How do you use the cards to guide you? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
So far in our beginner’s guide to tarot, we’ve taught you how to do an intuitive reading and memorise the meanings of the cards.
That’s a handy starting point, sure, but we bet you’re keen to get going on using tarot to guide your life.
Worry not, today’s lesson covers just that, explaining how to use tarot to answer whatever big or small question you need to tackle.
How? By creating spreads.
A spread is simply a layout of cards (no special shape is necessary, I just lay my cards out in a line, but you can make it more fancy if you like) that seeks to answer a question or a series of questions.
It can contain as few as just one card, or up to double figures, depending on how many questions you’re asking. Personally, I think the fewer the better and I never do readings with more than seven cards, otherwise it all gets too unwieldy and too long.
The overriding and most important principle when designing a card spread is to equate one question to one card – and make these questions singular so you know what is being answered. Avoid multi-faceted, long-winded questions because you won’t know which bit of it your responding card is answering. Break your theme or issue or question down into its smallest components.
You can the tarot any question. The only area I tend to avoid and dislike working with is health. The cards are more focused on life experiences than being capable of giving useful diagnostic or treatment information – a medical professional is always a better bet.
Create a spread with a question assigned to each card (Picture: Tarotbella)
I would advise, certainly as a beginner (and I still do this now), writing your questions down and numbering them so you know which card matches which question and it’s all clear from the start. This declutters your mind from having to remember it all as you get into your card interpretation, which is where the focus of your brain power will need to go.
And this brings me to the second hardest (after memorising the cards… if you’re going to do that) thing about tarot: making the mental leap from what the cards mean to how that answers your question. This is where you have to merge two separate things together and create a coherent answer from them.
So, each card’s placement on the spread will be in answer to a particular question or theme, like ‘who is my soul mate’, or ‘what will happen if I take this job’, and so on. You then pull a card and read its meaning, which is typically fairly topline or abstract (it won’t, unless you strike super lucky, be written to answer your specific question).
Your role as a reader is to then twist/reshape/mutate/translate that card’s meaning to answer that question. This is the trickiest element of all and requires lateral thought rather than logic or pure imagination. This is where it becomes very subjective and you just need to have confidence in your interpretation, your call on it.
For instance, if I asked ‘what will happen if I take this job?’ and I drew the Four of Coins, that card is all about getting stuck in a rut, being trapped in habits and rituals that are outdated, and a massive nudge to shake your life up.
Your job is to translate how these cards answer your questions (Picture: Tarotbella)
You could read that as taking the job being a means of doing that and emphasise that this job is a gateway to further change and revival in other life areas. You could read it that the job itself would be get very dull, routine and same-y and to beware of getting stuck with it.
Neither answer is wrong, as such, it depends on what else you know, your interpretation and gut instinct, and maybe also your own life experience and biases as a result.
You just need to keep making these mental leaps, practicing your lateral thinking, having faith in your call on things. This is the magical, self-developing and challenging part of becoming a tarot reader.
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An example tarot spread to try
Career is probably, after love and relationships, the second most common area for tarot readings. Let the cards guide you towards your ‘you-shaped niche’, what your ideal pathway is, and how you can move closer towards it.
Card one: My unique strengthCard two: What is my calling in this life?Card three: How can I be of service and value to others?Card four: Do I need more training or education? Card five: What obstacle(s) must I overcome?Card five: Who can help and advise me? Card six: What is my next best step in the month ahead?
Kerry Ward is the creator of The Good Karma Tarot Deck, which you can buy through Amazon.
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