Tarot Spread Illustrations

Patricia Lantz C.Ht.
Tarot Card Spreads

There are many types of tarot decks to choose from, but once you've chosen a deck and have a good idea of each tarot card's meaning, you'll need to decide on a particular card arrangement or spread for the reading. The impact of each tarot card depends on the spread used and its placement in the spread. Different tarot spreads have different uses and using the best one for the question will help you seek out the best answer.

The Simple Three-Card Draw

This three-card spread is perfect for "yes or no" questions. It is also a great spread to use for daily readings.

Three Card Spread

Method

  1. Cut and shuffle the tarot cards.
  2. Place the top card of the bottom cut face down in the card 1 position.
  3. Place card 2 face down on the right.
  4. Place card 3 face down on the left.
  5. Turn the cards face up one at a time, starting with card 1.

Yes and No Reading

  • The querent ( the person asking the question or seeking advice) asks the question as the cards are shuffled, cut, and dealt.
  • Card 1 is the answer to his or her question. Turn the card over from the side.
  • If card 1 is upright, the answer is "yes." If it's reversed the answer is "no."
  • The next two cards give more information regarding the question and speak of why the querent received the answer they did.
  • Card 2 is on the right; it speaks of the querent's motivation for the question, why he or she felt a need to ask the question.
  • Card 3 is on the left; it speaks of future trends.

Daily Reading

For a daily reading, ask, "What do I need to know about today?" or "What do I need to know about myself today?"

  • Card 1 is the superconscious mind. You could say this card contains a message from above.
  • Card 2 is the querent's conscious mind. This card talks about what he or she consciously brings to the day.
  • Card 3 is the querent's subconscious mind. This card reveals both the positive and negative subconscious programming that will be in play.

The Hexagram Spread

The Hexagram spread uses six cards plus a significator. It's a flexible spread, which is used mostly for:

  • Specific questions
  • Daily readings
  • Snapshot of a situation
  • Advice
  • Guidance about an issue
The Hexagram Spread

Method

  1. Shuffle and cut the cards.
  2. Place the bottom cut on top.
  3. Deal the cards face up.
  4. The top card of the bottom cut is the significator; place it in the middle.
  5. Deal the next six cards clockwise beginning at the top with card 1.

The hexagram can be read as a six-pointed star with cards 1, 2, and 6 making a triangle pointing up, and cards 3, 4, and 5 making a triangle pointing down.

Interpretation

The significator says something important about the person asking the question or seeking guidance.

  • Cards 1, 2, and 6 form the triangle that points up. They work together as one set of forces in the situation. They reveal the "pros," or what works for that situation.
  • Cards 3, 4, and 5 form the triangle that points down. They work together as another set of forces in the situation and speak of the "cons," or what works against that situation.

The Major Arcana Quick Spread

This spread uses the major arcana cards and is only used for serious issues or an answer to a vital question. The major arcana consists of twenty-one numbered cards and one unnumbered card (the Fool).

The Major Arcana Spread

Method

  1. Separate the major arcana from the rest of the deck.
  2. Shuffle the major arcana and ask the querent to cut them into three piles.
  3. Turn the three piles face up and remove the top card from each pile and place them in a row from left to right.
  4. Repeat the procedure a second time. You will now have two rows of three cards in front of you.

Interpretation

  • The center cards in both rows, (2 and 5) are the important cards in this spread. They determine the outcome or answer the question.
  • Cards 1, 2, and 3 tell of events that will happen shortly.
  • Cards 4, 5, and 6 tell of events that will occur at a later time.
  • Card 4 denotes benefit and helpful influences.
  • Cards 5 and 6 denote an unexpected happening or an obstacle.

The Circular Spreads

A circular spread can be used to give a general forecast for the year or as a zodiac spread. There's so much information to be had from these spreads you'll need to take your time with both.

The Year Ahead Circular Spread

Each card in this spread focuses on an issue that will be especially important during each month of the coming year.

The Year Ahead Spread

Method

  1. Both the reader and the querent shuffle the deck; the reader shuffles the deck first and then the querent.
  2. Place the first card face up on the left-hand side, in the position of 9 o'clock on the clock face.
  3. Deal the rest of the cards face-up in a clockwise direction, with each card corresponding to one of the positions on the face of a clock.
  4. Once the circle is complete, place a 13th card in the middle.

Interpretation

  • Start with card 13; this card says something important about the year ahead.
  • Each of the other 12 cards represents a month in the coming year (card 1 is January, card 2 is February and so on).
  • The cards are read in a clockwise direction starting with the month in which the reading takes place.
  • All the cards are interpreted with their upright meanings, even if they are reversed.
  • Always keep card 13 in mind when interpreting the cards of the individual months.

The Zodiac Circular Spread

The zodiac spread places one card in each of the astrological houses. It's excellent for general readings or for answering questions about or giving guidance related to the specific areas of life represented by 12 the astrological houses.

