Pairing the Cards

Annie Horniman

Pairing the Cards

The last stage is pairing the cards in the Abbey Theatre Tarot tarot reading, starting from the extremities and working to the centre. Taking into account the Elemental Dignity rules: the Air cards are excessive in the Air position, therefore excessive, and the Earth cards are very weak. Fire and Water cards are friendly to the position.

Even though we have two cards, always consider the base element to keep up the trinity of Elemental Dignities. An odd number of cards will result in a single card at the centre, and this has more power than if there were a pair at the centre.


‘Passing away of strife’ Strong, Active. This is a tricky interpretation. The Fool suggests beginnings, while the ten of Wands indicates the end of a Fire phase. I would think this combination means the beginning of strife. Air on Air is slightly excessive.

‘Gifts brings change for the better’ Enemies, Neutral. Air is excessive. It would seem that ‘strife’ is causing a weak situation. Problems.

‘Happy change or visit for youngish man’ Friends, neutral. Greer identifies this man as W.B.Yeats, who went on a voyage.

‘Quarrel brings peace’ Friends, Active. The only ‘peace’ is agreeing to disagree.

‘Decision brings good fortune.’ Friends, Active. Fortune in legal matters, but note Air is excessive.

‘Many small expenses in strong current’ Friends, neutral. The Three of Pentacles becomes expenses because it inimical to the Air place. A man who causes financial problems.

‘Annoyance of fair young woman’ Friends, excessive action. In the context of the Air place, we could take this pairing to show a woman thinking of causing problems.

‘Prudence in a matter of friendship’ Friends, passive. Congenial company in a fairly contentious situation is rather incongruous. Greer’s comments make it clear that Horniman should have said: ‘The need for prudence…’

‘Queen of Swords with Aries, a new beginning of life’ Friends, active. Not just a new beginning, but ascendancy and authority for a woman.

‘Victory and success crowns all’ Singleton, Friendly with Air. This confirms the earlier Pair. However, note that we have already determined the weakness of Water in this spread. Since the Chariot indicates progress, we have to ask ourselves where the progress is taking us? Note also that this card is not a part of the counting process.

Clearly Annie Horniman was inconsistent in her understanding and application of Elemental Dignities, even if Mary Greer’s assertion that Horniman faithfully followed the Golden Dawn Rules on the Opening of the Key is true.

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Pairing the cards in the Abbey Theatre Tarot tarot reading
The final stage is pairing the cards in the Abbey Theatre Tarot tarot reading, starting from outside and working to the centre using Elemental Dignity rules

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