Now we have always looked on the cards in the manner of pairing the two outer cards and then put them against the middle card, as typical for Golden Dawn style readings.
But what to do when you have a layout that is not at all linear, as for example in my Newton Spread?
The second line - cards 3, 4 and 5, depicts the Second Law of Motion: power equals mass times acceleration. That means here that card 3 is the result of card 4 and 5.
In this case I simply read 4 and 5 as a pair, with both of them effecting the 3
The cards of the first and third row can easily be viewed as a pair, and after all is done, you might weigh the central card of the spread - card 3 as the power - against the essences of 1 +2 and 6 + 7 respectively.
It is common use to split bigger spreads into meaningful portions of pairs and triads - with 'meaningful' as being consistent with the structure of the spread. What you should not do is looking what cards might be useful to render the not so nice ones 'weak'..
Let's have a look at the Four Knights Defense:
In this relation spread you have the bottom line 5 - 1- 3 as your 'side' and the upper line 4 - 2 - 6 as your opponent's side (or counterpart's, lover's, what ever's side)
With cards 5 and 3 there as shield and weapon for card 1 it is only natural to
watch this line as a 'traditional' triad. 5 and 3 will be paired to see what might
be left of them to support the 1.
That said, one should not forget that the dynamics of the elements can be way more subtle and manifold than this rather strict 'this pair' and 'that triad' routine reveals.
In the Four Knights Defense above, have a look at card 3. It backs up card 1, opposes (and threatens) card 2 and is directly answered (and challenged) by card 4. It would be careless to not look at the dynamics between those three as well.
And to complicate matters completely, look at the Dark Star Spread:
Where to start here? Card 1 is directly connected to cards 2 and 5. Card 2 is directly connected to cards 1 and 3. Card 3 is directly connected to cards 2 and 4... and so on.
In this case, one has no choice but weighing each combination in itself, and then look at the overall picture.
If card 4 ("the form begins to grow..") happens to be the only Air card in an assembly of Earth cards, this is not the best news for the Star, no matter how 'well' the Earth cards may harmonize.
As said before, no card in a spread is ever irrelevant, no matter how weak and oppressed it might appear. The habit of disregarding cards when they were 'neutralized' by another card is a rather dubious one.
What do you think would be left from this constellation??