Another question that people often ask me is “What are the most common tarot spreads?” In a previous article The Six most Popular Tarot Decks, I listed what the most popular tarot decks are, what you can choose from and how to know what deck is the most appropriate for you. But that doesn’t really say much about how to use them.
Here I’m going to take a look at the most common Tarot Spreads and what each of them are good for. You see, each spread has a particular focal point and once you learn how to incorporate the right spread into your tarot reading you’ll be able to really narrow down the answer the Tarot cards are trying to give you.
Having the right Tarot Spread to help you narrow down the outcome of your reading can aid you in getting a much more accurate and relevant reading.
So, without further ado, let’s lay the cards on the table… In no particular order, here are what I believe to be the 6 most common tarot spreads.
The “TRUE LOVE” Spread
It should come as no surprise that this is one of the spreads on this list. Everyone likes to know where their love life is heading. This spread is great for those times that you want to find out what’s going to happen in your romantic relationship, whether you are in a good relationship that will stand the test of time and if you’ll live happily ever after, or as close to it as possible. Every relationship has its ups and downs and with this six-card spread you will be able to evaluate your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual connections with your partner.
#1 – The first card represents you. It signifies what you currently feel about your relationship, your approach, and your outlook.
#2 – The second card represent your partner. It also represents his current emotions towards you, his attitude, and expectations about your relationship.
#3 – The third card is a connection card. What are the characteristics that you have in common and how do they bind you together?
#4 – The fourth card indicates the strength of your relationship. What are the qualities that makes your relationship flourish?
#5 – The fifth card shows the weaknesses in your relationship. What are the things you both need to improve?
#6 – This final card is your true love card. It interprets what needs to be addressed.
Is your relationship going to be successful? If there is a threat, what must be done?
The “SUCCESS” Spread
The success spread an excellent situational spread to use when you are facing an obstacle or challenge and you don’t know how to approach and overcome it. This spread helps you to better understand the true nature of the obstacle you face. It will help you to identify what skills and resources you have at your disposal to not just face, but overcome any obstacles life throws in your path!
#1 – The first card signifies your major concern or obstacle. What is it that you’re facing? You can’t overcome a problem if you’re not exactly sure what it is and that’s what this card will tell you.
#2 – The second card elaborates on your current challenges and complications. How is the problem showing up in your life? How is it shaping the course of your life?
#3 – The third card reveals the hidden factors affecting your current situation. You need to know what these factors are to really overcome the obstacle you’re facing.
#4 – The fourth card represents new ideas, people, or things that can help you grow further. By involving yourself with these new aspects your perception of the situation will evolve and you will find better solutions to your problems.
#5 – The final card indicates what you need to do to be successful or what you should stay away from in order to avoid failure. It will point you in the direction you need to follow if it is a positive card or warn you to stay away from the situation indicated if it is a negative card.
The “Celtic Cross” Spread
Despite its complexity, the Celtic Cross Spread has remained popular for many, many years. This is probably due to the fact that its charm lies in its complexity. It’s also one of the oldest spreads and is commonly found in guide books for Tarot Decks like the Rider-Waite.
Personally I find this spread to be the most helpful in complicated situations, because it’s versatile and delivers vast amounts of information. Each reading using the Celtic Cross Spread can be interpreted in several ways depending on the positions the cards fall in. It may not be an easy spread for beginners, but once you get the hang of it you can use this spread to find out what’s at the core of any type of situation. It shows internal as well as external aspects of a situation and, with practice, it can be used to answer any type of question. I’m going to explain this one in detail so you can make the most of it in your own practice.
(An optional Significator card can be added below the first card if the question does not relate to yourself directly. This card then shows what or who the question and subsequent reading is related to, as a result of this option I am going to explain the meanings of the cards in such a way that it relates to “the person” the reading is about.)
#1 – The first card presents the current situation the person the reading is about finds themselves in. What surrounds them and what is involved in the question they are facing?
