ADEPT LEVEL; 21 Ways . . . Step 14


STEP 14 of 21 Ways To Read A Tarot Card: "Dignity & Theme" is the title of this step. The adept level addresses similarities and differences using the High Priestess and the Emperor cards as examples. Mary Greer also introduces the issues of an anomaly and its conflicting meaning which may "nuance" the reading of the other cards.

** Activity 14:3 really goes deep into elemental dignities, addressing how varying combinations work out----such as air and air, or air and earth or air and water, for example. These combinations tend to range from strong to weak in terms of this dignity level. Of course the spread used and the cards positioned can further modify this.

** Activity 14:4 addresses elemental triads or groups of three card sets. Again, these are the very things we deal with in many card readings.

** Activity 14:5 takes back to the spread used in step 12 and asks us to re-visit it using what we have learned here in step 14.

NOTE: I see the exercise given as part of step 13 as needing to continue into this time period in terms of watching to see how symbols continue to pop up in our life. Don't pass over that portion of step 13 lightly, I think there is a lot to discover there.

2nd NOTE: Now that we are all active again in the last phase of the Adept Level, we need to keep plowing ahead. So, no shirking in our quest. Dave


Look over the deck and find repeating patterns that catches your eye. Sort the cards into groups:

The VR deck seems rather active. It seems to be heading in a certain direction. The intuition is given ease and yet I get a fixed sense from it. I am unfamiliar with the deck of its kind and what the creator’s intent was. In that I label as follows…

-Completed an action and in process of picking another direction:
These cards appear to be transient and in motion of going in one way or another. Thoughts before action I guess. Not yet at the next destination.
Knight of Pents has just slayed the dragon and being thanked by the damsel.
The Emperor sits in silence. 6 of Wands leaving a town in the form of military troops. Knight of Swords taking hold of an angel in distress. 9 of Wands standing guard in front of a house set burning. 3 of Cups posing with musical instruments and other articles of artistic expression. 7 of Wands man who is faced with a confrontation. 5 of Swords little people talking and listening. Ace of Pents presents a huge coin.

-Cards which seem to be facing me:
Intimate, intense, bringing in the reader & querent. In the way these cards look, they seem to affirm whatever the reader/querent perceives. It is certain that you know what to do and have an answer.
The Sun being guided by angels. Queen of Wands posing and revealing a mask worn. Queen of Pents poses in front of a home with coin in hand. 5 of pents with a mother and young boy in huddle. 7 of cups fishing. Page of Cups giving a cup to a pianist. 4 of pents sitting still. 10 of pents selling goods in a public market. Queen of swords surrounded by mountains. Page of wands singing. High Priestess standing still. 4 of cups looks of indifference. The Devil posing. The Moon sitting and combing hair.

-Involved with their enviroment, the situation:
The Tower shipwreck. 7 of pents pickings from a bush. 2 of pents going over a routine. 3 of swords crying. The Lovers catch. Justice being served by an angel to a man. Ace of swords fairy and sword on a hilltop. The Wheel of Fortune birdcatcher’s turning attention. 5 of wands threat in a street. Judgement glorious vision. Strength’s patience & courage. Page of Pents sits, waits in a room. Hierophant instructs students. Empress caring for angels. 4 of wands performance. Knight of wands facing woman. 4 of swords sleeping. 6 of pents giving attention. Ace of cups diving, connecting with another. 10 of cups gathering of a family & friends. Ace of Wands elevating of a flame. 3 of pents carving wood figures. 8 of pents painting a vase. 9 of cups drinking in a tavern. 2 of cups talking to each other. 6 of swords arriving to land. 3 of Wands observing swans. The Hanged Man upside down under a bridge. 5 of cups and 8 of cups seem to contain the same person walking away with head hanging down(8) and then turned up to see in the 5.

