Magic Square & The Tarot Elements Signature Spread©

Today I want to play with my Signature Spread a little more, give it a new name, and introduce elemental dignities to it to show you how much fun you can have when you work in triads. The card pairing in the first post still applies, but with a slightly new layout to accommodate the elemental dignities, we will be adding a couple more pairings to the list.

So without any further ado, let’s have some fun with this spread, the Magic Square, and see what else I can find out that may help with my question of yesterday.

Changing the Layout to Accomodate Elemental Dignities

This is only a subtle change, the sequence of the cards won’t be changing at all.

When working with elemental dignities, we need to assess the middle card in a triad – the central card. The two cards either side of the central card are called the modifiers.

For a more comprehensive explanation of the rules used in elemental dignities, please see the Introduction to the Elemental Dignities Dictionary.

In order to assess the central card and modifiers of the last three cards that I laid out in my Tarot reading yesterday, cards seven, eight and nine, we need to change the layout from this:

to this:

Notice I haven’t changed the order of the cards, all I have done is move card nine to the right.

Your new full layout should look like this:

What you now have is your own Magic Square and while the numbers themselves don’t add up to 15, you can create your own magic by using elemental dignities to assess the 24 triads that I can see in these nine Tarot cards – pretty something eh?!

I’m now going to bombard you with a series of graphics to illustrate where these triads are so you can have a play around with them once you’re finished reading. I’ve only highlighted one of the triads in their set, but please remember that there will be between three and four possibilities for them, so make sure you cover all bases when you check your triads. And no, I’m not going to do all the work for you, that wouldn’t be much fun for you – this way to get to play and practice, if you need it.

Let’s look at the obvious triads first:

Check all the horizontal triads – there are three of them, the top, middle and bottom rows…

…and then the vertical triads, again there are three of them, the left, middle and right columns…

…then finally in this section, check the diagonal triads. There are two of them and they both run through the top central card – number 8.

What we have here are the most obvious triads and it would be perfectly fine to stop here, so let’s do that for a moment and assess what we have so far.

Elemental Dignities and the Magic Square

Earlier I called this new layout the Magic Square – and you’re about to see why. Using the reading I published yesterday in Part One of this Tutorial, I worked out the strongest cards from all eight triads.

If you look back over the triads I have highlighted, you should have the following:

From the horizontal triads

Seven of Wands…
…is the strongest, though it could be argued that the Three of Disks is the strongest card from the top set, but I’m applying pure Golden Dawn rules here and so while the Five of Cups (water) naturally weakens the Seven of Wands (fire), the Three of Disks (earth) acts as a bridge to support it, restrengthening it. I would also be happy to accept the Three of Disks in that list too – it’s a cool card for my reading!
Six of Cups…
…because as a water card, it is strengthened on both sides by water and earth cards, the Ace of Cups and the Princess of Disks respectively. This card is extremely strong in this triad.
Six of Wands…
…as a fire card, it is strengthened by the Tower (fire) and is friendly with the Seven of Disks (earth).

Notice how the strongest cards were all the central cards too.

From the vertical triads

Ace of Cups…
…supported by another water card, the Five of Cups and a complimentary earth card, the Seven of Disks, the Ace of Cups is extremely strong in this triad.
The Central Column
There is no single strong card from middle column. The central card, the Six of Cups, is a water card and is extremely weakened by the two fire cards either side of it – the Seven and Six of Wands. These two cards have strengthened each other and are putting the Six of Cups under extreme pressure.
The Princess of Disks…
…wins here as earth is friendly with the fire (The Tower) and is supported by the other earth card in this triad, the Three of Disks.

From the diagonal triads

The Six of Cups…
…(water) wins in this set with ease in both directions.

It’s extremely well supported in the diagonal that runs from bottom left to top right as it has two earth cards supporting it, the Seven of Disks and the Three of Disks.

In the remaining diagonal triad, although under pressure from the fire of the Tower, the Six of Cups is also supported by the water of the Five of Cups, which acts as a bridge between them, elementally, and restrengthens the Six of Cups.

So what did we find out by looking for the strongest cards? We found the better cards, the ones I would have hoped for in my reading, were vying for my attention. I’m encouraged by this, but I still have a lot of work to do before I succeed in my plans. Just because we have identified some great cards as now being prominent, we cannot forget the antagonistic ones – not least of all the Tower.

Clarifying the Six of Cups

You may at this point be wondering what has been happening with the Six of Cups in this analysis. It’s strong in all but one of the triads we have analysed, which may be seen as confusing or a contradiction. This though is the whole point of elemental dignities – to show the subtle interactions between the cards and the elements, not just the obvious ones.

The vertical triad containing the Six of Cups is showing me that I need to pay attention to any romantic notions of success. The success is there, but by being weakened, I can now see that despite having such a great potential outcome, I must keep my feet and my head, firmly on the ground.

This is further explored and explained in the comments section below. If you have anything to add regarding this section, please join in the discussion!

Let’s now take a look at how the Card Pairing has been affected by changing the layout of the spread.

