So sang De La Soul* – little did they know how right they were – at least in the Tarot world. Now before you wonder if I’ve really lost the plot and started writing a music blog instead of a Tarot blog, stay with me for Part Three of the Elemental Dignities Mini Series.
Previously we have seen how one extra card can change the dynamics in a simple two card reading. In Part Two of the Elemental Dignities Mini Series, Two’s Company, I added an extra card to the mix to stir things up a bit. This time I’m going to add a third – let’s see what happens.
The Magic Of The Number Three
Consider the number three for a moment. It’s the first of the numbers to actually form a solid shape, the triangle; and so is seen as the first number to represent a completion, a manifestation. It can be seen as birth, life and death; the past, present and future. You will already be very familiar with the number three – the Christian Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost; the Wiccan Maiden, Mother, Crone; in the Hermetic tradition, Thoth is Trimegistus – Thrice Great.
The list goes on for much longer than that, and it’s a cool list, but much too long for this post. It’s one that deserves its own mention separately, so perhaps I will write all about the number three in another post. For now though, let’s concentrate on what happens when I add that third card to the pair of cards previously drawn for this illustration.
Keywords And Attributes
The third card I have drawn for my reading is the Four of Disks. Very briefly, the attributes and associations are as follows:
Free Association: Protection, isolation, capabilities, strength, office blocks, strength coming from inner balance.
Keywords: stability, strong foundations, personal power.
Numerology: form, completeness, foundations, progress.
Astrology: Sun in Capricorn – Strength or power in your career or ambitions, advancement.
Element: Earth – practical matters, physical things, money.
At first glance, it could be said that this card has brought a stabilizing effect to our reading, earth after all can have an anchoring effect on the other elements. We need to look at this closer though, as you may be surprised at what we will discover now.
Applying Elemental Dignity Rules
So, remembering from Part Two of this Elemental Dignities Mini Series, the relationship looked very good with the addition of the Lovers to the 9 of wands. Adding the 4 of Disks to this though, elementally has the opposite effect. What?! I can hear you from here! Remember the rules we apply to reading elementally:
- Fire and Air are friendly and active
- Water and Earth are friendly and passive
- Fire and Water are enemies, they weaken each other
- Air and Earth are enemies, they weaken each other
- Fire and Earth strengthen each other but are neutral
- Water and Air strengthen each other but are neutral
In this section, rule 4 applies directly to the Lovers and the 4 of Disks – elementally they are inimical to each other, that is they don’t sit well together, having a weakening effect. So how does that affect what looked like a brilliant triplet?
Quite simply, elementally, the 4 of Disks has shown the failings in this relationship – the foundation on which it has been built is weak and unstable. The Lovers and the 4 of Disks have effectively cancelled each other out! Does that mean we shouldn’t read them? Or pretend they’re not in the reading? Of course not! They’re in this reading for a reason, they have a purpose in their presence. What we have done with Elemental Dignities is rebalance the cards and their messages – prioritised them in a way.
Having now shown the relationship to be found wanting, the only thing keeping it going is the energy the couple themselves are putting into it (9 of Wands); with the Lovers now reduced in importance, there is a lack of Air feeding that fire (its purpose). Remove the stabilizing force, the foundation of the relationship (4 of Disks) and we have a fire that will burn out and not continue. With the long term in mind, our couple really are in trouble. While that sounds fatalistic, there are a couple of things to remember with reading this way. Let’s look at this a little closer.
Working With Elemental Dignities
Together, the 9 of Wands and the Lovers supported each other and no matter what else is added to them (4 of Disks), that can’t be removed from fact. This couple are a tight union still. If we look at the 9 of Wands and the 4 of Disks, rule 5 applies: they strengthen each other but are neutral to each other. That means that the strength and power signified by the 9 of Wands has been supported by the 4 of Disks; and likewise for the 4 of Disks, the 9 of Wands is supporting the stability and structure there. Now, before you shout contradiction at me, please read on…
What we have shown in this triplet of cards is a problem at the base level of the relationship. Our couple initially looked in trouble when we added the 4 of Disks, but when we look at all the relationships between the elements in this reading we can then see how the energies become subtle interactions – shades of gray as opposed to black and white. So, what does that mean when we look at these three cards, read with Elemental Dignities? My own interpretation is as follows:
Now working with a triplet, the central card is my focus – the Lovers. Undoubtedly about a relationship, its strength is obvious. The 9 of Wands provides that strength. Together, the Lovers air element feeds the fire of the 9 of Wands. These two are whipped up into a frenzy of red hot passion that runs deep. This isn’t just sexual, this couple have a deep respect for each other and a belief in their relationship that would appear unshakable. Enter the 4 of Disks and it’s now obvious that despite that strength, there is a fundamental flaw in the relationship. Being the 4 of Disks, it’s at the base level – indicating that something at the core will rock this boat in the future. This could be something like differing religious views; it could be an inter-cultural relationship that’s not supported by either family; one of our couple may want children, the other doesn’t. Either way, something big at the base level has the potential to cause huge problems, a break up even.
