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Tarot Card Layouts


This article explains the variety of Tarot spreads that can be used in giving a reading. It is taken from eMystica's Tarot Course.



1. The Celtic Cross

This is a well-known general spread which has a few minor variations. Don't be concerned if you find other versions in books. Use the one that best fits your requirements. Remember, a spread of cards is a framework for a reading and has no other intrinsic value. The spread, and the ideas you hold in mind when starting the reading will shape the answers you get.


The spread uses eleven cards in total. Many readers like to find a card to represents themselves, or the person they are doing the reading for (the querent), before they start. This card would go underneath position one. I prefer to use the first card off the top of the deck to represent the querent.


The cards are then laid out either face down (this gives the advantage of two perspectives on the spread) or face up. I prefer face down.


They are then turned over one by one and the first phase of the reading is given. The position of the card has a meaning. After the querent card has been read, the first position represents their immediate situation.


The second represents the immediate obstacles in their path. The third represents the immediate past. The fourth the immediate future. The fifth represents influences, attitudes or circumstances passing out of the situation (depending on the card that occurs here), and the sixth their hopes and/or fears around the situation.


This completes the cross part. The following four cards are usually taken to be further in the future. Card seven represents the future condition of the querent. Card eight represents their future home life. Card nine represents their future hopes and fears, and card ten, the final result, outcome, or answer to the question (depending on the information being sought).


When you have been through the cards one by one, pause and look at the spread as a whole. Is it balanced? Does one particular suit dominate it? Are there a lot of Major arcana cards present? Is one aspect of the querent's life emphasised more than others?

Remember, the Major Arcana represent deeper archetypal forces at work in the querent's personality or life (depending on the card's position). Even the positive cards can have quite an impact and a number of Major Arcana cards in a spread can mean a very bumpy time ahead indeed. Equally, if you are reading for a short time period, the influence of these cards may be toned down quite a bit. If you're not sure, blank your mind a moment and let your intuition provide an answer.


Consider the cards in relation to each other. Are there any that seem to modify the meaning of the cards around them? Does the overall feel of the spread give any more information?

If any point is unclear then it can be a help to draw another card to clarify the position.

2. Simple Draw

This spread simply means pulling the first seven cards and laying them in a row. As before, I would recommend reading them one at a time before studying the relationships.


3. Five Point Star

This is a very useful spread which was shown to me by a friend. It is used to suggest solutions for a simple problem. The cards should be placed as below:

First position (Bottom Left) = Heart of the problem
Second position (Top Right) = Other factors that need to be considered
Third position (Top Left) = Can the problem be solved/Is there any advice which will help?
Fourth position (Bottom Right) = What is it?
Fifth position (Centre Top) = Outcome

Other Ideas For Spreads

If you have some knowledge of astrology, then consider drawing a card to represent each of the houses.


It is sometimes useful to run a parallel reading for the querent's partner. For example, if you were doing a six month reading for a woman, consider using a second pack to lay a spread alongside the first one, this time reading for her husband. This will show you potential areas or times when they are subject to similar influences and what times are likely to be difficult for them. This is where a second deck, similar (so as not to be confusing), yet distinctive (so that the cards don't get mixed together as you pack away), really comes in.


When a quick decision is needed, why not ask the question whilst shuffling the cards, cut them and see what card appears.


Cabalists may like to do a "Tree of Life" reading for a situation or person using one card to represent each sephira.


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