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Are spreads optional?


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Hi all

 

Having been away from my cards for a while, I've joined a couple of tarot Facebook groups, so that I can interact and do interpretations of card readings.  One thing that I've noticed is that more often than not, people will post a photo of cards and ask for interpretations, but give no spread.  They will post the question, but then nothing as to which card is in what position.

 

Are spreads optional?  Are more people reading tarot cards in a storyboard fashion, or linking key words to form statements?  Do you need to have a position to 'frame' the meaning of the card?

 

How many people read tarot without using spreads?

 

This method just seems so alien to me.  Until joining these Facebook groups, I never contemplated reading tarot cards without a spread, or without at least setting the intention of what the card/s would represent.

Edited by Kath
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Cards laid out without named positions are still spreads. Lines of 3, 5, or 7, the 3x3, pyramids, tableaus...all of these are spreads and they're not new. AFAIK, they predate spreads with named positions by many, many years. 

 

The interpretation is influenced by context: the question and the near-lying cards. 

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2 hours ago, gregory said:

I almost never use spreads as such. To each reader their own.

 

Yes. You have to find what works.

@Kath - you're doing Lenormand exchanges? It's like Lenormand. The cards modify each other.
 

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21 hours ago, katrinka said:

Cards laid out without named positions are still spreads. Lines of 3, 5, or 7, the 3x3, pyramids, tableaus...all of these are spreads and they're not new. AFAIK, they predate spreads with named positions by many, many years. 

 

The interpretation is influenced by context: the question and the near-lying cards. 

 

But with the lines, you still have an intent that keywords make up a sentence or short paragraph. With a 3x3, you still have an understanding that the vertical rows are past, present, future, and the horizontal are  the Querent's thoughts, unknown influences, etc.  

 

What method do you use to interpret a bunch of tarot cards that are not in a recognised pattern/spread?

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21 hours ago, gregory said:

I almost never use spreads as such. To each reader their own.

I am genuinely curious about your method for reading tarot without a spread. How do you identify which cards would speak of the past, or the querent's thoughts, or other's influence, without a spread/pattern, or setting that intention before drawing the cards?

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1 minute ago, Kath said:

 

But with the lines, you still have an intent that keywords make up a sentence or short paragraph.

 

No. I don't. It's not about keywords.

 

1 minute ago, Kath said:

With a 3x3, you still have an understanding that the vertical rows are past, present, future, and the horizontal are  the Querent's thoughts, unknown influences, etc.

 

Again, no. I don't read PPF. As for "thoughts", "unknown influences", etc., again: no.

 

I'm not sure where you're getting this stuff, but it's all wrong.
Yes, you can do it that way if you WANT to, but it's idiosyncratic and not germane to any reading tradition.

 

1 minute ago, Kath said:

What method do you use to interpret a bunch of tarot cards that are not in a recognised pattern/spread?


I just read the cards, same as Lenormand.

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3 minutes ago, katrinka said:

I'm not sure where you're getting this stuff, but it's all wrong.

Every single book on card reading I've ever picked up has instructions on how to lay the cards in some type of spread/pattern, where each position has an influence on the meaning of the card.  The concept of not having defined positions is very new to me. 

 

4 minutes ago, katrinka said:

I just read the cards, same as Lenormand.

I am an absolute beginner to Lenormand, but there is still some influence on the card's meanings based on where they lie in a spread, or pattern, or house, isn't there?

 

How do you learn to read the cards without any type of positional influence?  Can you literally pull 6 cards about a relationship and say X's attitude is this, and Y's is that, and in the past there was this thing, etc, without some intent that this position represents X's attitude, etc?

 

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29 minutes ago, Kath said:

Every single book on card reading I've ever picked up has instructions on how to lay the cards in some type of spread/pattern, where each position has an influence on the meaning of the card.  The concept of not having defined positions is very new to me. 

 

Having instructions is more a "here's an option" thing than a "this is the One True Way" thing.

 

Quote

I am an absolute beginner to Lenormand, but there is still some influence on the card's meanings based on where they lie in a spread, or pattern, or house, isn't there?

Houses are an option, but they are by no means a major influence and a lot of us ignore them altogether.
Cards interact with other cards and speak without named positions. Practice!

Quote

How do you learn to read the cards without any type of positional influence?  Can you literally pull 6 cards about a relationship and say X's attitude is this, and Y's is that, and in the past there was this thing, etc, without some intent that this position represents X's attitude, etc?

