In Tarot Spreads, tarot expert Barbara Moore offers nearly 70 themed spreads, as well as teaching how to modify spreads and design your own spreads. She also covers extra techniques, such as moving cards, working with pairs, or multiple decks.
By Barbara Moore
Book - 264 pages - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The questions that we ask of the Tarot, and the spreads that we use to answer them, allow us to access the powerful wisdom that the Tarot contains. The 78 cards carry the images, and the images carry the energy. On the back of her book Moore notes that in learning to format and use various spreads, the reader brings power, precision, and depth to their readings. In this book the reader will find nearly seventy different themed spreads that they can work with, or that they can use as jumping off places for creating their own spreads. She also notes something that I think is very important, and that is t hat in working with spreads, and in creating their own spreads, the reader will create (define) a reading style that is all their own. The reader can choose to:
- Select a spread from the book and use it for guidance.
- Perform a 78 card reading to deepen their understanding of the Tarot.
- Modify classic spreads, or create their own spreads.
The book is very nicely set up with a page of contents, which lists chapters on basic concepts, designs and layouts, techniques to add to any spread, how to modify spreads, do it yourself spread design, and how to do a 78 card reading. In the back of the book are spread cross-references, an annotated reading list, an appendix with curious old spread, and appendix with elemental dignities, and an appendix with significators. There is also a page which lists the specific page where a spread layout is pictured.
In her introduction, Moore tells a wonderful story about the very first reading that she got from Tarotist Rachel Pollack. Rather than asking what her question was, Pollack asked Moore to “talk about the situation”. Pollack took notes as Moore talked, and came up with a unique spread from her own notes! This experience lead Moore to explore spreads and spread design on her own. One thing that Moore noted here resonated with me, and that is that she sees working with Tarot spreads as part of the pattern-creating process.
The first two spreads presented are the three-card Past/Present/Future spread, and a seven-card choices spread. Moore notes things like positional meaning blending in with the inherent meaning of the cards, and that even spreads without positional meanings still create a framework for the answer. She also notes that all spreads have inherent strengths and weaknesses.
The general categories that a reader might want to have one or more spreads for includes general, love/relationship, work/career, health, and spiritual life. Each reader works within their own belief system, using their own personal style and techniques.
In the section on design principles, Moore talks about balance within a spread, and the symmetry and spacing. She also addresses the significance of different geometric forms (square, circle, triangle, and cross.
The section on traditional spreads includes the Celtic Cross (with significator), the Horseshoe Spread, the Astrological Spread, the Star Spread, the Chakra spread, and the Tree of Life Spread.
General spreads include variations on the three-card spread, Barbara’s General Spread, a Generic Basic Spread, the Guiding Star Spread, the Elemental Advice Spread, the Royal Advice Spread, the Big Picture Spread, the Facing A Challenge Spread, the Heart versus Head Spread, the Action Plan Spread, the Three Gates Spread, the Winds of Change Spread, an expanded Past/present/Future Spread, a Past/Present/Future Spread With Options, and more.
The section on techniques to add to any spread is invaluable, in that it breaks the reader out of boxed in thinking and allows them to see things from a wider perspective. Techniques include working with pairs and triplets, changing your focus, and moving the cards.
The section on modifying spreads included information on changing focus, modifying positional meanings, altering the layout, or the number of cards used, and adding different techniques. Examples are given to show the reader how the process works.
The section on do it yourself spreads includes working with themes, working with quotes, positional meanings, the number of cards, and the position of the cards.
Being able to understand and work with spreads is at the heart of a Tarot reading, following the formation of the Seeker’s question. “Tarot Spreads” offers a wonderful foundation in showing the reader the many things that can be done with Tarot spreads. The reader is only limited by their own thinking!
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.