Two Element Tarot Combinations
So far, we have looked at three elements on three positions of a Tarot
spread. Now we will look at two element combinations. Mathematically, with two elements there are six basic combinations, but we only need to consider four of the permutations. The Principal Card at the centre is the Synthesis card, while the Modifiers are Thesis and Antithesis. As we shall see, missing elements can tell us as much about a situation as the elements that are present.
Four basic permutations of two elements
Combinations of Fire and Water are antagonistic. We will look at these first, and then go onto the more ‘friendly’ combinations of:
Wands and Swords active and friendly to each other
Cups and Disks passive and friendly to each other
Wands and Disks friendly and neutral to each other
Cups and Swords friendly and neutral to each other
However, as we shall see, the situations they represent are not entirely satisfactory due to the lack of the other elements. Once we have gone through these combinations we are ready to tackle situations with three elements.
Fire and Water
The first two examples show Synthesis being utterly destroyed, while the last two show the Synthesis card strengthening due to Thesis and Antithesis fighting each other. A classic example of divide and rule.
Wands and Cups are enemies. Fire is active and hot, while Water is passive and cold, devastated, dried up, desiccated. Super heated steam with no mass or intelligence. Thesis and Antithesis act together blindly, and without durability to destroy Synthesis.
Now the situation is reversed. Fire is extinguished. Any activity is swamped. The emotions overcome any actions to create stagnation since there is no Air, but the lack of Earth provides no basis to the feelings so there is an expansion but without any kind of structure.
The Principal has support from one of the Moderators. There is still no intelligent control, or a strong basis. We could have a flammable liquid. Looked at from another perspective, since the Moderators are enemies, they actually have a neutral effect on the situation, so the action goes ahead with nothing to enhance or retard it, but does not last long, and lacks any kind of direction (Air).
Now we have the Principal supported by one of the Moderators. Since the Moderators cannot work together, the two Water aspects will gang up to prevent any action taking place – or, to put it another way, since the Moderators have an overall neutral effect, the natural tendency to inertia will suggest that nothing will actually happen, since there is no mental stimulation, but the effect will gradually spread as it is not contained.
Swords and Disks
Swords and Disks are mutual enemies, but the effect is very different. As before, Synthesis is destroyed in the first two examples, but triumphs when it divides and rules.
Intelligence destroyed in ignorance. No change, energy, or any kind of emotion. In fact there could be a leaching of any kind of energy as the Earth elements work together to drain away the Air element, perhaps by passive resistance.
This situation is analogous to a cretin amongst a company of intellectuals. The simpleton has no comprehension of the ideas or communications around him. Since Earth types look for security, there would be great fear, as Air is the most unstable of the three elements. One image could be a ping pong ball hovering and bouncing around in a jet of air.
In the next two examples, Synthesis triumphs as Thesis and Antithesis go to war. The Air cards triumph and are smug about their intellectual achievements, but there is doubt about the usefulness of the victory. A Lawyer arguing and winning an obscure point of law that is lost on the jury.
An intellectual railing, and failing to educate or stir up the complacent security of Earth. There is no point of contact, no emotive feeling of togetherness that Water might bring, nor is there any kind of movement or change. A thinker who is trapped in a hopeless situation. Brain power will not make anything, and there is no energy (Fire), nor is there any point in trying to engage the emotions or use a seductive strategy.
Wands and Swords
These two elements are both active and friendly to each other, so the problems arise from the lack of basis or feeling, so there will be little comfort or security in the experience. While the Air aspect will give intelligence to actions, there will be over-exuberance at the least, and obsessive behaviour at worst; the results will either be burn-out or a confrontation. Since Air is such an antagonistic and divisive element, the differences between Thesis and Antithesis are heightened, even when they are friendly or the same element. In some of the examples below, we see an unholy alliance developing.
This is an interesting combination. Thesis and Antithesis combine to create an intelligence, but it will have a low kind of cunning, and is destined to continual action, rather than the periods of introspection that thinking needs from time to time. We could also consider someone coerced to show thought processes due to violent pressure, perhaps under torture.
