Hit the Road, Jack: The “World of Hurt” Missing-Person Spread

In working with and discussing my current missing-person spread (the “Train to Nowhere”), I came to the conclusion that, while it offers considerable finely-tuned detail regarding the possible whereabouts of an absent individual, it is more about the “why” and “how” of the person’s circumstances than their present state of being. I realized that I need a layout that sticks directly to the bare facts of the matter, and this – at least as a working design – is it. As a bonus, it offers hypothetical insights into whether the person will be found and how soon.

The assumptions it makes are few, all stemming from the idea that the subject is under some kind of duress and has disappeared either by their own choice or against their will, and in some cases due to insurmountable mental or physical health factors: they may be escaping something unpleasant (for example, a dysfunctional family situation or bad marriage); they were compelled in some manner (lured away, forcibly kidnapped or perhaps taken into custody by law enforcement); they are mentally incompetent or physically disabled and can’t extricate themselves from their predicament; or they are in fact the victim of foul play.

The concept involves removing the Major Arcana cards from the deck and then dividing it into court and minor card sub-packs. A Significator type (but not suit) is chosen to represent the missing person: King for mature male over 25; Queen for mature female; Knight/Prince for a younger male; or Page/Princess for a younger female. The court-card pack is shuffled and dealt, from top to bottom, into the “Significator Bins” representing those five categories until the first card of the selected type appears. This shows the most likely state of affairs regarding the individual’s current condition. The precise “where” element must be deduced in other ways, perhaps by court-card suit (Wands is a “hot” place, Swords is a “cold” one; Cups is a “wet” location; Coins is a “dry,” dirty or dusty spot; the Medieval elemental “humours” can help in this assessment, as can the quality of the “royal personage:” Kings and Queens are assumed to be more (Earth and Water) or less (Fire and Air)”settled” in one spot; Knights could be “on the move;” Pages are probably being controlled by others in some way. My “Sundial” location” spread is another approach:


Next, the minor-card pack is shuffled and dealt into the two remaining positions of the row containing the Significator. The first of these reflects how likely it is that the subject will be found, and is assessed using the table of “Yes-Leaning, Maybe and No-Leaning” cards attached to the layout; the adjustments for relative strength of the “answer card” shown in the footnotes to the table may be applied but are not mandatory.

The second position is read by examining the suit of the card that lands there to see what it portends regarding the timeframe for location of the person. A Wands/Fire card suggests that discovery is imminent (a “breakthrough” event); Swords/Air that it will occur within weeks; Cups/Water that months may pass before it happens; and Coins/Earth that it could be years, and perhaps “never.” The denomination of the card (from Ace to Ten) is intended to show the number of units of the indicated period that are anticipated to expire before discovery. These suit categories and the numbering scheme are often used in conventional timing methods with fair to poor results, so I’m offering them here with a large grain of salt; I have other timing techniques (posted previously) that can be used in conjunction with this reading if results here don’t pass the “giggle test.”

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