#2 – The second card is placed across the first card, facing to the left and is ALWAYS read in upright position. It shows what the core obstacle is that needs to be overcome, or what the thing is that’s holding the person back. If this is a positive card it may be fear or envy of the situation that is depicted that is holding the person back.
#3 – The third card reveals subconscious influences. What does the subject of the reading truly desire? These unknown influences have powerful effect in the person’s everyday life, especially in situations relating to the question.
NOTE: If the second card shows a positive situation and the third card shows a negative situation the person the reading is about is creating a negative outcome for themselves because they believe they are not good enough to get the positive outcome shown by the second card.
#4 – The fourth card shows what tools the person has at their disposal and what they can use to overcome the obstacle indicated by the second card in order to reach their ultimate goal, shown by the third card.
NOTE: The fourth card can show negative aspects, but they can be used to achieve the overall goal indicated by the third card. OR, if the second card is positive and the third and fourth cards are negative the person is using what is indicated by the fourth card to create the negative outcome they subconsciously desire.
#5 – The fifth card shows the past of the situation. What past events or issues are presently bugging the person? A negative past may have an adverse effect on their current situation and they will need to let go of it in order to stop it from influencing their current situation negatively so they can overcome the obstacle indicated by the second card. A positive past should be acknowledged as inspiration. Even though the person may be facing a problem at the moment the obstacle they face is a natural progression and evolution of the positive past they had the pleasure of experiencing and once they overcome the situation things will be even better than in the past.
#6 – The sixth card is the headlight. Where is the person heading? What path are they following? If the card says there is a negative energy on the way the five previous cards should give a good indication of why this is coming and what can be done to avoid this situation from arising by redirecting the person’s life to a better track.
#7 – The seventh card represents the person’s attitude. It represents your actions, thoughts, and ideals regarding the issue at hand. This will give you insight into whether the person’s attitude is conducive to a desirable outcome or whether it’s time to change the way they perceive the situation.
#8 – The eighth card is an energy card. What kind of energy do is the person getting from the people surrounding them and their environment? Are the energies helpful? Or is it time for a change of scenery?
#9 – The ninth card symbolises what the person wants or fears. This is a revelation card. It signifies the things that they should know and be aware of in their current situation as it might influence the way the person is acting. Something they should never neglect.
#10 – Final card symbolises the final outcome. Based on the current energies, this will have a strong connection with the sixth card. What does it say? Are the energies complementing or conflicting each other? The final card can also indicate whether whether the person can avoid the immediate future represented by the sixth card, or whether it is a necessary obstacle they need to face.
The “Spiritual Guidance” Spread
Similar to the Success Spread, the Spiritual Guidance spread is used situationally during times when you are faced with obstacles or challenges of a spiritual nature. These obstacles are usually related to your own growth or development as a spiritual being. This spread is designed to give you a broader perspective, and includes information to help you along your spiritual path and the important life lessons you will learn on it.
#1 – The first card represents your primary concern, question, or issue with regards to your spiritual journey. Even though you may think you know what the problem is, this card will reveal the true depth of the issue.
#2 – The second card interprets your motivation for your quest for guidance. Are you motivated by personal gain, the need for approval or a genuine place of humble awareness that you can improve?
#3 – The third card identifies the areas in your life you are anxious or disheartened about. What are your perceived weaknesses and how do they influence the situation?
#4 – The fourth card signifies the events in your current situation that you are unaware of. This is usually an external factor or situation that has a direct impact on your current situation.
#5 – The fifth card is your advice card. It will provide you knowledge regarding what you should do or not do to overcome your apprehensions. If you are seeking guidance from a genuine place this card will tie in with the second card as well as the third card.
#6 –The sixth card will tell you the best way to proceed from your worries and what you should do to keep moving forward on your spiritual journey. All of us have our own personal paths to follow and this card is catered to suit your specific needs at this time.
#7 – The seventh card tells you how to move forward with a positive light. So you can make the best of your current situation.