 

 

Absolutely.
I'd pull an odd number of cards, but the end result is the same. A line of cards is all you need.

Edited by katrinka
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4 minutes ago, katrinka said:

Houses are an option, but they are by no means a major influence and a lot of us ignore them altogether.
 

Thank you for writing this!  One of the reasons that even thinking about a GT intimidates me is the thought of having to use houses.   Again, most of the (limited) resources I've read have been very emphatic about houses.

 

So now it's just a question of finding time, and willing participants, to practice 🙂 

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Okay, thought I'd post an old reading of mine because a) it shows how a non-positional line of cards can work and b) it was a good reading, a personal high-point at the time. Yes, I'm proud of it!

 

The question: Who will be eliminated from the UK Conservative Party leadership race in the first round?

 

brexit10.jpg

 

Empress / Magician / World / Judgement / Tower

 

So, the important thing to note his how a card's meaning is modified by its surroundings - being dragged down, neutralized, etc. This is why, when reading without fixed positions, it's essential to assign positive, neutral and negative values to each card in the deck. This all works in conjunction with the context of the question.

 

Thus, in fixed position spreads, a card's value and meaning is modified by its position. In a spread without positions, it's the surrounding cards, their values and meanings, and the context of the question that does the work.

 

Now, I read the Empress and the World as being dragged down by the Magician (for me, a very negative card, a sign of all not being as it seems). Judgement often signifies receiving a message or an announcement. As Judgement is followed here by the Tower, dragging it down, one assumes it's bad news. The Tower falling at the end of the line is also a potentially negative sign. I generally read the Empress (and the Emperor) as straight significators, ie. they represent people, not qualities, events, etc.

 

Then I turned my attention to the last two cards and noticed how the three figures in Judgement are getting the bad news, which leads to two figures falling from the Tower. I read this to mean that two or three other candidates would get the message (that they haven't got a chance) and drop out.

 

So, the answer: The first candidate to receive the least votes and be eliminated will be a woman. Two or three others will follow.

 

The results: After the voting, a female candidate (Empress) got the least votes and was eliminated. What I didn't know was that any candidate failing to reach a certain threshold of votes is automatically eliminated. Two other candidates did not meet this threshold (figures in judgement and tower).

 

Tah-dah!

 

I suppose I should give credit to my main influences here: Andy Boroveshengra, J David Arcuri, Katrinka, and _R_. 

Edited by devin
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I don't  like the attitude of "its WRONG".. no disrespect 😄 

Cards CAN be read in various ways- just because one doesn't use method A doesn't mean method A is WRONG....

 

You can read with OR without fixed positions- it depends...

 

For example: IF you have an issue and you want to look at specific aspects of the issue- positions are GREAT because they focus you and give you more clarity and context! 

 

BUT - you CAN also go a different route if say you are asked a more "general" question- by general I mean without the need to look at a specific factor but just reading the entire "atmosphere" - by looking at the cards and their interactions to get the answer. 

 

Either way- both works- at times you can even combine by assigning more fluid positions - I really like "borrowing" from Lenormand - and doing a 3 cards spreads where the middle one is more significant to me and the other 2 are his supports

 

I used to read ONLY with positions- now I only do it when I feel a more fluid reading won't be accurate enough for me.. its all about experimenting and seeing what you like and what works for you!

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5 minutes ago, devin said:

Okay, thought I'd post an old reading of mine because a) it shows how a non-positional line of cards can work and b) it was a good reading, a personal high-point at the time. Yes, I'm proud of it!

 

The question: Who will be eliminated from the UK Conservative Party leadership race in the first round?

 

brexit10.jpg

 

Empress / Magician / World / Judgement / Tower

 

So, the important thing to note his how a card's meaning is modified by its surroundings - being dragged down, neutralized, etc. This is why, when reading without fixed positions, it's essential to assign positive, neutral and negative values to each card in the deck. This all works in conjunction with the context of the question.

Not that it is wrong - but in my humble opinion this is not a must. Moreover- from my perspective cards start natural having both light and shadow aspects. So I see no reason deciding in advance that a card is "negative" or "positive". 

Thus, in fixed position spreads, a card's value and meaning is modified by its position. In a spread without positions, it's the surrounding cards, their values and meanings, and the context of the question that does the work.

