We turn to tarot for all manner of reasons. The beauty of it is that it can be adapted to address any situation… but that also means we have a host of possibilities available. How can we choose the right tarot spread for each question?
The key step is to figure out how large we want the spread to be. The more cards we pull, the more information we get.
Of course, the natural instinct we all have here is to pull as many cards as possible to see the whole picture. However, that instinct can lead us astray. When we have a simple query and address it through a super-complex ten-plus card spread, the deluge of details and extra information may give us a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Conversely, presenting a nuanced question to a three-card spread will give us an answer, but it might leave us floundering about its context or its practical application.
How many cards to use in a reading then? Here’s a very simple and fun example of the kind of information each spread can give us so we can choose wisely:
Imagine it’s a moonless night and you’re walking down an alley. Invisible in the darkness, there’s a hole in the tarmac right in front of you. This is what each type of spread will tell you…
Yes or No tarot spread
You should stop walking. Really.
Three-card tarot spread
There’s a hole in front of you, and if you keep walking on you’ll fall in. It’s a large hole, so it’ll hurt, but there are several ways around it that would avoid any injury.
Five-card tarot spread
There’s a hole in front of you, but you can choose to circle it. Attempting a jump isn’t such a hot idea, because the hole is too big and you might fall in and hurt yourself anyway. Just circle around, nice and easy, and you’ll arrive safely at your destination. By the way, the next time you want to wander at night, you’d be wise to bring a light.
Seven-card tarot spread
There’s a hole in front of you. If you jump, you might fall in because it’s too large. If you really want to jump anyway, you want to take a running start and maybe ask the guy at the 24/7 shop to loan you a broom to use as a jumping pole, just in case. Circling around the hole is possible, and you’ll arrive at your destination only slightly late. You could also turn around and choose a different alley, but bear in mind you might get lost if you’re not familiar with the new route.
Also, you’ve forgotten your cellphone in that shop you stopped at right before entering the alley, so you might want to ring them and ask them to keep it safe until you can come to pick it up. Or just think up some safer cellphone-carrying habits so this doesn’t happen again (after all, a phone includes a flashlight and a Maps app that would have made this whole trip much easier!).
In-depth tarot spread
It looks like your career will remain steady and secure for now, although there’s a potential conflict coming right up. You might want to avoid miscommunications, trying to keep the air as clear as possible so the situation doesn’t blow in your face. Also, it’s not a good time to make large investments–beware of opportunities that seem too good to be true.
The most notable thing that seems to pop up is in the relationships sphere, though. Looks like you’ll meet with someone, probably from your circle of friends or a friend of a friend, who isn’t your type at all–give it a shot anyway, the two of you will have fun! Be careful though: you don’t want to forget your cellphone at the restaurant where you’re having your date, because you’ll need it on the way back.
Choosing this one particular alley doesn’t look like a good idea, but if you make sure to keep your cellphone at hand, you should be able to navigate it and get to your destination safely and on time.
And that’s it! Choosing tarot spreads made easy.
I hope this has shed some light on how to choose your tarot spread and on how many cards to use in a reading depending on the type of question and on the information we are looking for. If you have any questions, get in touch or leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them as thoroughly as possible.
Were you looking for information on how tarot can or cannot predict the future? Check out this other post instead.