Help with making spreads.


I've been reading tarot now for maybe around five years, but I've never tried my hand at making a spread for myself.

I was wondering what the key fundamentals were for making one? I generally just stick to simple three card spreads but I'd like to create my own with more cards, step out of my comfort zone a little.


I usually start with a topic area: decision-making, problem-solving, relationships, health-and-happiness, work and finances, etc, and then decide what aspects of the topic I want to explore, which dictates how many cards I will use; this typically involves some kind of progression from the "now" to the eventual outcome. Sometimes in creating spreads to compare different options, I set them up to use two (or more) decks so all cards are available for all of the options. Since I like larger spreads, I tend to include a range of possibilities that goes well beyond the three-card "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" approach to resolution.


You might get some excellent ideas (and help & collaboration) from HERE

Charlie Brown

To start, you might try taking one of your three card spreads and expanding it. For example, if you've been doing past-present-future, then you could add distant past and distant future. Or else a card for something like "What could I have done in the past that would have improved the present" and an advice card for how to bring about the future card (it becomes something to avoid if the future isn't one you want).


I find ideas for spreads in many places. For example, when I see a diagram like Maslov's needs or Bloom's taxonomy or the Japanese Ikigai concept or the SWOT analysis - immediately, I know that I want to turn it into a spread. For the times when this is exactly what I need to know, how these things shown in the diagram play out in my life.

I read a number of books about spreads (I'm the type who solves life's problems in the library and any skill that can't be learned by book - I can't do it). I like Barbara Moore's book about spreads and Tierney Sadler's book that comes with the Deck of 1000 Spreads. I also find the deck itself helpful although I'd love to have more empty cards. But playing around with the cards helps to build up a spread, and her explanations about basic structures is helpful, too.

One great idea I saw on Sadler's website is the "diagram" like in this example. You can enrich a simple 3 card spread by pulling two cards for each position - negative vs positive influences etc. It's a nice structured way of laying out the cards.

Very often, my spreads are extremely simple - just a number of cards in one line. This works especially well with borderless cards.

I'm fascinated by elaborate huge spreads like Barleywine's or Benebell Wen's, but for myself, I find that 3 to 6 card spreads work best. I'm in love with the nr. 4 so very often four cards is my best bet.

I'm not very systematic and would encourage you to experiment a bit. There are so many wonderful spreads here on AT - try them and try to find out what works for you and what doesn't.


Hi sedgeez. I, like Nemia, tend to prefer linear readings, but usually go with an odd number of cards, 3, 5 and 7 are where I usually go. I've found a lot of spreads on A.T. as well as many other resources now which often fit my needs. When one doesn't quite fit, I'll simply alter it - usually just by changing the positional meanings. Thus a "issue-blockage-advice" 3-card spread, has become an "issue-blockage-contemplate". Or, creating my own 5-card Focusing Cross, based off of several others that I had found.

Basically, what I'll do is first figure out what questions I want answered, as Nemia said, that gives you a good idea of how many cards you're going to want to use. Then ask; will a simple linear spread work ("a" leads to "b", to "c", etc.), or do you need to look at more complex relationships (how "a" affects "b" and how "d" affects "a" and "b" or whatever you need). I created one several years ago in a 3x3 grid, so you were looking at multiple affects across multiple ideas (past-present-future/mind-body-spirit). Then too, a few days ago I created one for a question one friend asked me - but when I started thinking about it, I felt the "energy" of a simple linear wasn't enough and ended up doing a spiral.

I haven't looked at the books that others have mentioned, though I am now seriously thinking about it. I have looked at some web sites and seen a lot of spreads that people have posted here. I will add, that once you do start creating your own spreads ... it opens up all kinds of new possibilities.


It's probably worth mentioning that linear spreads with an odd number of cards (3, 7, 9) lend themselves to the use of Elemental Dignities, which work best in triplets with a center focus or "principle" card and two modifiers, one before and one after. Its just a method for weighting or adjusting the potency of a card according to how "friendly" or "unfriendly" it is with its neighbors


Oh yes, and not only elemental dignities but also planetary and numerological dignities. (I'm reading Liz Hazel's book! did anyone notice :laugh:???)


Oh yes, and not only elemental dignities but also planetary and numerological dignities. (I'm reading Liz Hazel's book! did anyone notice :laugh:???)

I'm reading it for a second time in preparation for a talk on Elemental Dignities I'm giving in a couple weeks. Highly recommend it.


Oh I wish I could come and listen! A bit too far though.

Your complex spreads are fascinating and a bit daunting. I have them all saved but didn't use them yet. That's study material for a BA in spreadology.