The Magic Square©: Secondary Triads and Timing


Secondary Triads

We’ve already gleaned a lot of information from the original nine Tarot cards in my reading, but wouldn’t it be great if we could actually pinpoint the trouble zones in more detail?

We can do just that with Secondary Triads. These are essentially the triads that are not in any linear formation – hence their shapes are triangular. They tell a more detailed story not so easily found through regular Tarot reading.

In Part Two of this Tutorial Series, I highlighted the main triads so you could apply elemental dignities to them and enrich your Tarot reading. In this post, Part Three, what I really want to do is show you where the remaining triads are and how you can use them successfully to zoom in on any particular area or card in your reading that you want to examine further.

In Part Two, the spotlight fell on the central card in our reading, the Six of Cups. In this post, we will examine the dreaded Tower in greater detail using secondary triads and elemental dignities. We will also be looking at timing this Tower event so we can have a greater idea of the when, not just the what. First things first though – let’s look for those triads.

Locating the remaining triads in my reading

The first place we will look is at the centre of the layout and reading. Check all triads whose centres fall on the centre card – card number eight…

…there are four of them, and they are…

7 – 8 – 5
2 – 8 – 7
9 – 8 – 2
5 – 8 – 9

…check the triads whose central cards fall onto the outer corners…

…there are four, one for each corner…

7 – 4 – 5
2 – 1 – 7
9 – 3 – 2
5 – 6 – 9

…and finally, the biggest set of triads – those with their centre card in the middle position of the outer edges. What’s interesting about these triads is they each have one modifier that is the very centre card of layout – card number 8…

…there are eight of these in total, and they are:

4 – 7 – 8
1 – 7 – 8
1 – 2 – 8
3 – 2 – 8
3 – 9 – 8
6 – 9 – 8
6 – 5 – 8
4 – 5 – 8

Some of you may be wondering about the necessity of this amount of analysing. I will reiterate at this point, that the purpose of this post is to make you aware of all the possibilities so you may quickly assess the cards. Remember we will have already performed our tarot reading, and at this point, we will be seeking to add some extra meat to the bones of that reading by making sure we’ve covered every angle. This can help if there’s one card in particular that you want to examine further, you now know you can and by all of its possible configurations.

Why it’s Helpful To Check Everything – Examining the Tower

I have championed the need to check all possible triads and while that’s not always practicable, it certainly has its uses if you want to examine one particular card further. Let’s do that now with the Tower.

It’s involved in six triads and is weak in three of them, neutral in two and strong in only one. It’s a central card in only one triad, the one it’s strong in – it’s a modifier in every other situation, something else to down play its significance. We still cannot ignore it or its influence though – it will no doubt deal me a dramatic blow, but it looks less likely to be quite as devastating as I had first interpreted.

For a clue as to where the Tower might bring me trouble, we need to look at the triads where it’s strongest.

The following illustration shows the Tower in its strongest triad, and the one of most interest to us. The reason being simply that these cards are having the biggest effect on each other because of their location to each other. The cards connected to the Tower through those triads tell the story of where the Tower has the most influence.

This is an interesting triad and I’m glad it contains contradictory cards as it gives us the chance to examine this phenomena a little further. Elementally, the Tower as central card, is support by both modifiers.

The Princess of Disks (earth) is neutral to the Tower (fire), not really affecting it at all, while the Six of Wands (fire) is strengthening it. The contradiction comes from the Victory of the Six of Wands and the destructive nature of the Tower – how can they be supporting each other?

It’s important to remember that elemental dignities seeks to determine the significance of the central card, and so elementally, the Six of Wands is giving significance to the Tower. The Princess of Disks is neutral to it – imagine her taking a back seat and saying “yeah, whatever.”

Bringing in the divinatory meanings

In a divinatory sense, all these cards are still significant as a combination and this is where you will no doubt feel the contradiction the most. So as a combination, what could we say about them? Try these on for size:

  • Success comes after making drastic personal changes to your plans
  • A catalystic event that creates better opportunities in its wake, revealing a more conducive atmosphere for creative growth
  • A personal tragedy or dramatic change of circumstances that you overcome, giving you the strength and impetus to succeed

Any one of those interpretations could be ahead of me, and there are of course, others. Either way, something is going to change for me, or something has to, or I will be faced with some form of personal or professional tragedy or upheaval. It’s all still a little vague though, isn’t it?

Let’s have a look at the neutral triads to see if we can get closer to finding out where or what this dramatic event may be.

Well it’s plain to see that the only money cards in my reading (Disks, Pentacles, Earth), are in these two triads – with the Tower. It’s also necessary to say that the Tower is only a modifier in each case. However, as I’ve said in the other posts, when a Tarot card appears in your reading, it’s there for a reason.

I think it’s now safe to say my troubles are connected to money, or as more appropriately noted now, the lack of it or the loss of it. That certainly seems true when you consider the Seven of Disks can mean a delay in reward/payment. The money comes eventually (Six of Wands) but is it too late for me financially? Does the Tower indicate some form of other employment in the mean time until my business plans begin to pay off? The other money/business card is the Three of Disks. More concerned with the work itself, does this also mean, in a more indirect manner, that I have to change my working life or patterns for now?

