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Structure but no Meaning

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on April 8, 2010 | Comments (3)

During my “I don’t need no stinkin’ spreads” phase, I threw cards down in a long line or in several shorter lines in rows. I looked at the cards and often had no idea of how to start interpreting the reading. If any of you do practice this and can either explain or point me in the right direction, I’d appreciate it. I still want to try, but for now, I get too locked up to make any progress.

But there is something about a spread with few positional meanings or just general guidelines for interpreting that I have been enjoying lately. For most of my reading career, I’ve spent most of my time on the many possible meanings of a card. Going very deeply into a card is an amazing journey and leads to many insights. However, lately I’ve been focusing differently. Rather than taking one card and squeezing as much meaning out of it as possible, I like to look at the cards in relation to each other and let those relationships shape the interpretation. My reading experiments have been recently influenced by two blog: Tarot Elements and Tarot Eon.

That may sound very much like using Elemental Dignities. I cannot in good faith say that I use Elemental Dignities in any pure sense. The full-blown practice is a bit convoluted—or can get a bit convoluted—for me. Yes, I am a lazy reader. However, I do look at the elements present, as well as numbers, court cards, repeating symbols, patterns, or colors.

When I want to focus on the relationships between the cards I find positional meanings distracting. So, I’ve been drawn to spreads without positional meanings but with some structure. There are two that I’ve been playing with a lot. One is the Tarot Elements Signature Spread by Catherine Chapman and can be found here.

The other is one I recently made up and it has no name. Okay, in my head I call it my Magic Square spread. But don’t tell anyone, okay? It looks like this:


It doesn’t matter which order the ones around the edge are laid out, but I always lay the middle one last. I read the last card (in the center) as the person who is the subject of the question. Then all the cards around the center card represent the situation and energy that they are “in the middle of.” Sometimes the columns seem to form a kind of past-present-future pattern, as in a three-card spread. But more often, a story emerges organically.

That’s enough babbling from me for today. Tell me what you think about specific spread positions, no positions, or kind-of-sort-of positions.

Reader Comments

Written By Kevin QUigley
on April 8th, 2010 @ 8:46 am

Check out my article in The Llewellyn Tarot Reader 2008, Tossing Tarot. Not only are there no spreads – you literally toss the cards into the air and interpret they way they sail and the way they land on the fly (pun intended).


Written By Rose Vanden Eynden
on April 8th, 2010 @ 9:13 am

When I do a throw without specific position meanings, I allow my intuitive side to lead me where I need to go. I do first look at all of the cards to see how many Majors appear, how many of each suit, what numbers come up, etc, to stimulate a sense of what area of life the throw is about and what patterns might emerge in the cards. Then, I open up and let Spirit take my eyes to the first card that I need to see in the throw, and I focus on what about that card attracts me. Usually, the story starts to build from there. No matter if I’m reading for myself or for someone else, I start talking immediately so that I don’t impede the flow of intuitive information that is coming in. As I move through the cards, going from one to the other, I allow the story that the cards are telling to build. The cards naturally seem to interact with one another, and the reading becomes a very organic, intuitive thing. I enjoy this method of reading because it allows Spirit to work through us, and the intuitive nature of the cards and their interactions is highlighted.

I’d like to try the spreads you have above, Barbara. Thanks for sharing them!

Written By Phine
on April 8th, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

Hi, Barbara,

your Magic Square Spread reminds me of the Lenormand 3×3 Spread:
The centre-card symbolizes the actual theme of what is going on, of what this reading is about.
The first column is representing the past, the column in the middle is showing the present time and the right column is signifying the future.
Simultaneously the first row is meant to illustrate the thought / wishes / fears, while the row in the middle is depicting what is taking place in reality. The last row is describing what is not seen or ignored / the unconscious.

I think these “positions” could be also applied to the Tarot. Like to try it!

Thank you for sharing,

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