While every card in a tarot deck is almost self-sufficient to talk about any situation, it is a spread that helps weave a full story around a query. This makes it much easier for a tarot reader to guide the querent properly about the outcome and the best course of action to take.
What is a Tarot Spread?
A tarot spread is how a tarot reader places the cards from the deck after shuffling, for a reading. The reader may just take out a single card and read from it or use all the cards from the deck for a reading. When more than one card is taken out, they are placed in a specific position in an orderly manner, with each position corresponding to a particular point of focus or subject.
There are dozens of different spreads that are traditionally used by the readers and many times readers make up their own spread based on the question. Some Tarot Readers feel that tarot spreads limit the psychic horizon to fit within their boundaries and so they just randomly pick cards from the deck while the reading is going on. This free form of reading they feel opens the way for a lot more psychic information.
But tarot reading is based more on the readers' intuitive ability to decipher the cards than anything else. Here are some traditional tarot spreads that are used commonly by the readers :
1)The 3 Card Spread
This is a basic spread that involves the laying out of three cards from left to right and is what the beginners start with.
Card 1: represents the past conditions, influences or energies that may or may not be having an effect on the present.
Card 2: represents the present conditions, influences or energies.
Card 3: represents the possible outcome of the situation, based on the current conditions and is also the guidance provided by the tarot.
2)The 4 Card Spread
This is another commonly used basic spread that uses four cards, which are laid in a horizontal line from left to right after shuffling the deck and cutting the cards.
Card 1: tells you about the situation.
Card 2: represents the obstacle.
Card 3: suggests the action that you should take, and
Card 4: tells you what outcome to expect.
This spread is simple and suggests a direct approach to deal with everyday problems.
3)The 5 Card Spread
This spread allows you to go a little deeper into the situation while analyzing it. After shuffling, five cards are taken out and placed one by one according to the diagram.
Card 1: talks about the present situation or the general theme of the reading.
Card 2: is about the past influences that are still having an effect on the situation.
Card 3: tells you what you can expect in the future.
Card 4: is the reason behind the question and may shed light on Card 2.
Card 5: is the crowning card and is the potential in the situation.
4)The Horseshoe Spread (Involves 7 Cards)
Another very common spread, the Horseshoe spread is very useful when you are looking for a straightforward answer to a direct question. Here, al the cards are read in chronological order except for the 2nd and 4rth card. The 2nd is read with the 4rth and then the reader proceeds reading 3,5,6 and a 7th card.
Card 1: can cover up to a period of a few years before and also tell you if an event in the past is influencing your current circumstances.
Card 2: Will tell you what is going on in the present and cover a period of a few weeks.
Card 3: talks about what can unfold in the near future and covers up to 4 weeks from the present to the next 3 months.
Card 4: is all about you - how you stand/think/act, in relation to card 2
Card 5: is how the circumstance or the people around you are impacting you
Card 6: is about the hopes and fears that you are thinking about for the next 12 months. This is an interesting card because it conveys what is blocking your progress or what will enhance it
Card 7: is what most people are interested in and it represents anything from 3 months to a 12 month period
5) The Celtic Cross Spread (Involves 10 Cards)
As the number of cards in a spread increases, so does the level of interpretation and of scoring a bulls’ eye.
One follows a certain protocol while reading the cards of this spread -
Start with the Past card(4) and read it along with Card 9(Hopes and Fears).
Then read the Present card(1) with Card 2 that crosses it. Interpret Card 3 and Card 5, which talk about what you have undergone in the past and what you are actually striving and aiming for.
Read the 7th Card that represents your attitude regarding the question along with the 8th Card, which represents how others see you and the support and challenge you may expect from them.
Finish the reading with the prognostic card(6) and Card 10 to check the results of your efforts. Card 10 is further in the future and if this card does not resonate with the query, you can pull additional cards for clarity.
And if the Card 10 ends on a negative note, you must pull an additional card.
These are just a few of the spreads out of the many in use.