The tarot is an art form that respects tradition yet constantly keeps evolving. Tarot spreads can be beautiful, complex, simple, and honest all at the same time. For the novice, learning how to spread and interpret the cards can be aided in their placement in a particular situation. For intermediate, advanced, and professional readers, spreads can be opportunities to connect to the questioner and the divine in a unique way.
For brevity’s sake, I am placing tarot spreads in two basic categories: traditional and intuitive. Tradition spreads are common among the tarot community. Intuitive spreads are completely unique to the reader.
Celtic Cross: This is by far the most popular spread for professional and novice readers alike. Below is the basic layout:
The reason it is so popular is that it covers all of the elements around a question or issue. Now, not all readers read this spread the same way. I have a friend who prefers to read card 5 as the Near Future and card 6 as the Recent Past. So feel free to tweek the way you interpret this spread in whatever way you please.
Three Card Spreads: Consider how many concepts in life comes in threes: past/present/future, maiden/mother/crone, mind/body/spirit, etc. So there are several spreads designed around this concept:
These are just a few examples of three card spreads. I’ve had readers give me three card readings in many trio concepts. The point is to determine the three most dominant elements of a situation in a simple and easy manner.
Astrological Spreads: The formulation of these spreads comes from the modern zodiac.
Basically, you pull one card for every astrological house. It’s a popular methodology for individuals who have a good understanding of astrology. Also this spread works best with big picture questions (purpose, life path, etc.) as opposed to immediate questions (example: does that guy in my yoga class like me?).
These types of tarot spreads are channeled by the reader as the appropriate spread for the situation. From the outsider’s perspective, yes, it does seem like the reader is making shit up. In reality, the reader is tapping into the sacred on a deeper level to give wisdom to the seeker. Of course most readers tap into the sacred on some level to give every reading, but not all question require a specially created spread.
To show how this works, I did an intuitive spread about the future of Cauldron and Brew and how I could step up this blog’s game a little:
I lit a candle and as I shuffled cleared my mind and allowed the spread to come to me. What felt right for the situation was to put three cards for content, three cards for services, and three cards for success. And when I drew the cards I knew that the answer the cards were going to give me would be the best of all possible reads of the situation.
My one caveat to intuitive spreads is that not all readings require a brand new spread. I’ve known readers have fallen into the habit of needing to be innovative for every reading and therefore can only read when they are in a creative mood. That is extremely detrimental to the reader because the tarot, like any other skill, should be practiced often in order to become an advanced reader. Having a background in classic spreads, like the Celtic Cross, provides a foundation for creativity. Using my above example, I took a classical spread style and just tweeked and expanded it to fit the situation. I used my training in the old to create something new.
I encourage other active readers to share spreads and advice in the comments.
© Ariadne Woods