I first encountered the idea of the personal cosmogram in my final year at university.
In that case it was used as an analytical tool to understand the ontology of something by examining the influence of place. I remember thinking that it has very obvious magical applications. (Not surprising given that the term comes from sacred geometry.) And it’s in the analytical mode rather than the psychospiritual that I want to explore it now.
Essentially, you can come to an understanding of a person by viewing important places in their life as ‘nodes’. These can be places they have lived, places they have visited, places that have narrative significance to them (Mecca, Jerusalem, etc,) and so on.
The theory behind it is you can work backwards from the appeal or significance of a place to the person in question, mix it with the other nodes of the cosmogram and get a taste of someone’s personality. The best way to think about it is as an astrological natal chart but with places rather than planets.
Again, I must stress that this was in a class called ‘Culture, Writing & Textuality’… You aren’t going to land a man on the moon using cosmographic analysis.
Yesterday I day-tripped from London to Oxford.
Oxford is a town I had not been to before -hence not currently part of my cosmogram- but it is certainly features on the cosmogram of someone who has had a big impact on my life: J.R.R. Tolkien. More on him later.
1. Nodes on your cosmogram can tell you a lot about how your brain is wired
If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to walk around in the brain of someone like S.L. Mathers then many I suggest you make a trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Also it has some really interesting and now wildly un-PC shrunken heads from South America.
The sheer audacity behind it is oh-so Victorian and very Golden Dawn.
And they are grouped in the most Victorian of ways: not by culture or location but by similarities. So there is a display case for “depictions of the animal form” and “treatment of the dead” (which is where the shrunken heads are).
You can see the nineteenth century mind at work here: grouping primitive objects together by function and complexity with the inherent assumption being they are all on the developmental road to becoming “modern” in the English sense (as depicted by the entire museum). Scant regard was given to the culture in which the object originated or the context in which it was seen.
It was a little bit like walking through Crowley’s 777. I would absolutely recommend it. You won’t look at “correspondences” the same way again.
2. It can be easier to work out what you like when you can walk around in it
I got a better understanding of Tolkien the man by sitting at his favourite table in his favourite room in his favourite pub. When he has the hobbits talk about the Green Dragon or when they are all yammering about wanting somewhere dry with a fire and a nice ale I could physically see how these things were important to the author on a personal level.
And I learned something about myself, too.
I like liking these things. I like knowing these things about people and places.
Also the pies were really good.
3. Cosmograms can help you get your groove back faster
Going places that are important to you can serve to remind you exactly why you are so awesome.
Note that this is not an excuse to stay in a rut or carry on with the familiar because you are lazy. It’s about making use of a place that has changed or moved you.
It’s like taking strategic “me time”. Example: Before this new gig I’ve got going starts, I’m hoping to get back to Paris next week on my own and sit in the Cafe de Phares, drink pastis and read some magic books. Because Paris (particularly the Bastille and the 19th arrondisement) is an important node on my cosmogram.
Speaking of which:
How to build your own cosmogram
You can’t not build your own cosmogram because they are literally a personal mappa mundi. So it’s really easy. But you don’t end up with a pretty circular pattern with some dots and lines like you do with a natal chart.
This is because your cosmogram is mythic.
It’s a map of a place that only you can get to. The scale is all wrong with big cities and small restaurants appearing the same size, many of the buildings have been knocked down and some of the denizens are long dead. Nothing is fixed.
All you can really do is make a list and ask yourself:
- How have the nodes on this list changed you?
- Is this ‘lesson’ still active in your life?
- Would your closest friend say “but of course, it’s very you.”?
For the record, my current cosmogram has the following nodes. Note that not all of them are magic related. This is important. I am made of other things as well.
- Mt Victoria. Wellington, New Zealand.
- Nan Madol. Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
- The British Museum. London, England.
- Bristol. Avon, England.
- Mt Eden. Auckland, New Zealand.
- Paris. France.
- Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. Rome, Italy.
- Martin Place. Sydney, Australia.
Have fun and let me know if you come up with something really neat.
Below is my Oxford slide show. There’s quite a lot of dinosaurs because… Well… Do I really need to finish this sentence? Dinosaurs are awesome.