-A definite direction and moving forward known:
The World going up. 10 of swords dying in the waves. 6 of cups looking high and low. King of cups slowing going somewhere. 2 of swords surrendering back. The Lover’s vows. 9 pents lady posing. 9 of swords sleepwalking. Knight of cups surrounded by angels and looking up. 8 of wands running. The Magician sitting behind desk. The Star in water. King of Swords in the middle of ruins. The hermit sitting by the water. The Fool balancing performance. The Chariot’s flight. King of Pents sharing himself. Queen of cups looking up to the sky. Temperance in a boat. 2 of Wands looking out. King of Wands listening to music. Death floating. 8 of swords tied and waiting. 7 of swords leaving with stuff. Page of swords going into the woods. 10 of wands carrying two loads on a path.

My card is the 4 of wands and in group 3 (involved with enviroment/situation)
It’s grouped in with other cards that are very much in the mist of their personal situations, living them out. This applies well to where I'm at. I suppose this group would be considered of the mundane. I find it difficult to find an anomoly because of the depth of variation in the deck as a whole, it addresses many things in 79 cards(extra lovers card/a seemingly built in anomoly).
** Activity 14:3 really goes deep into elemental dignities, addressing how varying combinations work out----such as air and air, or air and earth or air and water, for example. These combinations tend to range from strong to weak in terms of this dignity level. Of course the spread used and the cards positioned can further modify this.

Elements of earth and water are considered friendly.

Using Victorian Romantic
5 of pents-a small boy huddles with a woman as they sit on a bench. He is covered in a brown blanket. They sit outside of a building’s doorway, to their right, on the ground, lies a basket with straw and branches. The woman holds a cross on her lap.
Ace of Cups-a man swims down to kiss a woman sitting on a giant shell, both are naked.
What I know(pents)is of a persevering nature, and grounded for better or for worse.
What I don’t know(cups)is how these two people are related, or are relating to the circumstance that brought them there.
How would I read these two cards?
That there is real devotion, regardless of hardship shared.

Elements of fire and fire are considered strong, for good or evil.
9 of wands is a roman soldier standing outside a home’s doorway that is being rained down by flames. Inside are casualties of this fire.
10 of wands is a woman carrying a huge bundle of wood on her back while simultaneously carrying a cradle with a child in it over a rocky path. Another child stands in the distance holding more wood in hand.
What I know is(9 of wands)these are trying times that tests one’s ability to stick to what they believe.
What I don’t know(10 of wands)is if the effort will prove futile.
These two cards say to me that the energy is over-extended, and will undermine one’s general well-being, or good intentions.

Elements of fire and earth are said to be somewhat friendly or neutral.
4 of wands is a lively band playing to a crowd outdoors. The band seems to be made up of 4 scantily dressed women. The crowd seems amused.
10 of pents shows a man sitting outside selling fruits and vegetables. He is just outside the entrance to a village, there is a man and a woman entering together.
What I know(4 of wands)is that there are amusements.
What I don’t know(10 of pents)if anyone will buy what is being offered.
These two cards makes me think the energies are too distracted to be productive.

Elements of air and earth are said to be enemies, contraries, and weak.
Ace of Swords shows a fairy sitting high up on a cliff, holding a wilting flower to a sheathed sword. This sword seems to be decorated in a burgundy ribbon. Below this fairy are clouds and a bird that swoops below. Behind this fairy are mountains and what looks like a blue sea.
7 of pents is a small woman collecting flower buds off a bush. She looks only to the blossom in her hands while her basket hangs lopsided at a distance.
What I know(Ace of Swords)is that there is freedom in solitude to think and feel whatever you want.
What I don’t know(7 of pents)is if the interest to accomplish anything will be there.
Since these two elements are said to be contrary…it seems that a person will be torn between wanting to be left alone with one’s thoughts and needing to be at work, and actually doing something visibly productive.


** Activity 14:4 addresses elemental triads or groups of three card sets. Again, these are the very things we deal with in many card readings.

** Activity 14:5 takes back to the spread used in step 12 and asks us to re-visit it using what we have learned here in step 14.

