Gerald Cremonensis - Astronomical Geomancy (170.0 Kb)
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Astrological geomancy is an ancient method of divination. The word geomancy means earth divination and is believed to have come from the use of sand to generate the geomantic figures, the basis of prediction in geomancy. This also accounts for its Arabic name, ilm al-raml, literally the science or wisdom of the sand.In the modern era the ancient art of divinatory geomancy has been confused with Chinese feng shui which is not a method of divination, but a science of spatial arrangement, architecture and landscaping. Divinator... More >>>
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Astrological geomancy is an ancient method of divination. The word geomancy means earth divination and is believed to have come from the use of sand to generate the geomantic figures, the basis of prediction in geomancy. This also accounts for its Arabic name, ilm al-raml, literally the science or wisdom of the sand.
In the modern era the ancient art of divinatory geomancy has been confused with Chinese feng shui which is not a method of divination, but a science of spatial arrangement, architecture and landscaping. Divinatory geomancy has also had its name appropriated by the modern New Age study of ley lines and earth "energies" which are also not techniques of divination.
Contemporary practitioners of the traditional Western art of geomancy have taken to referring to it as divinatory or astrological geomancy to differentiate it from these more modern uses of the term. Astrological geomancy is a particularly appropriate term as much of the divinatory methodology used in geomancy comes from traditional astrology.
The origins of geomancy are shrouded in mystery, but the first manuscripts describing the practice appear in the 9th century AD in the advanced Islamic civilization of the Middle East. From there it spread to Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries as part of the reception of many arts and sciences, including the occult arts of astrology, alchemy and magic by the rapidly civilizing West. Known in Arabic as ilm al-raml, literally the science or wisdom of the sand, geomancy became quite popular as a divinatory technique because of its ease of learning and use. Here is an interesting article in pdf form by the Dutch academic Wim van Binsbergen on the Astrological Origin of Islamic Geomancy. Because of its close connection to astrology, geomancy has been called "the Daughter of Astrology" and known as terrestial astrology.
Gerard Of Cremona (or GERARD OF CREMONA) (c. 1114-1187), the medieval translator of Ptolemy's Astronomy, was born at Cremona, Lombardy, in or about 1114. Dissatisfied with the meagre philosophies of his Italian teachers, he went to Toledo to study in Spanish Moslem schools, then so famous as depositories and interpreters of ancient wisdom; and, having thus acquired a knowledge of the Arabic language, he appears to have devoted the remainder of his life to the business of making Latin translations from its literature. The date of his return to his native town is uncertain, but he is known to have died there in 1187. His most celebrated work is the Latin version by which alone Ptolemy's Almagest was known to Europe until the discovery of the original Meyan I un-a ts. In addition to this, he translated various other treatises, to the number, it is said, of sixty-six; among these were the Tables of "Arzakhel," or Al Zarkala of Toledo, Al Farabi On the Sciences (De scientiis), Euclid's Geometry, Al Farghani's Elements of Astronomy, and treatises on algebra, arithmetic and astrology. In the last-named latitudes are reckoned from Cremona and Toledo. Some of the works, however, with which he has been credited (including the Theoria or Theorica planetarum, and the versions of Avicenna's Canon of Medicine - the basis of the numerous subsequent Latin editions of that well-known work - and of the Almansorius of Abu Bakr Razi) are probably due to a later Gerard, of the 13th century, also called Cremonensis but more precisely de Sabloneta (Sabbionetta). This writer undertook the task of interpreting to the Latin world some of the best work of Arabic physicians, and his translation of Avicenna is said to have been made by order of the emperor Frederic II.
See Pipini, "Cronica," in Muratori, Script. rer. Ital. vol. ix.; Nicol. Antonio, Bibliotheca Hispana vetus, vol. ii.; Tiraboschi, Storia della letteratura Italiana, vols. iii. (333) and iv.; Arisi, Cremona literata; Jourdain, Recherches sur. l'origine des traductions latines d'Aristote; Chasles, Apercu historique des methodes en geometrie, and in Comptes rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, vol. xiii. p. 506; J. T. Reinaud, Geographic d'Aboulfeda, introduction, vol. i. pp. ccxlvi.-ccxlviii.; Boncompagni, Della vita e delle opere di Gherardo Cremonese e di Gherardo da Sabbionetta (Rome, 1851). Much of the work of both the Gerards remains in manuscript, as in Paris, National Library, MSS. Lat. 7 4 00, 7421; MSS. Suppl. Lat. 49; Rome, Vatican library, 4083, and Ottobon, 1826; Oxford, Bodleian library, Digby, 47, 61. The Vatican MS. 2392 is stated to contain a eulogy of "Gerard of Cremona" and a list of "his" translations, apparently confusing the two scholars. The former's most valuable work was in astronomy; the latter's in medicine. (C. R. B.)