Tarot Spreads 101: How to Choose and Use the Best Layout for Your Reading


Tarot spreads are simply arrangements of cards drawn from the Tarot deck, each occupying a position that has a specific meaning. Using a spread not only organizes your reading into a clear narrative but also deepens the meaning by placing each card in a specific context. Whether you're looking for clarity on a single question or a snapshot of your life at a specific moment, the right spread can be a powerful tool.

Choosing the Right Spread

Choosing the right Tarot spread is akin to selecting the appropriate tool for a task. Consider your question or the situation at hand. For simple, clear-cut questions, a simple three-card spread can provide clear, succinct insight. For complex situations requiring deep analysis, you may want to use a more comprehensive spread like the Celtic Cross or a custom spread.

Adding to this, consider your level of comfort and familiarity with Tarot. If you're a beginner, starting with simpler spreads can be beneficial. As you become more comfortable and intuitive with your readings, you can explore more complex spreads.

Popular Tarot Spreads

There are countless Tarot spreads you can use, and you might even create your own. However, some of the most popular ones include:

  • Three-Card Spread: This is the most straightforward and versatile spread. It can be used to represent past, present, future; situation, action, outcome; or mind, body, spirit.

  • Celtic Cross Spread: This ten-card spread is one of the most comprehensive, providing insights into the past, present, future, and other factors influencing your situation.

  • Horseshoe Spread: This seven-card spread provides a middle ground between the simplicity of the three-card spread and the detail of the Celtic Cross. It's perfect for when you want a detailed look without becoming too complex.

Using and Interpreting Tarot Spreads

Once you've selected your spread, it's time to shuffle your Tarot deck and draw your cards, placing each one in the corresponding position of your spread.

From here, your intuition and knowledge of Tarot symbolism come into play. Take note of each card's traditional meanings, but also pay attention to what your intuition is telling you about each card in its particular position within the spread.

Remember, a Tarot reading isn't about predicting the future—it's about providing insight and guidance. The cards aren't meant to dictate your actions but rather to reflect back at you what you may already intuitively know.

Creating Your Own Tarot Spreads

As you grow more comfortable and proficient with Tarot, you might decide to create your own spreads. Creating your own spreads allows you to tailor your readings to your unique questions and situations, providing you with personalized insight and guidance.

When designing a spread, consider what you want to know. Each position in the spread should correspond to a specific aspect of your question or situation. Start simple—a spread with just a few positions—and gradually add more as you become comfortable. Remember, the aim is to assist in your understanding, not to create unnecessary complexity.


Whether you're new to Tarot or an experienced reader, choosing and using the right spread can make your readings more insightful and relevant. Experiment with different spreads, trust your intuition, and remember that Tarot is a tool for guidance and reflection, not absolute answers.

Happy Reading!