By Katherine Heiden
There are hundreds, if not thousands of different spreads in tarot which are available for use in reading. These alternative layouts provide some in-depth analysis which may not be available through the use of a regular three or seven card layout. Learning a number of different spreads in tarot can help you focus your divination efforts on a single problem or area of interest, which is what many clients want from your reading.
Whenever you approach one of the different spreads in tarot, it is always helpful to relate this new layout to one which you already know. All good tarot books include information about at least four or five different layouts which they proclaim to be "the basics" which you need to know. Almost every one of the layouts you'll learn should be somehow related to one or more of these. If not, consider getting a different book which includes a little more detailed insight into the layouts and cards.
The basic spreads in tarot are widely disputed, but they usually include at least four basic layouts: the three card, or past-present-future spread, the seven-card spread, the cross, and the half-deck, or astrology spread. These basic readings usually cover wide swaths of life, while many of the different spreads in tarot will involve taking those same attributes of life and applying them only to one specific area.
While many people concentrate their efforts on learning only two or three different spreads in tarot, there are a whole world of options available to you, and it is important to explore your options before making a decision on which particular spread to use. Most of the spreads are related, so by finding a book or guide which covers the basic meanings of a number of different spreads in tarot, it is possible to use this to help you learn a new layout.
Personally, I would recommend using this guide when first starting out with tarot cards. It has a lot of good information on how to learn tarot cards at home.