by Dawn

Finding a united vision when giving a Tarot reading can be a challenge. Most books on Tarot have conflicting interpretations of the cards, and very few books clearly explain how cards affect each other when they appear in a spread together. Although I won’t be able in this short article to touch on all of the cards and spreads available, I do hope to give you, dear reader, a few steps toward performing spreads and interpretations so that you can give your readings more clarity.

One of the most important steps when learning the Tarot is choosing a deck that speaks your language. If the images on the cards contain symbols that are familiar to you, you will find it easier to remember the cards’ meanings and develop a close working relationship with the cards. I have used quite a few different decks over the years and am now primarily using two of them, the Voyager Tarot and the Spiral Deck. I like using both during readings, because together they give a very detailed map of what is happening energetically with the client and hard answers on what is coming up, what actions should be taken and new information that till the reading may have been hidden.

When doing a reading, I start with a general landscape overview using the Voyager Tarot because of its spiritual and self-growth orientation. This deck has lots of visual impact because of the photo collage technique used to create the images of the Major and Minor Arcana. The photographic images of people, places and things I am familiar with helps to ground the cards in reality for me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate other drawn and painted decks; it’s just that I have an affinity for photography, so this deck works for me. During this overview phase of the reading, I don’t have the client ask any specific questions. I just tell him or her to relax and be themselves as they are shuffling the deck, to say their name out loud and let their minds go to the people, places and events in their lives in the past and present, and to their goals and dreams for the future.

When the client finishes shuffling, I cut the deck into three stacks and choose the bottom cut, taking the very bottom two cards out first. I use these two cards as clues as to the client’s big questions. Doing so helps me because often they are so nervous and excited they can’t remember what it is they want to know!

I then do a simple six-card spread, laying the cards out left to right with a row of three above another row of three. The top layer is the outside world: work, friends, family, how other people see the client and the tasks he or she is being asked to do. The bottom layer is how the client is reacting to the outside world and life, as well as the things he or she brings to the world and the gifts he or she is receiving. The far left pair is the past, the center pair is the present and the right pair is the future. By looking at this spread, which I call the current energetic road map, I can more easily see the overriding themes and lessons being experienced by the client. I take a close look at the cards and observe whether the cards have a similar feeling or meaning.

The second part of the reading answers very specific questions. I use a more traditional deck, the Spiral Deck, for getting hard answers. I have the client shuffle the deck while saying his or her name and asking the specific question; the client then cuts the deck into three stacks again. I always choose the bottom stack for the reading, but in this case I just lay out five cards in a row from left to right.

Card One represents the client and where he or she exists in the moment regarding the question. Card Two is the thing asked about; Card Three is something hidden about this thing. Card Four is an action suggested for the client to take regarding to the question, and Card Five is the most probable result.

As you can see, I prefer small card-spreads. I like to keep things as clear and simple as possible, so that I have enough form to relax into but not so much structure that I can’t receive any additional information clairvoyantly. I find that if I let my logical mind work with the given meanings of the cards but still allow my intuitive mind to spring about, creating links and juggling all the information into a new whole, the reading is more accurate and helpful.

Now to the actual working of the spread and the cards found within it. I did a reading on my life and came up with some interesting results.

My reading with the Voyager Deck resulted in the Seven of Worlds (Pentacles) and the Three of Wands as the bottom two cards, which represent the burning questions I have. The key words and meanings for the Seven of Worlds is material or financial breakthrough. The Three of Wands traditionally means a successful business person, but in the Voyager deck the card has the keyword of “compassion,” which I interpret to mean that I want to know how to have compassion in my actions. These two cards make a lot of sense for me at this time, because I have my own business as a psychic and Reiki healer, and I also want to branch off in some new directions, Web design and making magickal ceremonial garb and jewelry. Using my common sense, I say “But of course! I really want some constructive insight into how I am going to accomplish all of this beautifully and well while still coming from my heart.”

Here is the reading as it looked, with (R) standing for reversed:

The Past               
Devil's Play (R)
Woman of Worlds (R)

The Present           
Man of Crystals (R)
Woman of Crystals

The Future
Ten of Crystals (R)
Five of Worlds

Remember that the top layer (Devil’s Play reversed, Man of Crystals reversed and Ten of Crystals reversed) is the outside world and that the bottom layer (Woman of Worlds reversed, Woman of Crystals and Five of Worlds) is how the client reacts and what he or she brings to the outside world.

