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This is actually not my reading - that is to say, I didn't pull the cards - or my spread.  I don't use specific spreads though I do usually start with a pyramid, or a series of three.  In general however I tend to ask and clarify and pull random patterns.

I'm interested in adding some structure to my readings however, at least as an exercise and I think that the layout, called The Elemental Power Spread,  might work for me.  The spread was devised by  Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman, author and creator of The Sacred Rose Tarot. 

The deck and book are available through Amazon (left) as a set, and separately and I'm guessing the spread is probably in the guide. I was introduced to this layout via Paul Nagy's current ongoing Tarot study group, A Way to Tarot Wisdom.

The Elemental Power Spread is at its heart a 6 card spread with three additional cards used to clarify the 'outcome' card.  I have done my own diagram (diagram 1) of the layout  - minus the three additional cards.  The spread utilizes Elemental Dignities and the Tetragrammaton.   The elements, as used by most readers, are the traditional divisions of reality into Fire, Water, Earth and Air.

Tetragrammaton is a Greek word signifying the unpronounceable name of God.  It consists of 4 Hebrew letters and is not read aloud by most Jews.  Another Greek word Adonai or Adonoy, meaning Lord, is substituted in prayers and in Synagogue though not in everyday speech.

The aspect of the spread that appealed to me most was the idea of interpretation via what is called Elemental Dignities.  A dignity is an association that modifies the interpretation of the cards.  The use of Elemental Dignities is not unique to this spread but is applied in a unique way.  

I love symbolism and therefore the elements.  I associate them with Tarot and playing card suits but also with specific cards, seasons, dimensions, cycles, color, types of energy, etc.  I'm interested in anything that  allows for or encourages a juxtaposition of those concepts.  This is a good way to learn, in my opinion.

Johanna puts the elements into a non seasonal order  but does read right to left which I appreciate. because that's how I read.  A simplified diagram of The Elemental Power Spread as taken from my notes and gimped:

Diagram 1 "Elemental Power Spread"
In additional to the Tetragrammaton, and elements, Johanna assigns each position (1 through 4) a level of reality.  They are:  Physical Reality (1), Intuitive Reality (2), Communicative Reality (3) and Functional Reality (4).

The following cards were pulled by Johanna using the Marseilles Deck which is the working deck for the class.  This deck while not my favorite does strip away some of the RWS imagery which isn't always a bad thing, though I would probably do better with playing cards.  My interpretation may not show a accurate use of the Elemental Power Spread.  I have my own associations, and bias and I know of no way to keep them out of a reading.

The question for our study session addressed potential benefit (purpose and power) of the class in both an individual and group sense.  I found it interesting  that the positions 1 - 3 (Fire > Water > Air) contained cards representative of these same elements, though in a different order.  Justice considered Air > Knight of Wands considered Fire > Eight of Cups considered Water.  The combinations offer interesting contrast and show all possible pairings (earth excluded).
  • Position 1:  Fire Element occupied by Justice:  Libra / Air  (Fire & Air)
  • Position 2:  Water Element occupied by The Knight of Wands:  Sagittarius / Fire (Water & Fire)
  • Position 3:  Air Element occupied by the Eight of Cups (Moon / Cancer / Water) (Air & Water)
Full Layout Follows:
Diagram 2 "The Devil's Priestess"
 My Interpretation:
1.  Justice in the position of elemental Fire:  I see Justice, in  this instance, as discernment, analytical thinking and an attempt to understand both sides of the subject manner.  The card is associated, for me, with Libra and  therefore ruled by Air.  A sword, as was noted in class, is present in the card as well.  Numbered 8, the card is somewhat detached from everyday routine, outside the cycle of the 7 day week.  The elemental position of fire is physical to me in regard to the life force,  and as evidenced by creativity, and passion.  This translates into creative thought and a passion to learn, tempered by reason, and the evaluation of the relative merit of ideas (the scale determines value, weight and equivalencies .  The combination of Fire and Air may suggests a great flame which will soon burn out or a wildfire blazing out of control.  I can also read this position as spark on the wind which may ignite or blow out.

2.  The Knight in the position of Water.  The Knight is for me a person, generally, but also movement and creative energy.  This Knight is the torch bearer and the idea of carrying something forward is important to me in this - though the Marseilles Knight seems static to me.  Fire and water oppose, but the imagery of the font of intuition and light is not impossible.  Creative, intuitive thought.

3. The Eight of Cups in the position of Air.  The Eight of Cups, holds connotations of abandonment in the RWS and this is how I read it even with playing cards.  Because this card falls in the position of air, it alludes to thought, and in my conceptualization of the elements, spirit.   It applies leaving outmoded ideas and belief systems.  It is not a card of failure however.  Walking away has its place. and this is a spiritual path.  I imagine a positive connection between this card and the attachment of the Devil (the motivation card).

4. The Tower.  This card falls in the position of Earth.  It seems consistent, as the Tower is a structure with a fine foundation apparently well-fixed upon the ground.  (People are falling to earth incidentally as well.)  If this position is to be read as the synthesis of the other 3 cards, and this is how the spread defines it, I see a great amount of energy - Air, Water & Fire - each represented not once but twice sweeping right to left to the Tower.  And then, an act of God, the breaking of the vessels or at the very least old mental structures.  That or in a mundane sense, an abrupt change in study habits. 

5.  The motivation card in this spread is the Devil and that bothers me because attachment is bondage and limitation in most applications.  I see it more as resistance than I do motive.  Though obsession is not outside the boundaries of enthusiasm.  It's my guess that this card will play out in a different way to different participants. 

6.  In position six, 'outcome,' my favorite card (or one of them) The High Priestess.  Except that I dislike the Marseilles Papas.  I would rather the RWS Priestess, by far.  That Priestess is water.  Mystery.  Intuitive understanding.  Binah.  The symbols of the pomegranate - and its 613 seeds, one for each law of the Hebrew bible.   I guess that I'll always look for that meaning.  On a personal level, this is my outcome - that is to say my desired outcome.  In actuality, I don't do true predictive Tarot.  The Priestess is a direction for me in this reading, not an absolute.  Or a given.

As for the modifiers, the  Magician offers the tools of the trade (Marseilles) or Tarot (RWS) . The knight of Pentacles offers stability.  The  Fool a step towards an uncertain future - or if not uncertain, veiled.  In summary, I see in this reading the very real possibility of spiritual growth, enlightened thought and new applications of study.  I believe it cautions against clinging to old mental formations, outmoded belief systems and burn-out.

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