sungka pagan

Geomancy with a sungka board

Method: Geomancy with a Sungka Board

Now that you’ve (hopefully) read all about my rationale for using a sungka board,  let’s get to the good stuff: the actual method.

You will need:

  • A sungka board
  • 98 shells, stones, seeds or other counters (seven for each of the small bowls/hollows on the board)
  • A blank geomantic shield (with optional cheater chart/mother key)
  • A blank, square astrological chart
  • Writing implement of your choice

Some Notes Before You Begin:

* Note 1: The following is an explanation of the method I use for geomancy with a sungka board, which may or may not be different from the method any other person uses to perform the same art. Sometimes I will take the time to explain why I do something a particular way, and sometimes I will not, at my discretion. I will tell you that all of these steps are performed as described for a specific reason; nothing is arbitrary.

**Note 2: When playing the game sungka, you move pieces around the board clockwise, and you typically “own” the large bowl on your left, while your opponent “owns” the bowl on your right (her left). When using sungka for geomancy, this is reversed. The pieces are moved around the board counter clockwise, and the large bowl to your right acts as your “head” or “mother” house.

The significant notations in geomancy are performed right to left and counterclockwise, so this keeps the momentum of the reading consistent with the rules applied in the other steps. Additionally, I always play sungka clockwise, and use sungka for divination counter clockwise. This deliberate separation of use is significant in my mind. (As a side note – Some people insist that sungka is played counterclockwise; however, in my family, sungka is always played clockwise, so that is the tradition I follow).


solitary sunka

1) To begin your reading, you must create a query. Simply hold the question in your mind and allow your non-dominant hand (the hand you do NOT write with) to hover over the bowls on the side of the board closest to you, and select the bowl that feels natural. Continue to play the game in solitary fashion for two turns (i.e. pretend you are playing against yourself, and take one turn for each side). I use two turns for simple readings because I like the movements around the board to reflect the lunar cycle. If I feel like a more complex/targeted reading, I change the number of turns to suit the query, in order to help further pinpoint the reading.

If you are doing a reading for someone else, you have two options:

  • Option 1: Have the querant play in solitary fashion as described above
  • Option 2: You (the person performing the reading) and the querant both hold the query your mind while beginning the game with the concurrently play first turn. In most Sungka matches, both players take their first turn at the same time, and the person whose turn ends last gets to take the second turn. For the purposes of geomancy, the reader and the querant take the concurrent first turn. The querant then begins a second turn on his/her own.

If you are unfamiliar with sungka, or need further elaboration, see the detailed instructions below. If this does not apply to you, you may now skip to number 2.

Playing Sunka, Solitary Fashion: Set up the sungka board as you normally would by placing seven markers (seeds, shells, stones, etc.) in each of the fourteen small bowls. Leave the two large bowls on the sides empty.

Remove the pieces from the selected bowl and (moving counter clockwise) place one marker in each bowl until you run out of markers. If you reach the large bowl on your right, drop a marker in it as well, but do not drop any markers in what would normally be your opponent’s head/mother bowl (the large bowl to your left).

If the last marker you have is dropped into a bowl with markers in it, pick up the contents of that bowl and continue. The turn is over when your last marker lands in an empty bowl. If your last marker lands in your head/mother bowl, do not remove the markers from your head bowl. Instead, select any bowl on your side of the board and continue playing from there.

When the first turn is over, play a second turn as if you were the opponent.

2) You now have the equivalent of sixteen random sets of marks, so you are ready to proceed with the normal procedures of geomancy. Make sure you have a pen and paper handy at this point. You will need to sketch out a geomantic shield and a square astrological chart. If you do alot of readings, you may want to sketch these neatly onto a piece of paper, and slip it into a plastic sheet protector. This way, you can draw in your figures with dry erase marker, and erase when you’re finished – saves both time and paper!

Unless you are incredibly experienced at geomancy, draw yourself something that looks like the chart below (I call it a Mother Key or a Cheater Chart). Trust me… it will make your life much easier as you proceed.

Mother Key, geomancy

To make this easier to understand, I have numbered the bowls on the sungka board in the photo below. Each number on the board corresponds with a number on the Mother Key.




Starting with the large bowl on your left, and moving counter clockwise around the board, count the number of markers in each bowl. If the bowl has an even number of markers in it, write an “E” for even next to its number on the chart. If the bowl has an odd number of markers in it, write an “O” for odd next to its number on the chart. Simply put, if bowl number 1 has three markers in it (an odd number), write an “O” next to number 1 on the Mother Key.

You will end up with something like this:

Mother 1

1. O

2. O

3. O

4. O

Mother 3

9.   O

10. O

11. E

12. E

Mother 2

5. E

6. O

7. E

8. O

Mother 4

13. E

14. E

15. E

16. E

This chart is actually a quick representation of the four Mothers. All you have to do is translate them into dots (all of the geomantic figures are comprised of four lines of dots).

Odd = one dot

Even= two dots

You can write your translations into the same boxes, so it is easy to see.

completed cheater chart

visual explanation of key

As you get more experienced, you will probably be able to skip the above chart, and just write the figures directly onto the

Here are the mothers in their proper positions on the geomantic shield. Sorry about the glare!

Here are the mothers in their proper positions on the geomantic shield. Sorry about the glare!

geomantic shield, but this chart really helps clarify everything.


Now that you have the Mothers, copy them onto the geomantic shield. The layout of the geomantic shield makes it easy to see what you are doing as you derive the remainder of the figures for your reading. The shield is filled out right to left, top to bottom… so, the 4 Mothers go in the 4 spaces on the far right of the top row on the geomantic shield.


The 4 Daughters go to the left of the Mothers, the 4 Nieces/Nephews go below the row of Mothers and Daughters, the 2 Witnesses go below the Nieces/Nephews, and the 1 Judge goes below that.

Onward to Part 2

One thought on “Method: Geomancy with a Sungka Board

  1. Nice adaptation of geomancy! I wouldn’t’ve thought about using sungka, mancala, or a similar board as a method for geomancy, but I like it! Using a game and the random motions thereof strikes a unusual chord with me, kinda like Enochian chess in the Golden Dawn.

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