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To: alt.tarot
From: (Paul Hume)
Subject: Re: Dignities?
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 03:18:36 GMT

T -
Dignities were used in (introduced by) the Golden Dawn in its system of
Tarot divination.
Cards are read in threes - the central card is interpreted in the light of the
two cards on either side of it.
Well aspected cards intensify their standard meaning. Ill aspected cards weaken
or reverse it.
The system is used instead of reversals, and I must note that I use it
for preference and have for years - it works far better than reversal
in my experience.
It also avoids asinine arguments like the one I notice raging about the
direction of the pentagram on the Devil card (black magick my aching hoof).
Minor arcana are dignified based on suit. Wands and Cups are opposed, as
are Swords and Disks. Thus, a central Wand flanked by one Cup is somewhat ill
dignified, and flanked by two is not well dignified at all.
Similarly for a Pentacle flanked by one or two Swords.
Trumps derive their elemental (suit) qualities from their assignment to the
Zodiac, the Elements, or the Planets/Sephiroth.
Fool = Air
Magus = Mercury = Hod = Water
High Priestess = Moon = Yesod = Air
Empress = Venus = Netzach = Fire
Star = Aquarius = Air
Hierophant = Taurus = Earth
Lovers = Gemini = Air
Chariot = Cancer = Water
Hermit = Virgo = Earth
Wheel = Jupiter = Chesed = Water
Justice/Adjustment = Libra = Air
Hanged Man = Water
Death = Scorpio = Water
Temperance/Art = Sagittarius = Fire
Devil = Capricorn = Earth
Tower = Mars = Geburah = Fire
Emperor = Aries = Fire
Moon = Pisces = Water
Sun = Sun = Tiphareth = Air
Judgement/Aeon = Fire
Universe = Earth (this one is tricky, but reads as Earth mostly)
So, a Fire Trump, say Art, flanked by two Cups would be ill dignified.
Flanked by two Wands, very well dignified.
But apart from this card counting (a la bridge or blackjack) the flanking
cards indicate the nature of the meaning.
Art flanked by 3 Wands and 8 Wands might indicate masterful and decisive
combination of opposing factors to produce a stable solution. Whereas
flanked by 5 Wands and 7 Wands, a more strenuous situation, probably
successful but not without some conflict which must be faced head-on.
The rule of thumb: Fire is ill-dignified by Watery cards, Air by
Earthy cards, and vice-versa.
Details on the system can be found in:
The Golden Dawn (I. Regardie)
Tarot Divination (A. Crowley)
The Book of Thoth (A. Crowley)
Qabalistic Tarot (R. Wang)
And probably some others - but those are the ones I can think of off the
top of my head.
The system works just fine in any spread - instead of using reversal, one
simply deals three cards into each position. A Celtic Cross using this
technique is described in detail (as is the system itself, come to thinkl of
it) in the Ciceros' book, New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot.
Hope this answers your question.

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