The Golden Dawn Spread
Please note that I call this spread the Golden Dawn spread because that’s how I learned it, but it comes in the little white book of the Thoth Tarot, so it might be better called the Thoth Tarot spread or something. Whether anyone in the Golden Dawn used it or not, I don’t know. Unlike the complex Opening of the Key, which requires a whole ritual that may or may not actually result in a tarot spread, this is just a tarot spread pattern. While I am happy to put up with the complicated mess that can be the Opening of the Key, I don’t have time for that when reading for a client, and I’m sure most querents don’t either.
What I’m calling the Golden Dawn spread comprises five triads of cards: each represents a different aspect of the reading, and each has a central main card that is influenced by its neighboring cards. For me, these neighboring influences are primarily opportunities for a mechanical effect (“dignity”) based on the cards’ element(s), either enhancing the importance and power of the card’s message or diminishing it (or in the case of court cards, altering it). However, I also consider the specifics of those neighboring cards, even though they’re not the main card to be interpreted. After all, they’re still there, so I’m going to consider what specifics they can bring to the table beyond just their element. Sometimes it is just a visual clue to understanding the main card, but it can be more involved; for me, it’s based on intuition. There are other “rules",” such as the role that the different court cards play, but I actually don’t normally use those. If that message is really relevant, then I’ll find it other ways.
The order for dealing the cards and the spread itself spiral outwards, so it begins with the central triad, which represents the querent and their present situation. The next triad is the current trajectory of events in the top right, followed by the third triad in the top left. This third triad can represent one of two things, either the development of the situation in the second triad or an alternative path. A lot of readers can easily determine when the third triad should be read as a continued development rather than an alternative, but I have often found it hard to do so, so I typically set the intention while shuffling. The fourth triad is in the bottom left, and that represents internal factors, such as psychological pre-dispositions, while the final triad, the bottom right, represents external factors, such as karmic influences or other events outside of the querent’s control.
All together, the spread provides a big-picture view of a topic with a lot of potential for specifics. In theory you could use this for a completely general reading since it will home in on one area. If you want to see an example of how I read the spread for a specific person’s career outlook, see “Sample Reading: The Golden Dawn Spread.”