The Zodiac Spread

Method

  1. Both the reader and the querent shuffle the deck; the reader shuffles the deck first and then the querent.
  2. Place the first card face-up on the left-hand side, in the position of 9 o'clock on the clock face.
  3. Deal the rest of the cards face-up in a counter clockwise direction.
  4. Once the circle is complete, place a 13th card in the middle.

Interpretation

  • In the zodiac spread, the 13th card says something important about the querent.
  • Each of the other 12 cards symbolizes matters related to the particular astrological house in which it's placed.
  • When reading the cards in the various houses, always interpret with the 13th card in mind.

The Celtic Cross Spread

The Celtic cross is probably the most commonly used spread. The entire deck is used, and it's most often used to give guidance on a particular issue. The cards can be read one by one, but the beauty of this spread is that it can tell a story from beginning to end.

Method

  1. Begin this reading by selecting a significator from the deck that is suitable for both the questioner and the question.
  2. Place this card face up on the table.
  3. Concentrate on the question as you shuffle the cards.
  4. Ask querent to cut the cards with his or her left hand.
  5. Place the cards face down, left to right and into three stacks.
  6. Pick up the three piles right to left, hold them face down in the palm, and begin laying out the spread.
  7. Place the first card on top of the significator.
  8. Lay the second card across the first.
  9. Place the third card beneath the significator.
  10. Put the fourth card on the left of the significator.
  11. Place the fifth card above the significator.
  12. Put the sixth on the right of the significator.
  13. Build a vertical line to the right of the cross with the four remaining cards, start from the bottom with the seventh card.

Interpretation

There are ten positions in the Celtic Cross spread.

  • Card 1 represents the present situation that surrounds the question.
  • Card 2 represents the influences or obstacles connected with the question.
  • Card 3 represents recent past influences that have affected the question.
  • Card 4 represents the past events that formed the basis of the question.
  • Card 5 represents the possible goal or outcome of the querent's present position.
  • Card 6 represents the immediate future influences connected with the question.
  • Card 7 represents the querent's fears.
  • Card 8 represents current opinions of the querent's family and friends.
  • Card 9 represents the querent's hopes and ideals.
  • Card 10 represents the final results or the answer to the querent's question.

Other Considerations

  • If there is a majority of major arcana in the Celtic Cross spread, powerful influences are at work in the querent's life. It suggests destiny may take a hand and put the result out of the querent's control.
  • If a court card of any suit covers the Significator in the 1st position, you must first read the rest of the cards and assess the entire situation before deciding whether this card represents someone other than the querent, or if an alternative meaning must be chosen.
  • If a court card appears in the 10th position, the outcome may be decided by a person of that age and coloring.
  • Remember that although there are ten positions in the Celtic Cross, each with individual meaning, the cards are linked and tell a story.
  • The interpretation of the 10th card should include all that has been divined from the other cards in the spread.
  • If the outcome is inconclusive, lay another Celtic Cross on top of the first using the 10th card as the Significator.

The Pyramid Spread

The 21-card pyramid spread is a traditional two-part spread that is used to answer specific questions. It involves laying out an upright pyramid of cards, followed by an inverted pyramid of cards.

The Upright Pyramid

The upright Pyramid gives an overview of the querent's situation.

The Pyramid Spread

Method

  1. Shuffle and cut the cards in the usual way.
  2. Deal all cards face-down.
  3. Deal the first eight cards in a row from left to right.
  4. Deal the next six cards right to the left and place them centrally above the first row.
  5. Continue until you have built an upright pyramid of the 21 cards.
  6. Turn over cards 7, 14, and 21 to obtain an overview of the spread.
  7. Turn over all the cards and interpret them for a general view of the querent's current situation.

Interpretation

  • The upright Pyramid gives an overview of the querent's situation.
  • The first part of the spread, the bottom row of eight cards, represents the past influences that relate to the situation.
  • Card 21 is the most important card and represents the influences that now dominate. This card affects the entire reading.

The Inverted Pyramid

The inverted Pyramid will give a more precise answer to the question being asked but should be interpreted in relation to the overview given by the upright pyramid.

Method

  1. Pick up the 21 cards of the upright pyramid, shuffle, and cut them.
  2. Put them back in the rest of the deck.
  3. Shuffle and cut the whole deck once again.
  4. Deal the first card face up.
  5. Put the second card to the left of it.
  6. Deal out the next three cards to create the tip of an inverted pyramid.
  7. Deal out the next two cards to complete the base of the pyramid.

Interpretation

  • Card 1 represents past influences.
  • Card 2 represents present influences.
  • Card 4 represents future influences.
  • Card 5 represents the attitude of those around the querent.
  • Card 6 represents obstacles.
  • Card 7 represents the outcome.

More Tarot Spreads

There are hundreds of different tarot spreads that cover all the different facets of life. If you're interested in seeing more, take some time to explore The Psychic Library and BiddyTarot.

Which Tarot Spread?

Knowing which spread to cast when you're doing a reading is important but with so many spreads that could be used, picking one can be confusing. It's easy to fall into the trap of believing there's a different spread for every sort of question or occasion. A much better way is to have a handful of spreads you know really well and adapt them to meet your needs.

Tarot Spread Illustrations