Tarot spreads are truly central to my practice of reading the cards. Anyone who has taken a class with me has probably heard me say “the meaning is defined by the position” or “positional meanings are crucial”. The spot where we find a card in a spread tells us if it speaks of an obstacle, an ally, an enemy, our own folly, or the outcome of our ventures. It might seem that the obvious question then is to ask “what spread should I use?”
Almost always this is not the best question to lead with.
The most important question is actually “what do I need to know about this situation?” Sure you can do a general spread and evaluate what comes from it but this can create too much information. A talented reader will help you cut to the chase and see clearly where the information you are needing is to be found. If you are reading for yourself you can treat the cards as your reader and let them narrow your focus.
I am going to use love as the focus of this example but keep in mind you can change the questions to fit what is going on.
Querant (Q) – I need to know about marriage.
Me (M) – Are you asking about it in general or about a specific situation
Q – A specific person
M – … and what do you need to know bout them?
Q – Is it going to work out?
M – Okay. Are there specific concerns or are you confident?
Q – We are separated? Will he come back?
M – Do you want him to come back?
Q – Really I want to know why he left.
M – So you if we look at why your marriage has come to this place that would help you?
Q – Yes
So you can see how the deeper question can be buried behind other original ask. Of course the person wanted to know if their partner was coming back. It was not a “wrong” questions it just failed to go far enough. In the reading we looked at why the marriage had hit this obstacle and it became obvious to the person that it was over. You’ll notice the radical shift from “what is going?” to “what happened?” The power shifted from the absent partner to the person asking the question.
So instead of jumping into deciding if a celtic cross or zodiacal spread is the best option get clear about what you need to know. Try asking yourself the following question. Just draw one card and read it as the answer.
- Just write your original question as a statement. I need to know about work, love, my son, health, my dog, my new boss, my kidneys, etc.
- In what way do I need to know more about this subject? Here I would look at the suits extra informative. Cups say it is more an emotional need, Swords intellectual, Wands point to an action, and disks might point at facts or things. If you get a major card look at what area of life that card speaks to.
- Look at the answer to the last question and phrase it as a question. If I got a wand card I’d say “What action do I need clarity on to go ahead?” If you are solid on the cards meaning you can colour the question with the meaning of the card. So for the 9 of Wands I might say “What action will take me to a position of strength?”
- Answer your own question.
- Are you now clear about what you need to know? Great formulate your question for the cards and decide on a spread.
- If you don’t feel sure yet as the following questions and then jump back to the start of this process.
• Do I need to know more than one thing about the situation?
• Am I just looking to be told things will be okay?
• Do I already know the answer?
add your own questions to this list and as time goes on you will get better and better at asking insightful questions.
In my free e-book “Simply Learn Tarot” I talk more about spreads and how to interpret the cards. If you haven’t got it yet you can grab your copy for free over here. Plus you will get regular emails with exercises to help build your reading skills and maybe a happier life too.
If you give it a try let me know how it goes. If you’d like a private lesson or reading from me just let me know.
“Arrow” image by Alberto used under creative commons license.