Primary Authority: Ian Parkin writes, or reviews, verifies and edits the content published on

Tarot Card Layouts

by Richi Who

These Tarot Card Layouts for prediction and divination can be used for determining the answer to a particular question or for several in depth answers.

Sometimes I find that drawing a single card is sufficient, particularly if a question requires a yes or no answer. Drawing a single card to relate to a simple question or simply drawing a card for each day is good way to become acquainted with Tarot.

The more you relate cards to life, the better you will become at both relating to the nuances of the tarot, and exercising your intuition. 

When you examine a card for the day, it might not make sense at the time, and then in after-sight the message is usually obvious.

Such is the learning process!

I have selected four Tarot Card Layouts for divination presented here in order of complexity.

Four Tarot Card Layouts

To begin with, here is the Basic 3 Card Spread for answering simple questions.


In addition to the Past - present - future - you could substitute thought - feeling - action, or thought - word - deed, or Self - partner - outcome, etc. etc.

Just as little more complex, here is the Simple Cross Layout which contains the four essential elements of a layout. 


Card 1 provides a representation of nature of the subject’s question.

Card 2 represents the advantages associated with the question.

Card 3 represents the disadvantages of proceeding with the course of action.

Card 4 is the answer to the subject’s question.

Now to move on to a slightly greater complexity of introducing the progression of time with the influences of past and present on the future.

Here is the 5 Card Tarot Spread.

Tarot Card Layouts such as this are for determining a course of action as seen in the context of the subject’s life.

5 Card Tarot Spread

Card 1 - The subject’s present situation.

Card 2 - The lasting effect of past influences.

Card 3 - The future when this course of action is followed.

Card 4 - The reason behind the question, this will probably illuminate the effect of past influences.

Card 5 - The potential for success (or otherwise) of this course of action.

Now for the ever popular Celtic Cross Tarot Card Layout. This is as complex as you are as likely to ever need as a divination tool for a particular question. 

The Celtic Cross provides detailed insights into every aspect of a proposed situation. The accent here is on one’s spiritual path towards the desired outcome. It is important to include this spread in your repertoire because it's the one used most often, and its frequent use generates some sort of collective energy around it.

Some claim the Celtic Cross is the most powerful spread used in Tarot. There are a number of variations in the order of the layout of the first six cards. However the interpretations vary little, so as always I have presented my preferred order.

The subject is crossed by their challenges in the centre. Surrounding the subject starting at the top in a clockwise order are the factors influencing the subject. This forms the cross itself, whilst to the right is the shaft of the cross.


Card 1 - The subject/person you are reading for.

Card 2 - The present challenges facing the subject - obstacles and influences.

Card 3 - The subject’s goals and destiny.

Card 4 - The distant past - what is behind.

Card 5 - The recent past - what is beneath.

Card 6 - The near future - what is before.

Card 7 - The subjects’ attitude - this pictures the subject.

Card 8 - External influences - environmental factors affecting the outcome.

Card 9 - Inner emotions - hopes and fears.

Card 10 - The final outcome.


Card 1 the subject, is defined by cards 2, 4, and 6 to which gives an overview of the way things actually are.

Cards 3, 8 and 9 are used to assess the subject’s potential.

Cards 5 and 7 reveal possible problems or obstacles to progress.