You’ll often hear tarot readers talk about a spread or a layout. This just means the pattern in which the cards are placed as they are taken from the deck and put onto the table to be interpreted by a tarot card reader. There are as many different spreads as there are readers—in fact, whole books are dedicated to just this! Spreads can be as simple as a one-card draw, to very complex and involved patterns using all 78 cards.
The most popular spreads are probably the three-card spread and the Celtic Cross. Some sites will have you believe that the Celtic Cross is ancient and mysterious when it really isn’t. It’s just a pattern for the cards, same as any other layout. There are astrological spreads that reveal a bit about timing; there are past life-spreads that bring you hints of what happened in previous lifetimes; there are karmic spreads that help you to understand a bit about your circumstances and how to bring things back into balance, and more.
All tarot cards will have an upright and a reversed position. Upright (or dignified) means that the card is right way up, and reversed (also called inverted, challenged, contrary, or ill-dignified) means that the card is upside down. This alters the meaning of the card, and it will also influence the way that card’s position in the spread will be interpreted.
Some of the more popular tarot card spreads are listed below, but this is by no means complete. Different tarot card readers often design their own unique spreads. Who knows—perhaps as you get more experienced working with the tarot, you’ll want to create your own layout, too!