Not every choice in life is gut-wrenching, although it may still be vexing when it comes to making a snap decision: “Should I go with X to the pub or with Y to the show?” In such cases a simple spread with a touch of subtlety is all that is needed when a straightforward yes-or-no answer for either choice isn’t entirely satisfying (it typically lacks the “Why?” perspective). Here is such a spread, which uses elemental dignities and the quintessence card to offer a little more detail.
Many people find elemental dignities too complex and arcane but they are really quite logical, if a bit involved to set up. If you are able to judge the relative “friendliness” or mutual sympathy of two cards based on their elemental “personalities” and thus their combined potency when paired, and can then synthesize them with a third card (usually sitting between them) to see if they jointly strengthen or weaken its influence, you have all the skills you need. From this assessment you can tell whether the three cards are in general agreement or whether they will fight among themselves, undermining the ability of the center (or “focus”) card to live up to its potential. A weakened focus card can be vulnerable to overshadowing or domination by other cards in the spread, possibly making its usual testimony unreliable. (Note that the essential meaning of the cards doesn’t change, either alone or in groups, just the vigor with which their energy manifests.) If you want more specific information on elemental dignities, see my previous posts on the subject:
In terms of “elemental personalty,” Fire is assertive and can be reckless; Water is languid until agitated, upon which it can be implacable; Air is critical and excitable; Earth is imperturbable and slow to act. It isn’t too difficult to figure out how these personality types can harmonize or clash, and then translate the resulting “snapshot” into situational terms rather than psychological profiles. If two casual acquaintances seem to irritate one another, then the Knight of Wands and the Queen of Cups seen as aspects of a potential relationship of any kind could be a “match made in Hell.” The Knight is likely to feel stifled and the Queen threatened. If there is a mutual friend or other agent between them, say the Page of Pentacles, that person – although on reasonably good terms with both – would be operating at a disadvantage and would be well-advised to avoid playing matchmaker. In a literal sense, “the “deal” should not go through.
The idea behind this spread is to determine which of the triplicities (“1-F-2” or “3-F-4”) is most “in tune” elementally and then calculate the quintessence card for that series to show the kind of action that should be pursued when implementing that particular choice. (This will always be a trump card.) It isn’t unreasonable to assume that the two sets will sometimes be roughly equal in elemental emphasis, and further guidance is provided for that eventuality. I think this may be one of the most practical spreads I’ve created so far, since it’s both economical and nuanced. Give it a try!