As many of you know, I love tarot spreads. Mostly I love inventing them. And reading about them. And sometimes even using them. I like shaking things up a bit, so I like to add little something extras to my readings. Like what, you ask? Well, Iâ€™ll save those for another time (Iâ€™m polishing and tweaking for my next bookâ€¦Tarot Spreads for Beginners). In the meantime, letâ€™s look at some ideas from someone who taught me a lot about spread design. In Teresa Michelsonâ€™s book Designing Your Own Tarot Spreads, she included a chapter on â€ścards that stand a little outside the main reading and have an added purpose.â€ť
The most commonly used card of this type is the Significator. That warrants a discussion all to itself, so letâ€™s see what other gems Teresa has in mind:
An extra card can be used before a reading to identify the general subject area of the question or to decide which of many questions to deal with. The firstÂ position of the Celtic Cross (â€śWhat covers youâ€ť) is really a question card, and defines the question or situation on the querentâ€™s mind. This is one reason it is used in cold readings where the client does not state a question out loud. Drawing a question card is useful when the client is unsure of what question to ask, has a vague or complicated question or has questions on unrelated topics. The reader can simply ask â€śwhat does the Universe believe that you most need to know about right now?â€ť The question card is not interpreted as part of the reading, it only determines the subject area of the reading.
This is a card that jumps out of the deck while you are shuffling, falls to the floor, or otherwise attracts your notice. Many readers believe these cards are significant, and should be held out and set aside. These cards provide additional commentary on the reading. â€śCommentaryâ€ť may be too bland a term for it; at times thse cards may seem to be shouting, lecturing, or even making a sly joke about the situation.
This is a card that the reader draws to get further insight into one or more cards in a reading. It may be layered on top of, or placed next to, the original card. Clarification cards can be greatly overused. My advice to beginning readers is not to use them at all, because they can quickly become a crutch. One of the keys to becoming a great reader is trusting the tarot to provide you with the right cards in the right positions.
Some readers draw a card from the bottom of the deck at the end of the layout or after the interpretation, which is called the foundation card. This card provides further commentary on the reading by showing what is hidden or what is at the foundation or bottom of the situation.
This card shows any possible bias the reader may be introducing into the reading. If you get a positive card, donâ€™t assume the situation is really gloomier than you think. Instead, think of the card as a pair of glasses you are looking through that colors everything you see. For example, if the bias card is the Two of Cups, you may be missing the fact that some of the cards in the reading actually have to do with the querentâ€™s work and not your recent engagement.
Would you or have you used any of these (or variations thereof)? Which ones worked for you? Which ones didnâ€™t? Any different ones youâ€™d like to share?
As a learning exercise, pull one card from your deck and read it as each of those purposes. It’s interesting to see how looking at a card for a certain purpose opens your mind to different subtleties and applications of the card.