NOTE: If the sixth or seventh card (or both) are negative, you either need to overcome what is depicted within yourself, or someone or a situation in your life.
#8 – Finally, the eighth card wraps up the possible result you will get if you are able to follow the guiding light represented in the fifth card successfully. Remember, as with all Tarot spreads, the outcome can change depending on how you react to the reading. For instance, if the sixth or seventh card is a negative one, but the eighth card is positive you will need to work on the negative aspects especially hard in order to reach the positive outcome. If the sixth or seventh card and the eighth card are negative you need to change the aspects shown in card six or seven. If the sixth and seventh cards are both positive, but the eighth card is negative look to the second and third cards for guidance.
The “Career Path” Spread
This is another favorite among practitioners. It’s perfect for times when you feel like you have remained stagnant in a career position, stuck in a rut for years, vying to be promoted, but to no gain.It is a great spread that will help you to understand any obstacles you may be facing in your professional life, and it suggest strategies to on how to deal with these issues.
Alternatively, if you are unhappy with your current career choice, this is the spread to use! In this case it will suggest alternative paths based on your personal strengths.
#1 – The first card interprets the answer to the question: “Is your current job your ideal job?”. It’s a pretty straightforward interpretation, but if you need help you can reference the Yes/No Tarot guide for more insight into what the card you draw here represents (scroll to the bottom of the post and you’ll find the list of what each card means).
#2 – The second card signifies what actions must be taken to further your career. A positive card will indicate that you should remain in your current position while a negative card suggests that you should think about making a change in the area indicated by the card.
#3 – The third card reveals the aspects in your professional life that you can no longer alter. You may be called to a different job by the first card, but here the reading may indicate that you should look for something in the same line you are currently working in.
#4 – The fourth card shows your level of performance in your current job. Are you exerting enough effort to get to the top or even to accelerate? Or are you slacking? And why?
#5 – The fifth card tells you the things that you need to change and improve. This card can indicate a possible new career path or just small things you can alter in your current job to ensure you are more productive and that you get noticed.
#6 – The sixth card answers the question: “Is there a past event in your career life that is affecting your current work status?” Pay careful attention to this card. You can also use the Yes/No Tarot Guide for help deciphering the card you draw here.
#7 – The final card interprets the result that you can anticipate if you follow the guidance given to you by the reading. If this is a negative card you may be interpreting some of the reading incorrectly which will lead you to making bad career choices. If you’re unsure of the outcome you get, take a couple of days to mull over the reading and then do another one to see how things have changed as your attitude changes.
The “Three Card” Spread
The simplest of all. Three cards and that’s it. No sweat. And that’s what makes this one of the most popular Tarot spreads.
But don’t let its simplicity deceive you, for this is one of the most powerful Tarot spreads, and a personal favorite of mine. This spread is the quickest way to get answers to any questions you may have in your life, and it can even provide you with insight and guidance if you are simply feel lost and confused.
It is by far one of the most dynamic spreads, and is incredibly effective at highlighting the energy of your past, present and future.
What are the essentials of this spread?
Unlike the other spreads I have listed, the 3-Card spread is very different as there is not one fixed purpose, or meaning to each card position. Instead it is completely dynamic depending on the purpose of the reading, and the question being asked. Here are a few of the many ways it can be utilized:
- What helps you?/What hinders you?/What are your realized and unrealized potentials?
- Current situation/Challenges/Guidance
- What you think/What you Feel/What You Do
- You/Your Partner/Your relationship
You can even assign your own meaning to each position of the three cards you draw. I often use this spread when I’m struggling to make a choice and I assign a decision to the first two cards, for instance the first card will be the outcome if I do go on holiday with my friends, the second is the outcome if I don’t go. Then, for the final card, I ask for any help, insight and guidance the Tarot can give me regarding the decision.
And there you have my take on the six most common Tarot spreads and how you can use them to get insightful and accurate readings in your own Tarot practice.