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“I’m a Tarot Card Reader and Here Are 5 Beginner Tarot Spreads for Love, Guidance and More!”

Plus, find out what certain cards mean for you and your future as a tarot card reader.


Whether you received a tarot deck as a gift, picked it up on a whim or have been interested in Tarot readings and have decided to dive in, but have no idea where to start, not to worry. When I got my first deck as a gift, they sat in their box unused for weeks because I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t have the quick-start guide I’m setting you up with here, where you’ll find the basics you need to know, plus five simple ways to start using your cards today. Simply use one of these beginner tarot spread options to read for yourself or to start reading for others.

What is tarot?

The tarot deck dates back to 15th-century Italy, where it was used as playing cards, just like those we use for poker today. About 300 years later, people started using the tarot for fortune-telling and linking the cards to longstanding magic traditions. Today, tarot is still used by many for divination, but modern enthusiasts turn to their cards to spur personal growth, spark insights, and gain self-awareness. 

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What exactly is a tarot card spread?

A tarot spread is a pattern in which tarot cards are laid out during a reading. Each position in the spread represents a different aspect of the question or situation being explored. There are many different types of tarot spreads, each with its own unique layout and purpose. Some spreads are designed to provide general insight into a situation, while others are more focused on specific areas such as love, career or personal growth. The layout and interpretation of the cards in a spread can vary widely depending on the tarot reader and the specific spread being used.

Why pull tarot cards?

beginner tarot spread: Soothsayer pulling one tarot card at table, closeup. Future telling
Liudmila Chernetska/Getty

Whether you believe tarot is magic or not, there’s no doubt that the iconic imagery of the most familiar deck — the Rider-Waite-Smith deck — evokes the same archetypes you find in classic mythology from around the world as well as in Jungian psychology. The 22 cards of the major arcana include the Empress (mother), the Emperor (father), the High Priestess, the Hermit, the Star and the Devil. There’s no shortage of licensed psychologists who make the tarot part of their practice. 

The 56 minor arcana cards represent everyday life — a wedding celebration (4 of wands), anxiety that keeps you up at night (9 of swords), and work (8 of pentacles). These cards can also help you think through familiar situations and problems in new ways.

Like an ink blot test, the pictures in the tarot provoke thoughts, ideas, insights and images from your subconscious mind. Pulling tarot cards can help you see yourself and the world from a fresh perspective.

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5 Beginner tarot spread options

When you’re ready to get started, take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Shuffle the cards in whatever way feels comfortable and natural to you. With your non-dominant hand, cut the deck into three piles and reassemble it. Have a notebook handy to record your cards and any thoughts they bring up for you.

Now, choose a spread from the options below and follow my simple instructions. These are spreads I learned from my tarot teachers over the years, and I use them regularly when reading tarot, teaching tarot and writing about the tarot.

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1. Beginner tarot spread: Daily tarot draw

This daily practice is beloved by tarot students and readers for a reason. It’s the first type of reading I learned. This is the simplest and most effective way to build a relationship with the cards over time. When you have one card pulled, jot down responses to the following prompts in your notebook.

  1. Note to yourself exactly what you see on the card in simple words.
  2. Notice the dominant colors and how these make you feel.
  3. What aspect of the card most jumps out at you. Why?
beginner tarot spread: Queen of Wands Tarot Card
  1. A woman is wearing a crown and sitting on a throne outdoors, near mountains. There’s not a cloud in the sky. She holds a staff in one hand and a sunflower in her other. A black cat sits at her feet.
  2. Yellow. It makes me feel positive and optimistic. It reminds me of the sun.
  3. The cat stands out. He’s dark compared to her robe. Black cats have something to do with witches and magic. Are black cats bad luck?

As time goes by, you may notice patterns in how you feel or what happens when certain cards come up. You might come to associate the Queen of Wands with feeling upbeat and empowered, or she could come to represent someone in your real life. In time you’ll get to know each of these cards and what they mean to you on an intuitive level. That’s all that’s required to read tarot cards.

2. Beginner tarot spread: Yes or no spread

It’s usually better to come to your deck with some open-ended questions. But there are times when only “yes or no” will do. “Should I move closer to my family?” “Will I enjoy the gardening workshop I’m considering?” “Should I cut my hair short?” are all fair game for the cards.

It’s not a great idea to try to pry into someone else’s head. Questions like “Is she mad at me?” and “Does he like me?” are not the best tarot questions. For this yes-and-no spread and tarot in general, it’s most effective to keep the focus on yourself.

For a yes or no reading, pull three cards. If none of the cards are upside down, that’s an emphatic yes. If one is upside down, it’s still a yes, but proceed with caution. If two are upside down, it’s a no. If all three are upside, that means absolutely not.

3. Beginner tarot spread: Love tarot reading spread

If you have a question about romantic relationships, there’s a quick way to get answers: Find the Lovers card in your deck. The next card (the one underneath it) has a message for you about your love life. Apply the methods from the single card reading to get a sense of what that message means for you right now.

Related: “I’m a Tarot Card Reader and These 3 Tarot Spreads Will Help You Navigate Love — Past, Present and Future!”

4. Beginner tarot spread: Past, present, future tarot spread

beginner tarot spread: Fortune teller holding a tarot cards in the hands.

This is an easy tarot spread for gaining perspective on the timeline in any part of your life. It can help to bring a specific issue or aspect of your life to this reading, such as your career. Laying the cards left to right, draw three cards once you have your issue in mind.

The leftmost card represents a lesson from your past. The center card represents the present, and the card on the right is a hint or advice about your future.

5. Beginner tarot spread: Guidance from the universe spread

This is similar to the past, present and future spread. Call to mind an issue you’d like guidance on, then pull three cards and set them in a row.

The leftmost card represents something you need to let go of in life. The center card is a quality, energy or virtue you need to call into your life right now. The card on the right is a message from the universe. It might not be immediately clear what that message is. Leave the cards out where you can see them so your subconscious can consider them as you go about your day.

Whatever spread you choose, take notes on the cards you drew and your observations and reactions. If you practice one of these simple spreads every day, after a while, you’ll have taught yourself how to do an intuitive tarot reading for yourself or someone else.

A mini reading for beginner tarot card readers:

Starting on a tarot journey is exciting. Here’s my mini reading for aspiring tarot readers. Close your eyes and choose a number between 1 and 3.

If you chose 1: The Hierophant

beginner tarot spread: The Hierophant on the astrology zodiac horoscope constellation background.
Worarat Ngamkamollert/Getty

If you choose 1, your card is the Hierophant. This card represents teachers, tradition and following established rules and practices. It might be helpful for you to seek out a tarot class, book or mentor to help you learn the ropes. The best spread for you to start with is the daily draw.

beginner tarot spread: the eight of wands tarot cards

If you chose 2, your card is the eight of wands. This card indicates swift movement — you’ll likely learn quickly if you follow your passion. Look things up online when you want to learn something about a card fast. Use the yes or no tarot spread for quick hits of tarot wisdom.

If you chose 3: Hermit

beginner tarot spread: Tarot cards "THE HERMIT.

Go inside yourself. Everything you need to read tarot is already inside you. Use your intuition to go deeper into the cards. A meditation practice could be a good thing to pair with your readings. Start with the guidance from the universe spread.

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