There are three layers of interpretation when you read the tarot cards. First, the individual cards and it’s traditional meanings. Second, the card’s meanings according to the corresponding positions in a layout. Third, how the rest of the cards relate to each other.
Elemental Dignities is a method of giving special attention to and eliminating irrelevant cards based on the card’s elements (air, fire,earth,water) It is also called dissonance and resonance. Each suit/element is strengthened, weakened or remained neutral in the presence of other suits and it basically transcends the individual meanings of the cards. So here are the rules:
1. When the suits/elements are the same, they strengthen each other. Swords (air) + Swords (air)= very strong.
2. When the suits/elements are masculine/active or feminine/passive, they are friendly to each other. Wands (fire) + Swords (air)=moderately strong or Cups (water) + Pentacles (earth)= moderately strong.
3. When the suits/elements complement each other, they are neutral. Wands (fire) + Pentacles (earth)=neutral or Swords (air) + Cups (water)=neutral.
4. When the suits/elements are contrary, they weaken each other. Wands (fire) + Cups (water)= weakened or Swords (air) + Pentacles (earth)=weakened.
Elemental Dignities is like looking at a group, in which some people get on really well and bring out the best in each other. While others find it more difficult to be friends, for they have less in common and find it hard to see one another’s best points. Yet their individual abilities remain fundamentally unchanged. They are simply and positively or negatively affected by the company they keep.
For example, Swords weaken Pentacles, but strengthen Wands. So if you see, the powerful Ace of Swords surrounded by solid realistic Pentacles, it’s overall influence would be weaken and less emphasis placed upon it as part of your interpretation. But if you see Swords surrounded by Wands, these would serve to highlight its meaning.
Elemental Dignities help you make sense of overall feeling of any particular tarot spread.
by Jovita Orais