 

Now, I read the Empress and the World as being dragged down by the Magician (a very negative card, a sign of all not being as it seems).  To continue my argument- How is the magician- a card of self empowerment , and unlimited abilities very negative? Judgement often signifies receiving a message or an announcement. As Judgement is followed here by the Tower, dragging it down, one assumes it is bad news. The Tower falling at the end of the line is also a potentially negative sign. I generally read the Empress (and the Emperor) as straight signification, ie. they represent people, not qualities, events, etc.

 

Then I turned my attention to the last two cards and noticed how the three figures in Judgement are getting the bad news, which leads to two figures falling from the Tower. I read this to mean that two or three other candidates would get the message (that they haven't got a chance) and drop out.

 

 

So, the answer: The first candidate to receive the least votes and be eliminated will be a woman. Two or three others will follow.

 

The results: After the voting, a female candidate (Empress) got the least votes and was eliminated. What I didn't know was that any candidate failing to reach a certain threshold of votes is automatically eliminated. Two other candidates did not meet this threshold (figures in judgement and tower).

 

Tah-dah!

 

I suppose I should give credit to my main influences here: Andy Boroveshengra, J David Arcuri, Katrinka, and _R_.  You seem to find a method that works for you and congratz on that a very nice reading indeed! but , i wouldn't suggest to a beginner to decide that a card is good or bad.... thats just me though 🙂 

 

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18 minutes ago, Aldor44 said:

 

Sure, it's A method, not THE method. But the basic system of reading interactions based on assigned values is a good and fast way to get answers from a spread without assigned positions. 

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Just now, devin said:

Sure, it's A method, not THE method. But the basic system of reading interactions based on assigned values is a good and fast way to get answers from a spread without assigned positions. 

 

Dream away!! 😄😄😄 

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3 hours ago, Kath said:

I am genuinely curious about your method for reading tarot without a spread. How do you identify which cards would speak of the past, or the querent's thoughts, or other's influence, without a spread/pattern, or setting that intention before drawing the cards?

 

One way is - read them as a story line. This happened, then this then this.... Another is to look at the pictures - who is looking at whom; what is that whatever it maybe doing where it is; why is that person ignoring that other person. I look on it as an extension of the ISG method, really - we tend only to use one or two cards there, but the traditional meanings etc carry no weight among the iconoclasts who take part. :rofl: I have the sitter's question in mind, and let that lead me.

 

 

49 minutes ago, Aldor44 said:

I don't  like the attitude of "its WRONG".. no disrespect 😄 

Cards CAN be read in various ways- just because one doesn't use method A doesn't mean method A is WRONG....

 

You can read with OR without fixed positions- it depends...

 

This I also agree with.

 

The only thing I do regard as WRONG (and it is and I stick to that so hit me !) is changing/disregarding the question during the reading. You ask the cards about how your sister's divorce will pan out and all of a sudden it shows you (allegedly) how you can help her. Or "What did I do to annoy him" and suddenly the cards say he loves you ?  THAT WASN'T THE QUESTION. 

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1 hour ago, gregory said:

One way is - read them as a story line. This happened, then this then this.... Another is to look at the pictures - who is looking at whom; what is that whatever it maybe doing where it is; why is that person ignoring that other person. I look on it as an extension of the ISG method, really - we tend only to use one or two cards there, but the traditional meanings etc carry no weight among the iconoclasts who take part. :rofl: I have the sitter's question in mind, and let that lead me.

 

I was hoping you were going to weigh in with a few specifics, throw some light.

 

I think the thing is to cast about, get a good idea of the various reading styles out there, find one that grabs your fancy, and work it. 

 

1 hour ago, gregory said:

traditional meanings etc carry no weight among the iconoclasts who take part.

 

Decadence!

 

2 hours ago, Aldor44 said:

To continue my argument- How is the magician- a card of self empowerment , and unlimited abilities very negative? 

 

Holding to the card's origins as representing a juggler / huckster works for me. That said, the idea of a great magus disguised as a street performer has a lot of romance to it, definitely.

 

But it depends, of course, which Magician you're talking about!

 

The-Tarot-Magician-Marseill-and-Waite-Sm

 

Edited by devin
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To continue my argument- How is the magician- a card of self empowerment , and unlimited abilities very negative? 

