Elemental Dignities: An Introduction

In Learn Tarot, Tarot Tipsby David Harvey5 Comments

Introduction to Elemental Dignities

I really like to explore different ways of reading tarot and elemental dignities is a very interesting technique.  My advice is that you look at all these different techniques as layers of tarot reading.  You don’t need to use all of them to do a great tarot reading, but they can take you a bit deeper.

Elemental dignities is a little bit controversial.  I’ve met some tarot readers who swear by it and others who won’t even go near it.

What is Elemental Dignities?

You might be a complete newbie to elemental dignities but that’s fine.  I’m going to break it down and give you the basics in this post, along with a handy little cheat sheet to take away with you.

Each suit in the tarot deck is associated with an element, as follows:

Wands = Fire

Swords = Air

Pentacles = Earth

Cups = Water

We use elemental dignities when looking at a pair of cards, or sometimes more cards.

You will find that some of these elements support each other while some combinations weaken each other.

Confused?  Let me show you the combinations.

Which Cards Support/Weaken Each Other?

The guide that you should follow is like this:

Same Suit/Element = Strengthen Each Other
Wands (Fire) + Swords (Air) = Active – Support Each Other
Cups (Water) + Pentacles (Earth) = Passive = Support Each Other
Wands (Fire) + Cups (Water) = Weaken Each Other
Swords (Air) + Pentacles (Earth) = Weaken Each Other
Wands (Fire) + Pentacles (Earth) = Neutral
Swords (Air) + Cups (Water) = Neutral

Take a minute to look at this and think about it and it will start to make sense.

Think about Fire and Air – if these 2 are combined we get a very active and aggressive fire happening.  What would happen if you mixed Fire and Water?  You would get a big pile of steam and the fire would go out.

When to use Elemental Dignities

This method can be used in a wide variety of ways.  Maybe you just want to draw 2 cards to represent the different people in a relationship?

I like to use this method when doing the horseshoe spread.  At the end of the reading I always like to look at the cards that are opposite each other to see if I can get a bit more insight into the reading.

If you were doing the Celtic Cross maybe you would look at the Past and Future to see if they are aligned or perhaps you would look at the root of the issue and compare this to the potential card.


Let’s look at a few examples to see this in action….

Elemental Dignities

Here we have 2 cards that I have drawn to represent the 2 people in a relationship:

You will see that we have the 9 of Swords and the King of Cups. This would represent Air and Water which is actually neutral.  If you were to look at these 2 cards without using the elements you would gather that the King of Cups could actually balance the 9 of Swords.  This would show somebody who is highly emotional and anxious along with somebody who is very calm and a great listener.

What’s interesting about this combination is that these 2 people could be a great match, given that they balance each other out.  But the pairing is neutral.  Remember that neutral is not necessarily bad.  For instance.  If we had another Sword card along with the 9 of Swords you would find that they strengthen each other.  That’s not ideal as the stress and anxiety could be fed into by the other person.

Let’s look at another:

Elemental Dignities

Here we have the 10 of Swords and the 8 of Wands.  Ohhhh, what a combination.  Fire and air definitely support each other and I see big change happening here.

The 10 of Swords is ready for a change and perhaps ready to end a relationship.  The 8 of Wands character could be ready to swoop in and sweep the other person off their feet.  I see things happening very quickly once the first person really lets go of the past.

3 Card Reading

For my newsletter subscribers, I do a reading for the week every week.  It’s usually a 3 card spread and I will usually do something along the lines of:

What I need to do

What I need to know


Elemental Dignities

Here we have the 6 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles and Knight of Swords

The first 2 Pentacle cards are strengthening each other.  It’s showing me that we need to learn some serious lessons about money.  Perhaps we evening need to see professional advice from a financial planner or career advisor (King of Pentacles).

This is all going swimmingly and it looks like we are on the right track.  However, that Knight of Swords has mounted his horse and is ready to ruin the party!  Swords (air) and Pentacles (earth) weaken each other.

This could just be saying that the results will take a bit longer than you hoped for.  It could be that once you get serious about your finances you realise that you are a bit worse off than you hoped.  Maybe it’s going to take a little while to balance the books.  Perhaps you didn’t get the news or results that you wanted.

It’s not that you would necessarily change direction but at least you are armed with the knowledge that there is some opposition ahead of you.

So there you have it.  That’s Elemental Dignities 101!

As promised I have a free cheat sheet for you to download.  You can do that by clicking below:

Elemental Dignities Cheat Sheet


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