There are probably thousands upon thousands of different ways to organize tarot cards in a reading.
They vary from person to person and are situational. Some spreads are better for love, some for money, and some for general guidance. Because Tarot is a highly intuitive art, the person doing the reading can either use standard tarot spreads or they may just choose to use a spread that feels right for them given the particular reading. However, with this in mind, there are common spreads for the tarot that are most often used.
The Celtic Cross
The most popular and well-known of all of the tarot spreads is the Celtic Cross 11 card spread. The reason why this spread is so often used is because it provides a vast array of information within the spread to give the querant the most information possible.
The reader draws ten (or 11) cards depending on the querent’s preference and each card describes a different influence over the querent’s life.
(1) The first card is chosen to describe the querant either physically or emotionally using usually a face card (Page, Knight, King or Queen of any given suit that fits the querant) and represents the present moment as well as how the querant is perceiving the situation.
(2) This card is placed on top of card #1 to represent the challenge that the querant is facing at this specific moment. If resolved, the querent’s life would be a lot easier. If this card comes up as a ‘positive’ card, challenge is needed to determine how the card is a challenge to you.
(3) This card is placed to the left of the center of the spread and represents the events which have led up to the present situation that they have found themselves in, which describes how the challenge came about in the first place.
(4) The fourth card is placed directly to the right of the center, ‘in front’ of the querant which represents the future that is probable very soon should all things remain the same as they are immediately within the reading. This card does not represent the final outcome, but merely presents the next step that the querant should take.
(5) This card is directly above the center where the querant is located which reflects the goals or aspirations of the querant regarding the current situation. This represents what the querant needs to work on while they attempt to figure out their issue.
(6) The sixth card is located directly beneath the center of the spread where the querant is and it represents all of the stabilizing forces that exist to help the querant at this time. This is a very spiritual card because it represents the deeper and more core issues of the current situation as well as the underlying emotions involved.
(7) The 7th card is the first card that begins the journey toward the final outcome toward the end of the reading. This card is located to the right of the reading, beginning at the bottom right starting a line that the remaining cards will follow. This card represents advice that needs to be taken into account all that is happening within the life of the querant. Following this guidance will help the querant succeed.
(8) The 8th card is placed above the 7th card creating a row pointing upward. This card is representative of the external influences that surround the querant at this time. This could come in the form of judgmental people or events that are just simply out of their control.
(9) The 9th card is above the 8th in the line and represents the querant’s hopes and fears. This is one of the more difficult positions to decipher primarily because sometimes we are not really aware of what it is that we are afraid of. You may want to consider drawing a clarification card if you are confused about what this card means to you.
(10) The 10th card is the final outcome card. This card represents where the situation for the querant is heading and how the issue will be resolved based on the steps the cards have directed them to take. If the outcome is not a good one, remember that the cards are saying that if nothing changes in your current circumstances this is how it will end. However you always have the power to improve on your circumstances to change the outcome. Follow the advice of the cards.
The Golden Dawn Spread (one of many)
This is a ten card spread laid out in the symbol of the tree of life. The cards are laid down starting with one card on the bottom in the middle and then another card placed above that card, a card to the left of that and another to the right. Three more cards are placed on top of those four starting with the left, then middle, then to the right. You will now have kind of an upside down house shape. Last you will add three more cards to the top this time placing the left card, right card, and then center card.
Each card relate to each sepheroth of the tree of life. If you are not familiar with the tree of life or sepheroths you will want to get to them before using this reading method as the cards have their meanings, the placements (as listed below) have further importance, and the sepheroth themselves can lend even more detail to the reading and understanding.
The placement of the cards is as follows:
The final destination
The four cards directly talk about the querant and what is going on with them specifically. The next three cards talk about the world around the querant or their environmental influences. They also relate to the issue in depth as it gives perspective and meaning in here and now.
If you are looking for a general outlook for what to expect in the coming year then it is best to use an year-spread involving 12 – 13 cards. The most common approach to this is to lay out 12 cards either in a full circle – beginning on your left and working the circle clockwise with a card placed for each month January to December. In the center of the circle place a 13th card which acts as a signifcator for the year overall.
