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This mini lesson is about:  How and when to cast a spread, what spread to use for each occasion, how to know the strengths of various spreads

Tarot Article 3 │ Part One

Warning: This is a long lesson. It will take you at least 30 minutes to work through    but it is one of the most important lessons you will ever do. Please set aside some    time and do this. Take short notes on a pad of paper so you can apply this information    to any reading you do. I might just break it up into two parts if it gets long enough.    I want you to take a short break between them but make it your most important priority    to read and do this entire lesson.

Open any book on the tarot and you will find spreads. In fact many authors have attempted    to collect spreads like one collects trading cards, or stamps, and compile them in    a book as if there was one right spread for every occasion. This is one of the things    that limits tarot learning and confuses students. While it is good to see what other    people think makes a good card layout, the sheer assault on the senses of hundreds    of spreads tends to paralyze the average reader or force them to retreat into the    spreads they know that work for them.

I invite you to learn new spreads, casually perusing the various offerings and spread    variations offered by authors who come from different parts of the world and different    backgrounds, but I want you to remain skeptical at all times. I do not want you to    join the ranks of overwhelmed tarot students and readers who have been bludgeoned    to death with far too much useless information. The term “information paralysis”     refers to a state where one is so saturated with data (data=information; and not    necessarily “useful information”) that one cannot make forward progress. Information    paralysis becomes toxic mental stress overload and the body reacts violently, shutting    out all external awareness to “flush the toilet” of crap that has been crammed into    your conscious awareness.

Don’t do this to yourself. Have a handful of spreads that you have tried and found  to work for you. In The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot—EVER!! I have given you a    short ensemble of basic spreads that are easy to learn and real workhorses. They    will serve you well over the years. You may use these or ignore them, but find a    collection of spreads that is roughly similar to what I offer: a handful of 1, 2,    and 3 card spreads, a good Celtic Cross variant, and at least one form of astrological    spread. These will handle any situation you encounter; remembering that you can always    open cards up or extend a reading. Trying to build an overly large collection of    spreads or inventing new ones to be cool is a recipe for disaster. If you want to    design your own spreads that is fine but learn and master some basic spreads first    or you will just be another pedestrian reader, and we have far too many of them as    it is.

So . . . which spread is right for the occasion? What spread should you use when    _____? Let’s start with the smallest spreads and discuss their best uses and add    cards and see when larger and larger spreads are more effective. A word of advice    here however: Spreads can become ineffectual when you try to use too many cards.    When you start creating spreads that are over 12 cards for the initial layout (this    does not include shuffled and focused on clarification cards or extenders) you are    requiring that every card be just right. Spreads are based on random probability    enhanced by “divine intervention” in direct proportion to your skill and attention    level. If you are untrained, or worse unfocused, you will get truly random cards    that are nowhere near accurate no matter how you try to twist their meanings. The    more cards you add to the initial cast, the more likely that some cards will be wrong.    A 1, 2, or 3 card spread with a good clear focus can be highly accurate as you only    need to get one answer to one question about one thing. You can do one card readings    all day long in the course of an overall reading. This requires great sensitivity    and focus, and frequent reshuffling of the deck, but it is an acceptable method of    divination that has worked for tens of thousands of readers.

When you add more cards to a spread you clarify the answers you do get, allowing    for greater finesse and detail. This all works to a point. After that you start to    muddy the waters. “More” is not always “better.”

When to use one-card spreads: One-card spreads are great for simple answers of quickie    clarifications. Yes/no, did he/didn’t he, or any variation of a yes or no question.    These are also great to subtly indicate whether your querent/client is telling the    truth or not. If you hear something that sounds suspicious as they are talking casually    draw a card from the middle of the pack. Know in advance what your qualifications    are: reversed means a lie, or Swords or Wands means they are lying; whereas a “major”     Arcana can mean that they don’t really know what they are talking about or are missing    too many facts for their opinion to be correct. Whatever you choose—be consistent.    You can’t change the rules in the middle of a reading. Well, you can, but you risk    becoming so chaotic that the answers you get are random and unreliable.