Written by: Bonnie Cehovet
There are an infinite number of Tarot spreads out there, for an infinite number of purposes. Readers will often find, however, that creating their own spreads adds depth and specificity to their readings. The first step to be taken is to define what the reading is all about. What does the Seeker (either your client, or you, if you are reading for yourself) want to take away from the reading? Are you looking for a specific answer? A general answer? A direction to go in? An understanding of a situation/issue/person? Whatever the Seeker is looking for, the answer will come from their question.
Once you have defined the purpose of your reading, you can define the question to be asked. The question should be as specific as possible, and worded as concisely as possible. The clarity of your question is in direct proportion to the clarity of your reading, and the wisdom gained from it.
The next step is to decide the format for your spread, and the number of cards that you want to use. Any number of geometric forms can be used – linear (horizontal or vertical), circular, square, triangular – each has a different esoteric meaning, and each will fit into a different type of reading. A format involving imagery may also be used – such as the Tree of Life, a heart, or even a pumpkin (at Halloween or harvest time).
Now you will need to go back to your question, and decide how many positions you want to use, and how many cards at each position. If you are reading for a couple, you may want to include two or three cards for each position (one representing each partner, and a third to represent the partners together). Anywhere from three to ten positions is usually easiest to work with.
Once you have your question worded, your layout decided upon, and your positions defined, you are ready to do a reading. As you do your first few readings with a new spread, get a feel for how well it is working. Is there something that does not feel right? Is energy getting “stuck” somewhere? Does a position need to be redefined? Does the format of the spread need to be tweaked? This is your spread – move things around until they work for you!
Creating A Tarot Spread Exercise:
Wording the question: Relationship questions generally head the list of topics that readers are presented with. Let’s say your client comes to you with this question: “Are my boyfriend/husband/significant other and I going to break up?” This is a limiting question. The first thing that you want to do as a reader is to repeat your client’s question back to them, so that they can see that you listened to them. (Think bonding here.) The next thing that you want to do is to gently suggest that it would open up the reading to rephrase the question. There are several variations that can be used for this question:
1. What do I need to know about my relationship?
2. What do I need to know about my boyfriend/husband/significant other?
3. How is my relationship evolving?
4. Where is my relationship headed?
5. What do I need to know about my attitude towards my relationship?
The version that you and your client decide to use is: “What do I need to know about my relationship?”
Deciding on the layout: While the client is interactive in wording/rewording the question, the Tarot layout is solely up to the reader. See in your mind how the energy of each of the probable forms that you might use moves. For instance, a circle indicates continuous movement, while a triangle indicates point to point movement (as would a zig zag type pattern). The energy of a spiral is in constant movement. For this exercise, we will be working with a triangular format. Remember – you can seat the triangle in any fashion that you choose – i.e. point up, point down, point to the left, point to the right.
Determining the number of positions: When using the triangle format, three or more positions are needed. For this reading the positions will be limited to six – this will give a fairly good sized triangle, and still be quick to read.
Defining the positions: When defining the positions, keep in mind the overall question. In this case, your client is concerned about what they need to know about their relationship. You can do this in any number of ways – I did this by placing two cards at each position, one for my client (a), and one for their boyfriend/husband/significant other (b). Note: If you choose, your client can be interactive in defining the positions for their reading.
1. How does each individual see the relationship as of this day?
2. What does each individual bring to the relationship?
3. What does each individual need from the relationship?
4. What is known about this relationship?
5. What is hidden/unknown about this relationship?
6. What does your client need to know about this relationship?
… .2a 2b 3a 3b
4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b
Write the spread down, as well as the position definitions. As you do the reading, make note of where the energy flows, and where it seems to get stuck. If necessary, redefine the details of the spread for future use. Note your client’s reaction, and how connected they seem to be to the reading. Over time, as a reader you can develop a series of readings that fit different occasions, and work well for both you and your clients.