Whether you are a Tarot reading pro or a beginner reader just starting out, Tarot card spreads form the scaffolding behind every insightful and impactful Tarot reading.
Some Tarot readers who swear by the no spread spread, where instead of following a set Tarot spread structure with predetermined card positions, the cards are drawn and read intuitively. Intuitive readings can be potent and inspiring, but readings following the structure provided by an existing, tried and tested Tarot spread are guaranteed to result in inspiring and revelatory Tarot readings.
If you are still new to Tarot card reading, start by learning and mastering some of the most popular and widely Tarot spreads around. They have stood the test of time for a reason.
There are more Tarot spreads and potential combinations of spreads out there than you may have time to explore. To make things easier, here is a collection of some of the most popular, proven and versatile Tarot spreads in existence. Each of these Tarot spreads can be adapted as love readings, career readings, self-development readings and beyond.
How to prepare for a Tarot reading
The first step to providing a satisfying and insightful reading is taken before the Tarot spread has been laid.
Every Tarot reader prepares in their own way, but there are some elements to preparation that are universal, inevitable parts of the ritual of giving a Tarot reading.
Shuffling the deck
Shuffling the cards is an incontrovertible aspect of preparing for a fruitful Tarot reading. Shuffling the cards helps you focus your mind on the reading ahead, and is also a way of touching base with the cards and their energy before laying the spread.
Clearing and focusing your mind
While shuffling the Tarot deck, clear your mind of anything but the reading you are about to do.
Laying the Tarot spread
While laying down each card in the Tarot spread, focus on what you want each card position to reveal.
Things to keep in mind when reading the cards
Usually, before the reading begins, the querent will give you a few sentences of background information while talking about what they would like the reading to focus on. This information is useful when deciding which spread to use, and how to approach the topic at hand.
However, keep in mind that you do not have the full picture. Based on the insights and slices of advice that the cards yield during the reading, it may seem crystal clear to you what the querent’s best option is. As a Tarot reader, it can sometimes be tempting to try to steer the querent’s decision-making process based on what you think is best. It is important to refrain from doing that. Your job as a Tarot reader is to channel and deliver the messages you see in the cards, while remaining as neutral as possible. You want to be a clear channel.
How to draw the cards
There is no correct or incorrect way of drawing the cards – just as there is no right or wrong way of shuffling them. Nevertheless, here are a few card drawing techniques for you to consider, and try out if you find them appealing.
Drawing with your left hand
Traditionally, Tarot readers would draw cards using their left hand, as the non-dominant hand is associated with the left, creative and intuitive brain hemisphere. Using the left hand to draw the cards can help tape into intuition, rather than reason and logic.
Drawing with your eyes closed
Another version of this is to draw the cards with your eyes closed. Closing your eyes helps you focus on the energy, not the sight, of the cards you are drawn to.
Beginner friendly Tarot spreads
As a rule of thumb, one card readings and shorter spreads are the most suitable and approachable Tarot spreads for beginners, as well as being vital tools in any intermediate or pro level Tarot reader’s arsenal.
Yes/No Tarot spreads
The Yes/No Tarot spread is the simplest there is. Hard-hitting and concise, it only requires one Tarot card.
There are several different ways of doing a Yes/No reading. The most straightforward consists in cutting the Tarot deck in two, then turning one of the two resulting parcels of cards on their head. Mixing the entire deck gives you a 50-50 chance of picking either an upright or reversed card. An upright card means Yes, a reversal No.
Yes/No love Tarot spread
The Yes/No Tarot spread is exceptionally useful in love and relationship Tarot spreads, where powerful emotions are often at play. In love Tarot readings, more than any other type of reading, there can be a strong desire for the cards to yield a specific result.
The Yes/No Tarot spread is wonderfully neutral and objective, making it a great tool for cutting through the tangle of emotions or cloudy judgement that can sometimes surround questions of love, romance, desire and commitment.
Yes/No career Tarot spread
The Yes/No Tarot spread has many potential applications in readings about career, money and business. Again, the simplicity of the Yes/No spread cuts through any clutter and confusion and gets right to the point of answering the primary question being raised by the querent.
Yes/No self development Tarot spread
Yes/No readings are helpful in readings about personal development, particularly when the querent is feeling stuck or disoriented, unsure of whether to pursue a certain path or option.
Two card Tarot spreads
Two card Tarot spreads offer endless possibilities for variety and customisation. Two card Tarot spreads lend themselves particularly well to helping with decision-making and weighing up two different options, opportunities or courses of action.
How to lay a two card Tarot spread
Draw the two cards and simply lay them next to each other, then turn them around.
Two card love Tarot spread
There are many different love Tarot spreads that can be done with two cards.
If the querent is finding themselves in a dilemma or a choice of two options or possibilities, you can assign the two card positions ‘Option A,’ and ‘Option B.’ The first card reveals the inherent potential and overall energy if the querent chooses option A, while the second card reveals the same about option B.
Other potential card position assignments could be, ‘If I stay’ and ‘If I go,’ or ‘What I want’ vs. ‘What my partner wants.’
