Common Layouts and Spreads

There are hundreds of possible tarot card spreads which are patterns in which the cards from the deck are laid out. Each spread has its own particular energy and each card within the spread has its own corresponding energy representing an aspect of the meaning associated to it in that represented position. There are hundreds of standard layouts and possibilities of creating your own so long as each position has a static meaning to you. Here we will look at the most simple options for those looking to learn the Tarot.



The 3 card spread is perfect for those who want to do a quick reading or are learning the tarot.

To read the cards you read them the same as reading a book from left to right, the first card represents the past, the second the present and the third card the future

The first card looks at issues surrounding the situation while the second card representing the present time helps it identify what is happening at this moment in time. The 3rd card takes a look at the possible outcomes. This type of reading is ideal to address the more simple to answer question rather than a multitude of questions.


The five card spread gives a little more information about the situation and suggest an outcome if the querent wants to take an action.

In this spread, the cards form a cross. The card to the right of the center represents future outcomes. The center card represents the present situation. The card to the left of the center reveals the past that is still affecting the current situation. The card on the bottom represents the reasons that lead to the situation or the cause for the current situation. The card on the top depicts possible outcomes that may occur when the querent follows a course of action.

This spread is most useful to help the querent determine what to do about a situation.

card1 represents you in your current state.

Cards 2,3 and 4 represent the problems that you’re going to need to overcome to get to your goal. You may already be aware of these issues, or you may not. For example, say you think you love somebody, but your problem is you find it difficult to have conversation with that person because you’re too shy, and you don’t know them yet, and they aren’t even aware that you exist. These are your three main issues.

Perhaps you are looking for a new job. Card 5 will give you an idea of the work you should look for. Card 1 will tell you about your current ability and state of mind. Cards 2,3 and 4 will give you some idea of what you should be doing to reach card 5.



This is the most popular and well known of all the tarot spreads. It has been adapted for personal use by many readers giving it many variations. I myself use this spread with 4 passes of the cards using a total of 40 cards in the perspective positions to give a much broader picture of each position.

Card one represents your present condition or often a related question. Card two represents your current obstacles or troubles. Card three represents the best possible outcome or in some cases what is happening now depending what the cards represent to you. Card four represents the cause of your current situation. Card five represents your immediate past or as before it can represent the basis of the situations surrounding the cards, and card six represents your immediate future.

Card seven represents who you are right now in general, and how you relate to the theme of the question. Card eight represents your current surroundings in terms of family, friends, and environment that relates to your question. Card nine represents your hopes and fears in regard to the question or in general in your life at this time if you did not have a specific question. Card 10 represents the outcome in regard to the question or otherwise how this phase of your life turns out. Often there are variations to this, often in some cases position 7 and 8 can mean hopes and fears while position 9 can mean what the guides have to say in relationship to the cards.

Basically you are the reader so it’s important that the cards mean something to you in relationship to the positions they are in, this is why there are many alternate meanings to the Celtic Cross. This makes it not only a very versatile spread for a reader to use, but can carry information in the way the readers want to interpret the cards.

There is of course the most basic of all spreads, the Yes or No question, there are only 2 possible answers of yes or no. This is often not likes by many readers simply because there is nothing to tell, but the cards can be read in a couple of ways, either upright or reverse representing Yes or No, of the better way would be to take an actual look at the cards meaning and relate it to the question asked.

The list of spreads goes on and on, it’s up to the reader to decide which spreads feel best for them.






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