Card Pairing the Magic Square

The card pairing in the previous post will still stand, as we never paired the top three cards, and the Scene Setters haven’t changed. The top three cards have though, seven, eight and nine. Let’s have a look now at our new card pairings:

Ace of Cups and the Princess of Disks
A perfect pairing – bravery, courage, creativity, connections, being on the right path, universal blessings – I could go on with this pairing but I think you will all agree this is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Ace of Cups and the Six of Cups
Another wonderful pair, full of happiness and the right attitude to proceed. The only thing wanting is the passivity of all this water – I need to be careful I don’t get lost in my dreams while trying to make them real.
Six of Cups and the Princess of Disks
Enjoying the process of moving on, growing and developing. The Princess of Disks isn’t one to get lost in sentimentality, so the Six of Cups is her joy in all that lies ahead – now that I like!

There are more pairings I could make – the top three cards can be paired vertically with their neighbours, like I did in Part One. I’m not going to do that here, but I’m going to let you work out what they are – I’d love to hear what you interpret.

Summary of My Reading so Far

I think it’s safe to say that laying out the top three cards in preparation for their elemental dignity analysis proved very helpful. It was encouraging to see more positivity coming from this set of cards – especially as these are the cards that are pulling the reading together and indicating the potential outcome for the question.

Using elemental dignities helped to level some of the less desirable cards, but what’s important to remember, I feel, is that despite that levelling, their sheer presence shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve always maintained that if a Tarot card appears in a reading, it’s there for a reason. What elemental dignities will do is show you how important that card is in relation to your question, and indeed the rest of the cards in your reading.

The card pairing also gave me a tremendous sense of hope for my future business plans, and while I didn’t display them all, I certainly checked them. They were a fair mix of optimism and reality – life is full of ups and downs and mine is no different. I’m very aware after checking my cards in greater detail that some of my plans will be found wanting, some will be slow to take off, some are disastrous while others will be just the ticket. I have a fair idea of which ones are which – one of the benefits of reading for yourself!

I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have analysing my reading in the Magic Square. I’m going to take the concept a little further in the next post and really stretch your elemental dignity muscles. And without revealing any more, I shall bid you adieu and see you very soon.

The Signature Spread Tutorial Series Index

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Author: Catherine

I use tarot to help me navigate life and understand myself better. As well as tarot, I enjoy using aromatherapy & herbalism to improve my health & well being. My spiritual seeking lay with Gaia, the environment & what my senses engage around me.

14 thoughts

  1. What did you guys think of the reading after we applied elemental dignities? Do you feel it added any extra information? Or do you feel it re-aligned the importance of certain cards?

    I’d love to know what you all think of what we did here – would you do anything different? Is there something I’ve left out? Or is there anything you would like me to include in Part Three of this Tutorial Series? If you have anything to share – be my guest 😉

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  2. I have a few thoughts about the questions you’re asking in your comment, Catherine. At first I felt a little confused/overwhelmed. Particularly regarding the 6 of Cups. As I read, I was like, okay, it’s stronger. Oh, wait, now it’s weakened. Because it is in the center, it is in so many relationships. But a little patience and more experience will sort that out.

    What I think adding the EDs did was provide advice or guidance. The reading from part 1 gave the situation, rather bluntly. The EDs said, okay, there is the situation, and here is some energy you can use, perhaps to overcome the adversity or challenges ahead.

    I can’t wait to do this on my own. Thank you for sharing…the post is beautiful.

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    1. Following the points that Barbara made in her comment, I’ve since added a couple of paragraphs in the elemental dignities section of the post to help clear up the confusion. I’ve left my original response to Barbara intact as it contains useful information regarding elemental dignities not previously presented in this post.

      Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for your comment – and for pointing something out that I should have made clearer – that I appreciate a great deal.

      Traditionally, elemental dignities would be read in a linear spread, not confined to a straight line, as the Opening of the Key Spread is actually laid out in a circle. The point is that the usual practice is to read the elemental dignities of the cards that are horizontally adjacent to each other; in other words, left to right and vice versa.

      I introduced the idea of reading elemental dignities with this spread to the cards that were vertically adjacent to each other. I’m sure I’m not the first to do this, but in the Magic Square, the free-flowing layout is so wonderful that it allows for such analysis.

      The confusion came with the ED’s of the vertical column – they have been the only ones to show a different result than the others. The Six of Cups is weak in this triad but strong in the others.

      So the question remains, is this a contradiction? Definitely not! It’s the whole point of elemental dignities in my view. It’s wonderful that the Six of Cups shows itself to be strong in almost all of those triads and therefore is the dominating card in my reading, which we could all say is excellent news.

      That particular triad highlights three cards that require my attention and also tell me to not get carried away with romantic notions of success, or by wearing rose coloured glasses. All the two fire cards either side of the Six of Cups have done, and this is really the point of ED’s, is level its effect – down playing its importance, and divinatory meaning, in that triad.

      If we bring that triad into the rest of the reading, we have a case of perspective. That triad is telling me to keep it real and keep my feet firmly on the ground. Yes, I will ultimately be successful, but it’s reminding me to stay level headed.

