Unraveling Layouts: How to Read Different Tarot Spreads

Unraveling Layouts: How to Read Different Tarot Spreads

Tarot spreads are the frameworks within which tarot cards reveal their messages and insights. For beginners, understanding how to effectively use different tarot spreads can significantly enhance the depth and clarity of their readings. This guide delves into some of the most popular tarot spreads used by readers worldwide and explains how to interpret the card placements within these layouts.

Introduction to Tarot Spreads

Before jumping into specific spreads, it’s important to understand what a tarot spread is. A tarot spread involves laying out the cards in a specific pattern, where each position represents a different aspect of the question or situation at hand. The arrangement of these cards helps direct the flow of the reading and links the cards' meanings in a coherent story.

The Three-Card Spread: Past-Present-Future

Overview: One of the simplest yet most powerful spreads, the three-card spread can offer quick insights into the linear progression of a situation’s past, present, and future.

  • Past Card: This position highlights past influences, unresolved issues, and foundational aspects of the current situation.
  • Present Card: It reflects the current state or challenges the querent is facing.
  • Future Card: This card suggests a possible outcome based on the trajectory set by the past and present cards.

The Celtic Cross Spread

Overview: The Celtic Cross is perhaps the most famous tarot spread due to its thoroughness in analyzing a situation's various aspects.

  • The Heart of the Matter (Card 1) and The Crossing Card (Card 2): These central cards identify the main issue at hand and the immediate challenges or influences opposing or aiding the situation.
  • Foundation (Card 3), Past (Card 4), Goals (Card 5), and Future (Card 6): Each of these positions offers insights into the background, recent past, the querent's aspirations, and where things are heading.
  • Advice (Card 7), External Influences (Card 8), Hopes and Fears (Card 9), and Outcome (Card 10): These cards provide guidance, external factors affecting the situation, the querent’s psychological response, and the potential resolution.

The Relationship Spread

Overview: Ideal for exploring the dynamics between two people, whether in love, friendship, or business.

  • Your Position (Card 1) and The Other Person’s Position (Card 2): These reveal each person’s stance or feelings about the relationship.
  • Your Needs (Card 3) and Their Needs (Card 4): Insights into what each person needs from the relationship for fulfillment.
  • Current Relationship Status (Card 5): The nature of the relationship at present.
  • Future Potential (Card 6): Where the relationship is headed and the potential outcome.

Tips for Reading Tarot Spreads

  • Synthesize the Cards: Rather than interpreting each card in isolation, try to weave them into a narrative that speaks to the querent’s situation.
  • Context is Key: Always consider the position of a card within the spread as this context significantly influences its meaning.
  • Trust Your Intuition: Allow your intuitive responses to guide the interpretation, especially when the card’s message isn’t immediately clear.


Understanding tarot spreads is crucial for any tarot reader, as it shapes the dialogue between reader, cards, and querent. By mastering these popular spreads, beginners can develop more nuanced readings and answer a variety of questions with confidence. Remember, each tarot spread is a tool to unlock the story hidden within the cards — the art is in how you use that tool to reveal its secrets.


To explore more of this topic, click here to watch the video on our Youtube.