By way of offering an example reading for my “Friend or Foe” two-deck comparison layout, I decided to run the spread on the Liber T, Tarot of Stars Eternal and Navigators of the Mystic SEA decks. I’ve had both decks for a while and have used them together before. Both are Thoth clones, and I have used the Thoth deck whenever possible for the derived cards in the middle columns of the spread.
The four cards pulled for Liber T (Deck #1) were the 5 of Swords (Wands position); 7 of Cups (Cups position); 6 of Cups (Swords position); and Prince of Cups (Disks position).
The four cards pulled for Navigators (Deck #2) were the 9 of Cups (Wands position); the Chariot (Cups position); the Ace of Cups (Swords position); and 8 of Disks (Disks position).
A few general observations are in order before beginning the card-by-card analysis. The first one is that both elemental series contain a preponderance of Cups and Water cards; the implication is that they will be highly sensitive to intuition and eloquently expressive when joined together in a reading. The second point is that there is only one Earth-element card in the spread (the 8 of Disks), and it is in the Disks position of the Navigators deck. The commingled advice of these decks may be long on mental/emotional discernment and short on practical substance. The third generality is that there are few traditionally “difficult” cards in the layout; only the 5 of Swords and 10 of Swords qualify for that distinction, and the 7 of Cups is borderline unfortunate. For the most part, the cards are elementally cooperative or at worst neutral but supportive.
In the Wands line, the chaotic 5 of Swords and the sanguine 9 of Cups are apparently hostile to one another, but, looking deeper, Air and Water are elemental complements: one provides what the other lacks. The former stimulates its intellectually lazy partner, while the latter soothes the anxiety of its compatriot. Yoked together, the cards maintain a serviceable steadiness of purpose.
The midpoint card is the 2 of Swords, which is calm to the point of indifference, suggesting a low-energy zone where the two meet. On the plus side, there is likely to be little overreaction to the impassioned circumstances that sometimes arise in a reading. The quint card is Art (traditionally known as Temperance); this is a card of finesse and precision, signifying the Fine Art of Right Action. Sagittarius, its astrological correspondence, is the most thoughtful of the Fire signs. The exercise of will it implies will be enlightened and understated.
In the Cups line, the impressionable, impractical 7 of Cups and the dynamic, driven Chariot share a Water connection and also the numerological significance of their number. That number can indicate stepping off in a new direction without being too careful where that first step lands, inviting tests and trials until balance is regained through sufficient momentum. In tandem, the Water association is their saving grace since it is tolerant of the imprecision that comes with imaginative improvisation. I expect their interaction to be creatively inspired but a bit scattershot.
The midpoint card is the 3 of Wands, which suggests patient anticipation in the pursuit of shared goals. There isn’t likely to be any shoot-from-the-hip extemporizing when both decks are pulling earnestly in the same direction. The quint card is once again Art; the above interpretation applies, but in the realm of feelings rather than action. Emotional equanimity is the keynote here. It’s interesting to note that both of the midpoint cards (2 of Swords and 3 of Wands) share a visual cue with Art: the reconciliation of opposites is implied by the crossed suit emblems arranged around a central axis. This bodes well for smooth integration of the vitality and fluidity of both decks.
In the Swords line, the harmonious 6 of Cups and the exuberant Ace of Cups are perfectly attuned to one another. The mode of expression resulting from this match will be generous and expansive, holding nothing back. The only caution is that the message might get lost amidst all the glad-handing and back-slapping. The story-teller must be careful not to get carried away by his own cleverness.
The midpoint card is the 3 of Cups, which reinforces the cheerful indulgences of its contributing pair. Fashioning narrative confections from this melding of decks will be “so simple a caveman could do it.” The quint card is the Chariot, which is above all a card of victory; as another Water card it augments the perfection of graceful discourse promised by the other three cards.
In the Disks line, the Prince of Cups and the 8 of Disks are an elementally friendly pair. The Prince of Cups is sincere, considerate and sensitive, if a bit of a lightweight in the realm of Earth where four-square solidity is prized. The 8 of Disks, on the other hand, is prudent and almost painfully practical. The former can help the latter lighten up, while in return being shown the deliberate ways of the consummate craftsman. There is nothing that a little well-intentioned pragmatism can’t accomplish. The resulting advice should be eminently down-to-earth.
The midpoint card is the 10 of Swords, the first truly sour note in the spread. However, taken together with the quint card, the Aeon (aka Judgment), it makes more sense. The 10 of Swords is a “scorched earth” card, implying that everything of value has been burned to the ground and must be abandoned, while Judgment implacably spurns the outworn past in favor of opening the door to a brighter future; both cards insist “Out with the old, in with the new.” The convergence of the Prince of Cups and 8 of Disks in this protean environment of boundless opportunity gives rise to unfettered ingenuity but there may be little profit in scratching around among the ruins . I suspect there could be a strong inclination to just “wing it” in an unstructured way.
For the most part, this assessment accurately summarizes my prior experience of these decks as a team, while giving me some fresh insights on how to make more effective use of them.