The Vitruvian Square – A Handbook Of Divination Discoveries by Scott Grossberg

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Today’s Book Look is The Vitruvian Square – A Handbook Of Divination Discoveries, by Scott Grossberg. Some of you may have heard of Scott previously through his Deck of Shadows oracle cards.

I took a chance on this book when I came across it online, with its promise of a “Unified Theory of Divination.” The premise of tying a bunch of systems together and presenting a unified method of working with them was alluring despite my hype radar emitting some warning blips. I ordered it anyway. The reason? Somebody online mentioned it provided a unique way to work with platonic solids, in the form of dice used in role-playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons). If nothing else, I figured I could find novel use for my old RPG dice collection, so there you have it.

This is a hard book to summarize, because I think you have to be exposed to the philosophy of the Vitrvuian Square in order to understand what this book wants to say. A chicken-and-egg situation, if you will. The Vitruvian Square (or simply the Square, for this review) is something that I’ve had a hard time categorizing for myself, as I’ve debated what I think of it and whether it’s a worthwhile tool for my divination arsenal. At first glance I alternated between two thoughts: “this is too simple to be useful” and “this is deceptively simple.” Yet it definitely made me think, and not just absorb someone else’s words and thoughts.

What, exactly, is the Vitruvian Square?

According to the author it is rooted in the Lo Shu square, the famous Chinese magic square that was reputed to originate on the back of a giant sea turtle in the ancient, misty past of China. Go look it up if you’re interested. Scott took this square as a basis and built his system on top of it. Or perhaps it mutated to become the Vitruvian Square.

One way to summarize the Square is that it is akin to the Tree of Life without the baggage of the kabbalah. It presents a way to classify and utilize assorted symbols through associations with a primary glyph. It takes symbolic and visual ways of working with data into account, and can be used in turn for symbolic and visual applications, such as the platonic solids and palmistry. In simpler words, it’s a new way to associate and work with multiple divination systems.

Is it clear as mud? Sorry. Like I said, it can be hard to understand without being exposed to the Square itself. My initial interest in the Square was uncertain, but reflection over a short time has grown my interest correspondingly. It can be used to relate, and relate to: the tarot, playing cards, numbers, the English alphabet, alchemy (I understand this to be one of the author’s favorite subjects), palmistry and even the Hero’s Journey. Which I personally cringe at ever since my first exposure as the screenwriter’s panacea, but plenty of other people can’t get enough, so that’s okay. The Square can be used for a variety of reading topics and styles, by itself or in conjunction with other elements.

The book goes beyond typical divination and dips into the novel and the magical. I thought one of the really neat features was a method to find lost items using the Square. This is adapted from a method by Sepharial, an “old-school” occultist whose cartomancy writings are among my favorites; so it’s nice to see Scott referencing him. There is a method to use the Square to create a magical sigil, for personal empowerment or making changes in your life. Some of you would recognize this as being based on the concept of the kamea. The book ends with the Vitruvian Palace, a time-honored technique that sits between the classical Memory Palace and modern pathworking.

As a side note: if you’ve ever read Roger Zelazny’s excellent Amber series, then you’ll appreciate that the Square reminds me of the Pattern or the Logrus. While I don’t expect to be materializing needed items into my living room or office, the Square certainly seems to incorporate the idea of seeing, knowing and creating realities in one form or another.

My summary should give a feel for the book, which of course has detail beyond what I touched upon here. The Square has plenty of depth for its interpretation, and I suspect there are nuances that isn’t apparent until working with it for a while. The author’s enthusiasm for his creation is evident in his work, and that goes a long way into making this book a good read as well as something you may wish to adopt into your divination practice.

I don’t feel ready to utilize the Square yet, but I plan to find some victims — er, people to read — soon. Whether or not the Square becomes a permanent part of my own practices, I’ve already gotten some good ideas from the book.

If you give The Vitruvian Square – A Handbook Of Divination Discoveries a whirl, let me know in the comments!