Wondering if you should create your own tarot spreads is rather like asking yourself if you should cook your own meals. Isn't it easier to eat out at yummy restaurants, depend on friends, or heat up frozen dinners? No! Eating out is expensive, your friends will get annoyed with you, and frozen food is … eesh, unexciting. Cooking teaches you more about food than you could ever learn by just eating alone. Cooking reveals texture, taste, combination, timing, planning, and, most importantly, how and what you like. Cooking makes you a better eater. The same truth applies to tarot: creating spreads will make you a better reader. You could find a spread in a book that might suit your needs perfectly, but isn't it better to tailor-make one?
Any tarot lover and student should begin crafting spreads immediately. They should set about the task as eagerly as they study card meanings. Tarot knowledge is like life knowledge: it isn't what you know, it's what you do with that knowledge that really counts. Even if you are still using books to aid in card interpretations, you can and should create spreads. Why? Because of what happens beneath your fingertips as you flip, shuffle, and work your cards. The tarot journey that begins as a study in symbol, magic, and metaphysics soon blossoms into an inadvertent cultivation of innate problem solving skills, delicate intuition building, and a fascinating study of the self. Just like cooking, once you become adept at creating spreads for yourself, you'll be able to do it for loved ones, strangers, and or even clients. Some professional readers utilize personal spread creation as part of their reading package. The creation of an original spread is part of the reading process as the client articulates their questions. The advantages are many. Let's take a look at why you should do it.
- You'll Get to the Point with Specificity and Articulation: Invention of Spread
Specificity is of supreme importance in life; it gets us where we need to go. The same thing goes for a tarot spread. We multitask like mad in modern life, yet our attention can only be held by one thing at a time.
The first step of creating a spread is deciding what your spread is about, the general question or topic. Grab a pen and paper, and begin jotting down your thoughts, questions, and the overall goal of the spread. Often, when pondering the question/issue/problem that our spread will be about, we must work through the myriad of attachments to get to the heart of our desires. Our emotions (Cups) are often hampering, blurring, coloring, and filtering our basic truth. Articulating your questions and writing them down help you to streamline your thought process through any emotion. This process gets you out of your head and moving toward where you want to be going. It forces you to articulate the most important thing: What do you want?
Articulating your needs will inevitably involve a number of other questions. These questions become the meat of the spread, which brings us to our next point …
- Bird's Eye View Sees All: Question Creation
"Functional fixedness" is a term psychologists use for when a person seeing things only in the manner to which they are accustomed. Everyone falls into ruts of thinking and habitual ways of understanding and interpreting our life. But this prevents anyone from stepping back to observe their situation from a larger view. A big view offers new alternatives and options that we may not have thought of otherwise.
Creating a spread forces you to examine your issue/topic/situation from every possible angle. Why? Because you must come up with the questions to populate the spread. These questions are the bones of the spread. Different angles are examined and your issue or concern is now out of your mind and spread on the table before you. Simply getting it out of your head is worth the price of admission. You can play with them, examine them from new angles and even build upon them, creating new and better questions, which in turn provide excellent answers and insight.
Here are some starter questions to consider:
What do you want?
Why do you want it?
What is standing in your way?
What is aiding you?
What will happen if you receive it?
What don't you see?
(And don't to forget to acknowledge the role you play in your future.)
- Creativity Unleashes New Possibilities: Spread Pattern
Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, and interpretations. Because tarot spreads are essentially created to solve problems and offer guidance (we rarely ask about things we already know), a meaningful new idea is exactly what you'll seek in a tarot reading.
Getting creative about your in the design of your spread paves the way for innovative solutions and helps your synapses fire in unexpected ways.
Here are some creative jumpstarts to get you going as you plan the shape of your spread:
- Magical Shapes
Use the shape of the spread to set a magical intention: The pattern you form with your cards can also act as a sigil or a symbolic representation of your desired outcome.
- Square: Spreads concerning stability, security, structure, and strength.
- Circle: Spreads concerning cohesiveness, well being, continuity, integration, and wellness.
- Heart: Spreads concerning love, passion, and matters of the heart.
- Upward Pointing Pyramid: Spreads regarding the higher self, spiritual matters, and enlightenment.
- Downward Pointing Pyramid: Spreads regarding the subconscious, hidden motives, base desires, and driving forces.
- Staircases Moving Up or Down: Spreads concerning where you want to go.
- Fun Ideas
- Construct a backwards spread.
Answer a question before you ask it. Pull a card. Based on the card, give an answer, then figure out what the question is.
- Invoke a Major.
Correlate the number of cards in your spread to match with the number of the Major Arcana card whose power you want to invoke in the reading. For instance, to invoke the Emperor's stability, cast four cards. To invoke the electric attraction of the Lovers, cast 6 cards. And so on …
- Create a signature spread that embodies all of the elements you think are important in life.
You might try writing each question on a small index card. Arrange them and flip the tarot card right over it when performing the reading. This way, the question is in front of you rather than on a side piece of paper.
- Spread Creation Ignites Your Sacred Space
Some readers consciously clear the space around them before a reading. They'll use incense, music, candles, crystals, or sumptuous accessories or techniques to set the mood and clear the way for excellent answers. Some readers just start pulling cards. Everyone is built differently, and there is no right or wrong way to perform a spread or use a tarot deck. Discovering what works for you is the most important thing. But regardless of how you prepare for a reading, if you take the time to create the spread, you will experience a huge shift in awareness when you begin to actually read the cards.
Think back to the cooking metaphor and recall how much closer you pay attention to the food you eat when you have spent an hour preparing it; you pay attention in a completely different way. This is a subtle but important shift of awareness. Creating the spread has set you up mentally for the actual spread. The time involved in creation sets the stage. Now, you'll find yourself free and focused on the cards and the messages they have, because you have cleared out the buzzing of your mind.
- Excellent Answers and a Chance to Play
You have written everything down, and cemented your needs, wants, and desires. You've (hopefully) acknowledged the role you play in your future and you are ready to flipping cards and gather your answer(s). Now to the juicy, delicious, fun part: reading the cards, finding your answers. Hopefully, you can be as concise in your answers as you were in writing your questions. Look for repeating patterns appearing in the cards. Repeating numbers and suits will give you big themes and major information to contemplate in your answers.
You don't have to stop working with the cards just because you have answered your questions or finished your reading. The best part of creating a spread is that it offers an opportunity to play. When children play, they are rehearsing for adulthood, testing social and cognitive skills. Playing with your cards is the quickest way to feel a sense of mastery with them and open the floodgates to tarot. There are so many wonderful ways to play with your cards. Draw them, journal on them, meditate into them, create your own. They are meant to be interactive. Each card is a doorway. Every combination an available possibility. Every image a reflection of something inside of you.
Ultimately, when you create your own spreads, you will walk away from the reading much more about your subject than you even expected. Believe it or not, you will have already gotten closer to the answer and outcome.
365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day
While we're on the subject of spreads, I'm delighted to announce the completion of my gorgeous new book, 365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day. The volume contains a different spread for each day of the year. Every spread is based on a holiday, magical occurrence, or significant historical fact for that particular day. Rich tarot connections and card facts go along with each spread to inform your tarot knowledge. You'll find a spread for every imaginable circumstance and situation.
You might pause to wonder why I'd suggest, even implore, that you create your own personalized tarot spreads, especially after I have just created a giant volume of spreads. 365 may seem like a ton of spreads, but really it is just the tip of the iceberg. The questions and complexities of you are endless. 365 Tarot Spreads is a jumping-off point, and will hopefully serve as inspiration to your life long practice of good questioning and provocative tarot reading.