Sin 4: Four-card arrangements.

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Three-card arrangements are fast and dirty, but the downside is that they don't have a whole lot of meat on their bones. You'll often want more detail, and that's when you expand with a four-card arrangement. Here are my favorites.

Johari Window

The Johari Window is part of a team-building exercise used in the corporate business world. It was created in 1955 by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, and the title “Johari” was amalgamated from their first names (Joe + Harri.) The Johari window looks at known and unknown points of view among at least two people. Consider the following panes of the Johari window:
  • HIDDEN: Known only to the subject.
  • OPEN: Known to everybody.
  • BLIND: Known only to others.
  • UNKNOWN: Unknown to everybody.
See how this works? We're exploring varying degrees of visibility and secrecy. I use the Johari window for most relationship questions not just because it’s good at stimulating the sitter into conversation, but also because it’s useful for revealing infidelity. The important thing to remember about the Johari window is that it only works when paired with an anchor card for the subject of the question. You can pair the Johari window with any of the previous arrangements—they’re all made to fit—but it works fine on its own, too. 

tarot spread johari window


Subject (Discipline) + Hidden (4 of Diamonds)
The subject, John, is represented by the anchor card, Discipline. The subject's hidden secret which none others see is represented by the reference card, the 4 of Diamonds. John's synthetic trump, Discipline, stands hand in hand with the mutable 4 of Diamonds. In this combination, John's Discipline shows him choosing to remain steadfast in his lifestyle decisions owing to his refusal to admit error in his ways. He won't let others see that he doubts his commitments, but inwardly he struggles to decide whether he's made a worthwhile decision and if she should stay the course. 

Subject (Discipline) + Unknown (Jack of Diamonds)
The subject, John, is represented by the anchor card, Discipline. That which is fully unknown to both the subject and to everybody else is represented by the reference card, the Jack of Diamonds which expresses the 2 of Diamonds in a fixed aspect. In this combination, John doesn't realize that despite the other doubts and criticisms he hides from others to protect his facade, there are strong reasons for him to value both his commitments and the people to whom he made them. John is who he is because of the life that he leads, and he shouldn't discount the positive qualities he's gained as a result.

SWOT analysis

Like the Johari window, a SWOT analysis is lifted straight out of the starchy confines of the corporate business world. The acronym SWOT represents strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I think it’s useful as an arrangement of Tarot cards because it wastes no time on past lives or karmic debt and instead focuses on immediate reality. Like a Johari Window, a SWOT analysis isn't a reading in itself and must be combined with an anchor card. 

tarot spread swot analysis


Subject (5 of Spades) + Weaknesses (3 of Hearts)
Jane is our subject represented by the anchor, the fixed 5 of Spades. Jane's weaknesses represented by the mutable 3 of Hearts are the reference card. In this configuration, the 5 of Spades antagonizes the 3 of Hearts. Here, Jane's weakness is that she nurtures a grudge against the people who gossip in the shadows and leave her out of the mix. She wants to give people what she thinks they've got coming, and this weakness for punishment blended with her own desire for like-minded company keeps her distracted and pulls her momentum into unproductive directions.

Subject (5 of Spades) + Opportunities (8 of Hearts)
Jane is our subject represented by the anchor, the fixed 5 of Spades. Jane's opportunities are represented by the reference card, the mutable 8 of Hearts. In this configuration, Jane sustains and reaches out to control a self-respecting world-view in which she's free to be herself in the greater world around her without falling down into the muddy trenches of her conflicted weaknesses. Jane deserves better, so how can she successfully build on her desire for getting what she deserves while also nurturing a broader view that looks beyond petty disputes? 

Get it? SWOT describes a person, situation, or thing, so you must include a separate card for said person, situation, or thing. One of the reasons that I really like the SWOT analysis is because it pairs well with the Johari window and creates lots of room for further exploration. If you choose to lay a SWOT analysis alongside a Johari window, you can share the same anchor card between them. Or, mix and match with previously introduced arrangements for even more fun:

Needs, Habits, Desires
Present, Near Future, Distant Future
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Open, Hidden, Blind, Unknown

As you can see, cards proliferate quickly depending on how many layers you add to this onion. A good rule of thumb worth remembering is that in a face-to-face performance you'll spend about 60 seconds per card on the table, so the 14-card arrangement I illustrated above is already about 15 minutes long (and will be closer to 20 when you include the time the sitter spends participating in the deception.