The “Three-Deck Triathlon” Spread

As I accumulate more decks in a similar style (for example, Thoth and RWS clones, Tarot de Marseille variants, pagan-themed decks, and so forth), I encounter the need to decide which deck of the type is the most effective for everyday use, and which is the most worthy to become a mainstay in my practice. (I resist the popular phrase “go-to deck” in the same way I shy away from overused terms like “intuitive,” “resonate” and “spot-on.”) Of course, simply using them in a lot of readings will always be the best way, but I like creative short-cuts that save time and  effort and I’m constantly seeking new ways to evaluate the cards. Deck-comparison spreads of the “deck interview” variety represent an angle I haven’t fully explored yet. I presently have a single-deck “personality profile” version and a two-deck comparative layout, but nothing for three or more decks.

A triathlon is a sporting event in which athletes compete in a three-phase long-distance race, a feat of endurance performed consecutively without rest between segments. The triathlon can take on a number of different forms, but one of the most common involves swimming, bicycling and running. The “ironman triathlon,” now  a generic description derived from the namesake event that was first held in Hawaii in 1978, is one of the most famous.

I fancied that a three-deck (or greater) spread including three comparative positions in each chain of cards with a fourth overall “roll-up” position built on the elemental attributes most closely associated with each mini-event of a triathlon would be a fun way to attack the question. I chose Water/Charisma and its key properties to stand in for “swimming,” Air/Clarity for “bicycling” and Fire/Intensity for “running,” with Earth/Overall Utility representing the “finish line” as a separate quintessence card for each chain. By “anthropomorphizing” the card attributes and qualities in this way, they will ideally invoke those characteristics in the reader who uses them.

The idea is that the positions containing cards that are most in tune with the nature of the element will be the “winners” in that category, placing the deck they represent at the head of the class. The deck with the most winners will be the superior choice for my purpose. The criteria would be not only shared elemental alignment but also characteristics like number meaning and traditional card interpretation (good, bad or neutral).  The possibility of a tie exists, but I haven’t thought of a way to do a “run-off” yet – maybe it will have to be “intuition” after all (urk!) – but I’ll come up with one; as always, this spread is a work-in-progress that will evolve over the next few days, so expect tweaks. I plan to perform an example reading with it that I’ll post when done.

One thought on “The “Three-Deck Triathlon” Spread

  1. I always love new ways to interact with multiple decks. Some decks, I don’t use just because they are “new” to me and spreads/activities that let me compare/contrast/work with multiple decks are great ways to get some practice with lesser used decks while being able to maintain that comfort zone that comes with a favorite deck.

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