Different Spreads in Tarot

The different spreads in tarot.
The different spreads in tarot.

Once you have learned the meanings of your Tarot deck, you can parlay that knowledge into learning different spreads in Tarot.

Learning to Read Different Spreads in Tarot

One thing about tarot is assured: you'll never get bored with it. Every reading is unique, and the different spreads in tarot always offer a fresh perspective.

Beginner's Tarot Card Spreads

When you're first learning tarot, there are two basic spreads that are the easiest to use for practice, although you'll still return to them even after you learn other spreads.

  • Celtic Cross: This simple ten card spread is laid out in a cross-like pattern with the last five cards laid vertically to the right of the cross. You'll find the pattern for this spread in our article on Basic Tarot for Beginners.
  • Three Card Spread: This spread is most effective when asking simple yes or no questions. The three cards represent your past present and future and are laid out from left to right.

The Five Card Spread

This spread is useful when someone is searching for direction or wondering what they should do about a particular situation.

Layout

  • Top row: Card 3
  • Middle row: Cards one, five and two
  • Bottom row: Card four

Align each row at the left.

Meanings

  • Card one: Represents the general theme of the reading
  • Card two: Represents a relevant past issue
  • Card three: Represents the future
  • Card four: Represents why the person is asking for help
  • Card five: Represents the hidden potential of the situation

The Ellipse Spread

The Ellipse spread is best used when the person receiving the reading is searching for answers to specific questions.

Layout and Meanings

There are a total of seven cards laid in a wide V pattern.

  • Card one: Represents the past, and is laid on the left side to begin the layout
  • Card two: Represents the present, and is laid slightly lower and to the right of card one
  • Card three: Represents the future, and is laid slightly lower and to the right of card number two
  • Card four: Represents what to do, and is the lowest center card of the V
  • Card five: Represents external factors affecting the situation, and is laid slightly higher and to the right of card four
  • Card six: Represents fears and hopes, and is laid slightly higher and to the right of card five
  • Card seven: Represents the final result or outcome of the current situation, and is laid slightly higher and to the right of the card six

The Mirror Spread

This spread is used when someone is searching for answers about their romantic relationship.

Layout

A total of eight cards are used:

  • The first card is laid at the top, in front of the person receiving the reading.
    • Card two is laid underneath and to the left of card one.
    • Card three is laid to the right of card two. This sets up a triangle, and you'll build two columns in descending order from cards two and three.
  • Beneath card two, you will lay your fourth a sixth cards drawn from the deck.
  • Beneath card three, you will lay your fifth and seventh cards drawn.
    • The eight and final card is laid at the bottom of the columns in a position similar to card one, only this time it's in front of the person giving the reading.

Meanings

  • Card one: Represents the person receiving the reading
  • Card two: Represents how the person receiving the reading views his or her partner
  • Card three: Represents how the person receiving the reading perceives him/her self
  • Card four: Represents what the person's partner means to them
  • Card five: Represents what the person means to his or her partner
  • Card six: Represents problems and difficulties in the relationship
  • Card seven: Represents the strong points of the relationship
  • Card eight: Represents what will potentially happen within the relationship

The Mandala Spread

This spread is used when the person receiving the reading is looking to growth emotionally and spiritually.

The Layout

A total of nine cards are used in this diamond layout. You'll want to lay your cards out in order, but you should wind up with the following pattern:

  • Top row: Card nine centered
  • Second row from the top: Cards eight and two, building a triangle with nine
  • Third row from the top: Cards seven, one and three to make a pyramid.
  • Fourth row down: Cards six and four
  • Fifth and final row: Card five

Meanings

  • Card one: Represents a general view as to how the person sees him or herself
  • Card two: Represents the person's life goals
  • Card three: Represents the person's dreams in life
  • Card four: Represents the things the person has accomplished so far in life
  • Card five: Represents things the person is dependant on in his or her life, as well as negative traits and beliefs
  • Card six: Represents the person's positive personality traits and the strengths he or she possesses
  • Card seven: Represents the person's downfalls and weaknesses
  • Card eight: Focuses on the person's specific self perceptions
  • Card nine: Represents the person's wants and desires in his or her life

Patience Is a Virtue

It takes time to become adept at learning and interpreting different spreads in tarot, so be patient. Once you've mastered some of the simpler spread listed above, you can move on to more involved tarot layouts.

Different Spreads in Tarot