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A Tarot spread is simply an arrangement of cards where each position represents a specific topic. When a card is placed in a position, its meaning is interpreted in relation to the topic that position represents. One basic example of a Tarot spread is the Past-Present-Future spread. As you might have guessed, the cards in this spread symbolize the past, present, and future. It's as simple as that!
The primary distinction between the Past-Present-Future spread and the larger, ten-card Celtic Cross spread lies in the number of positions. Once you become familiar with the meanings of the Tarot cards, you can (and should!) start creating your own spreads. This way, you can customize your readings to align more closely with the subjects of your questions and concerns, instead of relying on generic spreads.
At first, creating your own spread might seem a bit intimidating, especially when you're just starting out. Learning the "standard" spreads can be an excellent way to grasp how spreads function. As you progress, you can experiment by creating variations of these spreads, which can serve as an intermediate step toward developing your own unique spreads.
The simplest spread you can try is the one-card reading. Here at Ultimate Tarot, our one-card reading is geared toward providing advice, but you can use a one-card reading for any purpose. Whether you're looking for a quick glimpse into the near future, the recent past, your fears and inhibitions, or hidden allies, the one-card spread is a fantastic way to kick off your inquiries without investing too much time and effort in one of the larger spreads.
We've already touched on the three-card Past-Present-Future spread, but there are other equally interesting three-card spreads as well. One popular option is the Relationship spread, where the cards represent you (or the querent), your relationship, and your significant other.
Another popular spread is the seven-card Horseshoe spread, named for the typical arrangement of the cards. The positions, from left to right, include Past, Present, Future, Attitude, Influences, Obstacles, and Outcome. You might have noticed that the Horseshoe's first three cards are identical to those in the three-card Past-Present-Future spread. This showcases one method of crafting your own custom spread: simply use a subset of the positions found in a larger spread.
In fact, the Horseshoe spread is a subset of an even more extensive spread, the Celtic Cross, which is the granddaddy of traditional Tarot spreads. The Celtic Cross earns its name because most of its cards are arranged in an equal-armed Celtic cross formation. This design is emphasized by placing the Challenges (or Obstacles) card across the Situation (or Significator) card.
Exploring different Tarot spreads and experimenting with their variations can be a fun and rewarding journey, allowing you to grow in your Tarot reading skills and create spreads that resonate with you and your questions.