Tarot Card Guide: 6 Types of Tarot Card Layouts and Their Meanings

Tarot Card Layouts
While it may seem like a simple card reading technique, predictions in tarot depend on the different layouts as each spread may indicate something different for the querent. Tarot card reading needs experience and intuition on the reader's part, so that the cards can be correctly deciphered.
Generally, a tarot card deck has 78 cards; 22 of these cards are the Major Arcana and 14 cards are classified as the Minor Arcana. These cards have images and symbols, and have elements assigned to them as well. According to the layouts, which can be interpreted using a book with the meanings or using the reader's intuition, one's future can be predicted. Traditionally, the symbols used for understanding the meaning of tarot cards can be linked to the age of renaissance and therefore, to Europe.
Most people turn to tarot cards to understand the events in their life. Tarot enthusiasts swear by the control that they gain over problems in their relationships, work, health, family etc., from tarot readings. While you can learn to read these cards, there are some people, who have an innate talent for reading them. Even if you do know how to interpret cards, it is advisable to not read them for yourself, as the interpretation may be subjective. When you are reading different cards and their layouts, it may be a good idea to keep the following tips in mind.
  • It is important that the place of work is quiet and there is no sort of disturbance.
  • The room in which the tarot card reading takes place, should not be very bright, and should be curtained so that it is dim.
  • While shuffling the cards, you need to concentrate completely. The reader needs to focus on the cards and the question that needs to be answered.
  • One of the most important things to remember, is to never cross your legs or arms. This is required of everyone present in the room.
  • The deck of the cards needs to be cut by the person asking the question, with his or her left hand.
  • After reading the cards, collect the set, and place it in a corner that is dark and silent. It is important that the cards are always handled by the card reader, as there is an energy association.
Card Layouts and Meanings
There are many different layouts, which tarot card readers use to predict the future of the person consulting them. Six of these simple layouts, and the meanings associated with these spreads are discussed below.
Celtic Cross Spread
Celtic Cross Spread
The Celtic Cross layout is widely regarded as one of the easiest tarot spreads for beginners to learn. It is also quite a detailed spread. The spread is arranged with nine or ten cards depending on the preference of the reader. The placement of the cards is such that, card number 1 is placed in the center with card number 2 placed horizontally, on top of it. Card number 3 is placed to the right of card number 1, and card number 4 is placed below it. Card number 5 is placed parallel to card number 4 and card number 6 is placed to the left of card number 1. Cards 7, 8, 9, and 10 are placed parallel to the column created by cards 1, 3, and 5, with 10 at the top and card number 7 at the bottom.

Card number 1 represents the present. Card number 2 is representative of the present obstacle that the person asking the question is trying to overcome. Card number 3 symbolizes the past and the foundation for the question being asked. Card number 4 is indicative of recent events that have a direct connection to the question. Card number 5 represents what may be the best solution to the question asked. Card number 6 represents the immediate future, and card number 7 is representative of what the consultant's emotions are about the situation at hand. Card number 8 indicates what external factors influence the situation, and card number 9 is representative of the hopes and fears pertaining to the situation. Card number 10 is representative of the outcome that you can expect.
Ellipse Spread
Ellipse Spread
If you want to know what the outcome of a project that you are involved in will be, then one of the best layouts to consult is the ellipse spread. The cards are spread out in such a manner that they resemble the alphabet V, starting with card number 1 at one end, card number 4 in the center, and card number 7 at the other end. Card number 1 is the representative of your past, card number 2 indicates the present, and card number 3 represents the future. Reading cards 4, 5, 6, and 7 will give you an indication of what solution you have at your disposal, what harm you can come to, what are the hopes and fears associated, and what is the outcome of the problem.
Five Card Spread
Five Card Spread
Another popular layout is the five card spread. As the name suggests, there are only 5 cards used in this layout with the spread being similar to the Celtic cross spread, without the parallel column of four cards. Card number 1 indicates the present and the question being asked. Card number 2 is representative of the past and the influence it has on the question being put forward. Card 3 indicates the future of the person, and card number 4 points out the reason behind the question. Card number 5 gives a semblance of a solution by providing a potential within the question.
Mandala Spread
Mandala Spread
This spread is one of the layouts that helps answer questions about one's spirituality. It is indicative of one's strengths and weaknesses that helps or hampers your spiritual growth. In order to make sense of this spread, one needs to read card number 1 in view of cards 2, 4, and 6 to understand what the situation is, and then read card number 1 in combination with cards 3, 8, and 9 to understand the future. Then, reading card number 1 in view of cards 5 and 7 will help you assess the potential problems in your path.

The cards are laid out to resemble a diamond with card 9 at the top, cards 8 and 2 making up the next row, cards 7, 1, and 3 making up the center row, followed by a row made up of cards 6 and 4, and then card number 5 at the bottom of the diamond. Card 1 is indicative of what the person is like, card 2 is representative of one's ambitions, card number 3 showcases one's ideals, card 4 outlines one's achievements, card 5 portrays one's dependencies, card 6 is representative of the positives of a person, card 7 indicates one's faults and weakness, card 8 is representative of what one thinks of oneself, and card 9 indicates one's desires.
Mirror Spread
Mirror Spread
This layout helps assess relationships in the life of the person, who is consulting the reader. The spread, as the name suggests, is symmetrical, with one half of the complete layout mirroring the other half. The layout has eight cards with two columns of three cards each, and two cards, one at the top and one at the bottom, between the two columns. Cards 1 and 8 are the two cards at the top and bottom of the layout, the column on the left has the cards 2, 4, and 6, and the column on the right has the cards 3, 5, and 7. Card number 1 is indicative of the person asking the question, card 2 represents the other person in the relationship, card 3 indicates how the querent views himself, card 4 indicates what the other person means to the one asking questions, and card 5 represents what he/she means to the other person. Card 6 symbolizes the hurdles in the relationship, card 7 represents the strengths of the relationship, and card 8 indicates what the relationship's outcome will be.
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Relationship Spread
Relationship Spread
In this layout, the cards are indicative of the person's relationship with people in his life. The spread is such that, the first row is made of the cards 9 and 10. After this row lies card number 6, which is placed in the center of the two cards placed earlier. Then, there is a row of five cards namely, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 placed in that order. The last row is again made of two cards, 8 and 7; the placement of the cards will be the same as cards 9 and 10.

Card number 1 indicates the distant past, while card number 2 represents events that have happened recently. Cards 3 and 4 are representative of the person's present and the influences on the future. Card 5 indicates the influences that the person has no control over. Card number 6 signifies how the seeker sees the situation, card number 7 symbolizes those energies that are helping the situation, and card number 8 indicates the hurdles in the querent's path. Card number 9 is representative of the hopes and fears that the person feels, and card number 10 represents the outcome to be expected.
The interpretations of this fortune telling method, are subjective, and may differ depending on the reader, who deciphers the cards. Also, the layouts differ, as the number of cards to be used in the layout may be, at times, a personal choice. Mastering the art of reading tarot cards takes time and effort, and it is important that, if you want to indulge in this science of divination, you learn from a person, who is well versed in this art of making predictions.
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