Two opposing thought processes result in spontaneous action. A train of events are set in action, but there is no possibility of considered change as a result of new circumstances. A mediation process that breaks down, resulting in war, either physical or verbal. Another alternative is to actively blame or attack a third-party to cover up ideological differences – the rise of Fascism; blaming weak ethnic groups for problems arising in society and using them as an excuse for totalitarian behaviour.
Action inspired by a combination of thought and action without lust for the result. A wavering intellectual forced or inspired to action. This example and the next are far more desirable than the previous two, but there are still problems due to the lack of Water and Earth.
Fire trying (and probably failing ultimately) to inspire Air to action. If Air does act, it will be inherently unstable or vacillating as soon as the pressure is removed. There is no respite in this relentless combination.
Cups and Disks
Like Fire and Air, these elements are compatible and friendly, but they are also completely passive, so sloth and turpitude are more of a problem. Moist Earth is fertile, but the spark of life is required. As before there are four basic versions. Without Fire, these events could be considered to be happening at night. In the first two examples, Thesis and Antithesis fail to find any difference between themselves, but they conspire to swamp the result.
An island amidst cold icy seas, bleak and uninhabitable under a full moon. There is no wind, of course, so no waves. A ship stationary upon calm waters. Water vapour condensing to snow or ice. Vegetation under the water. The solidification of emotions and feelings, but there is still a lack of activity. Sinking into depression.
A lake, or slow-moving river, possibly iced over. Some slight fluidity to a solidly packed situation. An underground river or seam. A stagnant spring that fails to fertilise the land around it. A pocket of crude oil hidden underground. An aquifer. The leaching away of any kind of emotional experience under the dead weight of insensitivity. Earth mopping up Water.
In this and the next example Thesis and Antithesis are different, but change comes about through inertia or a kind of osmosis due to pressure difference. We could see this one as straining, leaving the Water, while below the lees stay. High tide at the seaside.
Drying out, or mopping up, but not due to aeration or heat. Solidification of a viscous liquid. A heavy weight or situation squeezes out any feelings. Numbness.
Wands and Disks
Fire and Earth are friendly to each other, but while Fire is all action, Earth is totally passive. Consequently, the impression is either of arrival or departure.
Purification or tempering of a substance through fire. The result would be ash, clinker, or a refined material. Usually, heated substances liquidise or vaporise into the air, but we cannot decide this. Alternatively, opposing actions result in karmic consequences. Forces overwhelmingly imposed upon a stationary object. An object projected upwards.
This situation is precisely the opposite of the example above. The stationary pressures of Earth around Fire instantly suggests a volcano, or hot gases venting from the ground. Since Thesis and Antithesis are represented by Earth, we could conclude that perhaps there is a chemical or nuclear reaction resulting from a critical mass being reached and releasing heat energy.
In the next two versions, Thesis and Antithesis are definitely opposites.
Movement plus inertia results in movement or action. A conflagration that destroys Earth, but continues to burn as it uses up fuel.
Movement plus inertia results in a substance that is warm, suggesting some chemical reactions. Maybe critical mass is not reached, as we arrive at a basically stable situation that has some life.
Swords and Cups
These elements are friendly to each other, but both are unstable, lacking structure. Air is active, while Water is passive.
A cloud or droplets in the air. The lack of earth suggests that the cloud is hovering. There would be no heat, so maybe we are looking at snow or hail. The absence of Earth shows that there would be no structure, form or stability. The action of two different gases creates another gas that has greater weight. Arguments and contrary ideas somehow create an emotional response.
An air bubble suspended in Water. An intellectual impulse arising out of conflicting emotional experience – it has some definition, maybe due to the pressure of the water, but it probably is not going anywhere. The desire to rise out of an overwhelming emotional situation, perhaps by removing the emotions and replacing them with logic.
Thesis and Antithesis are at work to remove feeling from emotions to arrive at mental clarity.
Water and the emotions win out on the thought processes. Dreams, fantasies. A total lack of reality.