As I discussed in a previous post, the Book of Thoth is silent about how to count and pair the cards when the Significator is at or near one end of the line, such that the full count can’t be reached and pairs may not be achievable. In Israel Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, esoteric writer Christopher Hyatt advised simply continuing the counting-and-pairing steps at the other end of the line. To facilitate my understanding of this, I created an example with the right-facing Princess of Cups as the Significator near the right end of the line.
As you can see, I’m unable to count the required 7 cards from the Significator in the direction it is facing. However, if I bend the line into a circle, maintaining the alignment of the cards, I can count right around to the 8 of Wands. These 7 cards thus become the narrative of “the beginning of the matter.”
(On a side note, Crowley is silent on whether the “story” should include just the two cards at the extreme ends of the count, or whether all of the cards between the two should be read, as I do here. Hyatt’s material implies that you only read the ones at the “count points,” and that you keep on counting from each new card according to its rank or number, until you land on a card you’ve already read. Then you only read the few cards you counted to. This seems like very sloppy thinking to me; I will be governed by the results in each case. If I have a large series of cards and a small initial count, I would be inclined to count again from the second card, at least until I arrive back at the Significator (but not beyond), since two cards by themselves – here it would be the Princess of Cups and the 8 of Wands – don’t make for much of a narrative.)
The same circular protocol should be used for pairing. The pairs on either side of the Significator are: Queen of Swords/5 of Wands; 8 of Wands/6 of Wands; and 4 of Swords/8 of Disks. This leaves the 5 of Cups as the “free agent,” alone and unmodified; it is therefore read as a “partial outcome” of the situation after the pairs are analyzed. If two or more unpaired cards occur at one end of the line, they are not considered significant and aren’t read. Here, in keeping with Crowley’s method of working inside-out, I would read the supplemental “story” as Queen of Swords and 5 of Wands; 8 of Wands and 6 of Wands; and 4 of Swords and 8 of Disks, tagging on the 5 of Cups as a footnote.
Note that, in the Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, Christopher Hyatt included a much more elaborate method of counting and pairing that not only has multiple counting steps, but also pairs the cards from the outside in. The choice is yours, but I prefer to stay with Crowley’s approach, which is much less complicated (and therefore rather atypical of the man), and only use Hyatt’s when my initial results are meager.