Tarot Spreads


Tarot spreads can focus on specific concerns, and highlight different areas of life which may need clarification. Some are better suited to specific questions, some provide a more general insight into the “broad picture” of life at the moment. Some spreads can target precise problems, such as love, work and health issues, and some are multi-purpose and can help draw out which areas of life need more attention.

I have divided the spreads listed here into “Greater” and “Lesser” to highlight the degree of depth and focus they can provide. The Greater spreads are usually better for depth, and the Lesser are typically more valuable for focus. The Lesser spreads typically consist of five cards or less. For email readings, I usually use the Lesser spreads – but can combine 3 or 5 of them – in order to keep the focus at a more easily “digestible” (for email) level.

Some readings are also particularly well-suited to the “spirit model” of the Shamanic Tarot Reading; such as the “Wisdom of the Guides”, “Elemental Powers”, “The Departed”, and “The Spiritual Teacher” spreads.

Some of the spreads listed here are traditional and some are my own invention, and some I have drawn from the wonderful ideas presented by Barbara Moore in her book “Tarot Spreads”.


A good general spread which can provide a snapshot into the querent (person having the reading) at that time, and also a “call to action” suggesting areas to work on and actions to take.
1. Essence (Spirit)
2. What do you need to Create?
3. What do you need to Nurture?
4. What Opportunities are available and what Help can you access?
5. What Dangers are present, and what Threats do you need to address?
6. Where is your perfect Balance?
7. Emotions: “Where is your Heart?”
8. Intellect: “Where is your Mind?”
9. Unconscious Impulse
10. Foundation (Physical)

This most traditional spread of all provides insight into specific questions but is also very useful for a general overview of one’s situation at that time.
1. What is the Heart of the Matter (central focus or concern, here and now)?
2. What is the Challenge or Tension in the situation?
3. Unconscious Impulse
4. Aspiration (what do you want)?
5. Past circumstances that have led to the situation
6. Future events (the “next stage” in the situation)
7. Advice
8. External forces you have no control over
9. Hopes and/or Fears
10. Outcome (as suggested by the previous cards if no specific action to address it is taken).

Inspired by Pete Carroll’s “Chaosphere” in the teachings of Chaos Magic, excellent for gaining insight into yourself (s)
1. The Spiritual Being
2. The Grim Reaper
3. The Giver
4. The Lover
5. Your Public Face
6. The Sexual Being
7. The Thinker
8. The Warrior

9. The Balance

Enlists the aid of five guides (Major Arcana) each of which have a specific piece of advice in relation to the matter at hand.
Cards 1,2,3,4 & 5: The Guides
Cards 6,7,8,9 & 10: Their advice
Card 11: The Heart of the Matter

The elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth represent both specific energies in their own right, and also the elements of one’s own psyche and physicality. This spread helps identify where one’s energies may be blocked, and where one can draw on resources of specific power.
1. Ace of Swords
2. Ace of Pentacles
3. Ace of Cups
4. Ace of Wands
Cards 5,6,7 & 8: Their advice
Card 9: The Heart of the Matter

A good “diagnostic” reading identifying the nature of a problem and provides insight into how to best manage it.
1. The Problem
2. Positive factors to draw on
3. Negative factors to address
4. Past Influences
5. Current Influences
6. Future Influences
7. Outcome (as suggested by the previous cards if no specific action to address it is taken).

Another traditional spread which provides a good general overview of a situation
1. The Past
2. The Present
3. The Future
4. The Querent
5. Other important information
6. The main challenge
7. Outcome (as suggested by the previous cards if no specific action to address it is taken).

This is a more intuitive reading which uses 9 cards, somewhere within which will be found the Spirit Teacher. Once found, the cards around it will provide the message to the querent.

This spread uses the same technique as “The Spirit Teacher” spread, however we are looking not for the Spirit Teacher, but for a message from someone who has departed, generally someone recently deceased.


An excellent spread which can be very intuitive and is not limited to any pre-conceived expectations. It unfolds as it will, and extra cards can be drawn to keep the unfolding flowing should they be required.
1. The most important message
2. Further information relative to the message
3. Further information relative to the message

A simple past, present, future spread which does not foretell the future, but explains the likely outcome given the momentum of the past into the present. It can relate to either a specific situation, or can be very general.
1. The Past
2. The Present
3. The Future

Provides advice relative to specific situation
1. The Situation
2. What is Hidden?
3. Advice

A good spread to use when “moving on” from one situation, with information useful to commencing a new direction.
1. What to Keep
2. What to Leave Behind
3. What to Learn

A spread which helps identify priorities, and focuses on what is important in the current situation.
1. The Situation
2. What really matters
3. What doesn’t really matter

A simple, and rather blunt (!) spread which cuts to the heart of difficult choices.
1. Do this
2. Don’t do this
3. Outcome (if one follows this advice)

Provides insight into resources and dangers when facing a challenge.
1. The nature of the Challenge
2. Your Strength
3. Your Weakness
4. Advice

Provides advice regarding the best course of action to take.
1. The Starting Point
2. Your Strength
3. The Challenge
4. Help available
5. Outcome (as suggested by the previous cards if no specific action to address it is taken).

Uses the S.W.O.T. analysis plan to get a good overview of any prospective action.
1. Strengths
2. Weaknesses
3. Opportunities
4. Threats

Provides a snapshot into the circumstances and health of a relationship
1. You
2. Your Partner
3. The Relationship

Allows for some insight into concerns or doubts regarding one’s love life
1. Your love life
2. What you need to know
3. What you can do

Readings are often sought after the loss of love. This spread can provide some useful insight into this painful time.
1. Why you want them back. What you miss
2. Why you don’t. What you don’t miss
3. What went wrong?
4. What to let go of
5. What to learn


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