Favorite Spreads

The Bridge

1st position, Where I am.

2nd position, Where I’m headed.

3rd position, How to get there gracefully.  (this card placed sideways to Bridge the other two cards)


4 Aces Spread

*adapted from Mary K Greer’s webblog    http://marygreer.wordpress.com


  • Shuffle your deck thoroughly, turn cards over one at a time.
  • When you get to the first ace, take the ace and the three cards that follow and place them on the table in a row (left to right).  Continue turning over cards until you get to the next ace and the three cards following it.  Place them on the table below the first set.  Continue with the next two aces until you have four rows of cards on the table.

Exception: If one ace follows another without three cards in between, then the first ace will have less than three cards in its row.  The meaning of the short row will depend on what you intuit it to mean in the circumstances.  Sometimes it strengthens the cards(s) that did turn up.  If there are no cards it could indicate that area is not involved in the situation being discussed (consider whether it should be).

Spread Intent:  The overall meaning of each row is determined by the ace that leads it.  Decide on one of the following sets of meanings (or your own) before you begin.

The Order

  1. 1st AceThe Main Character. The primary focus of your attention and energies right now.
  2. 2nd AceThe Complication: An area you have not been paying as much attention to but can interfere with what’s going on in the first row.
  3. 3rd AceThe Sidekick/Guide: A secondary focus or emphasis.  It may help you resolve tensions between 1 and 2, or suggest helpful actions.
  4. 4th AceThe upstart. Something new or “renewed” that will be assuming more importance, possibly as a result of your interactions in the other three areas.

Begin by considering just the four aces in terms of their order in the spread.  Then read each row of three cards as a unit that describes what’s going on in that position.  Ignore the Ace except as it sets that row’s meaning.

Special Cards: The Fool appearing in any row indicates that things are not like they seem; a trickster element is present.  The highest Major Arcana in the spread trumps all.  You can triumph best by paying special attention to the qualities and lessons of this card and its position.


The Doorway Spread

*taken from Tarot Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack

This spread, instead of dealing with events, helps to get a better sense of who we are at the time of the reading.  While it shows both the risks and possibilities, it leaves the choice of action up to us.  This spread works well for reading your own cards, especially with a sense of self-exploration.  It also can be helpful when you face a choice.

1                        2


4                         5

  1. 1. What inspires you?

What touches you deeply, what calls you to do things, or simply excites you about life?

  1. 2. What challenges you?

What do you find difficult or frightening?  What do you avoid?

  1. 3. What doorway opens for you?

What opportunities have come into your life?  What could be different?

  1. 4. What will you risk?

Opportunities  always carry some element of risk.  (for example, If your children have grown and you are considering going back to finish your master’s degree, you might risk changing the dynamic of your marriage.)

  1. 5. What can you discover?

What might happen if you went through that door?  This card can give a kind of snapshot of how your life might look.


TSG activity

The 5 Senses Spread

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Smell
  4. Taste
  5. Touch

Shuffle and draw 5 cards as you normally would for any spread.  Describe for each card the corresponding sense in each.  You may have to really use your imagination for this one.

Variation:  Take it one step further and use the meaning of the card along with the sense that goes with it.

This is great practice when learning the cards.  Also, sometimes makes you look a little  harder. _____________________________________________________

A Devil Reading

*from Tarot Wisdom, by; Rachel Pollack

  1. What have I lost?
  2. What blocks me from returning?
  3. What illusory chains hold me?
  4. What reality holds me?
  5. How can I free myself?
  6. What will happen?

(in the shape of a pentagram)

He that is busy is tempted by but one devil;

He that is idle, by a legion.

-Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia


A Chariot Reading

*from Tarot Wisdom by:  Rachel Pollack

The positions are based on the first eight cards of the Major Arcana.  If a card comes up in its own position-say, the Emperor in position 4-its power is emphasized.

It is possible to use two decks for this reading: one to lay out the positions, another to shuffle the cards and set them on top of the position cards.

  1. (Fool) What am I leaping into at this time in my life?
  2. (Magician) Where is the energy, the magic?
  3. (High Priestess) What is secret or hidden or unspoken?
  4. (Empress) What is my passion?
  5. (Emperor) What are the rules (possibly hidden or unconscious)?
  6. (Hierophant) What is the path laid out for me?
  7. (Lovers) How do I express my passion?
  8. (Chariot) Where is it all heading?

The purpose of this reading is to help you become more conscious, so that you can take the reins of the chariot that is your life.


The Challenge of the Fives

First, take the five of wands, cups, swords and pentacles from your deck. Shuffle them, select one and place it in the position marked by card number one. Then, using the rest of the deck, shuffle and deal out cards 2-5.

Read the cards as follows:

1.”Five” card – the challenge for me.

2.How has the past affected this situation?

3.How do I limit myself in this situation?

4.What’s my attitude towards this?

5.What action do I need to take to break out of it?

4 Responses to Favorite Spreads

  1. suzanne says:

    I’ve been reading tarot for about 9 months and totally love it but always get stuck on knowing what questions to ask and what facets to explore. I only read for myself because I feel like such a novice. These are awesome suggestions. I can’t wait to try some of them out. I will really enjoy delving into my psyche with these. Thanks 🙂

  2. Margaret Smith says:

    Thank you for being so kind in sharing your layouts.
    I have just started using Tarot cards…I have been teaching myself and have brought many packs and lots of books on Tarot…..But none have explained the Tarot as easily as you have…..Thank you once again. Margaret.x

  3. Koneta says:

    Wonderful! I’m so glad you find them useful. As for the Druid Craft, I too love that deck. One of my favorite go-to decks.

  4. Lorien Shaw says:

    This is the most useful set of spreads I’ve seen in a long, long while. Straightforward and salient, I very much appreciate you sharing these. I have long used the Rohrig Tarot as the deck that NEVER fails me, but recently decided to try the Druid Craft tarot, as I’ve had it for a long while, but never really worked with it. I’m going through my decks and shedding the extras…time to sell those I’ve never used, and make art with those that no longer speak to me. I was delighted (modified rapture might be a better term) when the first reading I did with the Druid Craft brought me to tears…something that hasn’t happened in decades. Looks as though I’ve found another deck.

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