Tarot Spreads: Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Readings teaches a great deal about how spreads work, how they are designed, and how to use them to best advantage. One of the key elements of this work is to know yourself as a reader and to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. Some people have no interest in creating spreads from scratch. Some have a handful of spreads they love and use all the time. But just as we know that bespoke clothing fits, feels, and looks better than off-the-rack clothes, a spread that is modified to YOUR style will give you better results and/or make your readings flow more easily. Here are a few tips for modifying spreads from this book:

Modifying Spreads

Many great spreads already exist. In fact there are probably a few that you like quite a lot. But maybe they aren’t quite perfect for one reason or another. The most common method of dealing with unique needs or not-quite-perfect spreads is not to create a spread from scratch but to tweak or alter an existing spread. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

Whenever you change an existing spread say, by changing a positional meaning or the numbering, you have modified that spread. Some would argue that by modifying a spread, it is no longer the same spread but instead is a completely new one. That is true, up to a point. For it is not really completely new unless you’ve reworked it entirely, in which case, you probably have invented a new spread. But mostly, when we speak of modifying spreads, we mean making small adaptations to an existing spread in order to suit your needs, beliefs, or reading style.

Here is a list of ways that you can modify spreads. When considering a spread, analyze its purpose. Look at the positions and layout. Determine whether the spread is designed in a way to effectively achieve the intended purpose. Then decide in what ways it either does or does not suit your style. What can be changed to make it better for you?


  • Focus: can the general purpose of the spread be changed to suit the present needs?
  • Positional meanings: do all the positions pertain to the question you want to ask? Do they represent the aspects of the answer you seek? Can you add to the positions or eliminate some to better suit your needs?
  • Layout: does the layout make sense to you? Does it match positions? Does it make interpreting the cards easier? How can you change it to make the reading more effective?
  • Number of cards: are there too many cards or too few for your reading style? If there are too few, would adding a card or two per position help? If there are too many, is there a way to combine or eliminate positions without negatively affecting the reading?
  • Techniques: what techniques would make the reading more effective, more dynamic, or more useful?
Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...