This is an example reading for the “Three-Deck Triathlon” spread I posted yesterday. It is my first use of the spread, so I will be learning as I go along. I don’t use reversals in deck interview readings. Note that, although I don’t think tarot decks have “personalities,” speaking of them as if they do makes for an engaging way to talk about them. In practice, the characteristics I ascribe to the cards are those that they should inspire in the reader using them. I have a personal approach to calculating the quintessence that may not square with the way my readers learned it; if you’re curious, you can visit my previous post on the subject.
I have three of Ciro Marchetti’s colorful tarot decks that, as CGI creations, occupy a special niche in my collection. I’ve used them a number of times each and have established preferences, so I figured they would present a good opportunity to test this spread. In the photo, the Tarot of Dreams is in the left-hand column, the Gilded Tarot is in the middle and the Legacy of the Divine is at the far right.
In the Water/Charisma row, the cards are the Magician, the 9 of Wands and the Lovers; in the Swords/Clarity row, the cards are Ace of Wands, the Knight of Pentacles and the 10 of Wands; in the Fire/Intensity row, the cards are the Page of Cups, the 10 of Cups and Death; in the Earth/Overall Utility row, the quintessence cards are Death, the Lovers and the Hermit.
The most immediately noticeable thing about this array is that only one of the twelve cards, the Hermit in the Earth row, is perfectly matched elementally to its position. There are a few sympathetic alignments but almost no direct hits. The impression I get is that these decks aren’t entirely amenable to being scrutinized in this way. Either that or they’re just being contrary.
In the Water row, the airy Magician, as something of a chameleon befitting its connection to Mercury, is the most well-placed of the three. The 9 of Wands – even though as a Nine it has some affinity for lunar emotional empathy – brings the low spark of Fire into the realm of Water, which swamps it. The Lovers I don’t consider a “romance” card, preferring its association to Air (the Gemini correspondence and the fact its assigned Hebrew letter means “sword”). The Tarot of Dreams comes out on top in this contest.
In the Air row, the two fiery Wands cards are elementally favored, while the Knight of Pentacles is out-of-sorts. The Ace of Wands and the 10 of Wands are the “alpha and omega” of Fire, with the former freshly minted and the latter nearing the weary end of its journey. The Ace has the energy to make the most of its environment, and comes across as the most effective in this element. The nod again goes to the Tarot of Dreams.
In the Fire row, all of the cards are associated with Water, giving the sense that none of them really wants to run the “foot-race.” This Page of Cups looks thoroughly dissipated, as if he just pulled an “all-nighter” at a college frat party. The 10 of Cups is too comfortably settled to work up much enthusiasm for a 26-mile slog, and Death is above (and perhaps, if you know your Swinburn, below) needing to demonstrate its endurance. If I had to pick a winner here, it would be Death from the Legacy of the Divine; to steal and mangle a quote from The Big Lebowski, “Death abides.”
In the Earth row, the Hermit, as an expression of earthy Virgo, is well-situated but not very demonstrative about its role. The Water card Death is elementally fortunate here, and has more definite – or at least more observable – views about the transformative efficacy of the tarot. The Hermit has wisdom, but Death is much more purposeful. The Air card Lovers is disadvantaged in Earth and doesn’t make much of a showing. The advantage once again goes to the Tarot of Dreams.
With three “winners,” the Tarot of Dreams offers the superior choice in this comparison. In my practice, I’ve found that the Tarot of Dreams and the Gilded Tarot are a toss-up for reading effectiveness, with the latter a little more user-friendly due to its smaller size and more vivid color palette. The more artistically accomplished Legacy of the Divine deck never made much of an impression on me. The details of the reading create a fairly accurate picture of my experience with these decks, and tell me that I should spend some more time with the Tarot of Dreams.