Sin 5: Five-card arrangements.

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As you learn to stitch small arrangements together into larger arrangements, you’ll be tempted to use larger arrangements as often as possible. I've been there and I've done that, so I understand that large arrangements give the impression of being more powerful than smaller arrangements—and to an extent, that's true—but remember that the complexity of a arrangement increases with the number of cards on the table. An excessively complex arrangement frequently results in a muddy, indistinct performance.

Laying down many cards at once requires you to take a bird's eye view of the tableau, identify broad patterns at a glance, and remember these deep currents as you start to dissect the smaller ripples. Small arrangements may lose complexity, but they gain precision. Remember this advice or suffer the consequences.

In terms of specific arrangements composed from five cards, I recommend only one:

The Five Keys

The Five Keys arrangement represents Work, Money, Family, Love, and Personal Life. See how elegant this is? Almost everything in a person's life can be reduced to these five areas. Like the Johari Window and the SWOT analysis, the Five Keys are only meaningful when read in context to an anchor card to represent the subject of the performance. 
tarot reading work money family love personal


Subject (Wheel) + Work (Queen of Clubs)
John is the subject and is portrayed by the anchor card, the fixed Wheel of Fortune. John's work, which isn’t the same as his money, is represented by the reference card, the Queen of Clubs. In this configuration, John's fixed Wheel of Fortune shares itself with the Queen of Clubs who expresses the 4 of Clubs in a fixed aspect. This combination reveals John as a happy, self-congratulatory person who feels secure in his niche employment. His skill-set is narrow and will need to be expanded someday, but today is not that day. John's evidently a specialist, and judging by the results it's been a good deal for him.

Subject (Wheel) + Personal Life (Magician)
John is the subject and is portrayed by the anchor card, the fixed Wheel of Fortune. John's personal life is represented by the reference card, the cardinal Magician. In this configuration, John's personal life reaches toward him and increases the selfishly optimistic qualities of the Wheel of Fortune. In this combination, the Magician shows John enjoying a personal Renaissance where pursuit of his pleasures is revealing one diversion after another, each more stimulating than the last. John's enjoying an infinite summer of wine and honey, and while the chill wind of autumn will sooner or later end his season in sun, for the time being he's making the most of what nature has given him


Another reason that I like the five keys is because they can be easily combined with any of the previous arrangements I’ve introduced. Consider the large arrangement I showed you at the end of the last chapter but just tack on the five keys and you’ve got an 18-card arrangement that can easily fill up a half-hour depending the amount of time you spend discussing the details and how often the sitter participates in the performance:

Needs, Habits, Desires

Present, Near Future, Distant Future
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Open, Hidden, Blind, Unknown
Work, Money, Family, Love, Personal

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