 

Master of illusion. Deliberately misleads. Just for starters. So - he can empower himself in ways that are - not beneficial to anyone but him - using those abilities. Oops, think Trump... :rofl: 

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2 minutes ago, gregory said:

 

Master of illusion. Deliberately misleads. Just for starters. So - he can empower himself in ways that are - not beneficial to anyone but him - using those abilities. Oops, think Trump... :rofl: 

Yes I agree, but I associate this with the shadow side of the card- so it just looked odd to me that this is the primary interpretation for the card- making it negative 

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Thank you everyone for your very interesting discussion.  This has certainly provided food for thought and an interesting new avenue for me to explore. 

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On 9/12/2020 at 7:04 AM, devin said:

So, the answer: The first candidate to receive the least votes and be eliminated will be a woman. Two or three others will follow.

 

The results: After the voting, a female candidate (Empress) got the least votes and was eliminated. What I didn't know was that any candidate failing to reach a certain threshold of votes is automatically eliminated. Two other candidates did not meet this threshold (figures in judgement and tower).

 

Tah-dah!

 

That was stunningly good!
 

On 9/12/2020 at 7:08 AM, Aldor44 said:

I don't  like the attitude of "its WRONG".. no disrespect 😄 

Cards CAN be read in various ways- just because one doesn't use method A doesn't mean method A is WRONG....

 

You can read with OR without fixed positions- it depends...

 

No disrespect or offense taken. 😁
I said "It's wrong" in response to this:
 

On 9/12/2020 at 4:45 AM, Kath said:

With a 3x3, you still have an understanding that the vertical rows are past, present, future, and the horizontal are  the Querent's thoughts, unknown influences, etc.  

 

The information is wrong because that's only one way of looking at a 3x3. A lot of us DON'T read them as Past-Present-Future, or interpret the horizontal lines as thoughts or unknown influences. So we don't "have an understanding" that it's that way.  I'd be looking at the corners and inner diamond, I got that from Andy and it's outlined here: https://damefatespicturebook.com/2020/05/15/feeling-like-i-needed-you/ Another reader might do something else. There's a lot of variation.

 

(And yes, I suppose the corners and inner diamond are named positions, in a way. But until I started using them, I just read the lines.)

 

But, that said, some things are wrong. I agree with gregory that not sticking to the question is one of those things. I think a lot of people are heavily invested in the idea that there is no "wrong" or "bad" where the cards are concerned, but those things obviously do exist.

 

Quote

I used to read ONLY with positions- now I only do it when I feel a more fluid reading won't be accurate enough for me.. its all about experimenting and seeing what you like and what works for you!

 

I think a lot of us started out with positional spreads. When I started, all I had was Eden Gray's Mastering The Tarot and the LWB that came with the University Books RWS, and all I knew was the Celtic Cross, lol.

And you can use attendance (near and far) with named position spreads. Here's Andy again:
https://damefatespicturebook.com/2020/04/10/signum-crucis-the-celtic-cross-01/

 

Edited by katrinka
typo
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On 9/12/2020 at 9:39 AM, Aldor44 said:

Yes I agree, but I associate this with the shadow side of the card- so it just looked odd to me that this is the primary interpretation for the card- making it negative 

I can't speak for devin, but there's context to consider. It's a political reading, after all. Those people don't play nice. 😉

Edited by katrinka
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I went through a period of my tarot journey of only doing freehand 3 card readings all the time for myself, it seemed the perfect solution!

But then I realised it wasn't! I really recommend to do things differently in your normal tarot routine and to try new things every so often, shake it up a bit! I realised that spreads can have a real use, the difference is a free hand and flexible and a formal approach in a spread! You just have to choose the right spread. Also the more complicated a matter, the more beneficial a larger spread is.

 

For example, love readings with problems are not so great for just putting cards down, you get a lot of insight with formal positions. Also same for decision making, structure really helps. If you are confused doing a spread, make it formal and a big situation works best with a lot of cards to advise you. But free hand readings, just pulling some cards, that can be great as well for certain situations. If you just want to explore something or get an intuitive answer. For example what career path is best for me, free hand would give you an exciting intuitive journey of guidance but formal positions would have set positions to explore different areas. It all comes down to structure, do you need structure in the answer or just a free hand intuitive response? I now use both depending on what I want to know.

 

There is of course a third option to make your own structured spreads but make sure you write down your positions before dealing, I always forget them from memory and then have to spend ages trying to remember what position card 5 was and stuff 🙂 Also you can take spreads from across the net and change them to your own, add / remove positions, merge different spreads, you can do whatever you want to make the reading work best for you :thumbsup:

 

 BTW you see this a lot on Facebook tarot communities with people posting 3 card readings with a question. Make your readings how it works best for you 🙂

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