The first thing I notice is the Devil’s Play reversed in the outer past position. I feel that this means that I have been feeling very manipulated and part of some karmic pattern in all of my relationships, personal as well as professional. Major Arcana cards in a spread always signal that there is a big lesson to be learned, or a job to do. In this case, Devil’s Play signals to me that it is time for me to acknowledge that I have allowed myself to become part of the karmic wheel and that I need to stand up for myself and get off of it.

Next I notice the three court cards, the Man and Woman of Crystals and the Woman of Worlds. Court cards can represent people in the client’s life and the role of leader and responsibility to guide others. With the Woman of Worlds reversed, “Preserver,” I realize that, out of guilt and fear, I haven’t been asking for what is rightfully mine, especially materially. I notice that the Woman of Crystals, “Guidance,” the great decision-maker, is in the present inner position, reminding me that I have put on my tough boots and taken back the helm of my ship, making the decisions I need to keep me on course and getting rid of all the unnecessary crap.

Opposition still appears, in the form of unresponsive and self-absorbed people in my environment: the Man of Crystals reversed, “Inventor.” But I appreciate the reminder that I don’t need to take on other people’s issues with my decisions, as well as the reminder to keep to my resolve strengthened.

In the next position, The Future – well, frankly, it looks a little bumpy, with the Ten of Crystals reversed in the outside world. The keyword of this card is “Delusion,” and it stands next to the Five of Worlds upright. The Five of Worlds has the keyword “Setback,” which means a small financial setback that is necessary for my spiritual growth, so that I keep my money focused on what I am trying to create instead of buying into “keeping up with the Joneses” and so that I try not to spend money to fill a spiritual or emotional hole.

This card doesn’t show a hopeless situation; it just means I need to keep steady on course and listen to myself and my true instincts, instead of being swayed by the outside world. I love when I receive information like this about the possible future, because I can take action to lessen any impact this situation might have on my life, by saving money now and tightening my belt. Doing so will also help me to stay grounded in my authentic self, so I don’t get blown off-course by inaccurate or unhelpful outside influences. I have some events planned in the next three months that I hope will make me some additional income, but with this warning I will tread very carefully and make frugal financial decisions.

I will now do a quick spread using the Spiral Deck to answer the question “What does my business look like in the future?”

For specific questions such as this, I use a five-card spread. Here it is:

Me:     The Fool
Issue:  The Lovers
Hidden: Two of Pentacles
Action: Strength
Result: Ace of Wands

Note that all cards appeared upright.

Whew! It all looks good in the end. The result arises as the Ace of Wands, which means  illumination and creative and spiritual gifts. I see too that the Fool appears for myself. Seeing this card, I realize that of course things are feeling a little overwhelming, because this whole path is completely new for me, The Fool (new beginnings, serendipity and trust!).

The issue card, The Lovers, reflects that I love all of the work I do and care about it so much that it would be a big deal emotionally if it didn’t work out. The Lovers means having to choose, matches and the significant other. I guess I really am a workaholic if my work is my lover! This card also suggests that the wonderful thing I haven’t acknowledged is that all of these projects and branches of my business provide a perfect balance for me emotionally as well as financially,

The hidden card appears as the Two of Pentacles, balanced life and reflection. I know that I will need to focus my energies toward accomplishing all of my goals and obligations, and that I will have to forgo some late nights watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel so that I can get things done and further my education in Web design. My “World Domination Plan,” as my partner would call it, is to be able to use my skills to work anywhere in the world

My action card is Strength, which means reining in my animal self and focusing that brute strength on a specific task, without killing my spirit so I can still pounce when needed. Strength also suggests higher education.

One thing to note as well is that three out of five cards in the spread are from the Major Arcana. This occurrence signals that big energy is afoot with this question and path in my life. This path is obviously something I am here to do, because it helps me learn many things about myself.

So, in a wee nutshell, dear reader, follow these tips and see what comes:

  1. Choose a deck or decks that speak your language. 
  2. Start with a global reading in order to illuminate any underlying themes in the client’s or your own life. 
  3. Do a separate spread to answer any specific questions. 
  4. Remember to relax and let your left brain do the literal interpretation and your right brain tackle weaving the connections. 
  5. Pay attention to any commonalties between the cards, to whether they have the same number, type or meaning. These are all clues pointing to who the client is and the information sought. 
  6. Keep practicing, and soon it will all work for you in a fluid way.

I hope that this article has sparked anew any interest you have in reading the Tarot. I have certainly found reading an enlightening and enjoyable task