The Not-So-Simple Yes-or-No Spread


Since I've been working with Elemental Dignities, I thought I would apply the concept of "strengthening and weakening", along with card rank and nominal positive/negative quality, to the "yes-or-no" reading area. It's only seven cards, but it has lots of two-card iterations to it, and a little bit of math. If you can do basic addition and subtraction, you should have no problem with it. Whether or not it's worth the effort depends on how important the "yes" or "no" answer is to you.

I did a test reading with this spread. The question was "Will my local New Age shop owner be able to keep her store open?" (She has been struggling a bit, even though she has passed two years in business, which is usually the threshold of success for start-ups.

I chose the Queen of Swords as Significator, since she is a Gemini with a keen business sense.

The first Challenge Card was the Queen of Cups. Since Swords and Cups are complementary, I gave it a +5% score; the Queens are equals, so there was no rank adjusment. Overall score 55% "Yes".

The second Challenge Card was the 10 of Swords; since cards of the same suit are friendly, this got a +10%; since the Queen outranks the Ten, this got another +5%; the 10 of Swords is on the "bad-guy" list, which reduced the total by 5%, bringing it to 10%. Overall score 65% "Yes."

The third Challenge Card was 3 of Wands. Since Swords and Wands are friendly, this got a +10%; since the Queen outranks the Three, this got an additional +5%; the 3 of Wands is on the "good-guy" list, adding another 5% for a total of 20%. Overall score 85% "Yes."

The fourth Challenge Card was the Hierophant; since Air and Earth are unfriendly, this meant a -10% hit. Also, the Hierophant outranks the Queen, giving another -5% reduction, for a total of -15%. At this point, I brought in the Advocate, which turned out to be the Magician. Since both the Queen of Swords and the Magician are Air cards and mutually friendly, they trumped the one Earth card, wiping out 5% of the elemental reduction, making the total -10%. Overall score 75% "Yes."

The Guardian of Truth card was the Ace of Swords. Since the Queen and the Ace of Swords are mutually friendly, this got a +10% score. Because the Queen outranks the Ace, another 5% was added, bringing the total to 15%. Overall score 90% "Yes."

The total score gave me a 90% likelihood that the answer would be "Yes," and she will be able to remain open. Interestingly, I probably would have come to a similar conclusion just reading the cards, but the confidence level would probably have been only around 75% as a ballpark answer. I was fairly well pleased with the ease of interpreting this spread.



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I added a sample reading to the original post. The results were encouraging.


What an interesting spread! I can't wait to try it! Thanks!


Ohhhhh that's TOTALLY my kind of spread! I love the idea of including mathematical logic and percentages into the simple "yes/no" question.

I will definitely try it!

Thanks for this and also for the details related to the elemental dignities and friendliness between the cards!


I was suspecting this spread might be skewed too far to the positive. But my daughter called and said she has her first date coming up after breaking up with her bf of six years last Fall. I ran this spread to see if the new guy would be a good match for her and got only 25% "Yes." If she wasn't 30 years old, I might have said "Daddy's wishful thinking." But not any more . . . :D

UPDATE: He turned out to be too immature for her, although she "might" see him again, so the 25% was close to the mark.


In working with this spread, I realized that the Advocate card should be used at any point in the spread where it can do the most good when revealed, not just at the final judgment. First I do all the comparisons by turning the challenge cards face up, then decide which one is in the worst shape, strictly from an elemental dignity standpoint. I move the Advocate there and turn it over to see whether its element aids the Significator (friendly or complementary) or is hostile (unfriendly). It provides a small amount of mitigation if it's supportive, no detrimental effect but also no benefit if it isn't.

I updated the spread to reflect this more inclusive approach.


I tried this spread out, I love it and it's really fun to do! I've got a 45% 'yes' (confirmation I'll get in months).


It was brought to my attention (thank you, Etene) that the Golden Dawn model for Elemental Dignities places an excessively positive bias on this spread, since 8 out of 10 elemental combinations are either friendly or mutually supportive and only two are unfriendly and debilitating. In the interest of injecting some balancing negativity, I decided to entertain the use of reversals, with each reversed Challenge Card subtracting 5% from the overall score. If all five Challenge Cards turn up reversed, that would reduce the "Yes" total by 25%. The Advocate Card would not be read reversed, since only its element is important. I will change the spread details accordingly.


Still Tweaking

Further statistical work with this spread shows that the use of +10% and +5% offsets for major and minor positive factors can produce a "Yes" score of up to 150%. To bring that back down to the vicinity of 100%, I've changed the positive offsets to +5% for significant enhancements and +3% for lesser benefits, with corresponding negative offsets adjusted by the same increments. I've changed the spread template accordingly.


Almost Done

I made a couple more changes to further offset the overly positive bias of the Elemental Dignity system:

I made the "supportive" combinations (Fire and Earth/Water and Air) a zero-impact occurrence since, while they are complementary opposites, they are essentially neutral. That leaves a 6-2-2 positive/neutral/negative split, a 60%-40% "yes" bias, while the goal is to get it as close to even odds as possible. The real issue is that cards of the same element in a two-card combination are overwhelmingly reinforcing, and there is no reasonable way to mitigate that within the ED system itself.

I changed reversals back to a -5% offset to help do so.

I broke out the court cards into four levels of interaction: as Significators, Pages yield to all other courts; Knights top Pages; Queens beat both of them; and Kings win over all the rest; cards of the same level cancel one another out. (Kind of the way it works in most card games.) In this approach, an older, more experienced Significator - a King or Queen - stands a better chance of having a say in the matter over a Knight or Page, which is a reasonable approximation of the way life often plays out. Only one score adjustment is taken for each "win or lose" instance, not one for each level of difference between the Significator and a court Challenge card.

Taking this in large bites as "best case/worst case" projections, Elemental Dignities can add or subtract 25% to the overall "Yes" quotient; rank can add or subtract 25%; and reversal can subtract up to 25%, with 0% adjustment as the best case. The "special case" cards among the trumps and pips will have a more measured and infrequent effect, but can add or subtract 25% or 15%, respectively, if they all appear in a spread. Seeing all 25 possible two-card combinations line up positively across these five variable is probably an irrational expectation.

I also added a Trump Card Elemental Assignment list.