Like many readers, I adhere to the belief that spreads are of course optional, but there are a few spreads that simply stuck with my practice since I learned them. I recommend keeping a journal of spreads that you find that simply pique your interest, but attempting to hold to memory the ones that you know click for you and your decks.
This is likely just the beginning of me sharing spreads I love, but we have to move through the classics first!
1. Celtic Cross
Let’s get the classic out of the way first, right? The acclaimed, must-know Celtic Cross does not ever get old for me. It’s the first spread I learned when I first picked up a deck, and for good reason. It helps you unpack a situation quite fully, and is rightfully included in many beginners’ or deck guidebooks. While variations of this spread exist widely across the board, the photo attached here is the one I prefer using, although I do split card 9 as depicted into two separate cards.
“External influences” is also sometimes interpreted as the opinions of those around the querent, so, while it can be a useful piece of information at times, not every piece of this spread always ends up being absolutely essential, this card position being a good example of that. However, because of its versatility, memorability, and ability to crack down on varying areas of a situation, it’s one that always stuck with me through the years.
2. heart of a relationship
This is what I tend to use as my go-to for relationship questions, curiosities, and the likes. It’s wonderful because no type of relationship in particular is required in order for this to work — platonic, romantic, mentor/student, whatever it may be. And it tends to unpack the literal heart of a situation, as well as answer the majority of questions asked, without much needed other than these cards!
A nicely functional miniature version of this that I like to use if we’re short on time includes card positions 6, 7, 10 (querent’s position), 12, and 1 oracle card for advice.
3. past, present, future… and all other 3 card classics and twists
Once upon a time I stumbled upon this mammoth of a post compiled by tarot-spreads on tumblr, and I’ve never been the same. (Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but look at that list)!
I’m a bit of a sucker for three card variations, because 3 cards is of course not a whole lot, but such spreads prove the crazily large capacity of tarot.
Past / Present / Future was the first variation I learned, and it’s a great one to start with to get into unpacking general questions while also being able to quickly confirm how on the mark you are.
Easily memorizable, effective tarot spreads were the foundation to how I learned tarot as a beginner. I enjoy using spreads still as they also are frequently easy for clients to follow themselves, and when such a preference is expressed, I’m more than happy to oblige.
That said, spreads are not always everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally find them so fun and creative that I ultimately end up integrating them into my practice more than not.