Tying the cards together: how to interpret tarot spreads (part 1)

Tying the cards together: how to interpret tarot spreads (part 1)

Many beginning tarot readers are comfortable learning the meanings of each card… but when it’s time read multi-card spreads? They freeze. Interpreting tarot spreads rather than individual cards is a huge step. It’s the equivalent of learning to speak in sentences as opposed to single words.

So how do you make the transition? Looking for common elements (suits, numbers, colors, repeated images like birds or flowers) can help. Based on the position in the reading, then ask how these two cards could work together.

Here’s an example: You go on a job interview and when you get home you pull a few cards for guidance on how best to follow up. One card for what you should reflect on to determine if it’s the right role for you, one for how to best connect with the hiring manager, and one for how to interact with HR. Here’s the reading (using the Fountain Tarot):
Interview follow-up tarot reading

All three cards are reversed, so we’ll draw the conclusion that these energies are working together. The reversals also indicate that there may be a blockage or delay… Nothing is going to progress as quickly as the people involved would like.

Now, since job interviews are all about reading people and how they work together, let’s look at the people in the cards. (A common element.) The Five of Swords here just has one figure present (the background includes two shadows, but there’s really only one person in this card). The Three of Pentacles has one figure at the center and part of two others visible, and the Four of Wands shows a small group with the wand energy all coming together/radiating out from the group.

The lone figure in the Five of Swords makes sense. You’re reflecting on your own challenges and past struggles and how this job could help you start fresh. You’d like to be able to stop operating from a defensive place all the time (and maybe step away from the shadows). The partial figures in the Three coupled with the overlapping circles show that the hiring manager wants to understand the unique skills and resources you bring (the large figure), and how those complement her existing team (the partial figures). HR is entirely concerned with cultural fit and how you integrate into the team.

We could also look at the areas of dark and shadow in each card and compare/contrast those. For example, the self card (Five of Swords) has the most shadow, indicating that at this point you’re the one with the most doubts about how things will unfold. The other two cards are bright and open, suggesting clarity.

This is the part of reading that I love most – figuring out how the cards work together to tell a story. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore several methods for tying cards together and interpreting spreads, using all different sorts of decks [because I know a bunch of you out there are saying, What if my deck doesn’t have people in it? How can I compare people when there aren’t any?].

If you’ve got any specific struggles when it comes to reading spreads, leave me a comment and we’ll discuss it in a future post.

Written By
Jenn is the proprietor of Phoenix & Lotus. She's also a storyteller, solitary eclectic witch, tarot reader, tarot and oracle deck collector, cat lady, and aspiring astrologer.

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