In their favour, our couple have the fire, determination and the deep love and respect to want to maintain what they have. At this point, it remains unclear whether they will. What the tarot has shown them, and indeed Elemental Dignities, is the potential problem area in their future. Learning about this now would give our couple the foresight to prepare for this and take the steps necessary to ensure their relationship’s longevity. We wouldn’t have learned what we did without Elemental Dignities, its use has proved invaluable in this scenario.
Applying Elemental Dignities To Our Questions
But what about the other questions in Parts One and Two? Let’s have a quick look at them now, with the Four of Disks added, and Elemental Dignities applied:
I had a job interview today, how do you think it went? I would say it went well. The interviewer was impressed with your strength of character and your confidence. You came across as a team player, but also as a dynamic person capable of leading the team, bringing them together and coping well under pressure. However, I don’t feel that this is the right place for you to work at. There may be issues for you working in such a large corporation, you may find yourself unable to settle there and consequently not stay for long, leaving by your own choosing for more suitable employment.
What do the next three months hold for me? I feel you may be facing some difficulties ahead that will test your relationship and certainly your home life. It’s possible a home move will be disrupted, or indeed a home move may be forced upon you. Either way, you can expect changes in this area that will force a rethink from you. You need to try and remain grounded during this time so that you can respond to these quick developments as opposed to reacting. Passion can also be destructive. Despite feeling you have no control, please dig deep as you have the personal resources and resolve to get through this.
My partner wants to take our relationship further, I don’t feel ready yet. What’s the best way to handle this? You have to do what’s right for you, and if you’re not ready for this relationship to go to new depths, then you must communicate that to your partner. There is no doubt he may be upset and even persist in his desire to get what he wants, but this is where you must show strength. Be firm but gentle in your response to him. Your relationship with him is very good but this issue is showing a fundamental difference between you that I don’t feel will be resolved so quickly. A degree of flexibility is required from you both to see a continuance of your relationship on an even keel. This issue has the potential to cause a division so deep as to be fatal.
So, in conclusion to Part Three of this Elemental Dignities Mini Series, I have shown how the dynamics of a reading can change when you read three cards in tandem – a triplet. Introducing Elemental Dignities to the reading also adds another dimension and layer you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. When working with triplets, it’s important to remember that your immediate focus is always on the middle card. Elemental Dignities then balance or prioritise the surrounding cards, enriching the portrayal of the reading and giving new insight that would have otherwise been missed.
In the example above, the strongest card was the 9 of Wands (Fire) as it was supported by the Lovers (Air) and neutral to the 4 of Disks (Earth). This explains why the focus is on the strength portrayed in the example scenarios, and why a seemingly good card actually threw up some problems.
Learning to understand the interaction of the Elements in your readings will also enrich them. By simply following the rules listed above, you can quickly work out which cards are helping or hindering your client, or indeed yourself. Ease yourself in gently, simply looking at 2 cards to begin with will help you see the interactions taking place. When you feel ready, add a third card and see what happens. Just look at the cards for a little while before you do anything else, forget the Divinatory Meanings for a moment, and look purely at the elements and what they’re telling you. Once you’re happy you’ve applied the rules correctly and worked out the strongest card, you can then bring the Divinatory Meanings into play and see how your reading alters your original interpretation.
It can seem a little daunting when you approach a new system or idea, but working solely in triplets will help you to see how effective Elemental Dignities are in a reading. The important thing to remember is to have fun, so get out your Tarot deck, deal yourself three cards and see where it takes you. Happy reading!
* Originally written and performed by Bob Dorough circa 1973. Lyrics and further details of the song can be found here.