Tarot Cards - Spreads

When doing a Tarot Card reading, the cards are laid out in various layouts known as spreads. Spreads can be as simple or as elaborate as the card reader wants to make them. They can be as simple as a single card answering a specific question, such as "Will I have a good day" and then a card is picked. If the card picked is The Devil, it's not a good sign. But if the card picked is The World, it probably is a good sign. Some readers have large spreads using a dozen or more cards. Here we will look at three basic spreads.

Three Card Spread

picture of three card spread The Emperor Two of Pentacles The Hierophant

In the above three card spread, three cards are dealt from left to right with the leftmost card representing the Past or the influences from the Past. The middle card represents the present and the card on the right represents the future. In this reading, the leftmost card is The Emperor. The Emperor indicates power, control and order. So, the person getting the reading would either be or come from a past where there is order, discipline and control. It may have been a fairly rigid past. The card in the center is Two of Pentacles. Pentacles are about money and the two here indicates the balancing or juggling of money, so maybe there are issues with paying bills or not having enough money. The rightmost card is the Hierophant representing religious order or a strong religious figure looms in the future. The overall sense from this reading is of a person from a structured background who is having issues with money. The cards indicate that religion may be the answer to these money problems.

The sample reading that can be done from this site is a three card reading in this vein.

Click here for your own three card Tarot reading.

Horseshoe Spread

picture of three card spread

The Horseshoe Spread uses Seven cards for a more in depth reading.

  1. The card in the first position represents the Past and the events that lead to the current situation. Here it is the King of Cups which would indicate a strong and nurturing father figure.
  2. The card in position two represents the present or current situation. Here it is the Ace of Wands. The aces always indicate a new beginning and Wands deal with the creative side of life, so this would indicate the beginning of a new creative endeavour.
  3. The card in position three represents the near future. This card is the Three of Pentacles. This would indicate that the future would hold the mastery of a trade, but the artist has not yet completed his work, so it is still a work in progress.
  4. The card in position four represents "self" and how the person feels about themselves. Here it is the Eight of Swords showing a bound helpless woman. This card usually indicates self-doubt and a prison of our own making as the woman is not bound tightly. This would mean that the person has a certain feeling of powerlessness about what is going on in their life.
  5. The card in position five is how friends and family view the situation. In this reading, it is The Sun. This card means self-awareness and joy meaning your friends and family believe you to be happy.
  6. The card in position six represents the obstacles that are to be faced. Here, it is the Four of Cups. This card shows a man having is fill after three cups and not interested in a fourth cup. This is the card of boredom or dissatisfaction and it indicates a weariness toward dealing with the challenges ahead.
  7. The card in position seven is the outcome card and it represents the likely outcome of the current situation. In this case it is The World which indicates a completeness of a task or the attenuation of a goal. This is a promising reading as it is overall saying that if you stick with your talent and ignore your inner-self doubts that with the support of your friends and family, you will be successful in your goals.

Celtic Cross Spread

picture of three card spread

The Celtic Cross Spread (pronounced Kel-tic) is one of the more popular spreads. This spread uses eleven cards.

  1. The card in the first position represents Self or the subject of the reading. In this spread, it is the Knight of Cups. Cups deal with emotional matters and knights are usually young adults who are still soul searching. This card would indicate someone who is looking for love and romance.
  2. The card in position two is the Covering Card and represents the current issues or situation. Here is is the Eight of Wands which is the messenger card indicating the pending arrival of unexpected news.
  3. The card in position three is the Crossing Card and it represents current influences. It this reading, it is the Six of Cups which means an unexpected gift or the arrival of someone from the past who could be a long lost love.
  4. The card in position four is the Foundation Card. Here it is the Nine of Pentacles. This card represents hard work will pay off with a life of luxury. In the foundation position, it indicates someone who grew up comfortably and may even be a little spoiled from not having to work for things.
  5. The card in position five represents the recent past. In this reading, it is The Hermit. This would suggest that the person the reading is about has spent a lot of time alone pondering on the current situation. The Hermit in the past and the Knight of Cups for self indicates that the person has made a decision to act and is going to look for love.
  6. The card in position six is the Crowning Card and it represents the ideal outcome of the obstacles that are to be faced. Here, it is the King of Pentacles. He is a rich and powerful man, so the ideal outcome is success at business and monetary reward. This is a contrast to the Knight of Cups who is looking for love.
  7. The card in position seven is what is to be expected in the near future. Here, it is the Justice card. That indicates that as events unfold in the next few weeks and months that they will roll out fairly to all those involved and that everyone will get what they are entitled to.
  8. The card in position eight represents Self-Image. In this reading, it is The Hanged Man. The Hanged Man indicates that some sort of self-sacrifice needs to be made in order for the person to achieve their goals. As this is in the Self-Image position, it means the person the spread is for already realizes the need for sacrifice.
  9. The card in position nine is the Public Image card and it is how other see the issue or person. Here, it is the Six of Wands, the success card. So, the public perception is that this person will be successful in his quest.
  10. The card in position ten is the Hope and Fears card. In this reading, it is the Nine of Cups. This card indicates material and physical happiness, so the reading is saying that there is a fear of success. This may indicate that the wrong goal is being focused on and perhaps the search for love is not really what the person is seeking.
  11. The card in position eleven is the Likely Outcome card. Here it is the Three of Swords which shows three sword piercing a heart. This is the card of heartbreak.

Overall, this reading is a warning that the subject of the reading is focusing their time looking for love. However, there is a fear of failure in this search and the cards even warn of heartbreak. With both the Foundation card indicating a luxury background and the highest ideal cards being the King of Pentacles, a man of monetary success and power. This reading is advising the person that they should be focusing on building a foundation for business success on solid financial ground before looking for love.