The most important part of your tarot spread is understanding. This may seem obvious, but any spread is best so long as you find you understand it with ease. If a tree layout seems like too much, try pulling just one card.
In this article I will dispel some concerns regarding your readings and discuss beginner spreads that have worked for me in my own journey. By the end of it you will have the confidence in yourself to trust your readings.
Things You Should Know as a New Reader
Before I break down a few spreads to try, let’s ease some worries that tend to come up for new readers.
Find Your Own Meaning to the Cards
Yes the cards all have their own recorded meanings but if you tried to find the ‘one true meaning’ and memorize them for every card you would never progress.
Everyone has their own connection to the cards, so you should make one for yourself as well. It’s good to familiarize yourself with some core meanings, but then sit with your deck. Find what the cards say to you and work with them to find your own meanings.
Start Small in Card Pulls
A basic spread taught to many is the 3 card spread–generally perceived as Past, Present, Future. This is the easiest one to get your footing with because it does not require a large layout or even a large space to do it.
Don’t jump right into big, complicated tarot spreads if you are still finding your way around the cards. It can get overwhelming trying to work through a big spread when you’re still learning the cards.
Trust Your Senses
You know what question you are asking your cards. Trust yourself to know that if a spread doesn’t feel right for the reading to change up how you are doing it.
Don’t force yourself to fit some “mold” or “ritual” that does not resonate with you. This will simply cause anxiety and likely make you feel like you’re “faking” something, or that you can’t do it. Anyone can read tarot; you just have to trust yourself!
Pull “Clarifier” Cards
One of the most useful things I took from a class on tarot (given by Third Eye Champagne Psychic: Kirsten Langston) was pulling for clarification. If you have done a three card spread but the picture seems incomplete, or you don’t understand something, pull another card.
It’s okay to ask for help in life and in tarot. Sometimes the cards aren’t clear–especially when you are first learning how to read them. A clarification card (or cards!) will help you get a better picture of what the cards are telling you.
Different Tarot Spreads to Try
Now that we’ve worked through some myths and reservations regarding tarot, and we are beginning to trust our own judgement, let’s put it to the test!
How I Begin Each Spread
Before we go over some layouts, I’ll tell you how I set up for my own readings. This is not gospel, so feel free to warm yourself up however you find works best for you, but however you do it, be sure to shuffle.
- Ground: I try to get both feet on the ground if I can (but this isn’t always possible), take three deep breaths as I push negative energy out and take the positive energy of the earth in.
- Knock on the deck 3 times: an old habit I picked up so many years ago that I don’t remember the source, but each knock is focused on “clearing” the deck
- Shuffle the cards: Keep your question in mind when doing so
- Cut the deck into 3 stacks, join the deck back together
- Spread out the cards with the question in mind and select the cards: my own selection process goes by what I feel but some people just pull from the top of the deck.
The Three Card Pull
As stated earlier this is the go-to for beginners as it is the most self-explanatory and quick. Even after years of pulling cards, this is the one I do the most. The default of this pull is “past, present, future” and helps getting a long term look at the question.
This pull does not have to stick to those designations. For example, I will most often pull a 3 card spread with all 3 slots meaning the same thing. The object of this approach is to get a detailed answer to a question without diving too much into the circumstances leading up to it.
For example, recently this approach helped me in answering a family-related question. I knew the past and present, so all three cards went to explain the future.
The One Card Pull
Another good practice pull is simply pulling one card. The easiest questions for this type of spread is a Yes/No question or a daily reading, as only so much information can be ascertained from one card.
This spread is as straightforward as it seems–simply shuffle your deck with your question in mind and pull the card. If you find after the one card that you wanted more of an answer, pull that clarifier card!
The Four Powers
The Modern Witch Tarot Journal by Lisa Sterle is a great investment for the new tarot reader, and includes this beginner-friendly 6 card spread. It features two cards overlapping in the center, and four cards surrounding them.
The Tarot Journal break down this spread as follows (excerpt from The Modern Witch Tarot Journal by Lisa Sterle):
- “The Path: Where you are called to tread
- What Lies Across: Obstacles that arise
- To Know: What will be learned
- To Dare: In what ways do you need to express courage
- To Will: Where should you place your focus
- To Keep Silent: How should you show restraint.”
This is a nice stepping stone spread to building up to large spreads with deeper meanings to each card pulled.
Tarot is Personal
In the end, tarot is an extremely personal journey–you must find the meaning of your cards in your own time and find which spreads work for you. It is a long and every-changing journey. I am constantly growing my understanding of the cards and the work I do.
Take advice everywhere you can find it but do not let that dictate how you move forward. Trust your instincts