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Can You Read Tarot Cards Without a Spread: (What I Learned)

I remember starting my tarot journey and having no idea what a spread was, and whether it was necessary.

I realize this is the case for most people, so I think this post should help out quite a bit. Let’s explain what a spread is and whether or not they’re necessary for a reading.

I’ll also give you a little story about how The Hermit made me realize, it’s not all about the spread!

What’s the Purpose of a Tarot Spread?

Tarot spreads are templates that guide the placement of the cards and help interpret their meanings in a reading. They can range from simple three-card spreads to complex layouts involving dozens of cards. But what’s the actual use of a spread?

Structuring Your Reading

Spreads offer a clear structure for your reading, assigning a specific role to each card. For instance, in a three-card spread, the first card might represent the past, the second the present, and the third the future. This organization helps readers delve into specific aspects of a question or situation.

Enhancing the Meaning of Cards

Another advantage of spreads is that they enhance the meanings of individual cards by placing them in relation to each other. The position of a card within a spread adds another layer to its interpretation, deepening the insight provided.

Providing a Narrative Arc

Finally, spreads can provide a narrative arc to a reading, which can be helpful when exploring complex situations or seeking guidance on an ongoing issue. They offer a roadmap, leading the reader through the situation step by step.

Can I Read Tarot Without a Spread?

While tarot spreads can be incredibly helpful, they aren’t always necessary. Sometimes, you might feel called to pull a single card, trusting your intuition to guide you in understanding its message. This is often referred to as a ‘card of the day’ reading, and it’s a popular way to start the day with some reflection and insight.

If you are doing a reading without a spread, it’s important to tune into your intuition, your emotions, and the situation at hand. You might want to consider the following aspects:

Context is Key

Remember that context is key in tarot. The card’s meaning might change depending on the question you asked, the mood you’re in, or the events currently happening in your life.

Layered Meanings

Tarot cards are rich with symbolism, and each card has layered meanings. Even without a spread, you can delve into these layers to get a profound understanding. Look at the imagery, the colors, the numbers, and the suits, and see what resonates with you.

Trust Your Intuition

More than anything, trust your intuition. If a certain aspect of the card is calling to you, explore that. If you’re drawn to a particular symbol, delve into its meaning. Tarot is a deeply personal tool, and your intuitive responses to the cards are just as valid as traditional interpretations.

Creating a More Fluid Reading Style

Reading tarot without a spread can create a more fluid, organic style of reading. You’re allowing the cards to speak directly to you, free from the constraints of fixed positions. This can result in a very personal and intuitive reading.

One method to try is to draw cards until you feel it’s time to stop, then interpret them in the order they were drawn. This can be especially helpful if you’re seeking guidance on a process or journey, as the order of the cards can provide a sort of narrative or path to follow.

My Story

For a long time I was drawn to the structure and clarity that spreads provided. I researched them, read loads of blog posts, and pretty much just stuck to doing spread readings.

With spreads, each position held a purpose, unfolding a story that made sense of my questions and concerns. And because I was doing what others were I felt like I was doing it “the right way”…

However, there was one night when I felt particularly restless. I had a question on my mind, one that was deep and existential. It wasn’t about the past, present, or future. It wasn’t a yes or no question, nor did it concern any specific action or challenge. This question didn’t seem to fit neatly into the slots of a conventional spread.

So, I decided to try something different. I shuffled my deck, holding my question in my mind, and drew a single card: The Hermit.

Initially, I was puzzled. The Hermit didn’t give a straightforward answer to my question. But as I sat with the card, it started to communicate its message. The Hermit symbolizes introspection, soul-searching, and self-discovery. It dawned on me that the answer to my question wasn’t to be found in the external world but within me.

This realization was transformative. I learned that tarot readings didn’t always have to revolve around a spread. Sometimes, pulling a single card could initiate deep introspection and offer insightful wisdom, particularly when dealing with intricate, personal queries.

From that moment, I began to integrate single-card readings into my practice, using them when I felt a desire to seek inner guidance or clarity. This transition brought a new layer of depth to my tarot journey. Reading without a spread enabled me to connect more intimately with my intuition and delve into the layered meanings of the cards on a more personal and immediate level.

It reminded me that at its core, tarot is a flexible tool for self-discovery, adjusting beautifully to the unique needs of the seeker.

Last thoughts

So, can you read tarot without a spread? Absolutely. Tarot is a flexible tool, adaptable to your needs, questions, and style.

Whether you choose to use a spread or not is entirely up to you. What’s most important is that you feel comfortable with your method, and that it allows you to connect deeply with the cards and their messages.

Always remember to trust your intuition, and let the cards guide you on your unique journey.