The usual way to approach a reading is to draw cards at random from a deck. Suppose we turn this on its head and choose the cards we want?
Choose the cards
This is the spread we are going to use:
- What do I want?
- What is standing in my way?
- A strength that I can use
- A weakness that may work against me
- An opportunity to take advantage of
- The best thing to do
Step 1: Think of a question you want to ask or a problem or dilemma you want to solve.
Step 2: Ignoring position 6 (The best thing to do) for now, go through your deck face up, and for each card position, choose a card that you feel represents your life right now.
For example, perhaps you choose the Two of Cups for What I want because you hope to find a loving partner soon. You might choose the Ten of Pentacles for What is standing in my way because you feel you are focusing too much on material things.
Step 3: Draw a card at random for The best thing to do. Keep this card face down.
Step 4: In your tarot notebook or journal, note briefly why you chose cards 1 to 5.
Step 5: Now turn over card 6, The best thing to do, and meditate on its message. What do you think about this card? What is the best thing to do?
Now for a fun part!
Step 6: Gather the six cards in your reading, shuffle them, and lay them out again. Most of the cards, if not all of them, will now fall in different places.
Step 7: Read the cards as you normally do, paying close attention to the differences between your first layout and your second. What new ideas does the reading bring up? Is there a significance in how the cards have shifted position between the two spreads?
Susan’s problem: A sample exercise
Susan’s problem: Susan is unhappy in her present career. She wants to do something more creative, like working with tarot cards, but she’s unsure if she has the right qualities to teach tarot reading.
- For What she wants, Susan picks the Empress. She wants a life in which she can express her creativity and, at the same time, teach others her skills. She also wants to embody the powerful major arcana card to become a tarot teacher.
- For What is standing in your way, Susan chooses the Two of Wands to represent her doubt that she can successfully transform her “world”.
- A strength you can use: Susan chooses the Six of Wands, as she believes she is a good teacher and will successfully lead her students in teaching them her skills.
- A weakness that may work against you: Susan chooses the Ace of Swords to represent her critical mind. She feels she is too analytical to teach a spiritual subject such as tarot reading.
- An opportunity to take advantage of: Susan selects the Moon. She strongly desires to take advantage of her imaginative and creative abilities but fears that they will not be enough to make her a good tarot teacher.
- The best thing to do: Susan chooses the Nine of Pentacles. This is a woman who has created beauty around her. She is skilful and successful. An anomaly on the card is the hooded falcon. Susan believes the falcon represents her analytical mind, but she cannot keep it under wraps if she is to live a fulfilling life. Because this is a Pentacles card, Susan muses that this woman is not focused on spirituality but beauty and creativity. Maybe she (Susan) can combine her creativity with the creative power of tarot cards rather than focus on the spiritual aspect of the cards.
When she reshuffles the six cards and lays them out again, Susan finds she has the Six of Wands in the What she wants position. This card shows a man returning triumphantly to report a victory. Susan would like to be a success in her new life. She wants to have the confidence that this man has. She notes the wands point to creativity and that spirituality (the Empress) is not dominant in this card. She feels the card reemphasizes her ability and desire to teach.
In position 2, What is standing in her way, Susan now gets the Nine of Pentacles. What she read as the best thing to do in the first spread now seems to represent an obstacle. This woman does not have the doubt expressed in the Two of Wands. Susan focuses on the one aspect of the card that worries her: the hooded falcon as her analytical mind, emphasising that spirituality is not her gift.
In position 3, A strength to make use of, Susan now finds the Two of Wands. Her obstacle is actually her strong point. The doubt she feels is spurring her to move beyond her fears about spirituality and embrace the creativity of the Wands. Like the man on the Two of Wands, she is skilled in planning and decision-making, strengths that she can teach her students.
In position 4, A weakness that may work against her, is now the Empress. She wants to embody not only the creative spirit of the Empress but also her spiritual aspect as a major arcana card. Instead, she must use her calm, rational mind (the Two of Wands) to plan her future. She must embody the skills of this man: planning, decision-making, and problem-solving.
In position 5, An opportunity to take advantage of, now falls the Ace of Swords. Her weakness is actually something to take advantage of. Her strength lies in clear thinking and problem-solving. She is not a spiritual person, but she has always used tarot cards for creative thinking and problem-solving.
In position 6, The best thing to do, now falls the Moon. Susan should use her imaginative and intuitive skills to help people solve problems and work to banish their nightmares.
With this technique, Susan concludes that she must centre her future on teaching the use of tarot cards in problem-solving and creative thinking.
Other spreads that will work with this technique
A second spread that will work well with this technique has the following positions (with the same layout as the spread above):
- The problem
- The ideal future
- What you have
- What you need
- A blessing
- Where this may lead to (this is the card to draw at random and keep face down)
The popular Celtic Cross spread would also work well with this technique. For the Immediate future position—usually card 6—choose a card that represents what you want to happen. The outcome card—card 10—must be drawn randomly and kept face down.
At its core, this technique contains three tarot-reading techniques created by The Sceptic’s Tarot:
- choosing the cards face up before doing a spread,
- reshuffling cards that have been read, and
- reading a card twice in different positions.
Posts in which these techniques appeared:
- An inside-out reading (choosing the cards).
- Re-shuffle: A technique to deepen your tarot reading (reshuffling).
- Magic square spread: From worry to peace (reading a card twice).
- SWOT spread (reading a card twice).
- Something bad happened: Journalling/creative writing technique (reading a card twice).
- The sum of our relationship spread (reading a card twice).
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(Image by Freepik.)