Below is a chart of the layout of The Rings. Along the top and left side are numbered axes to assist in the placement of the cards. Each of the rest of the colored boxes represents a card, with the numbers in the boxes representing the order in which the cards are placed. Each of those numbers links to a latter part of this document in order to describe the meaning of that position. This layout takes about three feet by five feet of space and takes a good deal of time, about two to five hours.
The Rings is a full-deck layout for cartomancy or more contemporary idea framework tarot readings. Cartomancy provides the Querent with an idea of things to come in general or in response to a specific question, whereas idea-framework readings provide the Querent with a randomized "framework" of a view on the issue at hand, offering a different viewpoint provided by the randomization of the cards. Both methods may be carried out by an Operator, someone other than the Querent with a knowledge of the cards, or they may be carried out by the Querent as an Operator themselves. The basis of this layout in particular is to look at how both ordered, internal or controlled influences, as well as chaotic or external influences affect the nucleus, or heart of the matter. The reason for the rings will become clear later on, when influence is discussed. In working between the different rings (in cartomancy, they may be read, right to left, as past, present, and future), there are transition cards that provide a relationship between the rings. Below the rings are cards representing the Querent or the issue at hand itself. These cards, read first, provide the basis for a point of view when reading the rings. The last card placed, at the extreme rigth, may be considered a transition into life after the resolution, or looking to the future in cartomancy.
As was said before, the first cards to be read are those representing the Self - whether the self represents the Querent or the Issue depends on how the cards are read, as well as how they're interpreted by the Querent. They are meant to be read in groups of three all at once to give a detailed picture of that 'self' for each of the rings above it; the three cards are taken as a single entity. The transitory cards placed between and slightly above them give more information to the Querent and Operator about the movement of time or the complexity of the situation, also adding to the aspect of dignifying (though, in this area, the way the three point-of-view cards dignify each other should be honored above the way the transition cards affect the situation).
Next are the Rings, which are meant to be read from inside out, left to right (Past - Present - Future). The rings are divided into sub-rings and regions, with the elemental disposition carrying its effects through and across these sub-rings and regions. Working from the outside inwards, the rings are divided into the concentric rings of chaotic aspects, ordered aspects, with the nucleus of the matter at hand in the center. With this setup, not only must the cards in the cardinal directions be considered for elemental dispositions, but the cards within the same region as well, though they may be diagonal to the card in question.
To put things a little more clearly, chaotic aspects are those that influence the Issue from the outside - they are uncontrollable events, characters, and environments. Ordered aspects, on the other hand, are those that are under control, however partial, of the Querent or issue - they may also be events, characters, and environments, except that they may be held in sway, closer to home. At the center of all this, of course, is the heart of the matter - the nucleus provides a view of what the issue may really be at the Root, the Reaction, and the Resolution. Between each of the rings, the transitory cards do just as they say - provide a transition between each of the rings. The extreme rightmost and leftmost cards are transitory in a sense, but they offer a transition into and out of the issue; the rightmost card in particular offers an outlook, not only on the future, but on the resolution of the issue, as well as the issue as a whole, acting as a summary.
What follows is a brief description of each of the positions that one of the cards may occupy. The numbers of the cards in the above chart are links that may be followed in order to jump to the description of that card and what special sway it might have over the issue at hand in the tense of that ring.
The Self cards are used to refer to, in this case, both the bottom three cards of the spread as well as the two transitory cards above.
The self cards are, as stated before, taken as a single entity and read as one grouping of cards. They are placed as they are, three beneath each ring, because the meaning they hold is in line with the tense of the ring they're below. in other words, working from past to future from left to right. The meaning of the three cards in each group is condensed into an idea and taken in that condext.
H3, H4, H5, H9, H10, H11, H15, H16, H17
The transitory cards between the self cards provide not only some connection in the time scale, but also help with the dignifying of the self cards. In addition, they may be used to connect each of the self cards to the rings above it and next to it. They aren't well or ill dignified, but take on a generic meaning, as opposed to those transitory cards between the rings, which are affected by the cards around them.
