Understanding Tarot Spreads
Tarot is a divinatory practice that uses a set of cards, which are pulled (generally while focusing one’s intent) and laid out in “spreads” that are believed to offer insight and guidance.
For those who are new to getting readings — or those who are looking to dip their toes into doing readings themselves — the complexities associated with the art of Tarot can be difficult to parse. Maybe you’ve wondered how a Tarot user decides which spread they’re going to use, or maybe you’ve pulled out your deck and found yourself uncertain of where to begin. Regardless of your reasons, learning Tarot isn’t as daunting as it seems, especially once you have a hang of the basics.
Here are three powerful Tarot spreads that can help you learn
more about this ancient and much-beloved divinatory practice.
One-Card Tarot Pull
Many people would be surprised by how in-depth a one-card
Tarot pull can be. Sometimes a straightforward approach really is best,
especially when you’re dealing with simple questions. With the one-card pull,
you’ll usually get a succinct and clear answer, even if you sometimes have to
study it for a little longer than you would a more detailed reading.
Use a one-card pull for…
- Yes or no questions
- Confirmation (or rejection) of what your intuition is telling you
- Guidance or help when deciding on next steps
How to: Shuffle the cards, then choose one while focusing on your question. Use more than the traditional meaning of the card to interpret your reading. Pay attention to how the card makes you feel when you first see it. Are you happy, sad, excited, or something else? Trust what comes to mind, and do your best not to overthink or second-guess that first impression. Do you hear a word or see a color? Look at the picture. Focus on the symbols and signs, the actions depicted, and even the number associated with the card. You’ll find that you naturally focus on the most crucial elements of the one-card reading — the ones that answer your question.
Three-Card Tarot Spread
The three-card spread is one of the most commonly used Tarot
spreads out there. It is popular among beginners and seasoned Tarot readers
alike. A three-card spread can offer you the answers to many of life’s
questions, and it is — as you might assume from the name — great for three-part
The three-card spread can enlighten you about situations that can be divided into sections such as…
- Past, present, future
- Situation, action, outcome
- Strength, weakness, advice
- Where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there
- You, your other half (or how they feel), and your relationship
The possibilities are endless, which is one of the reasons
this spread is so popular.
How to: For this reading, you will pull three cards and lay them down in a line. Remember that intention matters. In other words, it’s probably best that you don’t do a one-card pull and then change your mind and draw two more cards. Instead, be sure to pull all three cards with your intentions set on doing a three-card reading. Assign a meaning or focus to each card (for instance: past, present, future — or any of the examples listed above), then pull them one at a time. If you’re focused on your questions in the order that you want them answered, the cards will respond in kind. Otherwise, the message can become cloudy or even get lost completely.
The Five-Card Horseshoe Tarot Spread
The five-card horseshoe spread is yet another
popular-yet-easy Tarot spread that is used by both beginners and advanced Tarot
readers alike. This spread is generally favored by people who want more
detailed answers or timelines but do not want (or need) to use a more complex
10- or 13-card spread in order to get their answers.
Laid out in the shape of an upside-down letter “V,” the five-card horseshoe is best used for…
- Specific questions
- Detailed answers in a relatively simple spread
- Knowledge of how the past and present affect the future
- Questions about your work and/or love life
How to: Draw five cards and place them in an upside-down “V” shape, with the first card at the bottom far left, the third at the apex of the “V,” and the fifth card at the bottom far right. Focus on each card’s purpose as you pull it. The first card of this spread is about how the past has affected you and where you are now; it tells you about your attitude and approach to the present moment. This flows nicely into the second card, which is, fittingly, about your expectations. It answers the question of what you want, and what your hopes for the future of this endeavor look like. Now that the current situation is established and understood, the third card, which is the apex of the spread, tells you about any potential obstacles and unexpected problems that might arise or get in your way, so that you can prepare for the challenges you’re about to face.
On the descending side of the spread, the fourth card is all
about your near or immediate future. This card offers insight into how you
should proceed over the next few days or weeks (or maybe even months, depending
on the scope of your question). Last but certainly not least, the fifth and
final card represents events that are a bit further ahead in your journey. It’s
the distant future, after the focus of your reading has passed, and allows you
to evaluate how you feel about this prospective path.
Finding Trust in Tarot
There are many spreads out there, so many that you’ll probably never get to use them all. New spreads are constantly being created. In fact, with time, you may even invent your own. However, mastering these basic spreads can give you a good foundation in Tarot as you become more familiar and comfortable with receiving or conducting readings. Keep in mind that some spreads may resonate with you more than others and that you should not be resistant to the presence of “negative” or reversed cards in a spread. Each card must be viewed in context and can provide you with valuable insight into both your own mind and your future.
More handy ideas for easy beginner’s Tarot spreads can be found in this collection of Tarot articles. Lastly, if you need help interpreting or understanding your reading, a Tarot Psychic can help you make sense of whatever message the cards are trying to convey.
Looking for a deeper connection to Spirit? A Tarot card reading is your answer. Tarot cards give you a direct connection to Spirit so you receive profound insights into your past, present, and future. Our Tarot card psychics interpret Spirit’s messages for you so you know what you’re getting is the unadulterated truth. Learn more about how psychic readings work backed by real testimonials, and read through our Psychic Tools & Abilities Blog for more insight on Tarot readings.
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