9 Types of Tarot Spreads with Instructions for all Levels

When you hear the word ‘spread,’ what do you think? Butter, a bed, or something else?

Well, in Tarot, spreads are sets or patterns of cards laid from the cards of a tarot deck during a tarot reading or daily tarot practice.

A tarot spread is formed after the cards are shuffled and cut in a deck, and each different card pattern has its own meaning. You can imagine, with 78 cards in a deck, that there are thousands of different card combinations.

The spreads can be any size or pattern and can contain one card or more cards. Most tarot spreads however contain between 3 and 15 cards. This range is small enough to keep it manageable and large enough to cover a topic more in-depth.

Not only the spread itself but also each position of the card within the spread has a unique meaning that will affect the interpretation of the card that falls in that spot.

To make it even more complicated, certain combinations of cards in a spread can affect each other’s meanings. And this is where it’s getting exciting!

If you combine the meanings, you can develop a storyline with different characters, plots, and themes. This might take some time and practice. But by following your intuition and learning about the card meanings and spreads, you will get there.

Different Types of Tarot Spreads

Most expert tarot readers use a five-card spread and the Celtic Cross on a regular basis but I recommend not only using those but also trying some different spreads to experience what works best for you.

Especially when you are a beginner in tarot, we recommend staying with the tarot spreads for beginners in the first few weeks of your process.

Beginner Tarot Spreads

Let’s start with explaining the simplest of tarot spreads, perfect for beginners. Of course, if you would like to go more in-depth or are in search of more detail, then doing a multiple-card spread from 5 or more is better.

One-Card Tarot Spread

We all live busy lives and sometimes fewer cards make things easier and more accessible. Keeping things simple also works in the case of doing a tarot reading if that means that you’re actually doing one instead of skipping it.

The easiest, simplest, and most effective reading is the Modern Way’s one-card draw because it’s just so quick and fun.

one card tarot spread modern way

You can ask any questions and you get immediate answers within under a minute. With this spread, you have no excuse for missing your daily tarot ritual.

Here’s how this one card tarot reading goes:

  1. Think of any question that can’t be answered with a yes or no, on an aspect of your life where you would like to get some more clarity and guidance. For example:
    • What should I do about….?
    • How will I….?
    • Where do I find….?
    • How should I …?
  2. Feel your question, think of it while holding your cards, and close your eyes.
  3. Shuffle the cards as long as you like, until, deep inside, you feel it’s time to stop shuffling and pick your card.
  4. The card you picked will provide you with the answers and guidance you need, as it will show you the way of that day and onwards…

A quick online one-card reading

Don’t have the modern way tarot cards yet and still want to do a one-card tarot card reading right away?

Click the cards below while thinking of your question just like outlined above and it will guide you directly to the Tarot card you’ve manifested for today:

free online tarot card reading

Three-Card Spread

The three-card tarot spread is relatively simple, which makes it ideal for beginners. But it can also be used by experienced readers for a mini-reading. Not only is it a classic, but it’s also suitable to answer many questions.

three card tarot spread modern way

There are many layouts of a three-card reading. To keep things simple, I’ve only included the linear layout. The linear layout, from the word itself, is where you position the three cards horizontally. 

Three-card linear spreads are great for quick practice and have an infinite number of variations. It is often done in relation to a specific topic or theme, like health, love, spirituality, or business. Here are some of the most popular themes of around a three card spread:

Past – Present – Future

You – Your Path – Your Potential

You – Relationship – Partner

Situation – Action – Outcome

Idea – Process – Aspiration

Mind – Body – Spirit

Stop – Start – Continue

Problem – Cause – Solution

Opportunity – Obstacle – Potential

This pattern can be used to explore topics in a simple way. If you want to examine a situation in greater detail, you’ll probably want to go with a spread that uses five cards or more.

Hello New Deck Spread

This spread is a very easy variation of the aforementioned three-card spread. It’s a spread to initiate your new tarot deck and get to know your deck a little bit better.

new deck tarot spread modern way

To get started, shuffle the deck like you normally would and pick three cards. Sort them out next to each other and use the questions as shown.

  1. Which card best describes you as a deck?
  2. What type of readings do you prefer?
  3. How can I be a better reader?

Consult the accompanied tarot guidebook or our online tarot resources for insights on your above questions.

Moderate Tarot Spreads

Find here 3 common tarot spreads for readers that are a bit further in the process of learning tarot that’ll provide more detailed insights.

Five-Card Cross Spread

A five-card tarot spread can be structured as a cross, which builds on the three-card formation. In this spread, a middle row may consist of three cards showing the Past, Present, and Future.

The fourth card is placed beneath these three to reveal a core reason for the circumstances as they exist.

The fifth card is drawn and placed above the three-card row to show the potential of the situation.

five card cross tarot spread modern way card

While it may not be the actual outcome, it shows the brightest or darkest possibility hidden within the state of affairs.

Some readers prefer to interpret the four cards surrounding the center card loosely, but you can also decide ahead of time what each position will represent.  

The five-card spread is suitable for all levels of expertise and can be used to address many topics including decision-making, relationships, and psychological healing.

The Week Ahead Spread

The week ahead spread will give you an expectation for the way the upcoming week will establish itself. It will also show you some insights into the week’s lessons you might encounter.

the week ahead tarot spread modern way

The first card will be Sunday, the second will be Monday, and so on, where the top card is the overarching theme of your upcoming week.

