Elements Dignities in Triads Tarot


And now there are three... ;)

Elemental Dignities in Triads

While it is fairly easy to tell the effect of the elemental influence between two cards, it gets a tad more complicated when there are three of them.

Three cards

We might consider the rule of the Golden Dawn which will always start to look at the cards from the outside to the middle - in our three cards case this would mean we wage cards 1 and 3 against each other and see them as a unit influencing card 2. This makes a lot of sense if you have a row of a dozen or more cards - you simply work from the sides to the center.

I for me have resolved to the way of waging cards 1 and 3 against each other, see how strong they are, and then weigh their single influences i.e. that what is left from it on card 2.

As an example:

Symbol of Water Symbol of Air Symbol of Fire

Fire and Water don't get along well, they weaken each other. Therefore their influence on card 2 - here Air - is weak. Even though both elements would otherwise strengthen the Air card, in this instance Air cannot really benefit and stands on its own.

The slight difference to the Golden Dawn way as established by Samuel Mathers, is that whilst Water and Fire are weak they won't get completely disregarded. Water and Fire do try to influence but are not very successful - which is a difference to not being present at all.

Take this situation: you are about to do something and someone else either tries to help or maybe hinder you. For some reason this someone isn't really successful and you can go ahead relatively uneffected. But he HAS tried, and a part of you has registered that. That's a completely different thing as if there would have been no-one around at all.
(more about Layouts)

Now look at these constellations:

Symbol of Earth Symbol of Water Symbol of Fire

Fire and Earth at the sides strengthen each other so the influence of both cards is strong. Bad news for poor Water which isn't happy with Fire, but gets some stability and/or security from Earth. The activity of Fire (triangle pointing up) does not have much of a chance against the combined passivity (triangle pointing down).

Symbol of Air Symbol of Air Symbol of Earth

Air and Earth do not really appreciate each other so when matching the two outer cards they will be weakened. The Air card in the middle will get only meager impulses, yet the presence of the other Air card will still add a bit to its strength thus throwing off the effect of the Earth card completely. True to the maxime: better a little support than none at all.

Symbol of Water Symbol of Fire Symbol of Water

Now that should be clear, huh? What we have here is a very unhappy Fire in what it considers the lousiest neighborhood possible. Whatever Fire wanted here, it is literally drowned in too much Water.

At this point I might add that it still depends on the cards if such a constellation is indeed 'ill dignified' or not.
Water - Fire - Water... this could be:
1) Five of Cups (Disppointment) - Six of Wands (Victory) - Eight of Cups (Indolence)
2) Nine of Cups (Happiness) - Ten of Wands (Oppression) - Six of Cups (Pleasure)

See what I mean? But I digress...

Symbol of Water Symbol of Earth Symbol of Water

Here we have Earth surrounded by two Water cards. While Water and Earth usually do get along well this might mean a little too much Water for Earth - creating a big pond of mud rather than any stable and useful foundation.

You should also remember that the elements are at their best when they are well balanced, as outlined in 'Dependence of the Elements'. Of course, with only three cards there will always be one missing, and this is certainly not always a desaster. Nevertheless you should still keep in mind what *might* be missing in a layout.

Symbol of Air Symbol of Air Symbol of Air

It's not always that obvious... ;)


proceed to step 4

Elemental Dignities - Pairs - Triads - Layouts - Elemental Dignities in Court Cards - Exceptions - Major Arcana
Fire - Water - Air - Earth - Dependencies

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