Back to basics


Back to basics

Ulbricht's advice

Geomancy is immensely complex: no-one could possibly comprehend it all in every detail. And yet it is also immensely simple, something which can easily be experienced, by anyone - though not necessarily ever understood, or even identified as such. Therein lies an interesting paradox...

And it's one which is best illustrated by a beautiful, wry parable called "Ulbricht the Badger's Guide to Immunology", which I came across many years ago in World Medicine or one of the other medical-trade magazines. The gist of the story is that Camillo the Hare, in great excitement, rushes into his colleague Ulbricht's office, to announce that he's just discovered another cause of cancer. But Ulbricht is an old, wise Badger: he's seen it all many, many times before, and expects to see it many times again. "It is indeed of interest", he explains to the hapless Hare, "though I doubt that it will make much difference to anyone's health and life. We already understand extremely well why people fall ill: what we don't understand is why they don't fall ill. And we understand even less about how people get well - especially when theories like yours say that they won't and can't. But although it will make little difference", he continues, not unkindly, "your discovery may well make you rich and famous, as you doubtless wish..."

Chinese geomancy - feng shui - is all but obsessed with personal health and personal fortune, often to the extent of ignoring health in the community as a whole. Yet because of feng shui, and many millennia of other kinds of study - geomantic and otherwise - we do understand extremely well why people fall ill, and why people fall victim to ill-fortune. We now know many, many reasons why this is so, and we learn more every year, if not every day. ("We may run out of food, or water, or air", said a real-life example of Ulbricht, "but we'll never run out of reasons".) What we don't understand is why people's lives don't fall apart when we expect them to do so, according to our expectations about one 'cause' or another. As Ulbricht indicates, there's an important field of medicine called 'immunology' that aims to reach some kind of understanding of that awkward fact; but there also seems to be a whole area of immunology that's been completely missed - a study of our natural immunity to the whims of fate and fortune. Understanding the weirdness of that fact, and providing support for the 'immune system' as a whole, is what geomancy is really about.

And when we take Ulbricht's advice - step back from all the theories, all the detail, and go back to the basics, the fundamental principles of geomancy - what we find about that weird immune-system is as follows:

It's a matter of luck.

It's a matter of context.

It's a matter of belief.

And it's a matter of skill.

That's it. That's all there is to it: the rest is just detail. And yes, it really is as simple as that.

I'm aware that at first that may not seem to make much sense. But to understand geomancy, that is where we need to start: it's only once we understand the literal truth of those statements that we then have a chance to move onward, in a way that actually does work.