Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Magic in the Landscape: Earth Mysteries and Geomancy by Nigel Pennick

Book Review

Magic in the Landscape

Earth Mysteries and Geomancy

by Nigel Pennick

176 Pages



Nigel Pennick’s new book, Magic in the Landscape – Earth Mysteries and Geomancy, opens with a lament for the loss of a cultural sense of humans’ place in the natural world. We spend most of our time physically separate from the natural world, in artificial environments, oblivious to what we cannot see on our screens. The worldview of “developed” cultures is that we live in a “world of dead matter, there to be used and used up.” And, as Pennick emphasizes, we have rejected not only the natural world, but the ways in which, for eons, humans sought harmony with nature and its cycles. He writes eloquently of people attempting to recapture a sense of an “ensouled world” by visiting ancient sacred places or places that mimic “authentic” places, like theme parks, which have nothing at all to do with the places in which they are located. The true places of power as they exist now are the sum of everything that has happened in them until the present moment and Pennick urges us to not to try to recapture or re-enact an idealized version of what a place once was. What he does ask us to remember is the “traditional understanding of the human relationship with the land” so we can be in a better state of balance and reciprocity with our non-human co-habitants and the land itself.

Magic in the Landscape then details many of the aspects of earth mysteries which British and other Northern European Tradition peoples observed in their geomantic practices. Geomancy is the art of placement of structures within a place, taking into account physical and spiritual energies including direction, energetic channels in the earth, winds, and planetary motion, among other elements. It can also include non-placement; there are places where humans and their structures do not belong, for a variety of reasons. Pennick observes that folktales and legends relay the terrible consequences that befall the humans who ignore the signs and signals of these loci terribilis and build there anyway. This is not only old legend. I have read about Iceland’s respect for its elves’ wishes, including the unearthing of a sacred stone buried during road construction after flooding and accidents happened!

Pennick takes us through elements of placement: right place, right time, right direction, right wind. Astrology factors in, as electing the best time to lay a foundation stone or begin a project will invoke the planetary energies present in the heavens at that moment to ensure success. As above, so below! The detailed lore regarding the development of a Christian association of the direction north with the devil and the entrance to Hell is fascinating. A chapter is devoted to boundaries – where they are set, whether visible or invisible, what is permitted “in” and what is specifically excluded. It discusses the setting of magic circles for the laying of ghosts by conjuring parsons, another fascinating bit of history. Pennick’s research delivers ample lore associated with graveyard, crossroads, “no-man’s land,” and fairground sites, where usual laws were suspended, and the importance of these places in making right relationship with the land and other eldritch spirits there.

I thoroughly enjoyed Magic in the Landscape, not only for the Northern European lore and history it provides, but Pennick’s invitation to us to rediscover our relationship to the energies of the landscape, seen and unseen, so that we may once again see it as ensouled. He asks us to develop a living relationship to the land as it is right now from the place we inhabit it. He urges us away from a view that there is one right way to do this. Everything is a sum of what it has been, including what it is right now, and we, as we are in the moment, are invited to be in relationship with what is. As Pennick says, “Magic is a dynamic reordering of present realities to create new situations.” I can certainly dance with the land spirits to that tune!


Magic in the Landscape: Earth Mysteries and Geomancy on Amazon


About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.


Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Susan Rossi

Open Channel Astrology

Flying to the Heart