Elemental Dignity Tarot Spread example

four card

We now have several Tarot reading methods for insights into the situations that might be going on in an Elemental Dignity Tarot Spread. Of course, actual practice and experimentation is the key to understanding. It is worth summarising what we have covered:

In Elemental Dignities, two rules that govern the interaction of the four elements.
The rules work at all levels of the reading, from personal to spread positions.
The elemental interactions link the Tarot
A profound method that enables the Reader to give subtler, richer, new readings even if the remembered meanings are somewhat hazy
Read in groups of three as a minimum
Since there are four elements, we take the missing element(s) into consideration. Groups of three give us an indication of a situation, but not necessarily how it will develop. Including an elemental place  for a backdrop or background to the action.
Elemental position interacts with elemental aspect of the Tarot
Strengthen or weaken the interpretation

The next stage is to create a spread that has the best of both worlds. A simple version is one that has groups of three in the four positions. Of course, in a real spread there will be different Tarot types in all the positions, but we can still analyse the situation on several levels.

Elemental Dignity Spread

I am not giving any qualities for the four positions as they will depend on the actual cards – this is a complete reversal from almost every other tarot spread where each position has a title and description. However, the central cards 2,5,8,11 are Principals, and either side as Modifiers, so it should be easy to break down the reading into constituent parts and then relate the results to the last picture. The fact that none of the positions have titles gives the mind free rein to create associations and links. Having said that, we can reasonably assume that Fire relates to actions and the past, Water is connected to emotions, Air relates to problems, while Earth indicates manifestation and the future. That is the logical model, but humans do not act in logical ways.

How to Start a tarot reading

Once the cards have been laid out, it is worth spending a few minutes looking at patterns: the types represented – Major, Minor, Court – in general and at each level. Mentally note how many signify the various elements to see excess or absence. Do we find Major arcana at the end or at the beginning? etc, etc. It is also worth looking at particular combinations – 3 Aces, 4 Kings etc and incorporating them in the reading. Look at the Elemental Dignity of each position to see if there is a particular card that is very strong or very weak. You may find that a weak element is balanced or strengthened at another level. Sometimes it is possible to find that out of all 12 , 9 or 10 are neutral in effect, so you can focus on the strong or weak combinations. For example, if the reading is about love, you may find the only love card in a very weak position surrounded by strong or excessive elements that are blocking it. The Central Modifiers should show the course of action from Fire to Earth, but Elemental Dignity analysis may show another picture, which a skilful reader can use to suggest alternative means or methods for changing the situation.


It is quite possible to allow the tarot to choose a Significator rather than opting for the limited Court cards. The understanding and use of Elemental Dignities allows me to see which are significant because of their relative strengths or weaknesses, which creates a flexible and dynamic method of analysis. In general, Neutrals can be safely ignored, so a strong card can be chosen as a Significator.


Many of the pointers above are necessarily vague as the intention is to open out possibilities and not channel the reader into a particular method. Experience with a few readings will show that a consistent approach is not necessarily advisable, especially when one “jumps” out before any analysis is attempted. If you wish, you may try transposing within a level to see what effect this has, but it should not be necessary. All 12 cards contribute to the ambience of the reading, but Elemental Dignities can be used to isolate the strongest or weakest  to focus on them, ignoring the Neutrals.

Remember the Golden Rule:

Apply the rules rigidly: interpret the results freely

Elemental Reading Example

With experience it is actually quite easy to come to a conclusion about the nature and course of the reading, but for now we will work through this example systematically. The first stage is to analyse the Principles in each position individually and together to get the big picture and then each position using the Modifiers to see the details. Please refer to the tables in Elemental Dignity rules.

Air is missing while Water dominates. None of the elements are in their enemy positions. I would suggest we have a situation where there is a tendency to combine (Earth in Fire) into a more comfortable position (Water in Earth). Analysis or forethought is distinctly lacking, and there is hardly a lot of activity (Fire is giving energy to thought, but not action). It is as though a decision has been made to do something but there is a lack of application.

We have already analysed the Principal and Modifiers in Lesson 1, but now we have to interpret the analysis above.


We have Air surrounded by Water and Earth. Water is obviously weak even though it is friends with Earth and Air. Earth, on the other, hand is weakened. This tends to confirm our suspicions that the thought processes are weak, to say the least. Fire is not present, but the position does turn the heat on the other elements to change. Earth is probably strongest, so there is some inertia.


Air and Fire surround Water. The lack of Earth means that there is no real grounding or stability to the situation. Water is excessive while Fire is very weak, leaving Air as the strongest by default. The imagination should be in overdrive, but dreams are dreams, after all.


Earth and Air are the Modifiers to Fire. Air is excessive, and energizes Fire, with Earth as the enemy in the camp. Analytical processes are at work, but it seems that they are divorced from the emotional content. A lot is going on in the mind. Alternatively, there are difficulties and politics to disturb the status quo, but the real desire is not to rock the boat.


Air and Fire surround Water. Air is in the enemy camp. The Modifiers, however, are friendly and active which is uncomfortable to Water which likes to be settled. In other words, Water is in its most comfortable place but it is not happy. This is compounded by the fact that Air is weak and Fire is an enemy of Water. In the end, we would have to conclude that whatever happens, there is probably not much satisfaction, and certainly not much change in the future. In my experience situations like this are quite common. We are in the “Wouldn’t it be nice to…” territory.

Article Name
Elemental Dignity Tarot spread
Elemental Dignity Tarot Spread - We now have several Tarot reading methods that give us insight into the situations that might be going on.

Leave a Reply