experienced geomancer and scholar such as yourself found something of value in this method. I may have to take you up on the challenge to demonstrate it on air! I have been having a ton of fun working with the method in client consultations.

  6. How synchronistic! You may recall letting me preview your early work on this. I was just pondering it randomly a couple hours ago -- my mind does wander in the shower ;) -- and here it is on your blog.

    Well, I don't have to email you asking what happened with your original idea now. :)

  7. LOL, indeed jaseoncards! It's mutated a bit but there you have it!

  8. Brother, have you tried geomancy with 4 laying cards>

  9. Oh man! I really love this Balthazar! I've been using tarot to complement my geomantic charts for a while, but I adore this complete melding. You can bet I will be experimenting with this quite a bit in the near future.