Nucleus cards are meant to be read Center - Left - Right and taken as a whole. There is no difference amonst the ring tenses when it comes to reading the nucleus, other than it should be taken into account when interpreting the heart of the issue.
The central nucleic card is the center of all - the nucleus of the nucleus. Here is the heart of the heart of the issue, which, when represented by a face card or a trump could represent a primary player in the matter. A minor arcana card might represent a prevalent force or influence involved.
D4, D10, D16
The two cards surrounding the central card of each ring are also foci of the issue itself, though they may be weaker than that represented by the central card. Court cards or trumps may be other characters involved, close to the central character, but acting to a lesser extent, not quite in the realm of order.
D3, D5, D9, D11, D15, D17
The order cards lie close to the nucleic cards due to thei influence they exert over them being particularly strong. However, their number is limited, being less than the chaotic influences of the next ring out. The order cards are divided into two groups, strong (those directly adjacent to a nucleic card) and weak (the top and bottom cards which are not adjacent to a nucleic card).
Strong order cards are distinguished by their proximity to the heart of the issue, providing more influence than the North and South cardinal cards, also known as the weak cards. As a result, whether they make the nucleic cards well or ill dignified does not depend on their own dignification from chaotic and transitional cards around them, though that will affect their own disposition.
C3, C5, C9, C11, C15, C17, D2, D6, D8, D12, D14, D18, E3, E5, E9, E11, E15, E17
The remaining four order cards are considered weak because of their distance from the nucleic cards. This is shown by the fact that whether they are well or ill dignified towards the nucleic cards is not dependent upon suit, but rather on whether they are well or ill dignified by the chaotic cards that surround them (as in a sort of "fair-weather friend" way). As a result, these cards signify characters or forces that are only loosely under sway of the Issue, being more in the realm of chaos.
B4, B10, B16, F4, F10, F16
Just as the number of uncontrollable things in our lives outnumbers the things we have influence over, there are more chaotic cards than any others in the spread. This region of cards is divided into two different sets: the overt chaotic cards provide a more visible influence on the Issue, while the subtle chaotic cards may change things in ways that might not seem obvious at first. The overt chaotic cards are those to the North of the nucleus while the subtle cards are to the South.
Overt chaotic cards make their presence known in the reading by their visibility in the Issue, showing themselves readily and influencing both the heart of the issue, as well as the ordered part. They are read in a standard way, influenced as they are by other chaotic cards as well as the order cards, both strong and weak.
A4, A10, A16, B3, B5, B9, B11, B15, B17, C2 C6, C8, C12, C14, C18
The second half of the chaotic cards represents the unseen forces at work with the Issue. Though they may be harder to see, there's no reason that they should be any weaker than the overt cards. This subtlety is shown by the fact that they do not dignify the stronger ordered cards in any way, only the weaker card that they surround on three sides.
E2, E6, E8, E12, E14, E18, F3, F5, F9, F11, F15, F17, G4, G10, G16
The transition cards provide a sense of time in the reading, particularly poignant when the cards are read for cartomancy. They still fit in the idea-framework model, though more as an indication as to how time affects issues when they change. The left-most transition card is read in a general sort of way without any disposition, whereas all of the rest of the cards work only from left to right. That is, their disposition is affected by cards only to the left of the, and they only dignify cards to the right of the, just as time passes from past to future. The cards may provide an overall mood for the cards that follow in the next ring.
D1, D7, D13
The final card provides a succinct glimpse into the future for those using cartomantic methods, whereas with the idea-framework model, it provides a look at how the impending weight of time-to-come can change the feeling of the Resolution. This card does not dignify the cards near it at all, simply providing an impression of the future.
Episkopos Gaius Vulpius Ranna
The Ranna I Qabal
Original: 2 Cfn 3172 | 5/28/06
Revised: 10 Bcy 3174 | 8/15/08