The Three-Point Landing Spread

Barleywine

We get into so many discussions here about the psychological implications of tarot card interpretation that I feel we sometimes lose sight of the fact that tarot is excellent at sorting out "actions" or "positions" that a querent can pursue in seeking resolution to a problem. So I decided to make an "action-only" spread that isn't intended for the "thinks/feels" kind of question.

I called it the "Three-Point Landing Spread" after the aviation jargon for a perfect runway landing in a small plane: all three wheels touch down at exactly the same instant. In this spread, if all three of the positions (Action, Reaction and Resolution) are in perfect harmony, the querent gets a flawless "three-point landing" regarding the outcome of the situation.

I just created this today because I've been thinking about how small spreads might be expanded through internal associations rather than by adding clarifier cards, etc. The spread uses a significator card paired sequentially with each of the three "position" cards to add three secondary interactions to the three-card narrative "story-line." It seems to be tailor-made for use of elemental dignities.
 

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cbiz83

Barleywine, I'm super intrigued by this spread and think that it looks very useful for helping someone asking a question find a solution. I'd love to see an example spread of this putting the process into practice.
 

Barleywine

I'm still tweaking it this morning and will give it a test-drive later today, then post the results in Your Readings.
 

Barleywine

Here is a "tuned-up" version of the spread with additional guidance for interpretation.
 

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Barleywine

The positive/neutral/negative thing is something I'm constantly fine-tuning. There are several ways to approach it.

The most obvious one is polarity: Wands and Swords are positive and active; Cups and Pentacles are negative and passive (as are their underlying elemental correspondences). That gives them a certain quality of assertiveness on the one hand and receptivity on the other.

A second way is numerical: odd numbers are active because they are seeking balance, even numbers are passive because they are trying to maintain it; this balancing act is constantly in flux, never static for long.

A third way is by Tree of Life correspondence: Minor Arcana cards that represent numbers high on the Tree and centered on the pillars are more positive, those that are lower on the Tree and off-center are "tainted" by impure and unbalanced exposure to the material world and therefore more negative.

As a fourth way, there are also some Pythagorean attributions (One is the monad or point, all potential and no direction - a place to begin from but not an active expression in its own right; Two is the duad or line, the first impulse to strike out from the center - it shows linear reciprocity like the action of a pendulum; Three is the triad or surface, showing the two-dimensional plane scribed by rotating the end of the line around the center - thus the idea of progress and development). These correspondences go up to 10 (and beyond) but in my opinion they start to wander away from what is useful in tarot interpretation after 5 or 6.

The small cards that I made negative (5, 7, 8 and 10) and positive (Ace, 3 and 6) were for qabalistic and numerological reasons; 2 and 4 I made neutral because they're limited in their growth potential and range of motion, while the neutral 9 relates to the variability of the lunar cycle.

With the court cards, beyond their suit associations, I decided to make them all neutral since any one of them can be "all things to all people." If they are reversed or ill-dignified elementally, I shade them toward negative; if they are adjacent to and supported by positive, energizing cards, I shade them the other way.

For the Major Arcana, I just made some semi-arbitrary decisions: The Fool, the Magician and the High Priestess I made neutral because they operate at an abstract and rarefied level that is kind of above mundane considerations of positive and negative; the Empress and Emperor I made positive because they are actively established in the fabric of everyday existence; any of the cards that imply value judgments I made neutral because those can go either way. The negative Trumps are the obvious ones from standard usage, but I added the Moon because of its illusory "false light" connotations. The other positive Trumps are also all of the "usual suspects" plus a couple whose astrological associations seemed to merit it.

Deciding what should be neutral was the hardest call. I hedged my bets by saying they can take on the coloration of adjacent cards to a greater degree than the solidly positive and negative cards.

I see the "driving" card in a pair as being the one of greatest potency, either positive or negative. Some are obvious, such as a Trump paired with a numbered suit card, while others take more careful judgment to determine. I always look for the one that seems to be in a controlling position or has the most to say about the matter. Sometimes a single card can be the "driver" for an entire spread.

As far as resources, the best book on numerological (actually "occult number theory") qualities and correspondence is Joseph Maxwell's "The Tarot." Crowley's "Book of Thoth" covers what I call the "descending energy model" of numerical and Tree of Life correspondences - basically "Ace good, Ten not so good." Liber Theta (free from the College of Thelema) is an adaptation of the Golden Dawn's Liber T that provides more accessible qabailstic material than Crowley. Although it's not about tarot and gets a bit too "religious" for me, Agrippa's "Three Books of Occult Philosophy" has some number theory stuff that is useful. I don't know of any good books that cover putting it all together in a reading.

ETA: I don't have this one, but I understand it's good.

http://www.amazon.com/Tarot-Decoded...ue&ref_=ox_sc_sfl_title_42&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
 

cbiz83

The more I look over this spread, the more I really like it. What you've done with the significator, really putting it into play instead of just a place-holder, makes me rethink significators in general (and all the interesting potential they have for reading many spreads in pair sequences).

This has me thinking about two different methods -- random choice significator (perhaps picked out of a delimited set) like we do with most cards in a spread, and purposely chosen significator. I don't think the two methods are mutually exclusive, but likely depend on the type of queston/spread used.
 

Barleywine

The more I look over this spread, the more I really like it. What you've done with the significator, really putting it into play instead of just a place-holder, makes me rethink significators in general (and all the interesting potential they have for reading many spreads in pair sequences).

This has me thinking about two different methods -- random choice significator (perhaps picked out of a delimited set) like we do with most cards in a spread, and purposely chosen significator. I don't think the two methods are mutually exclusive, but likely depend on the type of queston/spread used.

I just recently started using a randomly-selected significator for my "lost item" spread in order to use it's facing as another indicator of which direction to search. I use the RWS court cards because they have very obvious facing (left or East, right or West, straight out - with the latter split into "North" or "South" according to upright or reversed orientation) but any card with a central human figure could be used to represent the item. I choose it from a second deck so as not to limit it's availability as part of the reading series. I'm thinking that might be a good idea for this spread as well, and the facing might show where the querent should (or will have to) put the most attention, or - facing away - where he or she is neglecting something important.

I don't have many spreads that require a significator, but for those that do I can see pairing opportunities as you suggest. For example, in the Celtic Cross, the facing might be used to show whether the querent could be fixated on some aspect of the distant past, recent past, present or near future. I'm thinking situations like "Does my ex want to get back together?" In my system, facing left would be "recent past," possibly showing nostalgia ("I'd really like that") while facing right would be "near future," implying indifference ("I'm moving on and don't really care").

Thanks for the inspiration!