The Tarot is consulted by performing readings, which can be general in nature or address
specific questions or areas of the querent's life. The simplest form of reading is the selection and interpretation of a single
card (our free daily, weekly and monthly readings are good examples), but a greater number of
cards are usually employed to allow a fuller exploration of the subject. Interpreting the cards according to their basic meanings
and associations alone is a rather disjointed and unsatisfying approach. For this reason, the cards are selected and arranged
according to a predetermined pattern called a spread, in which each card is interpreted not only with respect to its innate meaning,
but also according to its position in the spread.
Spreads offer many more refinements to interpretation than positional considerations alone. For example, each card can be related
to other cards in the reading to clarify particular points and bring an additional richness to the interpretation. In some spreads,
certain positions have strong links with others, and cards in these corresponding positions are interpreted with reference to each
other. Spreads allow the use of techniques like synthesis, majorities, dignities, resonance, dissonance and combinations: all covered
in Interpreting a Tarot Reading.
There are many spreads, from the simple to the confusingly complex, but all strive to provide a framework on which the meanings of
the cards involved can be placed and worked into an insightful whole. Each spread is designed for a particular type of reading:
some are well-suited to general readings where no particular question is being asked, others work best when a specific question
is being explored, and still others are geared towards gauging the time scales involved in a reading. This section covers a number
of spreads, and our Free Tarot Reading Service allows you to try out each and every one of them
whenever you like. Click on any spread for information about it and all the positions it contains.
Question spreads can be used for general readings or to explore specific questions. They vary in complexity from the quick and
easy One Card Spread to the in-depth, ten-card coverage of the Celtic Cross. For readings where timing is important,
calendar spreads may be more suitable.
Obtaining a sense of the time scales involved in a reading is quite difficult with most spreads. Calendar spreads, however,
are designed around specific periods of time, though timing is usually made explicit at the expense of the depth and
interdependence found in the larger, non-calendar spreads. Calendar spreads can be used for general readings over a given period
or for exploring how a specific question or issue will develop over that time.