Annotated Bibliography

To the best of my knowledge, none of the medieval treatises on geomancy are available in modern English, nor do I know of any scholarly editions of the texts, with the two exceptions noted below.

Primary Sources

Burnett, C.S.F. "What is the Experimentarius of Bernardus Silvestris? A preliminary survey of the material." Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen age xliv (1977): 79-125. [Reprinted in Magic and divination in the Middle Ages. Variorum Collected Studies Series CS557, 1996.]
Includes an edition of the "Experimentarius" of Bernardus Silvestris. The "Experimentarius" describes a medieval predictive technique based on geomancy but more arbitrary.

Cattan, Christofe de. La geomancie du seigneur Christofe de Cattan, gentilhomme genevois ... le tout corrigé et mis en lumière par G. de Préau. Paris: Gilles Gilles, 1558.
A book-length treatise on geomancy, with examples of geomantic tableaux cast by Cattan for his acquaintances at the French court. The text describes the method of casting the points and forming the figures; discusses the meanings of the figures and their correspondences with elements, animals, planets, etc.; summarizes the questions appropriate to each house (with examples); and thoroughly covers the various ways to interpret the tableau. An English language edition, The geomancie of Maister Christopher Cattan Gentleman was published in 1591 and can be found in the Early English Books Online digital collection.

Fasciculus geomanticus. Verona: 1704.
This compilation of Latin treatises on geomancy includes, among others, Robert Fludd's Tractatus de geomantia, H. de Pisis' Opus geomantiae completum in libros tres, and Quaestiones geomantiae Alfakini, here attributed to Platon de Tivoli but, according to Charmasson, based on the treatise of Gerard of Cremona.

Means, Laurel. "A translation of Martin of Spain's De Geomancia." In Popular and Practical Science of Medieval England, ed. Lister M. Matheson, 61-121. East Lansing: Colleagues Press, 1994.
An edition of a Middle English translation of Martin of Spain's Latin treatise on geomancy. This is the only medieval geomantic text available in English.

Turner, Robert, trans. Of geomancy. In Henry Cornelius Agrippa his fourth book of occult philosophy. London, 1655.
This seventeenth-century English text on geomancy provides a handy introduction to the practice of geomancy in the English Renaissance. Unfortunately the attribution to Agrippa is most likely spurious. Because this edition is available on microfilm and in the Early English Books Online digital collection, it is the most accessible general text on geomancy in our period. The entire text of Of geomancy may be found at Of Geomancy.

Charmasson, Thérèse. Lectura geomanitae. In Hermes Trismegisti astrologica et divinatoria. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2001. [Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis vol. XCLIV C: Hermes Latinus, Tomus IV, Pars IV]
Scholarly edition of a late 15th-century text from MS Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 7349, ff. 130v-138r.

Bertelli, Sandro and Davide Cappi. "Per l'edizione del Libro di geomanzia (BNCF, Magliabechiano XX 60)" Studi di filologia Italiana LXX (2012): 45-101.
An edition of a vernacular Italian text of the last quarter of the thirteenth century.

Secondary Sources

Braswell-Means, Laurel. "The popular art of geomancy in the medieval West and contemporary Asia." Journal of Popular Culture vol. 23 no. 4 (Spring 1990): 131-43.
Briefly discusses both Chinese and Western traditions of geomancy, and argues that Chinese geomancy survives today because it is a part of popular culture, while Western geomancy was a "learned" tradition and therefore died out in the course of the seventeenth century.

Carey, Hilary M. Courting disaster: Astrology at the English court and university in the later Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
Carey places medieval astrology solidly in its cultural context. She discusses the geomantic books owned by Richard II of England and Charles V of France in her chapter on "Royal Astrology." There are also plates showing one of the figures ("Letitia") and a page of tabular text from the geomancy made for Richard II.

Charmasson, Thérèse. Recherches sur une technique divinatoire: la géomancie dans l'Occident médiéval. Centre de Recherches d'Histoire de et de Philosophie de la IVe Section de l'École Pratique des Hautes Études, 44. Geneva: Librarie Droz, 1980.
The essential text for the modern scholar of geomancy. Charmasson summarizes medieval practice and discusses the various treatises in detail. Includes a comprehensive list of manuscripts arranged by both author (or incipit, for anonymous works) and current location.

Charmasson, Thérèse. "Les premiers traités latins de géomancie." Cahiers de civilisation médiévale vol. 21 (1978), 121-36.
A compact description of medieval geomantic practice as described in the texts of Gerard of Cremona, Hugh de Santalla, and the anonymous Estimaverunt Indi.

North, John. Chaucer's Universe. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
North's magisterial book on astrology in the work of Chaucer includes a brief but lucid discussion of geomancy (pp. 234-43) and plates of two pages from the illuminated geomancy made for Richard II in 1391.

Savage-Smith, Emilie and Marion B. Smith. Islamic geomancy and a thirteenth-century divinatory device. Studies in Near Eastern Culture and Society, 1980.
This short pamphlet describes a medieval Islamic instrument, now in the British Museum, used for geomancy. The authors summarize the sources of Islamic geomancy and briefly describe the traditional method of casting the figures.

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Elizabeth Z. Bennett
Copyright Elizabeth Bennett, 1998
Last revised: December 13, 2013