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Category Archives: Mother Nature

How to train your dragon, geomancy style

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Back in the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch found that if a group of participants – all but one of whom were plants in the experiment – decided that one straight line was longer than another, when it clearly was not, around 75% of the time the non-plant would defy reason and side with the majority.

I’m fully aware of this experiment as I stand here on Diana’s farm, swinging my rose quartz pendulum, but I’m not going to be the girl who couldn’t feel the vortex dragon. No way.

Today I am practicing the ancient art of geomancy. I’m out on a vast, beautiful property carved out of the countryside by volcanic action 470,000 years ago. Lately it’s been festooned with “power towers” and Blair Witch-style mounds of granite and quartz. The six of us gathered here today are under the guidance of Diana, a striking woman with a wily way with a pendulum.

Geomancy dates back to African-Arabian traders using the Silk Road – who would use markings on the ground and complex charts for divination – but it morphed into different forms in European and Asian cultures. It enjoyed a comeback in 17th century Europe as a Renaissance art, before being stamped out by the Age of Reason – then rearing up again during the rise of interest in the occult in the 19th century.

A British lady dousing a mango.

Seeing talk of “dowsing” on Diana’s flyers, I’d thought we’d just be finding water with forked sticks or – better still – animal shoulder blades, but the method we’re practicing today is more closely aligned to feng shui – in that we’ll be communicating with the spirits of the land, or the “devas”, to use Diana’s Sanskrit term. Diana uses pendulums to eke out energy obstructions and water sources, complementing her love of permaculture. Is your telly playing up due to an abundance of positive ions in the earth? Does your baby refuse to settle in its bedroom thanks to some invisible water source? Diana’s your woman. She’s even been called upon to remove negative spirits from a grungy Melbourne rock pub.

Dowsers in olden times.

We begin by holding out our pendulums and trying to gauge the outer reaches of each other’s aura. Diana demonstrates on Craig and starts feeling his vibes from a good few metres away. I hope to blazes my aura – which, to be clear, I don’t believe in – isn’t blinking lamely around my body like a dud battery.

Craig pads towards me slowly in his five-toed imitation-leather shoes, one palm held out towards me, the other hand holding his gently rotating pendulum. He stops a couple of metres away and frowns. “My hand’s tingling,” he murmurs. “I can definitely feel your aura here.” I have a go on him and report the same.

Next, we go for a yomp around the land, and Diana bids us tell her where we think the two yin and yang dragon vortexes crisscrossing the property are.

“I can feel it,” one half of an earnest couple from Northcote tells me, mapping out a dragon’s serpentine girth with his hands.

Can you see the vortex dragon?

Now, some would say that it’s the ‘ideomotor effect’ that has his pendulum all a-whirl; that is, the subconscious mind minutely influencing his muscles. It’s how Victorian-era mediums convinced the public that tables and ouija board glasses were being moved by spirits. Personally, I’m happy to accept that there are grids of meridian and ley lines of energy running through the Earth – enthusiasts have been building monuments on them since the beginning of time – but I baulk at being asked to hold a conversation with a dragon vortex.

How about now?

Actually, that’s not true. I do hold a conversation with a dragon vortex, since the peer pressure is immense. These kinds of new age workshops are like a war of attrition against your rational mind. As the hours and explanations wear on, peppered with semi-scientific sounding guff, you feel your boundaries slide sludgily down the mountainside of common sense.

Diana suggests we ask the dragon for permission to cross its path. As this property is inhabited by actual llamas as well as dragons, I ask the vortex if it likes the furry beasts. The pendulum rotates backwards. No.

We conclude by splitting into gender groups, with the women walking anti-clockwise around a sacred stone circle and the men exploring a “labyrinth” off somewhere I can’t spy on. Finally there’s a power tower ceremony, in which we drum up some sacred noise in thanks. I play the singing bowl.

As a mental exercise in connecting with the land, I enjoyed dowsing well enough, but I reckon I’ll leave the gentle art of geomancy to the experts.

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EVEN MORE REASONS TO LOVE PRINCE CHARLES (A KING IN ANY OTHER DIMENSION)

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A kid once threw a clod of earth at my dad, after my dad told the kid to stop throwing mud at the car. Dad had got out of the car and had his thunderous face on. The kid didn’t care, and got him on the side of the head. I wanted to kill that kid. I wanted to kill him dead. I feel the same when people take pops at Prince Charles.

You just know the Queen would rather die than relinquish the throne to Charles. She’ll hang on grimly to her handbag and her title until William psyches himself up. But do you know why? Not because Charles is potty, talks to plants and got a divorce. No, it’s because Charles is a menace to modern society. Just hunt out some of his lesser-known speeches.

In an introduction to the Sacred Web Conference at the University of Alberta in 2006, Charles sings his praises for the biannual magazine devoted to theosophy and the study of Tradition and modernity, Sacred Web, and then offers his theories on the same.

Watching a Royal – arranged, as ever, in front of a fireplace – speak in metaphysical terms is a surreal, slightly eerie experience. Charles talks of mystics, of the oneness of all life, and how it is only achieved by tapping into the Divine. I feel like I’m watching an alien invasion flick, in which the President is forced to address the nation about impending doom.

He warns that the human race is on the brink of extinction, and calls for a rejection of modernism, of an age where every man is an island, and a return to Traditionalism – in which perennial wisdom is handed down from generation to generation; kept alive and revered. He references royal astronomer Martin Reese, who wrote Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future In This Century, On Earth and Beyond, but says in his more optimistic moments he hopes it may not be too late for a mass awakening that will allow mankind to take the planet into its next, transcendent cycle.

While Charles’s commitment to environmental causes and sustainability is well reported, his spiritual and philosophical side (he is is Patron of the Temenos Academy – ‘for education in the light of the spirit’) is not humoured in the media. Last year he published a book, Harmony, written with environmentalist Tony Juniper and BBC broadcaster Ian Skelly. There was an accompanying doco. Oh – you missed it?

True enough, some of his theories would make Dan Brown blush, but his dismissal in the British press was so thorough that The Guardian commissioned three reviews that made personal attacks. Giant lizards, much?

Guardian review 1) Discovering the same organic patterns everywhere you look is a familiar symptom of paranoia. In the prince’s case, however, it represents an insight into the fundamental rhythms of the universe. If you press your face on a large piece of paper on a wall, he tells us, and let your arms describe natural arcs with a couple of pencils, you would find yourself creating certain cosmically symbolic circles. He forgets to add that you would also look a complete prat.

Guardian review 2) If I’ve learned one thing in the more than 30 years I’ve been faffing around waiting to be king, it’s that we have to listen to Nature … So this book, which has been dictated to me by Tony Juniper-Berry, Peter Penstemon and Diana Daffodil, is Nature’s plea to us to save the world before it is too late.

Guardian review 3) He knew he was right all along.

In his speech for the Sacred Web Conference, Charles irritably acknowledges the ridicule he’s suffered for decades, but he might expect nothing more in an age of superficiality. He quotes TS Eliot: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?