Sometimes the middle 13th card will also represent your overall lesson for the year and shows you the focus. The 12 individual cards represent each month of the year and the main lesson for that month. The cards for the months will indicate issues that will come up or what to expect for this month. It is often recommended to not use reversed cards for annual reading in order to ensure a clear and direct response from the deck.
Love readings vary depending on the purpose. New relationship readings can easily be done with a few cards whereas often more complex or long standing readings need a few more cards for clarification. Here are a couple suggestions for love readings to get your started:
When considering a possible relationship or simply seeking love in general it is good to put feelers out there to see what the prospects are like for you. Whether you have someone in mind or you are looking for someone new you can use this reading to direct you to a good match for you based on the path you are on now using 7 cards. This reading is a monthly reading and if you do not get desired results on month – wait at least a few weeks before looking again.
The new relationship reading has 5 cards simply placed in a straight line. They can be from the left to right or top to bottom depending on your desire. It’s completely up to your preference.
For an established relationship, it is often good to check in and see what is coming in the future or how to fix any problems. This reading focuses on both. The spread is 10 cards with the first four placed in a triangle fashion with (1) card on the top representing you in the relationship. (2) card is placed beneath that card, representing your partner. (3) card is placed to the left and represents the past between you and your partner whereas the (4) card is placed to the right and represents the future. The next 6 cards are placed in 2 rows on top of each other starting with the top left, middle, right and then bottom left, middle right. The meanings are as follows:
(5) What is right about your relationship or strengths.
6. Issues within the relationship now. This will indicate strains within the relationship that you may know about and want more clarification about or those that are looming and can be avoided.
7. Areas in the relationship that need special care that you may be overlooking. These can be for example, if you are noticing that your partner has been very distant and you pull the 4 of coins card then the issues that you are facing are regarding work and perhaps you should consider work the issue and not you. It can also be an indicator to be careful with spending money so you don’t stress your partner our further or to be more supportive to them about their job.
8. The outcome over the next month based on the current path with you and your partner.
9. The outcome over the next 3 months based on the current path with you and your partner.
10. The outcome over the next 6 months based on your current path with your relationship.
Bear in mind that the path dictated in the reading about any direction (in a relationship or otherwise) will reflect current choices. If you change your mind on something after a reading then the outcomes could change. For example, if you ask about fertility in a relationship and wanting to have a baby and the cards say yes, this will happen soon… but then you decide, well, I don’t want that and you take a measure to prevent pregnancy or even more drastic, tie your tubes or get a vasectomy… then of course the outcome will change. Readings are based on your position now and actions you have been taking to get to where you are going currently.
There are other kinds of readings used specifically to untangle a situation for the querant. Say for example the querant is feeling completely stuck in their life circumstances around love and doesn’t know what to do.
The Pyramid Spread is a less formatted reading that helps to spiral itself outward starting with a card that details where the querant is in the moment. From that point the reader begins to lay out row after row in an upside down pyramid fashion that will detail all of the issues that are currently happening to the querant as they try to work through their difficulties in love. By the end of the spread, the querant should have an idea of what to do about their problem and how to get out of it.
Three Card Spread click here for your one card spread reading
Of course these reading can take some time, because they unravel slowly like a story. There are spreads that are used to make matters move quicker. For example if you would just like some basic information about a question that you have, you can ask a question that is designed for ‘yes or no’ answers. You would then draw three cards, and if more than one card is reversed, the answer is no and then you can decipher which the illustrations in the cards so that you know what is influencing the no answer. A yes answer would appear with all cards or the majority of the cards being right-side up. If there is one card that is upside down, you can consider that card the influences that may be working against the situation, which will nonetheless pan out as you wish.
The One Card Spread - click here for your one card spread reading
Many on-the-go readers, or even those simply interested in daily divination will chose one card per day to tell them what influences they can expect to experience during that day, or about a particular experience that is up and coming so that they know if there are any obstacles either internal or external that they should be aware of. When doing so, what is important is that you are not just being random about the spread, you must accomplish a task that is known as ‘linking up’ to your higher source energy. All that this means is that you approach the cards (as you should always) in a reverent manner and you ask for your higher power, or higher source energy, mental teachers and the like to guide you to an answer that is succinct and helpful. Doing so creates a respectful environment which not only will help you feel more secure about the answers that you are receiving in the reading, but will also ensure that the answers you get are divinely inspired.
