The Three-Card “Tarot Sentence”

It has been proposed that the three-card line forms the basic “sentence” of tarot reading, and adding more cards to the series only augments but doesn’t supersede the original narrative. Three cards in sequence can be read in a number of ways: as a traditional “Past/Present/Future” outlook; in the Hegelian sense of “Thesis/Antithesis/ Synthesis;” according to the computer programmer’s “If/Then/Else” logic; or simply as “Action/Reaction/Resolution.” But – taking a page from the Lenormand playbook – perhaps the most useful approach is to consider the middle card as the subject or “noun” of the sentence, with the cards on both sides serving as modifiers. (This is also similar to how Elemental Dignities work.)

In this way, the “noun” becomes the “What” – or subject – of the reading (or in some cases the “Who”) while the modifiers act as adverbs (“How” or in what way) and adjectives (“Why” or to what degree); if we accept the premise of my previous post that the “When” and “Where” of a projected event are tied to the evolving maturity of the situation rather than to a defined anchor-point in time and space, we could even say that the adjacent cards can provide a sense of urgency or imminence. That leaves the “verb” and the “object” to integrate into the sentence structure.

Generally, an adverb elaborates on the performance of an action by describing the “how, why, where or when” of its completion as well as its intensity, while an adjective provides insight on the quality of the event, which may shed light on the reasons for its occurrence and the extent of its applicability. For example, we could say “His speech is rapid” (adjective modifying the noun “speech”) or “He speaks rapidly” (adverb modifying the verb “speaks”). We could assume that the “verb” is subsumed under the middle card, which gives it a dual purpose: “What is this reading about and what is its developmental potential?” The “object” of the sentence could similarly be allotted to the card on the right as showing not only the “pull” of future considerations but also “where” the subject will land when the dust settles and the form it will take; the “when” of its arrival could be construed from the “time signature” of this card as well, which can be inferred from factors such as suit, number and inherent nature.

Staying with the convention that cards to the left-of-center convey past influences while those to the right represent future conditions, and tying that premise to the Lenormand idea that cards to the left of the “topic” card denote a fading emphasis while those to the right describe one that is growing in importance, we might establish that, in a three-card array, the left-hand card is dedicated to maintaining the status quo – in short, a “no change is good change” attitude – while the right-hand one wants to take the matter to another level. We could also extrapolate from the Golden Dawn’s concept of “arriving” and “departing” energies by supposing that the card that is “coming in” from the left is “digging in its heels” and demanding attention, while the one that is “moving out” to the right is stepping away from present obligations in search of a new focus. The card in the middle is left to juggle these competing priorities and come up with a plan. For planning purposes, there is “lessons-learned” potential in the “past” scenario and “multiple-solution” flexibility in the “future” perspective. Here is a proposed design for this in the form of a problem-solving scenario. (The suggested queries are provisional and may not be inclusive for every situation.)


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