Monday, July 31, 2017

Jodorowsky's Three Card Theosophic Sum Spread

I first came across this spread in 2009 on Mary Greer's blog. You can find her post about it HERE It is an interesting spread using only Majors and for those of you who have never seen it, I thought I would share it here. 

It's called a Three Card Sum because from the first three cards you lay you then expand the reading with another 4 cards. This gives you a total of 7 cards in the spread.  How you extend it is by adding the numbers of the first three cards and reduce any over the number 23 to a single digit.

I've never asked a question using this spread but I have found it to be particularly revealing about something in one's life.  You can if you like ask a question either is suitable.

How do you go about getting four more cards from adding up the previous three? It's easy really, you read the  first  three cards number values straight across. So add up 123 and if over 23 reduce to a single digit. Then place this card under card no. 2  in the first line. - That card is marked as card no. 1 in the spread. If you get a card that is already in the spread then you just read that card in both positions. Next add up the number value of 1 + 3 and place the resulting card no. 2 above 2 in the first line.  Leave a gap for two more cards beneath it. Add up 1 +2 and place this card 3 directly  above1 & 2 in the first line and lastly add up 2+3 and place this card no. 4 above 2 & 3 in the first line.

Your spread then should look something like this:

Apparently in the information that Mary gives in her original post, she informs us that from the two examples in Jodorowsky's book he doesn't read the first three cards but just the four that result from the sum of the first three.

When I have done this spread I do read the first three as they shed light either on the situation or a bit like the Celtic Cross's first card, they can show what is important to the seeker at that moment.

All the other four cards do have positional definitions and they are:

The sum of 123 shown as the lower positioned Card 1  - Underlying aspects, - what may contribute to the situation.

1+3 - Card 2  Exterior aspects - meaning outside influences.

1+2 -  Card 3 Receptive or maternal influences - Feminine, inner feelings maybe, or what you are open to with regards to the situation.

2+3 - Card 4 Active - paternal influence - I read this to mean masculine, action 

I tend to see 3 and 4 as the inner thoughts and the outer action.

Now to do a demo reading for you using Tarot Lo Scarabeo (by Mark McElroy - Artwork by Anna Lazzarini - Published by Lo Scarabeo)

First three cards: Justice - Hierophant - Hanged Man

As I look at these three cards I'm drawn to the Hierophant first. Ruling out any religious meanings, seems to me to be representing learning, gaining a knowledge. He seems to be suggesting that I am focused on solving a problem. Justice by his side indicates that I need to approach this problem in a rational way if I am to find a solution. The Hanged Man says take a step back from it and try seeing it from a different perspective. In order to solve my problem I need to be willing to adapt to something new.

Putting these together what they tell me is that in order to solve my current problem I need to approach it in a rational and balanced way. Perhaps looking at it from a different perspective will help me solve it.

I know what this reading is all about, it's about me trying to get to grips with GIMP graphics programme, and having never used one before I find it all overwhelming.  Lets see what the other cards have to say.

Now we add up each of these cards we have 11 + 5 + 12 = 28 - 2+8 = 10

My next card is the Wheel of Fortune  and that has the PD of Underlying aspects, - what may contribute to the situation.  Card 1

Well, we all know the wheel goes up and then down, but this has nothing to do with fortune in this particular position. However, it does refer to the ebb and flow of my emotions, from wanting to learn to saying ah forget it. While I continue to have these back and forth, or up and down feelings, they then contribute towards me getting no where. The best way for me to turn this around so that it can contribute to me finding a solution to my learning problem, is to try and stay balanced in the middle of the wheel rather that ride the outer edge.

Now for the next sum and card. 1 + 3  in first line  -  11 +12 = 23 - 2+3 + 5 Hierophant  Card 2 - This card is already in the first three so we now read it also in the new position. Just so you can see how the cards fit together I'm using the Hierophant from the Rider Waite Deck ( published by U.S.Games Systems Inc.) in this new position of Exterior aspects of the question.

Here we are again with the question of knowledge or lack of it. What this card suggests is that I need someone or something to help show me the way. What this  seems to be saying is that there are resources that I can tap into. The word Hierophant means "interpreter of sacred mysteries." ( Well, GIMP is certainly a mystery to me! The Hierophant tells me that there are ways to educate myself and to search for those resources that can help me.

Next Sum and Card. 1+2 in first line  gives you card 3  -11+5 = 16 The Tower Receptive or maternal influences. I like to think of this as meaning inner feelings.

I can understand what the Tower is doing here in my inner feelings position. why do I want to learn GIMP?  So that I can move forward with my card designing and maybe sell on line.  But the Tower shows that my inner feelings are, and it's true, that I don't like sudden changes or even creating a disruption to my normal routine.  But it also reminds me that  I need to examine this feeling to recognise that it is outdated, toss it out and rebuild my thoughts in a more positive way. 

Last sum and card: 2 +3 in first line results in Card No. 4  - 5 + 12 = 17 The Star - Active or paternal influences.  - here is my action card. 

The Star, what a hopeful card to have got. It shows that even though I have doubts, I also have faith in my ability. It suggests that I will overcome my doubts and fears about this new project of mine and attack it with a positive point of view. It's a card that represents renewal, and brings with it insight into the future from a positive point of view. It tells me that my actions will be one of believing in myself - go to it girl!

Well, I never expected this reading to pick up on my GIMP problem, although it has been on my mind lately. Part of me does what to develop my designing skills while the other half says why rock the boat?

In Summary this reading tells me that I have had this problem on my mind, and perhaps I should look at it with a new perspective. It reminds me that there are lots of resources out in the world that can help me gain the knowledge I seek.
It notes that I don't like change, especially when it comes quickly but it also says that I will have a renewed faith in my abilities to see this through. 

So now I fully understand what this reading is about, I think I will add up all the cards to find one last card with a bit of advice. 

11+5+12+5+10+16+17 = 76 - 7+6 =13 -  Death

Well, there's a great message of basically out with the old and in with the new. It tells me to recognise that in order to transform something you have to let the older version go. 

OK I've got the message loud and clear.

I hope you've enjoyed this demo of Jodorowsky's Three Card Theosophic Sum Spread.  If you have time, do read Mary's post, she gives some interesting background on the man himself.  If you do try the spread please come back and let me know how it went and what you thought of it.

Happy Tarot Reading! 

Credits For Cards:

Tarot Lo Scarabeo by Mark McElroy - Artwork by Anna Lazzarini - Published by Lo Scarabeo

Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot
Published by U.S. Games Systems Inc.


  1. This is a fascinating spread, and I love what you did with it and your interpretation of your cards. I must try it soon!

    1. I've always found it fascinating too and if you don't ask a question how it picks up on what is important to you at that moment in time. Glad you liked it.


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