Review – Tarot Spreads

Tarot Spreads - Barbara Moore


Tarot Spreads

Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Reading

Author/Barbara Moore

Publisher/Llewellyn Publications 2012

ISBN:  978-0-7387-2784-4

Before we get started, I just wanted to say that I love the cover design.  Who would have thought a gray book cover could be so pretty?

(Excerpt from the Introduction)

“Our wonderful world of tarot spreads begins with examining the role of spreads in a reading.  After we establish the importance of a spread’s job, then we can discuss how layout design influences a reading by affecting interpretation.”

Did you ever wonder where Tarot spreads came from?  Where are they developed and tested?  Is it necessary to use predetermined spreads/positions when reading Tarot or Oracle cards?  Will a spread be “ruined” if you modify it?  Will the Tarot Gods reach down and snatch you bald headed if you dare to entertain the idea of creating your own Tarot spreads?

Moore tackles these questions and many more.  (Well, to be fair, not that last question. I made that one up.)   Everything you ever wanted to know about Tarot spreads, from the absolute basics to creating your very own designs, is examined in this 230 page book that contain examples of at least 77 (if I counted correctly) spreads and/or variations that cover just about any area of your life that you can think of.

In Chapter 1 – Tarot Spread Basics –  You will find many topics such as the role of a spread in a reading; how our conscious and unconscious mind see patterns and interpret them; how the cards are grouped in a spread affect the process of interpretation; how our individual beliefs can change the variables; the benefits of organization and structure.

There are elements discussed here that I personally had not “consciously” thought of, things that we take for granted and probably don’t even realize are factors to be considered.   That’s why I love high-lighting pens.  We are only up to Chapter 2 and already I have “high-lighted” many sentences and paragraphs for easy reference later!

In Chapter 2, topics of design principles; symmetry, spacing, balance, and repetition, are discussed with examples of why or why not some work better than others.  In a “sub-section” to this chapter,  Theory into Practice, Moore takes an in-depth look at the classic Celtic Cross spread and shows how the cards can be read in different groupings all within the same layout we are already so familiar with.  I found this very helpful because I find the Celtic Cross spread to be a little intimidating.

What about spread collections?

Building a spread collection is a lot like building a wardrobe.”

To start, Moore suggests a spread for each of the following types of readings:

  1. General
  2. Love/relationship
  3. Work/career
  4. Health
  5. Spiritual life

With experience as a reader, you will no doubt add to this collection over time.

In Chapter 3, Moore shares (hand picked) spreads that cover the area’s listed above as well as a section entitled Special Spreads.  Spreads that may not fall into the more regular categories and cover areas that you might not normally bring to the Tarot.  There are some very interesting looking spreads in this chapter that I can’t wait to try out here on my blog.  So stay tuned…

In Chapter 4, Techniques to Add to Any Spread, Moore explains that Techniques are not spreads.  They are more like options or accessories  that you can incorporate into any spread or reading.  This chapter is geared towards shaking things up, renewing your passion and outlook, and maybe refreshing your mojo to bright and shiny again.  I especially like the suggestion of adding cards from a “darker” deck to the cards you already have lain out for a reading.  This forms a shadow reading.     

Chapter 5 looks at How to Modify Spreads.  This list is offered as points to keep in mind when modifying spreads.


  • Focus
  • Positional Meanings
  • Layout
  • Number of Cards
  • Techniques

Chapter 6 gets down to the nitty-gritty of creating your own tarot spread designs.

Where can you find inspiration for creating your own spreads?  There are several suggestions given in this chapter and  I’d be willing to  bet there are a few that you never thought of before.  “Tarot decks themselves can be an incredible source of inspiration.”  Take a look at your deck(s) and see if any theme or a particular image jumps out that gives you an idea for a spread.   You can see an example of this concept in action here.

Moore takes you step by step through the process of the finer points in spread creation, from the initial conception to the final step of naming your newly created masterpiece.   It’s much simpler and less time consuming than you might think, and did I mention how much fun it can be?

Chapter 7 covers “How to Do a 78-Card Reading”.  Personally, I’ve never attempted to use the complete deck for a reading, but I just may try it now.    This example begins with the Celtic Cross and grows from there.  Clear some space on the table or floor for this layout, because you’re going to need it.

In the back of the book you will find a complete Spread Cross-References guide, an Annotated Reading List, Appendix A – Curious Old Spreads, Appendix B – Elemental Dignities, and Appendix C – Significators.

In Conclusion…

“As Tarot Readers, we acknowledge that our cards are important tools.  Like all good craftspeople and artisans, we know that the better we understand our tools, the more efficiently, effectively, and creatively we can use them.  So we study our cards.  We learn all the symbols, make sure we understand the various correspondences, and develop relationships with them.  And now we have done the same with our other set of tools: our spreads. ”    ~Barbara Moore

I highly recommend “Tarot Spreads – Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Readings”,  even if you have no interest in designing your very own Tarot spread.  It’s packed full of lots of other valuable information, tips, and techniques that will help any Tarot reader better utilize any spread.  Not to mention all the great spreads, diagrams, and practical advice that Barbara is so famous for.  Be sure and stop over for a visit to her Practical Tarot web page and see what new and exciting projects she may have in the works.

BTW, I have it on pretty good authority that the Tarot Gods will NOT snatch you bald headed after all.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Tarot-ing and May Your Journey be an Enchanted one.

Get your copy today, available from Amazon or your favorite retailer.

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