Simple 1, 2, and 4 card tarot spreads – perfect for beginner tarot readers!
A spread refers to the way in which tarot cards are arranged in a reading. There are SO many spreads to choose from, and thankfully we live in a time where we can easily search for and find a spread for just about any situation or stage of life.
We love a good 10-card spread! It gets even better when you get more than one deck involved, or pull clarifiers and advice from a separate oracle deck. We also love creating our own — every Liminal 11 tarot deck comes with at least two custom spreads! — and will be sharing more on how to create your own tarot spreads in a future post.
But if you’re new to the tarot and still getting to grips with the meanings of the cards, these complex spreads might feel a little overwhelming!
So which tarot spreads are best for beginner tarot readers to start with?
To answer that question, we’ve gathered a few of our favourite super-simple spreads to help you get your tarot practice started!
Deck pictured: Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle
ONE-CARD READING (DAILY DRAW)
The one-card reading is the perfect place to get started. Not only does it allow you to dive right into reading the tarot with minimal setup and complications, it also helps you to create space for a daily practice! And as we all know – practice makes perfect! Learning the tarot is a lot like learning a new language. If you work on it a little bit every day, it’ll become second nature to your brain!
You don’t even need to have a specific query in mind for this type of reading…. Start a practice of drawing one card at roughly the same time each day, asking for clarity on the day ahead (or the next day if you’re reading before bed).
I like to take a photo of my readings so I can easily remind myself what’s come up in the past week. It’s also a great idea to keep a tarot journal to track your growth and refer back to past readings! This can be any notebook or a notes file on your phone, or you might want to grab a copy of our Modern Witch Tarot Journal to track everything from your readings and favourite spreads to your most-loved online resources.
Return the next day and review your card: Were your impressions correct, or was there something you missed? Draw a new card for the day ahead or tomorrow. Repeat, learn, and grow!
In my daily draw above, I got the Four of Pentacles. That suggests that I have worked to earn plenty and have obtained what I need . . . but if I hold on too tight, I could become too greedy! This is a great reminder to let go of that need to hold on too tightly and instead share the love!
After you’ve started getting comfortable with your tarot deck and have developed your daily practice, you can try adding a second card to give more detail to your readings. Here are a few options to get you started!
Situation + Advice
Start by adding an Advice card to your daily one-card draw. If the first card explains the overall situation, the Advice card offers you a plan of action for moving forward.
Taking the above reading for example, I drew The Tower, meaning an unavoidable and revolutionary change is happening. In need of advice on what to do about this, I drew The Hierophant, suggesting that I should rely on a trusted mentor or experienced teacher to help me get through it all in one piece.
Situation + Challenge
Similar to the above: If the first card explains the overall situation, the Challenge card gives you insight on the things that might trip you up. In the reading shown here, my challenge in dealing with The Tower could be feelings of betrayal and the pain this is causing me (Three of Swords). Addressing those negative feelings in a healthy way will help me deal with the overall situation.
Yes or No?
While it’s generally not that helpful to ask the tarot a yes-or-no question, a two-card spread can help you explore the consequences of saying yes or saying no to something in your life.
For example, let’s say you want to ask, “Should I confront my friend about a recent situation that upset me?” The tarot can’t really tell you whether you should or not, but it can help you consider your options.
The above Yes/No reading suggests that if you don’t confront your friend, then you could end up trapped in a prison of your own thoughts and ruminations (Eight of Swords). If you do confront them, you might find yourself more able to celebrate your relationship and enjoy beautiful moments together in the future (Ten of Cups). This card reminds you to lead with divine love and harmony in the confrontation.
Other Two-Card Spreads
Instead of exploring a Yes or No question, you could apply this same spread to questions of Best Outcome vs Worst Outcome; Problem vs Solution; Helpful Habits vs Harmful Habits; If X, Then Y . . . and many more beyond!
These four-card spreads are some of our favourites. They give lots of details to answer your query, while still being fairly simple and easy to remember.
Past, Present, Future, Advice
When looking into the future, always have a clear timeframe in mind before shuffling. The narrower the time set, the more specific the answer generally is! Your accuracy in reading the past can be an interesting guide as to how your card tarot reading skills are developing.
In my spread above, The Lovers is in the Past, suggesting that a perfect new relationship blossomed in my recent past. The Present is the Two of Cups, which I interpret as a meeting of both hearts and minds – meaning the relationship is going well, but takes more mental effort than it once did. The fire burns less bright; it needs more tending now. The Future (Eight of Swords) suggests that I’m likely to get lost in thoughts of despair over the fact the relationship isn’t quite so effortless as it was at first — and let’s face it, this happens in almost every relationship!
Asking for Advice, I pulled the Queen of Pentacles, suggesting that I could combat those thoughts by focusing on showing my love and care for this person in a tangible way, for instance, cooking their favourite meal or giving them a little gift . . . and that having my own quiet haven to recharge would be helpful as well.
Positive, Negative, Result, Advice
All of the cards in a deck tarot can be seen in either a positive or negative way. This spread is both versatile for many queries and a great way to learn the cards’ many meanings.
If you see a very positive card in the negative position, it usually means a weak negative and vice versa.
In my spread above, The Chariot is the good stuff I have going for me. There’s gas in the tank and I’m determined to get to where I need to go! But the Four of Cups in the Negative spot suggests I have shut myself off from something potentially good — perhaps I’m so blinded by my intense Chariot energy that I can’t see any other options that might be good for me, or perhaps I’m feeling exhausted from the ‘GO-GO-GO!’ nature of working toward my goal. The Result is the Nine of Swords – I’m being kept up at night with anxiety and worry (and aren’t we all?!).
Getting the Three of Pentacles as my Advice in this reading makes it pretty clear I need to collaborate with a partner or team who can help take some of the load off my shoulders and help me achieve something greater than I could have done on my own!
By the way . . . What should I ask the tarot?
Asking the right questions is actually one of the harder things to learn, but asking the right questions in the right way has a major impact on your ability to give a fulfilling reading. It can take some time to work this out!
‘How…?’, ‘What…?’ and ‘Why…?’ tend to be the most useful types of questions to ask the tarot. Here are a few suggestions to help you get going:
- What energy do I need to focus on or be aware of in order to be successful today?
- Where can I find the drive to overcome a problem I’m dealing with?
- What should I be aware of if I take my planned course of action?
- How can I be more supportive to a friend who needs me?
- What is standing in the way of my achieving my goals?
- Why is the current course of action not bringing the desired results?
- What can I do to take better care of myself today?
We hope you enjoyed these simple tarot spreads, and that they’ve helped to bring more clarity and reflection to your life.
What other simple spreads do you like to work with?
Tell us what you think in the comments below, or talk to us on Instagram!
And be sure to check out more of our favourite Tarot Spreads while you’re here!
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Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle
Modern Witch Tarot Journal by Lisa Sterle
The Cosmic Slumber Tarot by Tillie Walden
White Numen: A Sacred Animal Tarot by AlbaBG