Tarot cards are laid out in particular patterns, known as ‘spread’ or layout, before a reading. The most popular spread is the Celtic Cross layout, where 10 cards are used in a particular pattern. Two cards are crossed, one over the other, and four cards surround it on four sides. The remaining four cards are laid in a vertical line at the side of this 6-card pattern. The Celtic Cross layout is considered the most powerful, but there are other layouts in use, too.
The Cabalistic Spread. This is a 14-card layout that gives an overall picture of the past, present, and future circumstances. This spread answers only general questions. The first seven cards are laid in a straight line from left to right. The Significator card – which is deliberately pulled from the deck, by either the reader or the querent – is placed under the #4 card, and represents the querent’s state of mind. Three cards, #8, 9, and 10 are placed vertically above card #5, with cards #10 just above the cards #5. The remaining three cards, 11, 12, and 13 are placed vertically below cards #5 With cards #11 just below card #5.
Card #4 is read first. This is followed by cards 13, 12, and 11, in this order. These three cards give the influences of the past three months, with card #13 representing the farthest time. Then staring with card 1, cards 1, 2, and 3, representing present circumstances, are read. Then starting with card 10, read cards 10, 9, and 8, representing the future, with card 8 the farthest in time. Representing the feelings of other people, cards 5, 6, and 7 should next be read.
The Daily Spread. This layout is used for answering specific questions, and should not be used for every day interpretations, as this will cause confusion. Select a card to represent the Current Month and lay it on the left side of the table. Select another card for the Current Day, and lay it on the right of the table. 13 other cards are spread exactly like the Cabalistic Spread – only there is no Significator Card.
Cards 13, 12, and 11 represent events up to the day in question, and should be read starting from card 13. Next, beginning with card 1, read cards 1, 2, and 3, which represent the events of the morning of the day in question. Starting with card 7, read cards 7, 6, and 5, which represent the afternoon of the day in question. Next, starting with card 8, read card 8, 9, and 10, which represent the evening of the day in question. Card 4 must be read on its own merits, and it is the ‘tone-of-the-day’ card, and serves another purpose of showing the results of special projects under consideration.
The Clarification Spread. This is a four-card spread. Shuffle the cards and ‘cut’ the deck into two piles. The pile on the left represents your passive – the emotional side. The pile on the right represents your active – the intellectual side. Shuffle the left pile again and lay the top card in the ‘West’ position, and the bottom card in the ‘East’ position. Now, shuffle the right stack again and lay the top card in the ‘North’ position, and the bottom card in the ‘South’ position.
The ‘North’ card shows the actual position - what is really going on. The ‘West’ card represents events, people and energies you are open to, and are attracting. The ‘East’ card shows your influence over the surroundings, and what you are expressing to others. The ‘South’ card tells you how the problem can be overcome.