The Tarot Card Layouts A Beginner Can Spread To See Their Predictions

Richi Who is the verified author of this guest post.

The different tarot card layouts, beginners can learn to spread, range from a single card to the whole deck. I am going to help you to read these tarot spreads so you can get the most amazing predictions with your own cards.

Whether you refer to your card placement as a layout or as a spread, there is a discipline or method which accompanies each one.

Whilst most readers have their favorite methods for spreading the deck, there are a number of tarot reading layouts for beginners which will give you flexibility in your fortune telling endeavors.

A Collection of Tarot Card Layouts Or Spreads To Read Predictions

A tarot reading spread is formed when the cards are selected and placed, normally face up, in a particular order and in a particular pattern. Each card position in the layout is assigned a purpose which it represents, so the meaning divined from a particular card is in respect of its position as well as its meaning.

When I allow my client to select the cards themselves, I suggest they "now select a card for such and such", so that the purpose of the card is determined before it is drawn and I lay it face up in position.

Some readers work with only one layout with which they are most comfortable, however when your client wishes answers to a particular query, different tarot card layouts may be more suitable. There is no reason as to why a good reader should be limited to only one spread.

I have often found it most helpful to perform a Life Path reading for a client before getting down to a full spread. This is most helpful when reading for a new client as it acts as an icebreaker for both client and reader.

As you progress through the life path reading your sitter will pass from being a stranger to a familiar life in front of your eyes.

The number of cards in a reading can vary from a single card to the whole pack.

Quick links to each my eight best tarot card layouts below: 

Basic 3 Card Spread  |  Simple Cross Layout  |   5 Card Spread  |  Celtic Cross Tarot Spread  |  Annual Zodiac Spread  |  Full Pyramid Spread  |  Life Path Tarot Spread  |  Twelve Monthly Reading 

In this tutorial I suggest that you practice each of these tarot card layouts. Firstly to learn them, but also to find the one with which you are most comfortable. The more complex tarot spreads are not necessarily going to be any more accurate than a simple one. It is simply a matter of what resonates with you.

Tarot Card Layouts For Beginners

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

Basic 3 Card Tarot Spread

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 tarot card layouts. 

Simple Cross Tarot 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.

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

5 Card Tarot Reading 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 Reading Spread. This is as complex as you are as likely to ever need as a divination tool for a particular question. 

Celtic Cross Tarot Card Spread

The Celtic Cross layout 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 of all tarot card layouts. There are a number of variations in the order you can spread 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 center. 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.

The Full Pyramid and The Annual Zodiac tarot card layouts are regarded as unusual but insightful.

The Annual Zodiac Spread identifies the issues that can influence your year to come. 

The Annual Zodiac tarot reading spread

I find this Annual Zodiac tarot reading spread to be particularly helpful for setting goals, and it is favored by many Tarot Readers for performing a coming year’s prediction. This spread uses a total of 13 cards, one card for each month and one card to represent the year in general. When shuffling, begin by focusing your mind on each month. When you have placed all 12 cards, shift your focus towards the year in general. This will be the last card you place.

An alternative layout is to cross each of the month cards with another so that two cards represent each month.

This is the Full Pyramid Spread which uses the entire pack of 78 cards laid out in the form of a pyramid; twelve rows across and twelve cards deep. We start with one card for the first row and increase by one card per row until all cards have been used.

Full Pyramid Tarot Reading Spread

The significance here is the adding all the numbers from 1 to 12 together equals 78 - the total number of tarot cards in a deck!

The cards are laid out from the top down - left to right. I will let you assign your own meanings here. But it is an interesting exercise and one in which you should let the cards do the talking. Performing a full reading using a layout of this nature could take several hours of concentration - so be warned.   

This is a good exercise while learning to use the tarot. Compiling stories from the use of all the cards will help connect your intuition to the imagery of all the cards in the deck. But remember to use a fully illustrated deck like (or based upon) the Rider Waite

More Advanced Tarot Card Layouts

These tarot card layouts are designed for performing a more professional reading. The first consideration here is what type of spread you are comfortable with, and secondly the nature of the reading.

Sometimes your subject will simply want answers to a prepared list of questions, but more usually the request is simply "to have their cards read!"

Now, assuming you are presented with a subject who you have never met before, who has sat down and simply told you their first name - and nothing else - it is up to you to make a psychic connection, or at least an emotional connection with them.