The Princess of Disks certainly suggests I will overcome all of these issues, but ultimately, does it take too long? The Tower doesn’t look so scary now – in fact, it looks to me like a friend telling me like it is. If I haven’t been paying attention to other warning signs, I’m listening now.

On a more empowering note, the most important triad for me is the this one:

This triad gives me the most hope during my reading, where the Tower’s concerned. It’s less about the cancelling effect from the Six of Cups (fire and water respectively) and more about the power of the Princess of Disks, because in this reading, she represents me. She triumphs during the whole reading, but is particularly owning her stomping on the Tower, keeping it firmly in its place – she does indeed represent me overcoming my fears and challenges, and coming up with creative and effective solutions to all that I will face. Which is the kind of outcome I like.

Timing the Tower Event

Timing is something that I deliberately left out of the first two parts of this Tutorial Series, as I wanted to show you the mechanics of using the Signature Spread and the Magic Square to its full advantage. After such deep examination of my Tarot reading in this post, the next natural step would be to look at what timing is being shown in this spread.

Using the Golden Dawn system of astrology and the 36 decanates of the Minor Arcana, my initial private interpretation was:

  • I actually put my plans into action in around the New Year (Three of Disks: Dec 31 – Jan 9 / 10-20 Capricorn)
  • It’s a while, May in fact, before I see a satisfactory return for my efforts (Seven of Disks: May 11 – May 20 / 20-30 Taurus)
  • My plans finally begin to pay off and I’m seeing excellent returns for my personal investments in August (Six of Wands: Aug 2 – Aug 11 / 10-20 Leo)

That is all totally feasible, but what about the Tower? It isn’t associated with an astrological zodiacal sign like other Major Arcana cards to give an indication of time, so how can we work this out further? Well, one thing we do know about the Tower is it’s actions are usually swift and occur pretty quickly – any time soon. That doesn’t help though, but we can find the answer with the Six of Cups.

Throughout the reading, the Six of Cups presented itself as the outcome card, which is great news! Only its astrological timing is not close to the time line I initially decided upon with the Three of Cups, the Seven of Disks and the Six of Wands. In actual fact, its astrological time frame is pretty close to us now:

  • Six of Cups: Nov 3 – Nov 12 / 10-20 Scorpio

If I’m going to experience the happiness of the Six of Cups soon, and the Tower event is going to happen before it, then my ‘Tower moment’ is imminent – it will be before November 12th!

Now before I let myself get carried away and get the valium ready, I must keep this in perspective as this Tower moment is followed by happiness, a period of time when I will be able to relax a little and enjoy good times once again. Perhaps it’s this Tower event that prevents me from actually putting my plans into action until the New Year; but once I have my new direction, so dramatically given to me by the Tower, I can then watch the initial time frame unfold. It’s still a long time before my blog is supporting me, but at least I got the obstacles out of the way allowing for a smoother ride.

Final Thoughts on the Magic Square

What may seem like a lot of work initially, with practice, checking individual cards in this manner will become second nature. The process becomes unconscious – you will find yourself doing this anyway! I spent only a few minutes quickly analysing this reading using elemental dignities.

The beauty of this exercise was the extra information that we gathered about the Tower and it’s forthcoming effect in my life. In the very first reading in Part One, the Tower looked ominous and really put a negative vibe on the plans I’ve been making to monetize my blog and build my online business. Now while I will still experience ‘a Tower moment’, I now know it’s restricted to my finances, so I will be paying more attention to that area of my life and my plans.

I also know that this Tower event will happen before November 12th and will be over as quickly as it started. In some senses, I’m kind of excited about it – something significant is going to change: these surely are exciting times!

Now as brilliant as the Signature Spread is, we would never have gleaned this information from the original reading. Elemental dignities adds an another dimension to your Tarot readings that I feel enhances them incredibly. By singling out the troublesome cards, in my case the Tower, and what area of my life it will affect me, I have also been able to pinpoint the timing of this event. Pretty awesome eh?!

Also remember that you can start your reading using the Signature Spread and if there’s a particular card you want to examine further, just move the ninth card to the right to create the Magic Square, this will allow you to dig deeper into yours, or your client’s situation, providing them with a detailed and thorough Tarot reading that will impress them time and again.

Thank you for taking this journey with me – presenting and examining the Signature Spread and the Magic Square has been great fun for me – I hope you enjoyed it too 🙂

The Signature Spread Tutorial Series Index

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7 thoughts on “The Magic Square©: Secondary Triads and Timing”

  1. Well that brings us to the end of our adventures in the Tarot Elements Signature Spread and the Magic Square. We went from using the spread in the classical manner – to using EDs, secondary Triads and we even incorporated timing.

