Let’s take a look at some of the simplest tarot spreads a tarot reader or student of the cards can use to practice building their reading and interpretation skills.
What is a Tarot Spread?
A spread is the way the cards are laid out on the table. It is the pattern that a reader uses to help them interpret the cards. Spreads can consist of one to 31+ cards. If you study astrology, the easiest way to think of a spread is that each card of a spread is similar to a house in a horoscope. Thus, spreads are man made.
While some spreads have been passed down over the years, it’s also important for a tarot reader to learn to create their own spreads. That is not what we are talking about here. In this article we are discussing some popular, easy to use, spreads that have been handed down over the years.
For a reader to be able to effectively read the cards they have to both understand the meanings of the cards in their upright and reversed position and they must learn how to relate the cards to the spread they are using.
A tarot student is generally ready to start using spreads as soon as they have learned the meanings of some of the cards. Obviously the larger the spread, the more cards a student should know.
For the simplest one card spreads one only needs to have mastered four cards to start use them. We do this in my tarot classes by teaching students the meaning of the four aces first, since they are so easy to learn. Essentially, all aces represent new beginnings. The type of new beginning depends on the suite of the ace.
Ace of Wands = New physical beginning or new sexual relationship.
Ace of Cups = New emotional beginning
Ace of Pentacles = New material, career, or spiritual beginning
Ace of Swords = New communication
When the aces are reversed the new beginning are still coming, they’re just being delayed
For two and three card spreads a student should know the aces and court cards before attempting them.
For six card spreads student should know the aces, court cards, and Major Arcana.
For larger spreads all cards should be known.
These are only guidelines. This is recommended for those who are starting to learn the cards. Most students try to learn all the cards at one time and that usually doesn’t work. When you break it down into sections – Aces, Court Cards, Majors, Minors – and practice while adding in a new section, you gain a better understanding and mastery over the cards as opposed to trying to learn them all in one shot.
Having said all that, here are some simple spreads that anyone can use in their tarot reading practice.
Card of the Day – A One Card Spread
This one card spread is a great way to start your day. When you wake up you shuffle your cards and ask – “What is the most important thing I need to keep in mind today?” You draw a single card and interpret the card to learn what to watch for, pay attention to, or what lesson you’re learning for the day.
You can do this one card spread for yourself or another person.
This/That – A Two Card Spread
This spread is used when making a choice involving two different paths. You shuffle the cards then draw two cards. The first card represents what you need to know about the first choice and the second card represents what you need to know about the other choice.
As with the one card spread, this can easily be used for yourself or another person.
Yes/No – A Two Card Spread
This spread makes answering yes/no questions for yourself or a client easy. Draw two cards. The first card is laid on the table. The second card is laid directly under the first card. You now have a top and bottom card.
When both cards up upright the answer is yes. When both cards are reversed the answer is no. When the top card is upright and the bottom reversed the answer is yes, but. When the top card is reversed and the bottom card is upright the answer is no, but.
The cards can then be interpreted to provide the reasons for the answer. Typically the bottom card is more important to the interpretation than the top card, but both should be weighed equally.
Past/Present/Future – A Three Card Spread
This spread is best used on other people. You shuffle the cards or let them shuffle the cards. You or they then pick three cards. The first card represents the past and/or what lessons should have been learned from the past. The second card represents the present and what is going on or what needs to be learned in the here and now. The last card represents, provided nothing changes, where the client is headed and what the client needs to be aware of.
The Simple Cross – A Six Card Spread
The simple cross is a shorter moderated variation of the famous and most often used Celtic Cross spread. Shuffle the cards. Cut the cards. Either you or your client may do this and choose the cards.
Card one goes in the center of the table. This card represents either the client or what’s one the client’s mind.
Card two is laid vertically right on top of card one. This card represents the major obstacle the client should currently be working on to overcome.
Card three is laid above cards one and two. This card represents what is coming in the distant future, usually within the next one to three years provided nothing changes.
Card four is laid below cards one and two. This card tells us what major life lesson the client should have learned or is learning.
Card five is laid to the right of cards one and two. This card indicates what the past has been like and/or what aspects of the past needs to be kept in mind.
Card six is laid to the left of cards one and two. This card reveals what is coming in the near future or within six months, provided nothing changes.