Although tarot spreads can seem daunting, reading tarot cards can be as simple (pulling one each morning to start your day) or as in-depth (spending some quality time trying out the beloved Celtic Cross spread, which displays 10 cards to show you a situation from all sides — including, but not limited to, advice on the current situation, and the likely outcome) as you want it to be.
Tarot cards are often seen as a divination tool, but they're more of a self-care ritual for clarity and insight on any sort of situation you may be grappling with. You can even consider them to be a meditation aid. Also, depending on how many cards you pull, you can get a closer look at what to expect from certain situations like love, money, and even what to expect from your day.
As Allure's resident astrologer and the author Sex Witch: Sex Witch: Magickal Spells for Love, Lust, and Self-Protection, tarot is a big part of my self-care practice. The five-card spread for love, for instance, is easy enough for me to do in five minutes while offering me useful insight into how to approach my relationship woes from an empowered place. The Celtic Cross spread, on the other hand, is my go-to tarot card spread for creepily accurate answers to long-term questions, like ones related to marriage or tough career decisions.
Each spread offers something different, so keep reading to learn about four of my favorites that have become the backbone of my tarot practice.
One Card Spread
New to tarot or looking for a new way to infuse magic into each morning? Start your day with a one-card pull as I often do. This meditation ritual helps you learn tarot while gleaning insight into the day ahead of you. This type of tarot card reading can also help you stay determined and know where to direct your energy throughout the day.
Before getting your day started, take a few minutes to sit somewhere comfortable — like on a cushion or yoga mat — and shuffle your deck. While doing so, ask the cards, "What do I need to know today?" After that, some people like to spread out the cards face down, in the shape of a rainbow. Others cut the deck three times after shuffling, but it's all up to you. Trust your magic and intuition.
When you're ready, pick a card. Let's say you pulled the Chariot. This encouraging card can be a sign of the willpower you'll have to get what you want.
Pulling one card a day is also a wonderful way to learn the meaning of each major and minor arcana. We believe the most important tool in reading tarot is your intuition. Keeping a notebook by your side may be helpful during readings so you can jot down lessons learned. Not only is this a great way to keep track of what's going on in your personal life, and reflect on past readings, but doing so will also help you learn the cards.
Three Card Spread
The past, present, future spread presents three cards to offer insight into the progression of a situation.
For instance, you may want more understanding of your financial situation. Shuffle the cards with money on your mind. When the timing feels right, stop shuffling, and pull a card. Place this card to the left to represent your financial past and indicate what brought you to your current situation.
The second card you draw from the deck should be placed in the middle position to signify your financial present, how you feel at the moment about money, and insight into your current situation. Your third and final card goes to the right of it. This is your future card.
Remember, the tarot won't give you a verdict. Instead, consider it a positive guiding force to help you make sense of things. Observe the three cards in a row, and see what you can learn about your financial situation, how you got there, and what steps you must take next to reach your goal.
Five Card Spread
Gather insight into your love life with a five-card love spread, which features three cards on top and two on the bottom. Shuffle your cards, and think about romance. Ask yourself: Am I currently happy? What is my ideal outcome in my current relationship? If you're single, you can contemplate if you're ready for sparks to fly between your crush and you.
Pull the first card, and place it in the top-left position. This represents you. To the right of it, set down a second card that will offer insight into your partner, lover, or crush's point of view. The third card you pull should be added beside it to the right. You'll find out your relationship potential or, if you're single, the relationship you desire, through that one. This trio of cards makes up the first row of the spread.
To complete the second row, pluck another tarot card from the deck and set it down underneath the first two. This card indicates the advice you need to fulfill your relationship's potential. For instance, if you draw the Death card, it may be time to get over a former lover or cut off toxic thinking patterns.
Finally, pull another card, and place it to the right of the advice card. This will be your outcome and shows you how your situation may play out. Again, think of this card as less like a final ruling and more like important information to help manifest your ideal resolution.
10 Card Spread
The Celtic Cross spread looks busy and complicated, but anyone with an open mind and a deck of tarot cards can do it. Trust me.
Get nice and comfy before shuffling your cards. Once you start doing so, think about a situation or desire that's been on your mind. This can range from the specific — such as moving in with your partner — to more general questions, like what the next month has in store for you.
Pull a card, and place it down in the middle of the area you're working in. It represents the present, as well as your state of mind at the given moment.
Now, pull card number two, and cross it horizontally over the first card so that they cross, as seen above. Consider this one as the challenge at hand. For example, if you're doing a reading about moving in together and pull the Three of Swords as the challenge card, old heartbreak and grief may be standing in your way.
The third card you draw should go to the left of the crossed cards. This one will stand alone, and represents the past, including past events that are still affecting your situation. Now pull the fourth card and place it to the right of the crossed cards. This card shows you the future.
The fifth card is placed above the crossed first and second cards and represents "the above," which refers to your goal or desired outcome. Put the sixth card below the crossed cards as “the below,” or the truth of the situation as seen from the unconscious. It cuts through to the truth of the situation, and can often teach you lessons about yourself that your subconscious wants you to know.
On the bottom of the row to the right, which contains four cards, goes the seventh card. Consider this your "advice" and pertinent information for helping you achieve your goal. The eighth card should be set down above it to represent external influences (i.e., family, money, past trauma) affecting your situation.
Then, draw your ninth card, and place it above the external influences to show you both your hopes and fears. Remember your attitude about a situation is everything. If insecurity is holding you back, the hopes and fears card will call you out.
Finally, the last card in the Celtic Cross goes above the ninth to complete the spread. The tenth card shows you the outcome. Don't be worried if it's not what you hoped for. The Celtic Cross is designed to be read as a whole, so spend time looking at the entire spread. Do certain cards connect with one another? Are patterns present that are evident in your real-life struggles? Be honest with yourself, and be willing to learn.
Remember, tarot is fun; you don't need to take any of these spreads too seriously. None of them dictate how life will turn out, but they do offer useful witchy insight. The more you use tarot, the more it will make sense to you.
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