      As I read, I was like, okay, it’s stronger. Oh, wait, now it’s weakened. Because it is in the center, it is in so many relationships.

      It’s important to remember when we read with ED’s, we focus initially on the central card. The main message is with this card. The modifiers, in terms of ED’s, will determine the significance of the message – either strengthening or weakening its effect. So while the Six of Cups was the central card in every single way because of its location in the spread – its significance was modified by all the cards around it. So in all but the vertical triad, its significance was strong. Overall, that just means it’s taken some of the gloss of the Six of Cups away – not such a bad thing when you consider how sentimental that card can be.

      What I think adding the EDs did was provide advice or guidance. The reading from part 1 gave the situation, rather bluntly. The EDs said, okay, there is the situation, and here is some energy you can use, perhaps to overcome the adversity or challenges ahead.

      This is a lovely way to put it, Barbara. Applying ED’s will show subtle interactions and differences between the relationships of the cards that we wouldn’t always be able to read from our Tarot cards.

      And as you say, pinpointing the energies in the reading gives you, the Tarot reader, and therefore your client, a terrific head start in understanding the subtleties in and around their situation; those things perhaps behind the scenes – the subtle shades of gray we sometimes miss.

      I can’t wait to do this on my own. Thank you for sharing…the post is beautiful.

      If at any time you want to go over any of the triads, Barbara, or any of your own, don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to assist you.

      Thank you for such kind words about my post – but especially for pointing out where it wasn’t clear.

      Warm wishes,

      Catherine

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  3. Hi Catherine! I am really enjoying learning this spread. I am a very visual learner, so your use of your own question helps me tremendously to understand what you are getting at. Part Two added a nice dimension to the first part.

    Thanks,
    Theresa

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    1. Hi Theresa,

      Thank you for your comment – I’m glad my reading is bringing this Tutorial to life, I think it’s the best way really. By giving real examples, it helps to cement the the theory and the visuals together into a better learning experience. I’m glad you’re enjoying this Tutorial Series 🙂

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  4. Nice! Ok, I didn’t get a chance to go back over my sister’s reading with this information, but I laid your cards again with the Legacy deck. All of these highly charged emotions are well grounded in the 3, and 7 of coins, and from my end show a good return, (monetizing your blog). Looking at that tower again, I just offer again to make sure you are keeping a updated copy of your work somewhere else on a flash drive or something.

    Much love to you, you and your work is inspiring xoxo

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    1. Hi Eartha,

      Thank you for another insightful comment! There’s certainly a lot of sentiment and emotion (water) in my reading, couple that with three fire cards, the Tower, and the Six and Seven of Wands and we have quite a mix! Your assessment of the earth cards (Three, Seven and Princess of Disks) is spot on. It does show up the missing air quite a bit doesn’t it! The nice thing about the elemental balance in this reading, despite the lack of air, is the bridge the earth makes between the water and fire; acting as an anchor and mediator.

      Nice work again Eartha – still loving that pc interp, think I just might have to add that to my own Tarot vocabulary -and yes, all my work is living outside of my pc; though if my pc were to pop, it would be a terrific blow and make things very hard to continue 😉

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  5. Hi Catherine,

    Meanwhile I got feedback from two ladies who tested your terrific spread by themselves and who told me how awesome their readings went. They give thanks to you for creating and sharing it.

    Warm wishes,

    Phine

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    1. Wow, Phine – that’s awesome – thank you! Please relay my gratitude to them for their kind feedback, and please accept some for yourself in reproducing my Signature Spread © in such a fine way. Working with you on it’s reproduction on your Tarot blog was a pleasure 🙂

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  6. Hello Catherine. Thank you so much for all the great work you do.
    I was never a fan of the Celtic Cross, but after reading your tutorial on it, I now use it a lot. I have given your Signature/ Magic Square a try. I like it.
    I believe it is perfect for me, in the sense that it can give me the confidence of working out of a spread with well defined position (my usual).
    I love the way the reading deepened as I looked at the same cards using different combinations. I like the flexibility within the system.
    I am not sure if my comment makes sense to you, but your instructions were clear and extremely helpful to me.
    Thank you .
    Anna

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    1. Hello Anna – thank you for such a lovely comment. And yes, it made perfect sense 🙂

      Receiving compliments about your work is always such a nice thing and I’m awfully glad you gained such a lot from my tutorial on the Celtic Cross and the Signature Spread/Magic Square. I’m currently working on converting the Celtic Cross Tutorial into a downloadable pdf file for offline reading and hope to write a follow up post to the Signature Spread as there were indeed some very tense and interesting events and moments that occured. According to the timing of that spread, things are still to happen, but a little update never hurt anyone 🙂

      Reading in combinations has to be, for me, one of the best things about Tarot reading. The possibilities are endless and no two combinations are ever the same and yet two different cards can give the same defintion! Such fun 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by, I really appreciate your kind words and your support of my Tarot blog and hope to see you here again 🙂

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