Four Card Spreads

by Nov 29, 20130 comments

Four Card Tarot Spreads

Reading a four card spread is very different to the three card spread. All four cards will relate to each other using Elemental Dignities, but there are a greater number of associations made, such as the four directions, four elements, etc.

Reading four Tarot cards gives us several methods of analysis using elemental dignity techniques. A basic Four Card Spread will look like this:

  • M
  • P
  • P
  • P

Deal the cards from right to left because of the fundamental kabbalistic attributions to YHVH, which is the way Hebrew is read, and we can add the elements:






The elemental attribution of the card will be strengthened or weakened by the elemental basis of the place using the usual Elemental Dignity rules. We can also ascribe general attributions to the positions (taken from the Opening of the Key Spread):



Money, good, practical matters


Trouble, loss, scandal, quarrelling


Love, marriage, pleasure


Work, business, etc

Alternatively, we can use questions about an element.

Egyptian Gods and the four elements

The permutations of four positions have been classified by the Golden Dawn into fifteen categories and given names and descriptions taken from the Egyptian Gods. You may find that this gives background information to the reading.

Version Two

The Four Card Tarot Spread is a sequence of four cards that is interpreted using elemental dignities to read the cards in groups of three.

Deal the cards out as in Version One. In this variation, the individual positions do not have elemental attributions, but we read the cards in groups of three (see Three Card Spread if you are unsure how to do this):








As you can see, the middle positions will have two characteristics depending on whether they are Modifiers or Principles according to the rules of Elemental Dignities. Of course, 1 and 4 remain as Modifiers, and it is quite possible one of them will remain stronger than the Principals.

This method is a great way of exploring the dynamics of Elemental Dignities within a Spread, particularly if the cards are progressively transposed.


Advanced Techniques

As in earlier spreads, the Reader can assign an elemental base according to the nature of the question:

With this method, it is helpful to analyse the four cards using Elemental Dignities before adding the elemental base, as the dynamics can make a strong card weak, and vice versa. There are many subtleties in reading this spread. As an exercise, it is worthwhile reading the same group of cards onĀ  the four elements in turn to see the difference in interpretation.


The Four Directions in tarot

The Four Card Tarot Spread can be arranged to represent the four cardinal directions. Each direction has an elemental attribution which can be used as the basis for elemental dignities.


North – Air

South – Earth

East = Fire

West – Water

The Elemental attributions are my preference – you may use other attributions.

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