Tarot At a Glance - Major Arcana Meanings
The major arcana are the 22 trump cards in the deck that represent important and specific events in a person’s life. They relate to important life or spiritual lessons that will influence the querant specifically. While you want to learn about the in depth traits of the cards, sometimes you just need a quick way to remember. Below we’ve cut to the basic meanings of each of the major arcana.
MAJOR ARCANA QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE
0 The Fool – The Adventure Begins
Represents a new beginning, innocence, adventure and changes ahead. Can also represent future follies, bouts of intoxication or troubles with extravagance.
1 The Magician – Go Forth and Explore the World
Manifestation in action, effective communication and swift changes bring abundance. It can also mean that diplomacy, subtlety, or eloquence will be a factor in the resolution of the question.
2 The High Priestess – True Power Lies Within You
Linked to hidden mysteries, revelations occur through intuition, insight and faith of self. It also means that wisdom, science, or other gained knowledge may be key to the resolution.
3 The Empress – A Strong Woman with Creative Solutions
Motherly nurturing encourages growth. Girl power, feminine issues and dreams fulfilled. It can also represent clandestine actions, the patience needed to fulfil goals, and other subtle influences going on in the background.
4 The Emperor – Rules with an Iron Fist but a Good Heart
Strong masculine forces provide structure, guidance and security. Bosses or authority lead the way. It can also represent stability, great or powerful people, or conviction are needed in the coming days.
5 The Hierophant – Seek and Ye Shall Find
Institutions of learning, spiritual guidance or occult training will provide the needed support or wise counsel. It can also describe alliances, such as marriage or partnerships, or negative ones including captivity or servitude depending on interpretation.
6 The Lovers – To Honor and Cherish
Coming together for love, whether just falling or a new commitment. True romance becomes bound by honor. It can also be seen to represent attraction of any kind as well as the trials overcome to attain it.
7 The Chariot – The Cost of Victory
Movement forward through perseverance. Travel in all forms, physically and metaphorically. Rely on yourself for success. It can also be interpreted to mean presumptive behavior or revenge.
8 Strength – Power Comes from Strength Used Wisely
Bravery and self-confidence lead to new adventures, heroic acts and possibly some heated passion. It can also describe great success or honor gained by using ones power wisely.
9 The Hermit – Step Away in Order to See Things Clearly
Serving the self through contemplation and meditation can bring enlightenment and personal understanding. Be patient with yourself. In other lights the hermit can mean isolation, or overly prudent action.
10 Wheel of Fortune – A Chance for Change is Around the Corner
Money, love and all positive opportunities are knocking. The wheel turns, repaying past actions in kind. Destiney comes around for everyone eventually, and this is the sign it could be your turn.
11 Justice – Balanced and Fair Behavior
Legal issues, accountability, balance and fairness are the goal here. You may need sound counsel that knows the situation at hand or the rules. It can also represent a basic fairness in the universe.
12 The Hanged Man – Winning Through Sacrifice
Give and get. Wisdom, peace and understanding will come to those that take the time to understand. Use your head to get ahead. It can represent both literal and figurative trials, as well as wisdom or intuition.
13 Death – The End is Near (and it’s probably for the best…)
The end of something, change, the impermeability of all things. Learn to let go. Love yourself and choose a better path. Can also represent destruction or corruption of plans, places, or people, or the loss of prospects.
14 Temperance – Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Balance, moderation, being sensible are needed right now. It can also represent churches, priests or other religious elements depending on its placement in a reading.
15 The Devil – Temptation is the First Step Toward Failure
Destructive patterns, addiction, jealousy are all acts of giving away your power to another person or thing. It also represents violence or aggressive action, both mental and physical.
16 The Tower – The End is Near, Have No Fear
Collapse of stable structures, release, sudden insight are all on the horizon. The sky is falling and times are tough but cool heads of faith and reason will rise again. Some also define the tower as representing distress, ruin, or some other unforeseen calamity that is coming.
17 The Star – All Things Are Possible
Have hope for the future and witness the joy, beauty and possibilities that are all around you. Blessings are upon you right now. The card can also be seen to mean both cherishing what you consider precious and the loss of what is precious, depending on the cards placement.