I find that the easiest lead-in is to perform a life path reading first in order to break the ice and build up something of a picture of their life.

Life Path Tarot Card Layouts simply consists of nine cards in three groups representing past, present and future.

Life Path Tarot Reading Spreads

This is the only layout for which I use the Major Arcana only. I usually keep a separate pack of only the Major Arcana just for this purpose. 

The purpose of three cards for each stage of their life is to get an expanded picture for each stage.

This is a good layout to test on your friends for practice. Remember - the cards never lie!

The Twelve Monthly Reading sets out their life path for the next year.

My Twelve Monthly Tarot Reading Spread

This is the layout I most use for giving a full reading. As far as I am aware it is one which I developed - actually evolved - over many years of professional readings.

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

Card 2 - Where the client is coming from.

Card 3 - Where the client is at now.

Card 4 - The subjects goals and destiny.

These first four cards are more for your benefit than for your client

Cards 5 – 16 - Each month of the coming year.

The actual timing of the year is a bit nebulous. If the subject is given to procrastination the time line can be stretched. This is something to take into account from cards 1 through 4.

Having built up a picture of your subject’s life you should have established a connection or at least a rapport with them. (Of course I have had to read for clients who refused to confirm or deny anything. After all being a psychic I should know all!) 

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Author - Richi Who

The Late: Richi Who

I first met 'Richi Who' (AKA Richard Philippe) in 1986 when I had moved to Magnetic Island in Queensland. Richi was leading a mystical, monkish, life at the time. He was living alone while caretaking the solitary house at Arthur Bay for its owner, the late, Sid Ward.

Richi became an integral part of my own spiritual initiation and was to become my psychic guide. His late-night mystic sessions on Arthur Bay filled my life with wonder while opening doors to other worlds.  

Richi later became the first psychic reader I retained at my Ancient Wisdom Center and we stayed friends ever since.  Sadly Richi Who passed away in 2013 while on holiday in Europe. Happily he has since reconnected and is now one of my highly evidential spirit guides.

Read more by, and about, Richi Who > >

Richi Who's Free Tarot Reading Tutorials

Tarot Card Reading For Beginners
In this free tutorial you will learn how to read the cards while developing your intuition. Even without a developed psychic sense you will still obtain a useful and accurate reading by following the specific divination meanings of the cards. Learn more > >

The Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings
This list contains interpretations based on the Rider Waite Tarot for all Major Arcana Cards. Great when learning tarot for beginners, it includes relevant comments from other packs and commentators. Each card tells a story about your subject or someone influencing them. Learn more > >

The Minor Arcana Tarot Card Meanings
This tutorial helps you unlock the minor arcana meanings of the tarot by suits and numbers. Each suit refers to a specific area of the subject’s life represented by the astrological signs of Fire, (passion), Water, (emotions), Air, (ideas), and Earth (physical). Learn more > >

The Suit Of Cups Tarot Card Meanings
Each card tells a story in this list of cups tarot card meanings. This is the suite of emotions. The cup is a symbol of pleasure and fulfillment, happiness and joy. You can use these explanations as a guide to build your own story lines in your own readings. Learn more > >

The Suit Of Swords Tarot Card Meanings
In the suit of swords tarot card meanings, you find the attributes of leaders and warriors. Swords represent courage, authority, aggression, boldness, force, strength, desire, and ambition. A sword can be used for either attack or defense. Learn more > >

The Suit Of Wands Tarot Card Meanings
The suit’s theme found in all wands tarot card meanings is about laboring and work. And as such, in a reading, the wands usually stand for the subject’s ambition, career and creative endeavors, passions, ideas, inventions, advancement, growth and progress. Learn more > >

The Suit Of Pentacles Tarot Card Meanings
Pentacles tarot card meanings, and symbols, are best known as being the suit of the physical. Representing health, money, and anything to do with work, a job, a task, or a craft. These are the cards of fortune - good and bad luck. Learn more > >

Learn My Tarot Reading Layouts To Get Amazing Predictions
This collection of tarot reading spreads will help you unlock outstanding predictions with your own cards. Whether you refer to your card placement as a layout or as a spread, there is a discipline or method which accompanies each. Learn more > >

Wiki - History of Esoteric Tarot Reading