There are probably more Tarot spreads floating around on the Internet then there are stars in the sky. And there is a good chance, if you have a deck or two, that you are already familiar with one or two spreads, most likely a three card spread and the good, old Celtic Cross. But, how do you decided which spread is the right one? Does the Celtic Cross work in every situation?
First, I think it is wise to completely forget the Celtic Cross spread. It is too convoluted, and frankly it doesn’t even look like a cross, Celtic or otherwise. Beginners should focus on one-, two- or three-card spreads, learning the cards carefully and paying attention to how they interact with each other. Even “experts” should avoid the Celtic Cross, as it is too hackneyed and too generic for many situations.
That said, I believe it is a good idea to have a collection of general spreads. These should be ones you know well, eliminating the need for a cheat sheet. They should work well in most situations and will all of your Tarot decks. Some examples of these are a 3 card spread (Past, Present, Future or maybe Mind, Body, Spirit) and a 5 card spread (usually something like Past, Present, Hidden Influences, Outcome, Advice). Learn the layouts and learn how to adjust the meanings of the positions given the question your sitter is asking. The Mind, Body, Spirit version of the 3 card spread may be great for someone asking about integrating an issue into their life, but the Past, Present, Future version is probably better suited for someone who is looking for help solving a here-and-now type of problem.
Beyond these workhorse spreads, it is also a good idea to cultivate some special spreads that you use when the occasion warrants it. For example, I like to use a Wheel of the Year spread on my birthday or on November Eve/Halloween. (One card for the general theme of each month.) I also have a lovely relationship spread, and another one for working through problems where someone may be lying or keeping secrets.
Another option is create a spread on the fly, based on the question your sitter is asking. You can work intuitively, placing the cards and determining the meaning of the positions as you go along. This is probably something that is best tried when you know you deck well and have had a good deal of experience reading using more traditional spreads. But, sometimes the situation and the sitter’s question warrants this type of reading.
Below are some sites where you can find Tarot spreads. Remember though, pick the spreads you want to learn carefully, choosing only those that will help you read the Tarot better.