18 The Moon – Veiled Truths and Secrecy
Mystery, the subconscious, dreams and psychic connections. You don’t know everything and secrets abound. Sometimes it’s best not to know. Can also be seen to mean hidden dangers or deception as well as the dangers of curiosity.
19 The Sun – The Shiny Happy Tarot Card
Success, happiness, and true contentment is on the rise. All will be well and things are going your way. Excellent omen for family, birth and harmony in community.
20 Judgment – What Goes Around, Comes Around
Now is the time to be accountable, by your own accord or someone else’s. Forgive and be forgiven. Allow for personal growth through responsible acts, fairness and repentance. It can also represent changes in career or home life as well as the renewal that comes with it.
21 The World – Life is Good
What you want is at your fingertips, but you need to reach out and grab it. Completion, wholeness, attainment, celebration and good times of all kinds. Can represent the reward that comes at the end of a long task, or the strides taken to achieve it.
Tarot at a Glance – Minor Arcana Meanings
The court cards are the 4 personified cards in tarot that are included in each suit of the minor arcana. Each suit influences a reading in a number of ways. The first which is the elemental influences. These kinds of energies indicate what kinds of actions that the suit represents.
Elemental Correlations to the Minor Arcana Suits
Wands – (FIRE) Manifestation and action
Cups – (WATER) Emotions and intuition
Swords – (AIR) Thought and communication
Pentacles – (EARTH) Health, wealth and hearth
In the above sample, notice that fire represents manifestation. This can be movement forward of any kind, but the key is to consider the action like fire. It is swift, it is decisive and it increases in speed with more fuel. Thus, actions that are shown in the wands suit will represent this kind of mindset. Apply the same theory to each of the additional suits energy and you will notice there is a inherently different feel to each of the cards.
Situational Relativity in the Minor Arcana Suits
Wands - manhood, hard work and progression.
Cups - maturity, happiness hearts, and love.
Swords - old age, pain, fortune.
Pentacles - youth, business, and money.
Situational influences can also be referred from the cards. You may notice a correlation to the elemental ones, but these situations are not about the overall scope… they include periods in one’s life and lessons that are taught over and over again as we transition through different phases of life. These keywords can help us understand the deeper subtleties which can be applied to readings.
The Court Cards
The court cards in a tarot deck are associated with the personality and in most cases are associated with people’s influence over the shuffler. The four minor arcana cards normally represent the following:
Page - Children or young teenagers who need emotional experience.
Knights - Young adults in their twenties or those that hold quite a mature outlook in life.
Queens - Provides an elders perspective such as wisdom and wise words. A female influence.
Kings - Authority in life and control over others. Strong male influence.
These cards specifically correlate to the influencesRe of the querant in a reading. While it is true, court cards can represent a specific person, they can also represent an overall personality dynamic or archetype for the person who is being read. Basic Breakdown of the Minor Arcana Number Cards and Elemental Correspondences
The minor arcana is the larger portion of the tarot deck. In most modern tarot it is made up of four suits and consist of 14 cards each. There are the 4 court cards , which represent specific people or issues that revolve around the environment or cause an effect upon a querant. There is also the number or numerical cards, labeled 1-10 (Ace – 10) and each number has it’s own meaning.
One of the simplest methods to break down meaning for the cards is to understand how the number cards and the elements correspond. If you understand the elements represented within the minor arcana and you can quickly identify what a number means why, you can combine meanings to get a quick snapshot that will give you a general, basic understanding of the card. If you are already familiar with tarot, this lesson should serve as a quick reminder or refresher. However, it’s a good read for beginners too!
Let’s take a quick look at both, so you get a better idea. The elemental and suit correlations are the same as shown in the court cards section and provide the same energy influences to the numeric portions of the minor arcana.
Elemental Correlations to the Minor Arcana Suits
Wands – (FIRE) Manifestation and action
Cups – (WATER) Emotions and intuition
Swords – (AIR) Thought and communication
Pentacles – (EARTH) Health, wealth and hearth
Above are the common suits of the tarot. They are matched with their corresponding elements. This means whenever you see one of these kinds of cards, no matter what number they are, they will always have something to do with the overall energy or issue that relates.
