Tarot Spreads

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

Tarot Spreads

If I wrote a book on the subject of tarot spreads I could not possibly cover all of the spreads that are commonly used. If I wrote an entire book on the Celtic Cross Spread alone I doubt I could do it justice.

My purpose in writing then is not to offer a dozen spreads, or to train you to use spreads, but instead to suggest my own approach to spreads and how I use them.

I typically use the same two or three spreads over and over when reading for others but when I read for myself I love a little variety. I have never seen so many unusual and fun spreads as those I found in the companion handbook to The Wizard’s Tarot. There are dozens of highly unique spreads in the book so if you like variety or if you like to experiment I highly recommend it. Click here for more information on The Wizard’s Tarot.

Most tarot decks come with at least a basic explanation of the Celtic Cross Spread, arguably the most popular spread. I do like it and I do use it but I have found that the more cards I use the less I rely on my intuition and the more mechanical the reading becomes so I favor spreads with fewer cards.

The Celtic Cross Spread, as generally taught, is at least a ten card spread and I have seen Celtic Cross style spreads that go up to twenty cards. If you are going to do justice to each card and how the cards relate to each other you will be reading for a very long time. Therefore, it is a spread I use when I have an abundance of time but it is not my “usual” spread.

One Saturday morning I did eight readings in a row.
If I had been doing Celtic Cross Spreads for all eight, I would have been reading for a week.

For your reference I have created a Celtic Cross Spread.
The “meanings” I associate with the card positons are on the chart.
The meanings I have suggested on my chart are common meanings but still my own.
You may find differences of opinion or you may have a different opinion. That’s fine. That is what tarot and magic in general is all about – finding what works for you.

Please see my chart below.
If you click on it, it will open larger in another window.

celtic cross spread

In the Celtic Cross Spread as in any spread, cards can be added for clarification.
For instance, the tenth card in the Celtic Spread – the card at the upper right – is suggestive of the future outcome. What if your sitter asks, “How do I know this will happen?”
Lay a card down to the left of the tenth card.
That card will shed light on the tenth and address the sitter’s question.

This procedure can be followed for any card in any spread where you are uncertain of the meaning or where you want more information, simply lay another card or two around the card that requires more explanation.

In any spread, intention is everything.

You should make your intention clear as you handle the cards.
As you mix them, visualize the spread you will use and what each card will signify.
In this way you will communicate your intention to the “universe” (for lack of a better term), or God if you are of a faith that believes in a personal God.

If the sitter has a specific question, ask that question of the cards as you mix and before you lay a single card on the table.

Those who practice divination typically but not always believe that everything is connected to everything else.
The creation in which we live and breathe and have our being is alive and intelligent.

If you communicate your intention, the universe will respond in an intelligent way by guiding and directing your spread as well as your interpretation of the spread.
That is the short story of how and why tarot or any other form of divination works.

When you apply to be a reader for the American Tarot Association they mentor you and require that you learn as much as possible from single card readings. I enjoyed this approach so much that I still use much of what I learned in that program.

There is more information in a single card than most readers get from a ten or twenty card spread. Learning to read a single card for all of its worth has tremendous value as a prerequisite to learning more complex spreads. In a latter entry I may delve into how to do this but for now I wanted to address the issue of spreads – the number, sequence or pattern that the cards are laid down and read.

The first spread I learned and still my favorite is the three card spread.

You lay the middle card down first.
This card will speak to you about your sitter’s present situation.

It is vital that you look into that card with your intuition and remain open to messages that may not originate in the card. Remember you are the oracle the cards are only your tool.

Once you have mined that first card for all of its worth, lay the second down to the left of the first. This card will speak to you of the sitter’s recent past and more particularly how that recent past has influenced the present situation.

The third card of the three card spread is laid to the right of the first.
This card will speak to you about the sitter’s near future.
It sheds light on the path that the sitter is currently choosing to follow.
I personally do not see cards that suggest future outcomes as deterministic but rather suggestive of what the future holds assuming no change of direction is selected.

The three card spread is still my favorite.
I might add cards over one or all of the three for clarification.
I might use a crossing card as in the Celtic Cross Spread if I sense that something is hindering or blocking my sitter.

My three card readings are typically 20 to 30 minutes in duration, to give you some idea of the detail I can get from three cards.

I hope this little bite sized article on spreads has inspired you to think about how you do your own spreads.

There are no rules.
There is only what works for you and what does not.
Keep careful records and keep doing what works.

Much love,

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