[This post may contain affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you follow one of my links and end up making a purchase.]
What is a tarot spread? And how do you read a tarot spread? Read on to learn how to interpret tarot cards in a tarot spread.
What is a tarot spread?
A tarot spread is a specific layout of tarot cards that we can use to interpret a particular question or situation. Tarot spreads can vary in size and complexity, with some using just a few cards and others using many more.
Most tarot spreads have a name or specific purpose tied to them. For example, one tarot spread might help you make a choice between two options when you feel indecisive. Another tarot spread might help you decide if you want to stay with a romantic partner.
[Related: 6 Tarot Spreads for Love and Relationships]
How do tarot spreads work?
Tarot spreads also have varying numbers of cards and layouts, or shapes. Three-card tarot spreads are quite popular. And while one tarot spread might consist of simply laying three tarot cards out in a row, another might all for a triangle shape.
A very basic three-card tarot spread is called the “Past, Present, Future” spread. It consists of three cards in a row. The first card represents the querent’s past. The card in the middle represents the present. And the third card in the row represents the future.
Below is an example of a four-card tarot spread with a more interesting shape inspired by a particular zodiac season.
The Celtic Cross is a classic tarot spread. It uses ten cards to explore a question nor situation in quite some depth. Another popular spread for tarot reading is the Horseshoe Spread, which uses seven cards to provide insights into a particular area of the querent’s life.
And how you read the tarot spread depends on the placement of each tarot card.
How to interpret a tarot spread
When interpreting a tarot spread, it’s important to consider the individual meanings of each card, as well as how the cards interact with each other within the context of the spread.
In fact, a common concern I hear from many beginner tarot readers is that while they are comfortable with the first part (they have individual tarot card meanings down), they have trouble linking cards together. That’s where using a tarot spread comes in to save the day!
There’s nothing in tarot that says you have to just turn over a few cards in a row and figure out how they link together. Tarot spreads help us because they already link the cards together by predetermining the sub-question or definition that each tarot card in a spread is answering. We call this definition the “position” of the card in a tarot spread.
And paying attention to the position of a specific card in the tarot spread you’ve laid out will help you tell a more fluid and accurate story.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say we’re doing that three-card Past-Present-Future tarot spread I mentioned earlier. More specifically, let’s say you are asking about your career. past-present spread about your career. And, let’s say the first card you pick is the World. If it’s the first card in this tarot spread, that means it’s in the past position, right?
Now, as you turn over the World tarot card, you may be tempted to blurt out, “Fulfillment and victory are on their way to you!” But remember that this card came up for the Past position. So that’s not accurate, is it? So in this particular tarot story you’re telling, the World. is actually pointing to a past business or career success. It’s not “on its way” to the querent. It already happened. And we know this because we the tarot spread tells us so.
The predetermined positions in a tarot spread do half the work for us! They are wonderful tools in that way, so use them!
Where to find tarot spreads
Now that you have a better idea of how tarot spreads work and why they are fun and helpful to use in your own tarot readings, where can you find them?
You can even search for tarot spreads on Pinterest. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to tarot, and I save my go-to tarot spreads on there.
You’ll be happy to hear that here are also a lot of great books of tarot spreads. Three that I can see on my bookshelf from where I sit right now include 365 Tarot Spreads, Everyday Tarot, and The Tarot Spreads Yearbook.
Have fun trying out different tarot spreads! Please feel free to share your favorite ones with me below.