Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of my weekly series on overcoming common tarot frustrations, problems that the members of a meetup group I visited had expressed to me. The participants described their tarot holdups as:

  1. Reading clearly for yourself without being pulled off track by seeing what you wanted to see
  2. How to manage psychic impressions when doing readings
  3. Finding patterns in the cards to help you tell the story
  4. Choosing between oracle, angel, or tarot cards
  5. Working with the most useful spreads (Today’s post!)

If you enjoyed this series and would like to follow my future work, you can sign up for email notifications at the upper right of the sidebar (totally free and you will only get notifications of my blog posts, published 3-4 times a month). If you’d like to subscribe to my once-a-month newsletter with notifications of classes, talks, meetup groups, special events, and a recap of my blog posts from the month, please sign up here or through my Facebook page.

Common Tarot Reading Frustration #5: Useful Tarot Spreads!

Ok, I’m going to say it. The Celtic Cross is a meandering, clunky spread with too many cards. Although there are many great variations on it (check out this version we developed in a Denver Tarot Meetup event), the main problem with it is that it insists on going the direction it wants to go instead of letting the querent guide the process. By using shorter spreads with fewer cards, spreads that can be read quickly to hit the highlights, you offer a chance for the client to speak up and guide you and the cards to the next step. I suggest focusing on two or three spreads (or more!) in a half hour reading. To do this, you’ll need a stable of shorter spreads. Today I’ll share with you three of my favorite spreads, ones I use everyday in my client readings. I find these offer a lot of info, are quick to read, and get right to the point.

The Split Hexagram Tarot Spread

In this spread, three cards above form a downward pointing triangle, representative of the spiritual forces which descend as the result of pursuing the questioned course of action. From below, three cards form an upward pointing triangle, representing the outcomes of action taken on the physical plane of existence. Then a seventh card represents the point of connection of the two triangles, providing a final outcome. If the two triangles were to move towards each other and come together around card seven, it would form a hexagram, or six-pointed star.

This is my go-to spread and I use it for almost everything. It usually takes me seven to twenty minutes to read it, so it either quickly gets to the point and guides us into the next question, or, unfolds the layers of the situation allowing an in-depth reading.

I first discovered this spread in “Modern Magic” by Donald Michael Kraig. He offered it as a tool for inquiring about the potential result of a magical working and recommended using only the Major Arcana. I loved it immediately and employed it at once for all my tarot inquiries on any topic and using the full deck. After using this spread regularly for more than fifteen years, I have discovered its nuances and intricacies and share those with you now.

Click to download a printable pdf of the spread.
Click to download a printable pdf of the spread.


The 6-Card Tarot Spread

This spread reads like a basic three-card Past, Present, Future, but adds one layer that opens up many additional patterns to read. I learned this from a presenter for the Denver Tarot Meetup who used it for doing quick readings for a large corporate party he worked annually. This spread has fewer layers than the Split Hexagram, so it is faster to read, while still offering a nuanced analysis of the question. I generally can read this spread in five to twelve minutes, so it’s great for follow-up questions or for a quick answer to a final topic.

Click to download a printable pdf of the spread.
Click to download a printable pdf of the spread.

The Decision Tarot Spread

Frequently clients need guidance in choosing between two or more options: get a new job or go back to school, move here or there, rent or buy, and so on–the quandaries are endless! I like this spread because it lets me compare and contrast the two options on several levels. If there are more than two choices, I will add an additional pile, but if it’s four or more choices, I will only pull two cards, one from the top and bottom of each pile (not three from the top) until we narrow it down to the two best choices–then those can be examined in more detail if need be. I recommend use stickies or paper scraps to mark each pile (with short reminders such as “smaller place,” “move in with parents,” and “get roommate”) so that there’s no confusion later on as to which pile is which. Once a man came in with notes on seven cars he had test-driven and we used the two-card variation to lay out cards for the seven options. It can be helpful to add another pile for the unexpected, or an option not yet thought of. His cards there suggested maybe he should be buying a family vehicle and not the smaller cars he was looking at!

Click here to download a printable pdf of the spread.
Click here to download a printable pdf of the spread.

I hope you find these spreads helpful! I’d love it if you left me a comment letting me know how they work for you. And please share your favorite spread as well!


If you’d like to learn to read the tarot with no memorization or books, simply letting the cards speak for themselves, check out my upcoming Magician’s Tools: Beginning Tarot class, Sundays, February 12-March 19, 2017, 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Isis Books and Gifts, 2775 South Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113.

If you’re getting started and want to know the best beginner deck, please take a look at my post on 50 Beginning Tarot Decks.



Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into the most active and one of the largest tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a psychic and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit

© 2017 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • PDF
  • RSS
Overcoming Five Common Tarot Reading Frustrations #5: Spreads

2 thoughts on “Overcoming Five Common Tarot Reading Frustrations #5: Spreads

Comments are closed.