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One truly gratifying aspect of the tarot is the diversity of functions for which it can be used. Whether you’re seeking the answer to a casual question, are looking for clues to clarify matters of the heart, are wondering whether or not you’ll be getting that big promotion or raise at work, or just want to get a general overview on how things will be unfolding for you in the coming weeks or year, the tarot offers something for pretty much everyone.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Adherents who follow the tarot and its teachings often consider readings to be akin to a healing art for the spirit, much in the way that medicine is a healing art for the body. As with medicine, where one can find a broad range of practices that span everything from traditional Western practice to Eastern and alternative philosophies, along with a mind-boggling variety of specialists to treat and prevent diseases, one can find a variety of ways to specialize the tarot via the choice of a particular spread to hone in on a specific issue—whether you’re just looking for a quick check-up, or are need of some deeper, spiritual surgery.

And just as there are several styles of readings from which to choose based on your personal tastes and preferences, you’ll also find a wide variety of tarot spreads that readers and advisors can select from to find answers your questions or gain insight into the fabric of your daily life, as well as what the future may–or may not–have in store for you. Even if you don’t plan to read cards yourself, and would rather trust a trained advisor to interpret the messages that the tarot can impart, it’s to your advantage to be well-versed in the methodology practiced by the individual tarot practitioners from whom you seek counsel.

Laying Your Cards on the Table

Basically, a tarot spread is simply a pattern in which you lay out the cards in a particular order, using a set number of cards. The location in which each card appears bears a direct impact not on what the card itself means, but what it means as it pertains to you or the issue on which you’re concentrating.

For example, let’s talk for a minute about one of the cards with the most negative connotations in the tarot deck: the Devil. I won’t sugarcoat it for you. The Devil can portend all manner of ill and destruction—mental, physical or spiritual. In my experience, the Devil most often appears as a warning or wake-up call regarding situations that are already fairly dire. However, the location where the satanic satyr shows up in a reading can heighten, lessen, or even nullify his impact on any given situation or issue.

Where a card appears in a spread can signify something that you’re already moving away from. It can also stand for something that you’re afraid might happen, but will not necessarily take place, or it can represent something that might eventually happen if you do not change the present course you’re on. As with real estate, “location, location, location” means everything. So, for example, if you’re in a relationship and are having doubts if it’s a healthy one, you might use that as the basis for a reading that employs the Celtic Cross spread. If the Devil turns up at the nine o’clock position on the cross, it likely means the bad influence is something you’re ready to let go of. If he appears as the second card from the top in the vertical row, he’s probably something you’re frightened of that may or may not have any basis in reality. If, however, he shows up at the top of that row, or in several other key locations, you might indeed be in danger, and should consider taking a good, hard honest look at the relationship to see if it’s in your best interest to keep it going.

So, how do you know which spread is right for any given situation, or if it’s right for you at all? My recommendation is to first do your homework, then take the ones you find yourself most comfortable with and inspired by for a test drive. We’ll be taking a look at a variety of different spreads in the coming weeks, from the One Card Spread, to more complicated layouts like the Celtic Cross and The Cross & Triangle, to help you get a better feel for which one offers the features that can truly take you where you want to go. 

Whether you’re yearning to tackle a complex issue, or just want to get a handle on the week ahead, a trained KEEN advisor can help you find what you’re looking for, and “spread” the satisfaction around.