Maybe you’re just starting out on your tarot journey, or perhaps you’re an experienced reader and you’re sharing your love of tarot with a friend or family member. Whether you’re new or experienced, you may be finding yourself wondering which tarot spreads are the best ones for beginners to use.
The best tarot spreads for beginners are simple. Simple spreads with just a few cards allow a new tarot reader to learn the ropes without being overwhelmed or becoming too confused by the placements of cards in the spread.
Beginner readers should start small and be patient. On top of the spreads discussed below, new readers should also consult with the booklet that came with their deck. Many tarot decks come with supplementary booklets and these booklets often include spread suggestions which are designed by the author of the deck.
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- Rider Waite Smith
- Rider Waite Smith variation
- The Light Seer’s Tarot Deck
- The Fountain Tarot Deck
- Variety of different and beautiful decks are available on Etsy
These spreads can offer great help with learning to read tarot because they are designed with the specific deck in mind. There are plenty of spreads out there for newcomers to the world of tarot reading.
Make sure you choose a spread that interests you, because it is always easier to learn when you’re excited about something. Some of the best spreads for beginners are different variations of a three-card spread.
Table of Contents
Past, Present, Future.
This spread is laid out in a simple line and the cards are turned up from left to right. The first card on the left represents the past. The second card in the middle represents the present. The third card on the right represents the future.
The Past/Present/Future spread is a great spread for beginners to use because of its simplicity and versatility. This spread can be used in a reading for yourself or for someone else, and it can be used for a specific question or a broad reading regarding the subject’s life in general.
This is a great spread for beginners not only for its simplicity but because the answers that come from this spread can be very open ended. The Past/Present/Future format is a very broad one, which allows a new reader to consider a wide range of interpretations of the cards that they pull out of the spread.
One card to represent the whole of the past can be interpreted in so many different ways. For example, The Fool appearing in the “past” slot of this spread could imply that you have been a risk taker in your life, but it could also mean that you have lived up to your potential thus far.
Using this format for a reading allows you to take the time to consider all potential meanings of your cards while also getting comfortable with doing readings in general.
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Situation, Obstacles, Outcome.
This spread is another one that is very useful while still being very beginner friendly. Like the Past/Present/Future spread, this spread is laid out in a line from left to right with the first card representing the current situation, the second card representing the obstacles you’ll face, and the third card representing the eventual outcome.
This spread is great for beginners because it is small and manageable but can still offer helpful insight about a variety of situations. It is helpful to learn to read tarot using spreads that are useful because it always feels better to feel like you are doing something productive and learning from it.
Situation/Obstacles/Outcome is great for looking for insight on a specific question such as “how will my public speaking engagement go?” or “what should I do about my struggle at work?”. Similar to the Past/Present/Future spread, the representations of the positions in this spread are quite broad which allows a new reader to really read into the meanings of the cards they pull.
As beginner friendly as this spread is, it is one that many readers will keep in their repertoire of useful spreads for years to come because of its usefulness and adaptability.
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A possible adaptation of the Situation/Obstacles/Outcome spread:
Once you are more comfortable with this spread and reading tarot in general, you can easily adapt this spread into a four-card spread in order to get more insight from your cards. The four-card adaptation of this spread would work out as Situation/Obstacles/Short-term Outcome/Long-term Outcome.
The simplicity of the three-card version remains but splitting the outcome into short-term and long-term allows for more detail within the reading. This lets a beginner reader take on a slightly more challenging spread and build on the reading skills that they have already developed.
Option 1, Option 2, Option 3.
This spread is a little bit different from the first two, but it is still great for beginners because like the others it only uses three cards and gives a great opportunity for a new reader to develop their interpretation skills.
This spread works by laying three cards out left to right. Depending on your preference you could also lay them out in a triangle, or vertical line if you would prefer.
This spread is intended to help with making decision making. Some questions where this spread might be useful to you include “how should I handle the conflict I am facing?” and “what will happen if I choose to do X, Y, or Z?”. There are a couple of ways that you can work this spread depending on the type of question you are asking.
For “how should I?” questions, each card will represent a possible course of action. As you turn up and interpret each card, consider the ways in which the card can represent a possible course of action in your situation.
When you are asking this sort of question of your cards, this spread will help you see what your possible options are and decide how to move forward.
If you are asking an “should I do X, Y, or Z?” question, the spread will function in the same way except instead of presenting you with possible courses of action, you will be provided with insight on the possible courses of action that you are already trying to choose between.
The cards that you pull in this spread should be able to help you decide on which move is the wisest for you to make.
A two-card variation
This spread can also be adapted to choose between just two options. If you are torn between one action or another, you could perform the spread in the same way as above, but with only two cards.
Each card will represent the outcome of a possible course of action. Pulling one card for each of your options should be able to provide some insight about which route you should take.
I also wrote an article about using tarot cards to answer yes or no questions, read that article here.
A word of caution
All of the spreads above are great for learning to read tarot and interpret your cards. A few of them are also very useful when it comes to making decisions. It is important to remember though that no matter your level of tarot reading proficiency, you should take care to not rely too heavily on your tarot cards for decision making.
It can be nice to have some extra insight when you’re trying to make a particularly tough choice, but you do not want to find yourself tempted to consult with your cards for every little thing that comes up.
That being said, its also important to bond with your tarot cards and there are a number of ways that you can do that. I wrote this article about how to bond with your tarot cards, read it here.
A card the day
The final spread that is great for beginner tarot readers is actually not much of a spread at all but is immensely useful all the same. It is exactly what it sounds like: pull one card each day. This can be done as purely academic way of learning tarot, or as a way of setting the theme for your day.
The idea behind this “spread” is to pull one card every morning, then take the time throughout the day to learn everything you can about it. It could also be beneficial to write down what you’ve learned in a journal that you can consult with and add to later.
Within a few months you will have worked through your entire deck and hopefully have begun to develop a more solid understanding of the meanings behind your cards. This practice can be purely for learning purposes, but you could also choose to pull your daily card with the intent of having the card represent how your day will go.
No matter which spreads you choose to use as a beginner, or how you choose to learn about the meanings of your cards, the most important thing to remember is that your practice is your own. If you feel like making a small tweak to a spread, don’t be afraid to.
There is no wrong way to practice. If you find yourself with questions, don’t be afraid to ask a friend with experience reading tarot, or turn to good old Google for a helping hand.
Tarot can be fun and rewarding. The more your work with your cards, the more you shuffle them, bond with them and give readings for yourself and others, the more you will grow and learn about the power of your Tarot cards.
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If you are a beginner, I would highly recommend a Tarot Journal. The Tarot Tracker is my favorite. It has an appendix with keywords as well as annual, seasonal and daily reading suggestions.