Purpose-5 of swords, Issue-4 of wands, Feeling-2 of swords

Air-fire-air considered strong and active

The 5 of swords has three children in clown costumes. Two of the kids are ganging up on the 3rd. Two swords are on the ground.
2 of swords shows someone with their hands crossed in front of their chest. They have a laurel on their head made up of little blue flowers. This person’s gaze is on whatever is forward and above. Their back is to the rocks and sea.
With the issue being the 4 of wands, it is probably about being playful and /or childish(5 of swords).
The 4 of wands(issue)seems to exacerbate the events in the 5 of swords and then coming to a close in the 2 of swords.
I would see the issue(4 of wands) as a place where a not so friendly fight(5 of swords)took place. It’s purpose(5 of swords) may have been to realize who your real friends are, because the feeling(2 of swords)is peaceful, and solitary.

Then I picked two other elements…
6 of pents-4 of wands-2 of cups
earth and fire are somewhat friendly/neutral and fire and water are contrary.

6 of pents is a little girl and finely dressed woman meeting on a path. The woman is about to take the blossom the girl is offering.
2 of cups is a couple in a park, sitting on a bench with two wine glasses between them.
It is easier to read the cards as a story where the woman in the 6 of pents meets up with a little flower girl on her way to a fair where the 4 of wands is playing. Then afterwards meets with a suitor(2 of cups).
Purpose-to be charitable, generous, and observant
Feeling-wanting to share.
summed up: Amist the distractions, sharing of one’s self is worth the time.
I don’t see these 3 cards as being contrary to each other, and see more similarities in the images than if I were to read just the elements.


YAY new step posted! Thanks Dave. I agree, we are so close that we need to prod ahead. Feels great to see everyone back and to have some new classmates in the adept level. Squeak I will read yours after I post mine.

I will post my Step 14 on Tuesday :D


Dave's Step 14-3

Step 14-3: I've divided my Fey Tarot cards into groups consisting of:
** Cards with LIGHT emphasized
** Cards showing apathy, fear, uncertainty
** Cards showing creativity, magic
** Cards indicating coupleness or pairings
** Cards of movement or travel
** Cards of contemplation
** Cards where one is waiting or seems "stationed" or posed
** Unclassified or unclear as to what goes where

My card, the Hermit, is in the "light" group. Unlike the RWS deck were the Hermit has traveled to a remote area and is standing there with his lantern, the Fey Hermit has entered into the interior of a tower filled with crazy stairways and ladders going in all directions and often leading to doors, with small clues laying all about. He also carries a lantern but is actively seeking not being the object of those who might be seeking.

For me, the Hermit as a "light" card, joins with the Ten/Pentacles waiting for a party to begin at a table topped with a huge candle, Five/Pentacles where a group of Fey enjoy a warm "fire" emitted from a burning Pentacle, the Sun where a Fey basks on a warm hillside meadow in the sunlight, Three/Wands were a Fey watches a glowing plant with three bulbs sprouting, the Star where a young lady Fey sits amidst a swirl of stars as if sitting under a tree in the fall with leaves floating down upon her--those stars glowing and placing a soft light upon her, and the Moon wherein a Fey-Hunter kneels watching a giant full moon that has just risen over the horizon--a moon almost within reach.

Given my focus on my book writing, and all that I learn while I write to teach others, the light symbolizes my deepening understanding about that which I am seen as being an expert at. So, the light represents "finding knowledge." Will it also symbolize finding wisdom?

More, later. Dave


Dave's Step 14:4

I drew the Fey Tarot's 8/Pentacles and 8/Chalices for the What I Know and What I Don't Know positions.

The 8/Pentacles shows a Fey kneeling on the floor of a painters studio. She is before a larger-than-her hanging pentacle. She is totally focused on painting an image which the viewer cannot see. Pots and paints lay about her.

The 8/Chalices depicts a Fey walking away from a huge chalice atop a stairway. She is facing away but her eyes are looking up as if at something else we can't see or as if seeing a reflection of the chalice. An early-morning Moon rises in the sky.

