I don’t read with spreads. I know a lot of readers who do. But I don’t. Here’s why:
When I first started out, I couldn’t remember the positions of the Celtic Cross. It was the only spread in my first Tarot book and, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t remember what the position meant. I tried just laying out nine cards (three rows of three) and just telling a story. I found that I got accurate readings. So I stopped trying to learn spreads and that is the “spread” that I have used ever since. I do occasionally use spreads (I’m going to share them on here), but when I do the vast majority of my readings they are just nine cards.
But some readers love their spreads. I get it. They can help tailor a reading to a specific question, honing in on the aspects of the questions the questioner (Tarot-ese: querent) wants answered. There are a ton of spreads (dozens of books and even a deck of spreads), for everything you can possibly imagine. The Celtic Cross is just one of many; if it works for you, go for it. It doesn’t for me.
Here is (my) pro/con list for spreads:
- Answers specific sub-questions
- Gives answers on the details of a question
- They focus & tailor the reading
- They allow us to impose structure on readings
- The cards sometimes don’t fit the position
- They can limit how much of a story you can tell
- You’re applying meanings to positions applied to a question (which I find complicated)
- You have to craft a spread to a question or a question to a spread
I prefer to take the question or theme that a person wants me to read and go from there. It’s been my experience that tarot has a message and that message is what needs to come out. When you put yourself aside and just read the cards, whether there is meaning in the placement or not, you get what you need. Even readers who use spreads, when they start to link the cards together are weaving a story. The information is in the cards, you just have to listen.
Whether you use spreads or not, you need to find a reading style that works for you. Developing that style takes practice and experimentation. Why not try just putting cards on the table? What do you have to lose?