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 Lesson 3 │ Part 2
One-card spreads are best for simple, hard choices, or completely trivial matters. They do not offer depth or explanation of their reasoning. They are alike a traffic signal: Go. Stop. “Why?” Because it is the law. Do not question the law. Don’t rely on one-card spreads to give you in-depth answers. Trust in your larger spreads and take the time to do them. Also, don’t put too much faith in one-card spreads. I see a lot of information on the internet, mostly copied from a book out of context and with no quality explanation, that you “should draw one tarot card every day to see how your day is going to go.” Okay, let’s do that. Today you get The Devil. Tomorrow you get the Tower. The next, Death, and after that Judgement.
Hmmm . . . really? Okay so your week is going to suck that bad? Unless you line in a war-zone it is highly unlikely those cards will be correct and the dominant force in the day’s activities. And what if you got The Lovers of the Nine of Cups (“the wish card”) and your day completely sucked? You put yourself under tremendous stress when you draw a card for the day and expect to receive that energy, whether it is good or bad. If you must draw one card every day (and this is not a bad idea in and of itself) do it as an exercise. Use that card throughout the day to apply to things. Casually look around and see if that card matches anything you see on the news or in passing. Don’t look at the tarot as fatalistic but as a way of describing events of the day.
Two-card spreads are best for comparisons in a this or that format. Think dualistically for a moment: male or female, black or white, up or down, this choice or that, us versus them. Nothing can match the simplicity, directness, or power of a well-focused two-card spread. Use these in the middle of a reading to clarify a point or an add-on question (querents, and especially clients, love to add on questions in the middle of a reading) or to start a reading. Sometimes even before you throw your first cards you get the urge to do a two-card spread to find out what is really going on.
Three-card spreads may be the most useful-mini-spreads ever invented. Four and five card spreads just can’t compete with these powerhouses of information. The combine simplicity with just enough depth to round out information and give you the answers you seek. You can use them in a linear fashion (this THEN that THEN that over there) or you can blend them, have two gang up on one for an industrial strength “this versus that” spread where one card acts alone or “against the group” or is ganged up on. These are all choices you make before you throw the cards. Look in The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot—EVER!! for a good selection of three-card spreads, including the exercises I give. The book Power Tarot has a decent selection of possible three-card spreads you may like. Be picky. Choose no more than two or three to use. Note how I keep you flexible by showing you HOW to combine three cards into various spreads rather than give you a pre-set “here’s a spread—use it” dogmatic formula. Don’t get sucked in by anyone’s spread and force yourself into a box of having to make yourself fit their spread. Do what works for you. All the rest is commentary.
Okay, so let’s get into it: When to do a “big-spread” or a Celtic Cross or astrological spread. Your most commonly-used spreads for paying clients and close friends will be either a variation of the CC or an astrological spread. Either of these spreads provide a good “all around” view of the situation at hand. A side note before we get too into this: I can already hear groans at the word astrological and I can see attention-spans darting away in search of ice cream. An “astrological spread” has very little to do with actual astrology. It is simply an arrangement of cards in a circle where you have twelve card positions. These positions can indicate hours of a day (each card gets two hours), months of the year, seasons (each season gets three cards), or the astrological signs or houses. The song remains the same. The cards are the cards. The card positions simply relate to events or situations that correspond to an astrological blueprint. Astrological spreads (in all of their variations) work. They work very well and you don’t need to know astrology to use them. In The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot—EVER!! I introduce you to a simplified astrology spread for the non-astrologer called the roundabout spread. It gives you basic instructions, like this is what you have, this is what other people have (and you may need), this is what your friends think, and so on. These all are rooted in deep astrological study but they are superficial meanings that allow you to give extremely reliable readings without having to study astrology like I do. Similarly an astrological spread (twelve cards in a circle) that is a “one year spread
So, grand spreads (10-12 card variations) can give you a lot of depth and insight into the situation that surrounds your reading but they do so in highly organized ways that provide specific key information for you to draw from. They work best for a general overview or progress report for your querent/client. You can open up any card in that spread for more information or add extenders (it is recommended that you shuffle the unused cards before you do this) and dig deeper into the meanings presented to you. Grand spreads allow you to uncover hidden agendas, find out who opposes versus who supports the querent, and why the outcome will be the outcome, not just that it is.
When someone comes to you for answers I recommend you refuse to read for them blindly unless you stateclearly that you are doing so and that they are paying for it no matter what. I say this because it is borderline abusive to demand you somehow magically know what is going on inside their heads and in their lives and give them expert advice instantly.
A word on style. I teach in a straightforward style. I dislike hyping myself up to be spooky and mysterious. I am already that by nature and I exist in places most people can’t see. It is a burden, not a joy as it is problematic and people don’t get it and they don’t like what they don’t get. It is hard to explain things that I can’t show you unless I drag you there too, and most people don’t like to be dragged around and actually prefer the perceived safety and “security” of whatever they can “see, touch, and taste” without any effort on their part. But that doesn’t mean that you have to force yourself to be as practical and mundane as I make myself to teach you these things. When you read for someone they are buying the experience. Society has placed upon us (readers) an expectation of exoticness and mystery. I would avoid the obvious cliché drama (we get a lot of that in the pagan community) and just be yourself. But let your hair down (unless you are bald, which is even cooler because you can pull of that whole Yul Brenner command poise thing) and be who you want to be. If you like a little flash and style study the techniques professional magicians use to add a bit of pizzazz to their shows. I would recommend reining it in of course, as less is more here, but have fun. Don’t let the fact that I demand reliable results for you from my teachings to inhibit your spirit of adventure and fun.
Now go out there and wow them—but don’t forget to practice first. Know ALL of your spreads (the ones you use) and practice them often. Questions? Ask me.