The “One-Act Play” Example Reading: A Three-Way Conflict

I decided to test this spread on a hypothetical scenario in which three individuals are engaged in a disagreement. To do this I randomly pulled three court cards for the middle position instead of one. I used the magnificent Golden Art Nouveau Tarot with reversals.

The situation assumes that two junior individuals are up against a senior third who is compromising their peace-of-mind. It suggests a parent/child, sibling-vs-sibling or boss/subordinate rivalry.


The 4 of Wands in the “What” position suggests that peace, harmony and civility are at stake in the matter; they are what everyone ultimately wants but the flames have been fanned to the point that it may be out of reach.

The Knight of Swords in the “Who” position seems to be intent on assaulting those values, while the Page of Swords is on the defensive and the Page of Cups rx just seems bemused by the whole thing. The two Swords cards suggest that these adversaries are middle-aged (Knight) and youngish (Page) males, while the Page of Cups could be a younger female or a non-confrontational under-25 male. The impatient and exacting Knight assumes the authoritarian role, perhaps father, older sibling or boss.

The Chariot rx in the “Why/How” position implies a rancorous  dispute as the underlying theme. The two Pages feel put-upon by the aggressiveness of the Knight, who seems to be attacking the status quo. He is “stirring the pot” (4 of Wands) and “upsetting the apple cart” (Chariot rx) all in one fell stroke, and is perceived as a threat to good will and tranquility by the other two. The reversal inspires the notion of a “driverless car” that is careening out of control.

The Elemental Dignities indicate that all three court cards are caught between two mutually-hostile energies (Fire and Water) that provide no clear advantage to any of them. The Knight and Page of Swords, both facing the 4 of Wands, are embroiled in the “heat of battle” while the Page of Cups rx, elementally favored by the Chariot rx (another Water card), is content to stand back and take the long view.

Justice rx as the “Climax” card shows that there are irreconcilable differences that are not likely to  be resolved as things presently stand. Justice is staying her hand as the bitter fruits of bias and overreaction are weighed in the balance. Nobody is likely to get his or her “just desserts” without further struggle.

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