When I began giving tarot and oracle readings, I was led to think that the more cards that I flipped over, the better the reading would be. But as my skill and trust in my intuitive abilities grew, I found smaller spreads worked best for me and my clients.
Now, I tend to use 3 to 5 card spreads when I read for myself or another. It is enough cards to delve deep with, but not so many that I have to keep track of what goes where, and risk alienating/overwhelming the client. Also, each spread can be easily altered to suit the needs of the reading.
So here are a few of my favorite spreads. They are suitable for use with any divination tool, including tarot, runes, oracle cards, I-ching, cowrie shells, crystals – whatever instrument you prefer to utilize.
What the Spread Reveals
This is a very simple yet useful spread, that can have a wide range of meanings assigned to each of the three positions. Two of these are presented here for your consideration. They include the top row of titles, which introduces a problem or decision-focused approach, “Context – Focus – Outcome” and the bottom titles which introduce a timeline approach, of “Past – Present – Future.” These two layouts can also be combined.
Problem Solving/Decision Making Approach
This spread will help you approach a problem or decision.
Left Card: The Context – This card reflects a general overview of the Querent’s present situation.
Center Card: The Focus – This card reflects the circumstances of the situation, and what lessons can be learned. These lessons may be positive or negative depending on the card.
Right Card: The Outcome – This card shows suggests a method of action for the Querent.
This spread will help you to learn to apply the tarot to help you to explore the forces that are influencing the Querent, by looking at the past, present and future energy around them.
Left Card: The Past – This card shows the Querent’s past experiences, the ones that cast a light on the current situation.
Center Card: The Present – This card reveals what the Querent is feeling and experiencing at the moment.
Right Card: The Future – This card tells the course of action that will serve the Querent’s highest good, based on the first two cards.
You can also use the Three Card Spread with formats like Maiden, Mother, Crone, Work, Family, Love, or Mind, Body, Spirit. Or create your own to suit your needs. One of my favorite Three Card Spreads is This One, That One, Or the Other One. Each card gives the result of a specific choice. For example: “Should I date him, her, or them?”
Additionally, you check out Labyrinthos for a ton of Three Card Spread suggestions.
Suitable for use in any situation where the truth needs to be revealed.
1 – The Illusion: The veil. What appears to be happening.
2 – The Truth: Behind the veil. What is actually happening.
3 – This is what hinders your progress.
4 – This is what will support your progress.
5 – Outcome or Purposed Goal
This spread works best with a specific goal or issue in mind.
1 – An overview of your goal/situation
2 – Mind: What needs to be mentally understood about your situation; how to achieve clarity and emotional balance.
3 – Body: Physical world influences regarding your situation. This could be a person or a thing that will help you achieve your goal.
4 – Spirit: How the universe is supporting you; how this situation affects your spiritual growth.
5 – Accumulation: The deep lesson of the path you are on. Where achieving your goal/solving your issue will lead you.
This is a spread for a deeper style of divination, to help reveal the shadow and light of your current cycle. This is a wonderful layout for times of transition, milestones, and retrograde periods.
1 – Waning Moon: What needs to be released. What no longer serves your best interest.
2 – New Moon: How to let go of the energy that no longer serves you.
3 – Waxing Moon: What energies need to be called in. The seeds that should be planted.
4- Full Moon: The attainment. The blooming. The light that shines in the darkness. The joy that is coming to fruition in your life.
5 – Eclipse: Balance between the dark and the light. The unification of the lessons in this cycle.
This layout is designed specifically for Goddess tarot or oracle cards, to divine the deities influencing the specific areas of your life. The spread can be altered to fit your other divination tools, or ancestor oracles.
1 – The Head: The Goddess influence needed to bring/maintain balance to your mental state
2 – The Heart: The Goddess influence needed to bring/maintain balance to your emotions and love-related issues.
3 – The Body: The Goddess influence needed to bring/maintain balance to your physical health.
4 – The Spirit: The Goddess influence needed to bring/maintain balance to your energy and your spiritual practice.
And finally, I like the Daily Pull Spread. In times of confusion, expansion, or when I need a bit of guidance, I like to pull a card or rune first thing in the morning, to divine my theme for the day. This practice helps me to keep my focus, and directs me on where and how my energy should be flowing in order to make the most out of each day. In addition, it gives me a heads up on what to look out for.
1 – The theme of the day.
2 – What to watch out for, either to embrace or avoid (depending on the card and interpretation)
My Favorite Decks
Afro-Brazilian Tarot by Lo Scarabeo
Alchemist’s Oracle by Lauren Aletta
Divine Feminine Oracle by Meggan Watterson
Dust II Onyx: A Melanated Tarot by Courtney Alexander
Goddess Oracle Deck & Book Set by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto
Haindl Tarot Deck by Hermann Haindl
Hoodoo Tarot by Tayannah Lee McQuillar and Katelan V. Foisy
Modern Witch Tarot Deck by Lisa Sterle and Vita Ayala
Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook by Kim Krans
Need a different perspective on your personal divinations? Priestess Auset offers readings of all kinds. Click here for more info.