    I’d love to hear how you get on using it, if you have any questions that you’d like to ask, or anything you would like to add, please feel free – I love hearing from you 🙂

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  2. Wow Catherine – this is really deep. I have my work ahead of me as I continue to explore your spread. I love how this all works together so beautifully. However, you are putting my Gemini/Virgo nature into overdrive! LOL

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    1. Thank you Theresa! I love exploring tarot readings with such a lot of depth, it’s a great work out for the old gray matter, and of course, enhances my Tarot reading skills! I look forward to reading how you get on with the ideas and concepts presented in this tutorial – don’t forget to share your experiences 🙂

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  3. This is awesome Catherine! Thanks for the great effort – I especially enjoyed how the inclusion of EDs gives colors to different combinations. I was wondering though, when I was reading part 2 yesterday, that why the ninth card was moved to the right of the second column instead of the middle. Given the layers and the sequences of the cards that are dealt out, it seems natural enough for me that the second layer (the 7th+8th cards) should divide (like the red sea) so that the ninth/outcome card take the central position. Just a bit of a thought  is there any particular reason you are moving the ninth card to the right?

    I love how the timing of the event is incorporated as well! But this also puzzled me: what is the general rule of applying a time-estimation? Most cards on the Thoth deck, excluding a few Trumps and the Aces, represents either a decanate (the pips) or a period of about 30 days (trumps & court cards). In other words, the corresponding time these cards indicate may overlap or span across the whole year. How do we make head and tail of it?

    Again, this is a really cool spread. Many thanks for sharing it with us! =)

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I was wondering though, when I was reading part 2 yesterday, that why the ninth card was moved to the right of the second column instead of the middle … that the second layer (the 7th+8th cards) should divide (like the red sea) so that the ninth/outcome card take the central position.

      The reason we are moving the 9th card to the right is to transform the Signature Spread to the Magic Square so it can be read using elemental dignities; and this is the only reason the 9th card is moved – unless of course you deal the cards in this formation from the beginning, ie, by using the Magic Square instead of the Signature Spread.

      If we moved the 9th card to the middle column and not on the end one, we would be knocking the cards out of their natural sequence of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. It’s most important to keep the sequence intact, and so the 9th card naturally belongs on the end.

      If you think of the Scene Setters, the cards underneath the top two (7 and 8), they are laid out in the sequence of:

      1, 2 and 3 on the top row,
      4, 5 and 6 on the bottom row.

      If you keep this sequence in mind when transforming the Signature Spread to the Magic Square, then it stands to reason that the natural order for the upper row (the very top layer), is 7, 8 and 9.

      It’s important for you to remember when working with elemental dignities, that we’re not working with positions as such, and so while the 9th card in the Signature Spread is one of the outcome cards – cards 7 and 8 play an important role here too, in the Magic Square, there is no outcome card. The elemental dignities will help work out the outcome, but it won’t necessarily be confined to one card – card 9, or any other.

      The Six of Cups plays a significant role in Part Two where we read with elemental dignities, it does present itself as the outcome card as it showed itself to be strong elementally. However, the Princess of Disks still plays a huge role in that reading, showing herself to be a prominent player, and so in some senses, she is still part of the outcome.

      In other words, the corresponding time these cards indicate may overlap or span across the whole year. How do we make head and tail of it?

      In my reading the Minor Arcana played a big role in the timing. I used the Golden Dawn system of the 36 decanates; and as your comment shows, you’re familiar with this system.

      We do need to be very careful where timing is concerned. There are sometimes cards that can overlap, like you say. However, it’s important to keep in mind that we will only be looking at the timing of the cards within whatever reading we are working with.

      In the case of my reading, I worked with the cards that I felt had the most relevance to my question, ie, the Disks, as they represent money, business and careers etc. I brought the Six of Cups in because of its close proximity to the date of the reading. The Tower itself, with its reputation of being a close happening event, had to fall before the Six of Cups because of the happiness brought by it.

      Of course it’s feasible the Tower may happen after the Six of Cups, but as sometimes happens, we need to use our intuition. Working so closely with the reading, and using such academic systems as elemental dignities, it’s important to let your intuition have its say too – and sometimes you have to make the call and go with your gut.

      Timing is an interesting topic to discuss, but isn’t one that will be so well covered in a comments section. I plan to write a post topic on timing soon and hope that you will join in the discussions on that too.

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  4. i get lost, why do you choose innitialy the 3 of pentacles, 7 of pentacles and 6 of wands, to determinate timing ?

    Thanks for answer!

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    1. Hi Safirah – I used those three cards because they were the strongest elementally in their triplets. We worked initially in straight rows, the top, the middle and the bottom. This would be the normal order of things in any grid based spread, left to right, top to bottom unless otherwise stated by the spread designer. The timing dates would be selected from those elementally strong cards because of the very nature of their strength in their triplets therefore their message is supported by the cards either side of them. You could imagine them being on a podium of 1st, 2nd & 3rd to denote their order. The strongest one wins. Hope that helps 🙂

      Thank you for your comment and welcome to Tarot Elements 🙂

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