Two card career Tarot spread
Two card Tarot spreads can help gain clarity and insight into different options that are available to you in the realm of work, career building and money-making.
The spread’s two card positions could be assigned, for example, ‘If I Stay in this job’ vs. ‘If I accept the new job offer’ or ‘If I stay with this company’ vs. ‘If I start my own business.’
Two card self-development Tarot spread
Two card Tarot spreads can easily be adapted for use in readings about self-development.
Here, the two card positions could be assigned, for example, ‘What is draining my joy’ vs. ‘What will bring me more joy.’
Three card Tarot spreads
Three card Tarot spreads are, if possible, even more versatile than their two card counterparts. The three card Tarot spread can build on the two card spread by adding a third card position to two existing ones, or it can stand on its own.
How to lay a three card Tarot spread
Draw the three cards, and place them in a horizontal row. The central card is typically going to represent the querent in the reading, or the core issue that the reading is about, while the surrounding Tarot cards indicate surrounding influences and aspects.
3 card love Tarot spread
Three card Tarot spreads are wonderfully versatile and can give clear, incisive readings while keeping things relatively simple and uncluttered.
An example of three card Tarot spread with love in focus might use these card positions to analyse the compatibility of a couple: ‘What I want in the relationship,’ ‘What the other person wants in the relationship’ and ‘The relationship.’
3 card career Tarot spread
Possible card positions in a three card Tarot spread focused on career: ‘The potential for growth in my current job,’ ‘What would fulfil me’ and ‘The potential for growth if starting my own business.’
3 card self development Tarot spread
Potential card positions assigned in a three card Tarot spread with self-development in focus: ‘What I think I want,’ ‘What I really want’ and ‘What I need.’
The Celtic Cross Tarot spread
The Celtic Cross is one of the most popular and widely used Tarot spreads with good reason. The Celtic Cross gives you an in-depth of any topic, and is a suitable scaffolding for Tarot spreads focused on relationships, career, personal growth, inner wisdom, creativity, healing and much more.
How to lay a Celtic Cross Tarot spread
The Celtic Cross Tarot spread uses ten card positions.
The first two Tarot cards are laid down in a cross formation, card two on top of card one. They indicate the core issue or question in the reading and the primary influencing factor.
The third and fourth card are placed above and to the right of the central cross. They represent the possible outcome and past issues.
The firth and sixth cards are placed below and to the left of the central cross, indicating the immediate past and the immediate future.
The seventh, eight, eighth and tenth cards are placed in a vertical row next to the larger cross. They represent your present approach, surroundings, hopes and ultimate outcome.
Celtic Cross Tarot spread with love focus
The Celtic Cross Tarot spread can easily be made to serve as a relationship spread. It can help provide a sweeping view over a relationship by revealing both past influences and hopes for the future.
If you wish, you can change some of the card destinations to suit the particular reading.
Celtic Cross Tarot spread with career focus
The Celtic Cross Tarot spread can help provide a detailed view over your overall career trajectory, and the different hopes, desires and insecurities you may have when it comes to your career or profession.
Celtic Cross Tarot spread with self-development focus.
There really is no limit to the topics that the Celtic Cross Tarot spread can address. Regardless of which topic is in focus, the Celtic Cross spread always provides insights into your personal journey – even in readings that are not explicitly about self-development.
The no spread spread – reading the Tarot cards intuitively
Also referred to as the ‘no spread spread,’ reading the cards intuitively consists in simply letting your intuition guide you to the cards you need. Instead of relying on the scaffolding provided by set card positions with assigned meanings, you simply draw cards out of the deck as the conversation of the reading is unfolding.
I’m personally very fond of the intuitive, no spread spread, but I like to combine it with elements of many of the different Tarot spreads mentioned above. A reading can often be more extensive than any of the spreads above will allow for.
The important thing is to find the Tarot reading techniques that work best for you and result in the best readings.
I typically start a reading sessions by laying a simple spread, typically a three or four card spread, to establish the core energies and issues of the reading. Then, as the ensuing conversation unfolds, I’ll add to that initial structure intuitively, picking the number of cards and placing them in the positions I feel are necessary and useful.
Clarifying cards are additional cards that you draw in order to zoom in on a particular aspect of a reading.
Clarifying cards allow you to ‘zoom in’ on a particular aspect of the reading that doesn’t seem clear, or where you feel that more detailed information is needed.
Advice cards are similar to clarifying cards. What sets them apart is that, instead of zooming in and asking for clarification, advice cards focus on resolving issues that come up during the reading.
No matter what the content, context or tone of a Tarot reading, it is always a good idea to end it on a full stop and a positive note.
When the reading is done, draw one final card – one final piece of advice or encouragement from the cards – from the bottom of the deck.
Summarising the reading
When a Tarot reading draws to a close, it is good practice to briefly summarise the key points, revelations and information that coma up during the reading. This helps tie all of the different strands together, and also helps the querent memorise the reading’s key takeaways and overall message.