For the Malagasy people of Madagascar, the most important method of divination is Sikidy (pronounced s'kid'), a form of geomancy that relies on the interpretation of sixteen figures (volon-tsikidy). These texts, written in Arabic script, have been passed down over generations. The name Sikidy is derived from Arabic sikl meaning figure.

The figures are set up in one of two different ways by the Mpisikidy or Ombiasy (diviner).

  • One way is by interpreting even and odd piles of seeds. Four piles of seeds have two seeds removed at a time until only one or two remains in each pile. The seeds used are either fano seeds (Piptadenia chrysostachys, a type of acacia) or tamarind seeds (Tamarindus indica).
  • The other way is by drawing a series of wavy lines in sand. The curves (or "bellies" in the line are counted, an odd number counts as one, and an even number counts as two.
Single or double dots are arranged by fours. Each figure has four different parts to it:
  • Loha — The head (top line)
  • Tratra — The chest (second line)
  • Vaniaña — The hips (third line)
  • Vity or Tomboko — The foot (bottom line)
The four lines can be arranged into sixteen different figures.

The Meanings of the 16 Figures of Sikidy

MPANJAKA(Princes)    |     ANDEVO(Slaves)

This figure signifies solitude, death, a journey. Thinness. South.
(European name: Via)

King, strength, good for marriage and foundations of houses. Presence of a woman/women, presage of death. South.
(European name: Laetitia)

This figure denotes abundance. South. Also: Asombola
(European name: Populus)

Spouse. Stubbornness, tears, heals swellings. North. Also: Alisay, Betsimisay, Alikasajy
(European name: Tristitia)

This figure symbolises fire, as well as the Creator and that which is most sacred. East. Also: Adabaraha
(European name: Fortuna Major)

Sign of robbers and misfortune, workers and harvests. West.
(European name: Puer)

Represents chiefs and the elderly. Pride and domination. Food and anger. South.
(European name: Fortuna Minor)

Brings riches, good for matters of love, a favourable day, land, the Earth. West.
(European name: Puella)

Money but also misfortune. Good for legal issues. Chief/boss or child. Wit. Wounds. West.
(European name: Acquisitio)

Joy, the presence of a ghost, riches, clothes, jewels. North.
(European name: Rubeus)

Tears, land, protects against enemies, boss, child. North.
(European name: Amissio)

The diviner, the crowd, heartbreak, favourable to thieves. East. Also: Alaimora, Alahamora
(European name: Albus)

This figure signifies slaves, bad thoughts, weights and measures, protects from thieves and enemies. East. Also: Alatsimay
(European name: Conjunctio)

Evil thoughts, arguments, trials, bad destiny, wars, children. West.
(European name: Caput Draconis)

Protects from vagabonds, signifies the house and food. West.
(European name: Carcer)

Slaves, cold words, a type of fate. North.
(European name: Cauda Draconis)

The Chart

4 3 2 1  


9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

First create four figures and place them in the chart under columns 1 to 4.

There are eight Mothers in this chart.
The First Mother is the column under the number 1.
The Second Mother is the column under the number 2.
The Third Mother is the column under the number 3.
The Fourth Mother is the column under the number 4.
The Fifth Mother is the line next to the number 5.
The Sixth Mother is the line next to the number 5.
The Seventh Mother is the line next to the number 5.
The Eighth Mother is the line next to the number 5.

First Generation Daughter 15 is the addition of 1 and 2.
First Generation Daughter 13 is the addition of 3 and 4.
First Generation Daughter 14 is the addition of 13 and 15.
First Generation Daughter 11 is the addition of 5 and 6.
First Generation Daughter 9 is the addition of 7 and 7.

Second Generation Daughter 10 is the addition of 9 and 11.
Third Generation Daughter 12 is the addition of 10 and 14.
Fourth Generation Daughter 16 is the addition of 12 and 1.

The Houses

1 TALE - The ascendant. The querent.
2 MAHAMAY - Riches, the quesited, the object sought. Also: Mady, Maly.
3 FAHATELO - The brother of the querent.
4 BILADY - Country. Residence. Land. The Earth. Also: Bonady, Bolady.
5 FIANAHANA - Children.
6 ABILY - Slaves. Servants.
7 ALISAY - Spouse. Also: Betsimisay, Betsilisay.
8 FAHAVALO - Enemies. Dead spirits.
9 FAHASIVY - The dead. Spirits. Ghosts.
10 OMBIASY - The benefactor, generosity. Also: Ombiasa, Omasina.
11 HAJA - Food. Also: Hanja.
12 HAKY - The Creator God. The gods.
13 ASORITA - The chiefs. The old people. Also: Sorotany, Solotany.
14 SAILY - Voyages, travelling. Also: Saly.
15 SAFARY - Voyages, travelling. Also: Làlana.
16 KIBA - The house and its inhabitants. Also: Akiba.

A sign that the chart has been drawn correctly is that Haky (12) must always contain a "Prince" figure.

Different areas of Madagascar can have different names for the figures. The placement of the Daughters can also differ widely. In addition the number of houses may go up to 34 if extra horizontal lines, straight diagonal lines and bent diagonal lines are included. For example, the chart may be numbered as shown below:

   27/28 4 3 2 1 25/26   


31/32 12 14 11 15 10 13 9 16 34

17 - Children.
18 - Slaves and servants.
19 - Women.
20 - Enemies.
21 - Fault of the Living.
22 - Beast of Burden.
23 - Bad Omen.
24 - Dragon's Tail.
25 - Hen. Direction: Diagonally down left 2 points then down right 2 points (C-shape)
26 - Rooster.
Direction: Diagonally down left 4 points
27 - Sheep.
Direction: Diagonally down right 2 points then down left 2 points (Opposite C-shape)
28 - Goats.
Direction: Diagonally down right 4 points
29 - Disaster.
Direction: Diagonally down right 2 points then up right 2 points (Bowl-shape)
30 - Fault of the Dead.
Direction: Diagonally down right 4 points
31 - Wild Cat.
Direction: Diagonally up right 2 points then down right 2 points (Rainbow-shape)
32 - Unexpected Fate.
Direction: Diagonally up right 4 points
33 - Incomplete.
Direction: Diagonally down left 4 points
34 - Revival of Past Evils.
Direction: Diagonally up left 4 points

More geomancy:
  Free Geomantic Reading
Geomancy Introduction
Advanced Geomantic Techniques
  Gerhard of Cremona
Sikidy (Madagascar)
Kumalak (Kazakhstan)

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