The beauty of this weekly spread is that you can do it every week which helps you understand your progress and how your opinion on a situation changes over time.

horseshoe Tarot Spread

The Horseshoe Spread is another winner. One can easily recognize this pattern since it resembles the shape of a horseshoe. Despite the fact that it uses seven cards, do not be intimidated since it is still considered an easy spread to work on.

The cards are positioned in a manner that is related to the different aspects of the situation or problem at hand. On both sides of the center card, there are three cards placed and formed like a horseshoe. The manner of reading starts from left to right.

the horseshoe tarot spread modern way

Here’s an example of a horseshoe tarot spread:

The first card represents the past. It refers to the situations or events that contributed to or caused what’s going on right now. The second card represents the present situation where the reader is.

The third card represents other factors that contribute to the situation. The fourth card represents the querent’s hopes and fears. It tells the positive and negative outlook of the inquirer.

The fifth card represents the perception of other people towards the seeker. The sixth card represents advice to the inquirer, and finally, the seventh card represents the final outcome of the situation.

This particular kind of spread is used when you want to get answers and clarification from a particular aspect of your life such as love or career. It can also provide the reader with an immediate answer or answers to very easy problems or concerns in a more in-depth way. 

Expert Tarot Spreads

Below are the most common expert tarot reader spreads to start using when you are becoming confident and intuitive with the cards.

Celtic Cross Spread

It is not recommended for beginners to do the ten-card Celtic Cross tarot spread, but it is a favorite for isolating issues in someone’s life.

Once you understand the other spreads, you should not be daunted by this one, but it’s good to know it requires understanding the underlying connections between cards which can take some time to learn and understand.

While it can be used for seeking general information, it is also a great way to answer a specific question.

celtic cross tarot spread modern way cards

The reading begins with a “cross” where the first 6 cards of this celtic spread are being laid down.

The first card represents the theme or your role. The second card, which crosses the first, is a primary obstacle you must face as you address the issue.

Then, a third card is placed beneath the cross to show the foundations of the issue from the deep past.

The fourth card, to the left of the cross, is an event in the recent past affecting the current situation.

Above the cross, the fifth card reveals potential. The sixth card tells you something that will happen in the near future related to the concern. Notice how this creates a larger cross shape similar to the five-card cross formation described above. 

When the larger cross is complete, a column of four additional cards is created to provide additional information about the events at hand. These cards answer the following questions:

  • Card 7: What are your previous experiences or attitudes about the theme?
  • Card 8: How is the environment, including the people around you, affecting the situation?
  • Card 9: What are your hopes or fears?
  • Card 10: What is the most probable outcome of the current situation?

It is uncertain when the Celtic Cross was created but is one of the most commonly used spreads by tarot readers in our current modern world, and a deep method of finding your true way.

Astrological Spread

The Astrological Spread is rather more complicated than most spreads used by tarot readers. Because of its complexity, it is more suitable for people who have at least basic knowledge of astrology and zodiac, and for those who really want to explore it with much enthusiasm and interest.

It also has many variations and is a difficult one to analyze so its familiarity is not so common to many readers. Despite its difficulty, it is still a spread that can offer you an interesting play.

This specific type of spread usually utilizes a total of twelve cards laid in a circular position. Its design is to offer a representation of all the zodiac signs for the next 12 months, starting from Aries up to Pisces.

astrological tarot spread modern way cards

The first month serves as the present month, or it could be the following month if the current month is near the end. 

Note that there is an option where there can be the 13th card to be placed in the center of the circle to represent the final outcome, theme, mood, or lesson of the whole year.

Having a total of 78 cards in a deck, you can make the circular form six times, with six center cards. By getting more chances of creating circles more, it gives you a chance to get more information during the reading.

Astrological Representations

The following is the list of cards and the representation of each astrological zodiac sign, in order:

  1. Aries – The Individual – how the person behaves and thinks in a situation
  2. Taurus – Financial Situation – money, practical matters, possessions
  3. Gemini – Communication – all kinds in daily activities
  4. Cancer – Home – emotional and physical home concerning family members
  5. Leo – Pleasure – Romance, love, art, holidays, creativity, self-expression
  6. Virgo Work and Health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects (although work here does not refer to one’s true purpose)
  7. Libra Relationships – all types including friendship, romance, and business-related partnerships
  8. Scorpio Emotional Issue/Specific Objective – birth, death, sex, inheritance, other people’s money
  9. Sagittarius Beliefs – changes, hope, education, dreams, long-distance travel
  10. Capricorn Career /Work – ambitions, drive, talent, reputation (also refers to one’s true calling)
  11. Aquarius Friends and Social Groups – present or future hopes
  12. Pisces Vulnerability – burden, hidden desires, restrictions, dangers, subconscious, fears
  13. Final Outcome (optional) – This last card reveals the main outcome of the whole situation, although the term is kind of ambiguous since the tarot reading can only reveal six months.

For lovers of astrology, this spread is a fun way to combine your love of tarot with your knowledge of the zodiac to get deeper universal insights from the cards.

Create your own tarot spread

On your journey to tarot fluency, keep a journal of the tarot spreads you use and your interpretations of them. The tarot is your oyster and how much fun it is to create new formations yourself!

Use my guidebook with the tarot meanings, draw new tarot spreads, record them and share them with us via #modernwaytarot so we can all learn and grow together. This is the way…

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