** The 8/Pentacles depicts the process of pulling a creative concept into the physical realm, of enhancing life through endeavors, adding substance to the world. In the What I Know position, this card could be advice to put a full effort into your life's work, to be an activist in terms of getting something done.
** The 8/Chalices depicts one who is walking away from the cup of feelings and emotions and all that it promises in the coming day. Her bearing shows that this is a firm decision although she is aware of what her rejection means. In the What I Don't Know position, this card suggests that she may not have given emotionally-related situations a fair chance of being experienced but made an early choice to not be involved, but to seek something else. Will this leave a hole in her experience or later leave her unprepared for another type of experience? A decision is a decision.

I have a little diagram on the cover of my Tarot Notebook which shows the suites at the four corners of the diagram with the pathways across/down/ or diagonally between the suites given attributes. I'll attempt to portray that here.

CUPS ----- satisfaction ------- PENT'S
| * * |
| * * |
| happiness * business
| * * activities
emotions * difficulties |
| * * |
| * |
| * * |
| * * |
| * * |
SWORDS ----- conflict ------ WANDS

This appears to be different from what Mary Greer suggests in her book. Now, I am not sure where I took this diagram from or if this diagram represents a school of Tarot-thought that embodies some concepts that we should be aware of as being better-or-worse in some way. PERHAPS MARY WILL OFFER A COMMENT ON THIS.

Meanwhile, using the book's approach, I drew three cards----one for air, fire and water. These are the 9/Swords, 9/Wands, 6/Cups.
** 9/Swords shows a feathered winged Fey kneeling, face close to the ground with her arms crossed in front of her, a large sword hanging from a cord above and pointed at her back.
** 9/Wands shows two Fey in a cavity within a tree, looking out of the hole.
** 6/Chalices shows another feather-winged Fey sitting on the rim of a large chalice holding a large egg, with many eggs scattered on the surface below.

The two 9-cards (friendly) suggests that one has to accept one's fear for what it is and then move to face it in some way (confront, avoid).

The 9/Wands and 6/Chalices (contrary relationship) suggests that ones caution and indecision is not compatible with one's sense of the past (egg as birth vehicle) which is about to be dropped on the floor with other past memories. A decision can be made or one and sit and sit and go nowhere.

The 9/Swords and 6/Chalices are neutral. Translated, one's fears and penance has a role in contemplating and deciding what to do, while one's decision to drop old memories and forget about them is one choice but not the only choice. One has many paths to choose in life.

The book offers earth/water/air and earth/air/earth examples to work with, and then goes on to talk about the CENTRAL CARD IN A TRIAD. I have taken up Robert Place's approaches to using the central card in a triad. Here, we are seeing the center card in terms of how it relates via its triad meanings.

The MISSING SUIT strikes me as interesting although my first thought is that which card of that suit is "missing" rather than thinking of the suit in a more general sense. In the example above that I did, the missing suit was the Pentacle suit---practical choices and productive efforts were missing from the relationship considerations to some degree.

SPREADS WITHIN SPREADS is a subject that is so rich that we could develop a whole series of threads on this subject once we finish with the adept level. I note that Tarot Tells The Tale is one book that offers an amazing number of three card spread combinations and that Tarot And Psychology, as one example, includes examples of mini-spreads within the Celtic Cross spread.
**** If this sounds like an interesting topic, please respond so that we can consider it as our next group project or one of those projects.




ACTIVITY 14:3.1 – Sort the cards into groups based on visual themes. What key theme is suggested by each group formed? What do these themes say about your deck?

1) Isolation
2) Harmony/Wonder
3) Celebration
4) Conflict
5) Sharing/Helping
6) Family/Nurturing
7) Laziness
8) Romantic/Relationships
9) Pride
10) Rejection
11) Power/Authority

These themes tell me that the deck is very focused on society and social attitudes.