One– Primal Element, Pure Intention, New Beginnings
The first card in each suit is the ACE. It may be labeled with the number one, but usually it will simply say the word. In most cases, the artwork will represent a single wand, cup, pentacle or sword and you will be able to gather the meaning. This is essentially the root of the elemental representation and it will indicate raw or primal energies are at force. This card represents beginnings in most cases and shows that there is a strong push backing the querant.
For example, if you draw an ACE of WANDS, then you it is likely representing a new beginning pertaining to change, so manifestations at their base form. It can also mean a primal force of action, such as love, passion, etc.
The ace is perhaps the most difficult card to match because it is pure in the elemental form. The rest of the numbers attach a significant meaning and so the process is easier.
Two – The Choice is Yours/Joining Forces
It’s not the initial push, but the budding of something that is and turning into something more. It usually appears when new options are available.
Wands – Choosing to take action and move ahead
Cups – Making new friends/Budding romances
Swords – Choosing to Think/Using your brain
Pentacles – Choices about stability/Balance in home or finances
Three – Making Progress/Coming Together/Teamwork/Serving the Self First
This can be good or bad, depending on the focus. When focused on the group, this is a good sign. However, for self focus, it can alienate and cause pain for the querant. Because this card relies on community for establishment, it is usually quite dependent on the other cards around it.
Wands – Forging ahead on a plan of action/Leaping into Action
Cups – Establishing better friendships / Good times together
Swords – Working through internal dialogues/Asking for help/Breaking up
Pentacles – Networking for Business / Finding the help you need to be healthy or strong
Four – Building Foundations/Creating Stability/ Balance
All about community and comradery, fours represent balance and unity.
Wands – Establishing purpose and self motivation
Cups – Emotional foundations including relationships and family
Swords – Clearing the mind or finding inner peace
Pentacles – Getting your money in order, preparing yourself for a family or home
Five – Chaotic Conflict/Painful Challenges/Competition
Sometimes struggle is needed to grow. Fives are often negative at the time but prove to be fruitful for the future.
Wands – Primal aggression or passion, usually destructive
Cups– Loss of emotional stability, breaking up
Swords – Arguments/forceful conflict, aggression
Pentacles – Financial, material and spiritual loss
Six – Stability/Harmony/Peace/Balance
The balancing rebound from a period of strive, sixes restore harmony in most situations as life challenges attempt to correct course.
Wands – Manifestation towards correcting course, restraining actions.
Cups – Returning balance to emotions and feeling better about life.
Swords – Forgiveness and recollections, coming to terms with mental instability
Pentacles – Rebuilding health and home. Good luck in establishing wealth.
Seven – The Path/Journey/Learning From Life Lessons
Divinely inspired understanding comes from assessing situations and being aware. Sevens can be enlightening but also contain sometimes difficult truths.
Wands – Activity for a cause or motivation for change
Cups – Soul searching and pondering on the esoteric
Swords – Mental clarity and thinking things through.
Pentacles – The challenge to maintain stability in finance or focusing on health
Eight – Internal Strength/Fortitude/Perfecting a Craft
Revitalizing the body, mind and soul, eights are about creating something through repetition and finding the real reason for doing things. This awareness allows for completion and finality, for better usually, but not always.
Wands – Moving past boundaries and reinvigorating intent
Cups – Emotional resolve involving being aware of what you truly feel
Swords – Overanalyzing and quick thoughts lead to a breakthrough or a breakdown
Pentacles – Focusing on the long game in a job, relationship or life in general
Nine – Reflection/Introspection/Contemplating Results
The end is near and now is the time to make a final choice about what you want. The nines represent culmination of efforts, for better or worse.
Wands – Charging towards the finish line
Cups – Understanding your true desires
Swords – Calculating end results. Sometimes stressful.
Pentacles– Life changes and transitions from one stage to another
Ten – The End is the Beginning is the End
This is the end of the line, but the tarot (like life) is always ongoing. This represents finality indicates that options are removed as tasks or goals are completed.
Wands – The final burst of energy before crashing down.
Cups – The more the merrier, happiness and contentment. Harmonizing.
Swords – Whirling thoughts can lead to brilliance but excess voices from others can be too much.
Pentacles – Reaping what you sow and gaining what you have earned. Making smart investments towards your future.