As a long-time user of the Golden Dawn’s “Opening of the Key” method of reading (or at least the First Operation), I’m always looking for novel ways to apply the “four elemental sub-packs” model to other spreads. I’ve also been intrigued by the notion that the deck can be separated into four equal sub-packs with two cards left over that can be used for other purposes. The combination of techniques can be treated in a manner similar to the Golden Dawn’s “card-counting” step but with a couple of unique twists of my own.
Rather than using a single Significator card to identify which elemental sub-pack applies to the reading, I developed the idea of having both a Significator to reflect the querent’s status within the particular area of interest and a “Facilitator” card that can be used to bracket a sub-set of cards within the subject pile for the purpose of reading. I decided that the Ace of the element that best describes how the querent typically handles problem-solving scenarios would make a good second “bookend” card: Wands = quick and clean but prone to rashness; Cups = resourceful and fair but sometimes indecisive; Swords = logical and precise but occasionally short-sighted; Disks = careful and methodical but frequently slow to react. Both the Significator and the Facilitator are removed from the deck before doing the four-pack split.
The remaining 76 cards are dealt right-to-left (the “Tetragrammaton” sequence) into four equal piles. The 19-card pile that aligns best with the nature of the question is then selected using the usual criteria: Wands show matters of enterprise and initiative; Cups show affairs involving emotional satisfaction; Swords show exigencies related to mental maneuvering; and Disks show a purely mundane focus on subjects such as money, property, and other physical aspects of life. Once the correct pack is identified, the Significator and Facilitator cards are inserted to bring the total up to 21 cards.
The sub-pack is shuffled and dealt into 21 positions from right-to-left. The location of the Significator and Facilitator cards is noted, and the cards between the two are read as a story beginning with the “bookend” card on the right and ending with that on the left. If the Significator is on the right, it indicates that the querent’s behaviors and attitudes will be instrumental in guiding the situation to its conclusion; if the Facilitator is on the right, circumstances may overwhelm the querent’s initiatives to drive the matter forward on its own terms (the proverbial “hanging on by one’s fingernails” predicament). The advice to querents will likely be different – either more or less definitive – in each scenario, depending on how much direct control they can be expected to wield.
There are a couple of unique cases that require special handling; the spread graphic attempts to illustrate typical alignments but should not be viewed as inclusive of all similar examples. If the Significator and the Facilitator land side-by-side in the middle of the line, it shows that there is no chance for development of the matter; any kind of “story” requires at least one card between the two with which they can interact. If this happens once, reshuffle and re-deal the cards on the Facilitator’s side (including the Facilitator) to hopefully create some space between it and the Significator, using the same right-to-left flow from either the Facilitator’s position if on the left or from the far end of the line if on the right. If it happens twice, abandon the reading or pick a different spread or method of divination.
If the “bookend” cards land side-by-side at one end of the line or the other, regardless of which order they are in, reshuffle and re-deal all of the cards to the right or left of the pair (including the nearest “bookend” card) to create some space between them, working from right-to-left as before. If it happens twice, abandon the reading or pick a different spread or method of divination.
Note that I’m paying no attention to which way the Significator is facing, and I’m not using any card-counting measures. The range of the reading series is defined by the location of the “bookend” cards; all that matters is which of the two opens the narrative and which concludes it.
I ran a test reading on this and wound up with a 13-card sub-set for interpretation. This was unwieldy to manage as a line, so I rolled it into a Celtic Cross spread with a three-card outcome series, ending with the Ace of Swords. This actually worked well because it prevented the Ace from becoming a foregone conclusion. Since I have spreads ranging from four cards up to 23 cards, I intend to adapt the larger sets of cards produced here to one of those. Up to seven cards I will read as a line.