The way that tarot cards are read depends, in large part, upon their position within a chosen tarot card spread. There are many different spreads to choose from. Each one serves a different purpose and allows for different understandings of various problems that you might be facing.
The Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross spread is probably the spread that is most commonly used and taught. This card spread looks like this:
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1 – The questioner in relationship to the present situation.
2 –The assets in the questioner’s favor, or the challenges the questioner faces.
3 – A message from the higher self.
4 – The past as it relates to this situation.
5 – The emotional life of the questioner.
6 – The state of the questioner’s relationship with other people, as it relates to this question.
7 – The attitudes of the querent, which impact the situation.
8 – The questioner’s environment, unseen forces.
9 – The questioner’s hopes and fears.
10 – The most likely outcome of the situation if things are allowed to continue on the present path.
The Celtic cross layout is popular because it gives insight into the future while delving deeply into the causes of the present problem. It is a good layout for giving insight while being an easier layout to learn. If you don’t learn any other spread you can typically do decent basic readings with this one.
The Past, Present, and Future
This spread is sort of a “quick and dirty” spread. It is perhaps the easiest of all possible layouts to learn and use, but it carries disadvantages in that it lacks depth. This layout gives you a brief overview of important events or pitfalls ahead but by its very nature is incapable of offering very many details.
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1 – The past, specifically elements of the past that are influencing events in the present and future.
2 – The present situation, specifically, the most important thing about your present situation.
3 – The immediate future that is most likely to occur based on the previous factors.
This layout is a fast and easy layout that is very appropriate to daily readings. It doesn’t do as well for longer term problems and readings, though it could theoretically be used for them.
The Planetary Layout
This spread is also known as the seven card spread.
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1 – This is the questioner.
2 – This is the Moon, or Home Matters.
3 – The card of Mercury, or Business Matters.
4 – The card of Venus, or Love Matters.
5 – The card of Mars, or Things that Oppose You.
6 – The card of Jupiter, or Financial Matters.
7 – The card of Saturn, or Matters of the Mind.
8 – The outcome of the situation.
This layout is particularly good at giving you a “snapshot” of different areas of your life, and can help you understand what is working in your life and what is not working or needs additional attention to avoid problems in the future.
There are Many Other Layouts
There are dozens of other tarot spreads, each one developed in order to meet a specific need. A skilled psychic may know up to 20 or 30 layouts and will have a skill of switching between them with ease in order to create the best possible readings. However, if you are just getting started with the tarot it is best to pick just one layout and master it before trying to move on to others. As mentioned previously, the Celtic Cross layout is a good start.