ACTIVITY 14:3.2. – My chosen card (The Moon) is in the “isolation” group.
How might this theme apply to my current situation? This card could represent my feelings of isolation, distance, and withdrawal. It is not physical isolation, etc., but emotional and not directed at one person but more of a general sense. I guess I am in a hermit sort of phase with an intense interest in the spiritual such as crystals, tarot, personal development. Interests that are not really shared by anyone directly around me. That is what isolates me.

Is there anything that makes my card stand out? My card is the only one in the entire group that has something looking over the main character’s shoulder. Also the only one with a dead animal being used as jewelry. It is also the only one with clouds.

What does this suggest about my personal theme? That I feel like I am being watched and judged. That I feel like I am carrying dead weight, and that I carry an albatross around my neck. I long to be in a different place in my life than I am, but am not sure how to get there.

ACTIVITY 14:4. – Using various pairs of Earth/Water two card spreads, what can I say about these cards based solely on elemental characteristics: The earth card speaks to the physical and the now, the water touches on the emotions and unconscious knowledge and flows.

Earth and Water are friendly. Laying out 3 pairs:
Devil – Page of Cups
6 of Coins – High Priestess
9 of Coins – Hanged Man

These 3 pairs show characters in the here and now living an experience or doing something that can be described by “what I know.” They all hint towards indulgence. In the “What I don’t know” Water cards I get the feeling or premonition that can trigger during the “earth” situations. That feeling of something not being right or something missing yet not being able to put my finger on it.

ACTIVITY 14:5 – Examine the 3 card spread obtained in Step 12 in terms of elemental dignities and what these suggest:

5 of Wands – Fire
The Star – Air
9 of Cups – Water

The center card (The Star) is somewhat strong. The flanking cards are weak. The serenity of The Star is prevalent though could be influenced by the aggression or dissention of the 5 of Wands as they are “friendly.” The serenity of The Star could be short term, but would at least be there for a time.

Moving the cards around: (switching the positions of the Star and 9 of Cups): The 9 of Cups is weak and The Star and 5 of Wands are strong. Switching the original positions of The Star and 5 of Wands, the 5 of Wands is somewhat strong, the 9 of Cups and The Star are neutral. The heat of conflict of the 5 of Wands would be dominant over the peace and serenity of The Star and the fulfillment of wishes and satisfaction of the 9 of Cups.

I find the elemental dignities interesting, though still a bit confusing. I use the elemental correspondences of the cards in readings but a bit differently. I take number and other factors also into consideration along with the element. But I still find this really interesting.


Squeak and Dave, I really enjoyed reading your exercises. One of the things that stands out to me is that for all three of us we felt that we needed more than the elemental dignity associations/relationships than those offered in the exercise. We do not looke solely at the elemental dignity, though we all do consider it in our interpretations whether conscioulsy or not.

Squeak, as I read your first I was not surprised to see that you and I arrived at similar conclusions at the end as our decks are by the same designers. We aslo shared issues with the numbers exercise if I recall :D

Dave I loved the diagram! That is really helpful.

I love the decks you guys are using, they are my primary reading decks actually so seeing them so fully discussed is just fantastic. Your level of detail has really helped enhance my understanding and views in regards to both the VR and the Fey.


Jewel said: I read your first I was not surprised to see that you and I arrived at similar conclusions at the end as our decks are by the same designers. We aslo shared issues with the numbers exercise if I recall...
:D-oh yes-I forgot. Thank you for that reminder!
This deck is still very new to me, Jewel, so I really appreciate your insight here! Makes me feel better:)


Diagram display problems

The diagram got messed up due to having the "open" spaces being collapsed.
Let me address this. The following layout was "displayed":

CUPS ----- satisfaction ------- PENT'S
| * * |
| * * |
| happiness * business
| * * activities
emotions * difficulties |
| * * |
| * |
| * * |
| * * |
| * * |
SWORDS ----- conflict ------ WANDS

"Happiness" defines the diagonal link between Cups and Wands.
"Business activities" defines the up/down link from Pent's to Wands.
"Emotions" defines the link between Cups and Swords.
"Difficulties" defines the diagonal link between Swords and Pent's.