You can ask anyone who doesn’t have any background about tarot, and they’ll likely tell you it’s for predicting the future. While they are probably right the tarot is used as a divination tool by mystics and practitioners, that’s not really all there is to a tarot reading.
Learning how to read tarot cards using the five-card spread can do more than just tell what’s in store for your future; it can help you make decisions about it. This spread explores how you really feel about your situation, so you can find the best course of action.
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If you’re new to tarot reading, I’m sure you’ve experienced some hesitation about whether it can really offer any specific advice. After all, most of the images appear ambiguous enough to apply to any life scenario we connect to them. From a non-practitioner’s point of view, it may look like a bunch of cards offering generalized truths.
The usefulness of a tarot reading lies in the cards placed alongside each other. Reading a card in relation to others creates a coherent evaluation of your given situation. The cards “speak” to your intuition to provide a clear answer to your question.
A tarot deck consists of 78 cards with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. Each of the cards contains images that represent various milestones in life and hints about our day-to-day activities. For this specific spread, you’ll only need five out of these.
A five-card spread is a rather popular spread that takes on a cross formation. This type of reading provides illumination about your question and gives great insight into what’s exactly happening and how you can move through it with grace and clarity. I happen to use this spread whenever I need to make important life decisions.
Before doing the five-card reading, you must remind yourself that you’re doing this to discover the “why” behind your current situation. It’s an interesting way to look at the bigger picture so that you can make an informed choice that perfectly aligns with your authentic self. Here are the steps:
Before everything else, take a deep breath and think about your situation. Ask an open-ended question in your mind. Below are some examples of questions you may find useful:
- How can I tell if this is the right opportunity for my career?
- What should I focus on in my current relationship to help it grow?
- Why am I feeling anxious about this event I’m going to?
Make sure that you’re not asking a yes-or-no question because the five cards you will be drawing from the deck will be doing a lot more than that.
Shuffling the cards is important because it randomizes the cards in the deck, which is especially helpful when it’s been used for another question or a different person. Doing so gets rid of the energy from the previous reading, giving you a clean slate.
There are many ways you can randomize your cards. You can do the overhand shuffle, cut the deck into piles, or messily spread them out. There’s no single correct way to shuffle the cards as long as you’re still thinking about your question while doing so.
Now, it’s time to choose five cards. At this point, all cards are lying facedown, so you don’t get to choose the images that appeal to you. Often, some cards will “call out to you” from the pile, so don’t think twice; just pick them. It’s all about following your instinct.
Remember to choose one card after the other and not five at the same time. This first card you choose takes a specific spot in the cross formation, and the same goes for the rest of the cards you will pull from the deck.
The cards you pull from the pile should take their corresponding positions in the spread:
- First card: Top middle
- Second card: Center
- Third card: Bottom middle
- Fourth card: Left
- Fifth card: Right
You can position the card face down on its designated spot as soon as you pull it. This prevents any confusion when it comes to the order of the cards being drawn.
Now that you’ve carefully placed all the cards in a cross formation, it’s time to turn them face up one by one. It doesn’t matter if some cards are upright and others are reversed. These have their own meanings as well, so don’t try to turn them all right-side up. After that, survey each of the images, then view the spread in its entirety.
Before doing an overall reading, you must focus on each card and what it means in relation to your given situation. Here’s how to read tarot cards using the five-card spread:
- First card: What motivates you about the situation
- Second card: What you hope to achieve from the situation
- Third card: Your principles about the situation
- Fourth card: One likely outcome if you take this path
- Fifth card: Another likely outcome if you take a different path
Although each tarot card has a universal meaning, you can incorporate your personal context into it to uncover the specific advice that you need. It’s all in how you frame the message it gives you. Sometimes, the cards tend to speak to you in such a profound way that you don’t even need to look up the standard meaning.
However, to gain a deeper understanding of what each card represents, you must still spend some time studying them. Tarot work is a lifelong endeavor if you’re really serious about using the cards for your spiritual growth.
Finding clarity through the five-card spread can be a life-altering thing. Often, you’ll find yourself with a fork in the road, and you’ll need all the guidance you can get from a meaningful tarot reading. Just remember not to be too dependent on it for every decision you have to make. Part of a life well lived is making mistakes and learning from them. That’s what makes you stronger as a practitioner.
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