I spend quite a bit of time examining missing-person cases – both current and “cold” – and have encountered a few alternate situations where the police have a body but they don’t have a suspect, who is actually the absent person. These victims don’t qualify as missing, so neither of my spreads designed for that purpose is right for the reading. To correct that shortcoming, I decided to create one that is.
This spread uses the Death card as the central Significator for obvious reasons, and the 16 court cards to populate the “rogue’s gallery” of potential suspects. It doesn’t assume that there are really 16 possibilities, just that there are 16 “types” by nominal gender, age and appearance (at the time of the event) from which to form the pool of choices. I don’t have my reference books handy (they are all packed away at present), so I’m making some guesses about the appearance factors and cartomantic stipulations, and I have made my own cut at the “break points” for age since Waite’s never made any sense to me.
Although there is some disagreement about the assignment of the playing-card suits to the cards of the tarot, I’m going with the one that aligns best with the “physical appearance” descriptions for the Waite-Smith court cards: Wands (Diamonds) and Cups (Hearts) are red and Swords (Spades) and Coins (Clubs) are black. These qualities are used in combination with the physical characteristics to define the likely perpetrator (and both may change when I get my books out again). Because there are six age categories and only four royal personages in each suit, I made the knights and pages serve double duty as male and female, with red suits showing the male contingent and black suits the female.
With all 16 character types in play, a “pointer” is needed to identify the most likely suspect. I recall that, in cartomantic risk scenarios, the Ace of Spades must be present along with the 9 of Spades for a physical death to be indicated by the reading, so I made the Ace of Swords serve that purpose here. The idea is to separate the court cards from the deck, shuffle and cut them, and randomly populate the 16 “gallery” positions. Those positions closest to the Death card suggest suspects who were well-known to the victim, and reversal can be used to show that the threat from those individuals was concealed in some way. Next, shuffle and cut the remainder of the deck, then deal it out on top of the “gallery” cards until the Ace of Spades appears. This will “finger” the putative culprit.
If there are no cards between the Ace of Swords and the court card, the implication is that the death event wasn’t premeditated. Any intervening cards will show the circumstances surrounding the crime, including any plot that was hatched to commit it. This spread is designed to identify “who” the leading suspect is but not “where.” To do that, use the court card thus derived as the “pointer” card in my “Sundial Location Spread.”