Tarot cards let you glimpse into the future and explore the unknown. While using the entire deck is daunting, there are tarot card spreads for beginners that offer a user-friendly introduction. These basic spreads let you find clarity and improve your life without needing years of experience.
Most beginner spreads range from three to seven tarot cards, making them easy to learn while providing deep insight. Master these top tarot spreads for beginners, and you’ll have the foundation to tackle more advanced tarot readings.
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Tarot Card Layouts for Beginners
Three-Card Tarot Layout
A three-card tarot spread offers clear and straightforward answers to otherwise complicated problems. The minimal setup allows room for discussion between you and the querent. While you can use a three card tarot spread to explore motivation, gratitude, or self-reflection, most people use it to look at the past, present, and future.
After you place the three cards down, read them from left to right. Note any Major Arcana cards, which influence the tone of the reading. For instance, The Fool tarot card indicates an upcoming adventure, while The Lovers card suggests a potential romantic relationship.
Don’t try reading too far into the past or future. The best results come when the past tarot card refers to the previous week, and the future card refers to the upcoming week. Straying from these periods is too complicated for beginners. Here is what to look for in each card:
- Past Card: Understand lessons and analyze strong emotions from the last week. Keep this card in mind when looking forward because it influences the present and future.
- Present Card: Look inward at your emotional and mental well-being. Your current state has strong ties to the past, which can reveal itself through additional cards.
- Future Card: Here is how future events may turn out in your life. Make sure to follow the advice of the past and present cards for the ideal results.
Seven-Card Horseshoe Spread
While the three-card tarot spreads take a broad view of life, the seven-card horseshoe spread can be more precise. It’s useful when looking for specific guidance or increasing your general awareness. The seven-card horseshoe spread also considers the views of people involved in a given situation. The tarot cards read from left to right as:
- The past
- The present
- Hidden influences
- The querent
- Attitudes of others
- What should the querent do?
The past and present tarot cards look at what the querent has done and what they are doing. Their past and present directly influence the immediate issues. For instance, if you turn over the Justice card, it shows that fairness and balance will dictate the outcome.
Hidden influences are tricky because they represent problems you do not know about yet. They are similar to the attitudes of others because they are an outside influence. The attitudes of others card represents how people in a scenario feel and indicates the outcome’s direction.
The fourth and sixth querent tarot cards reflect the individual and their actions. Some people prefer to flip over the querent card first because it shows their attitudes. The sixth card suggests courses of action, which may include nothing at all. The outcome card is a summation of the previous six cards and provides resolution.
The Pentagram Tarot Spread
The pentagram tarot spreads are a five-point star that has a sacred meaning in paganism. The star contains the four classic elements of earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit. The arrangement lets you connect with different forces that influence the sixth card in the center.
The center card is a significator. It represents the querent, and you can select it based on their appearance. Choose a card from the Major Arcana based on the querent’s life for a more accurate reading. Here is what to look for in the five surrounding cards to read the querent:
- Earth Card: The earth is a source of stability and security. The card shows what keeps the querent grounded and what obstacles prevent them from advancing.
- Air Card: Air represents inspiration and dialogue. Who are positive and negative influences on the querent, and how much of an impact do they have?
- Fire Card: Fire is a force of creation and destruction. It can show internal and external conflicts ranging from doubts to self-sabotage.
- Water Card: The water is a beacon of knowledge. The querent should use this card to learn from their situation.
- Spirit Card: The spirit card is the final card and represents a culmination of the elements. It shows the querent’s path and destination.
Celtic Cross Tarot Spread Layout
The Celtic cross is a ten-card spread layout that dives into critical relationships and life scenarios. The spread includes six cards on the left side in a cross shape with four cards stacked vertically on the right. Each card represents:
- The present
- The challenge
- The past
- The future
- External influences
- Hopes and fears
The present, challenge, past, and future work like the elements of the pentagram spread. Each card shows influences on the querent’s current situation. They surround an above and below card, which represents aspirations and the subconscious, respectively.
The stack of advice, external influences, hopes and fears, and outcome provide guidance. They offer recommendations and highlight the energies or events that influence the outcome. Note that the outcome card is an indicator of how things will play if the querent continues on their current path.
Five-Card Spread for Decision Making
The five-card tarot spreads for decision making helps people make difficult choices. While the spread rarely offers a definitive answer, it does provide clarity and advice. The tarot reading gives querent insight into their current direction and whether they should change course.
The layout forms a plus sign with the central three tarot cards representing motivation, ideal outcomes, and values. These cards reflect the querent’s motivations and where they are going in life. The cards on the side represent two distinct outcomes. The querent can select one or the other and explore the possibilities of the path.
The astrological tarot spread uses 12 cards placing one card in each position around the circle like a clock. This layout is designed to provide an overview of the next 12 months. The first month is the current month, or if you are close to the end of the month, month one can be the following month. An optional 13th card can be placed in the center of the circle to represent the tone for the whole year.
Because there are 78 cards in a tarot deck, you can create the circle six complete times, with six center cards. The more times you go around the circle, the more information you will obtain.
Each card represents one of the houses of astrology, as follows:
- The Self – how others see the querent
- Financial values – money, possessions, and earning power
- Travel and communication – daily activities
- Home Life – siblings, family, parents, children
- Pleasure – Romance, love, holidays, creativity, self expression
- Work and Health – both emotional and physical
- Partnerships and Marriage – personal and professional, legal matters
- Beginnings and Endings – birth, death, sex, other people’s money, inheritance
- Philosophy, education, dreams, long distance travel
- Career – fame, reputation
- Friends, hopes, wishes
- Burdens – restrictions, dangers, subconscious, secret fears.
While there are many types of tarot card spreads, those covered here are ideal for beginners as they are relatively simple and easy to remember. As your skill progresses, you’ll likely find certain spreads that appeal to you more or meet your needs—but practice makes perfect.