There are countless relationship spreads you can try, some better suited for your question then others. Some are easy, some are more tricky and require a deeper level of reflection. Here are the top ten that I have found most useful-
10/ Celtic Cross
The much discussed, loved and hated Celtic Cross. I actually quite like it. Its comprehensive, easy to read (for me at least) and covers pretty much anything. Some would argue that its not a beginners spread, and that may be true. I’d suggest giving it a go when you are pretty confident you know the meanings of each card and aren’t checking the book for meanings as you go. However it is a spread that is worth mastering because its useful for not only relationship spreads, pretty much any type of question can be answered in depth with any variation on the spread.
- 1- represents the current situation or reason for the spread. This card is in some ways the most important. If you don’t get what this card is about there’s a good chance the whole reading might be off. Don’t write it off straight up though, later cards may clarify what the reading is actually about.
- 2- Crossed card 1; that is it is laid crossways over the top. If card 1 is the situation then card 2 is the problem, it’s the challenge you face. This can be confusing if it’s a very positive card, but the best way to read positive cards in negative positions is that sometimes you are being over optimistic or it could be that you have unrealistically high expectation.
- 3- where you are coming from. This is more or less the recent past, or the situation which your current situation developed from.
- 4- where you are headed. This is read in conjunction with the last card (10), though if they are very different it could be that your situation has more stages to go through before it is resolved.
- 5- what you are conscious of. This is about what you know is going on, influences that are affecting your situation. These can be other people, or circumstances or attitudes.
- 6- subconscious influences. These are the sort of things you don’t think of, like the mental talk we all have or issues that may be affecting the situation without your being aware of it.
- 7- you. Pretty straight forward, its all about you and where you are at. This can be read in conjunction with card 1, but who you are and where you’re at in your head and heart may be different to your situation.
- 8- hopes and fears. Yes, it is both because we very often hope for what we are afraid of, especially in relationships. For example we may hope that we will meet a gorgeous stranger but at the same time be worried that we may not be good enough for them.
- 9- advice. This can sometimes be a suggested course of action or sometimes just a new perspective. It’s always something to bear in mind.
- 10- outcome. Outcome’s can be a little bit deceptive because it’s not very often then end of the story, it’s just the result of the situation you are currently in- the reason for asking the question in the first place. Always remember that endings are beginnings too.
As a whole, the Celtic cross can be a very long winded reading. Make sure you set aside quite some time for doing it. Look for common symbolism between card 5 and 6- your conscious and subconscious influences. The more harmonious those two cards, the more in sync with yourself you are. The more different they are the more it suggests you are ignoring your intuition. Look for links between cards 4 and 10, where you are heading and the outcome. The more similar those cards, the closer you are to resolving the situation. The more different the more it suggests there’s still a whole heap more going on. Sometimes card 9, the advice card speaks directly to card 2, the cross card, so look for similarities there too.
Overall, a great spread for a full tarot deck- it works less well with small oracle decks (the sort with 40 or less cards). It does take practice, but it is worth it.
9/ Two Paths
Need to make a choice but stuck on which will be best for you? Then this is the spread of choice. Simple but effective. All you need to do is decide which path represents which choice.
- 1- You, where you are at, the source of your dilemma
- 2 and 3- pros- what’s good about each path
- 4 and 5- cons- downside’s of each choice
- 6 and 7- advice- if you were to take each choice/ path what you should do about it.
- 8 and 9- outcome- what would happen down each path.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a pretty general overview of each path. A path that comes up looking good in this spread but turns out to have problems once you’ve chosen it doesn’t mean your reading was wrong, just that it presents less problems then the alternative, not no problems.
8/ Clock Spread
Like the name suggests this one is about timing. Can be useful for a very general overview of your coming year but is limited by it’s very general nature. Simply lay out 12 cards in the positions of the clock starting with the month you are currently in at the 1 o’clock position. Always write this one down because it won’t make much sense till events start to play out. You can get a pretty good flavour of the month- for example, 2 o’clock has something really good so you can expect a pretty good month, or 6 o’clock has something scary, so you can get the idea that you’ll have issues to deal with that month.
This spread is most useful for beginners learning about what all the cards actually mean, as opposed to what the books say they mean. Individual cards can have so many layers of meaning that it’s impossible for anyone to completely cover it all. You could write a book about each card of every deck ever invented (except maybe the alcohol deck). So use this spread to write what you think the card means, what you think it refers to, what you think it’s trying to tell you, then go back at the end of each month and write what actually happened and look for the connections.
The first specifically relationship spread that deals with defined issues. The clearer you can get your questions, the more useful this reading is.
- 1- you in the relationship and your contribution to the issue
- 2- your relationship and the issue
- 3- your partner in the relationship and their contribution to the issue
- 4- causes of the current state of your relationship and the issue
- 5- advice- actions you can take to resolve the issue or what is needed to resolve the issue
- 6- outcome
I’ve found that this one works best for me with simple oracle decks, like any of Doreen Virtue’s decks, or any with a limited amount of cards. The clearer the card meaning the clearer this is.
An often asked question is “when will I met someone new?” This is the perfect spread for it. It’s not so great with timing but it is fun and often leads to some surprising insights.
- 1- your new love interest
- 2- their vocation- what they do for a living
- 3- their best side
- 4- their flaws
- 5- what you can expect physically, their “look”
- 6- their first impression of you
- 7- your first impression of them
- 8- their emotional connection with you
- 9- your emotional connection with them
- 10- the strengths of your relationship
- 11- the weaknesses of your relationship
- 12- long term potential
The first five cards are read together- look for common symbols, colours, feel- if the cards are very similar then it’s going to be a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. Very different cards for the first five suggest your new love potential is like onion with many layers. Cards 6 to 9 are also read together to give you an overview of your relationship with this person- whether it’s a very physical relationship, or intellectual, whether it’s harmonious or contentious. The more the cards seem in sync the smoother things will go. Cards 10 and 11 can also be read together as strengths and weakness can sometimes offset each other making things smoother or sometimes they can clash making things more difficult. Lastly, the potential is just that- it’s what could happen, not what will happen. It’s incredibly difficult to predict how things will really go with someone you haven’t even met yet, and other people have free will too. Still, it’s a reading worth doing but not worth losing sleep over.
In the internet age, long distance romance has become more and more common place, so this is a handy spread for physical as well as emotional distance.
- 1- you now
- 2- your partner now
- 3- current state of the relationship
- 4- what you want out of the relationship
- 5- what your partner wants out of the relationship
- 6- the true (or spiritual) cause of the distance
- 7- positives and benefits of the distance
- 8- negatives of the distance
- 9- advice
- 10- outcome
It’s a pretty straight forward spread without too much fuss. You can read cards 1 and 4 together for an overview of where you are at and where you want to go, and cards 2 and 5 together for the same for your partner. Probably the crucial card here is 6- the true or spiritual cause of the distance. If everything happens for a reason this is the reason, and the lesson to learn.
4/ Me and Thee
This spread doesn’t have a specific number of cards. It’s laid out in pairs with each pair representing yours and your partners view of aspects of your relationship. For example, say you want to know about romance, responsibility, sex, commitment and communication. Then you’d lay out 5 pairs of cards- one pair for each topic, one card for you, one for your partner.
Try to keep your topics under ten (it gets too confusing otherwise). Topics that work best are topics that you and your partner seem to differ on. The most success I’ve had with this spread is when working with couples. The cards that come up allow a dialogue to take place which can be very helpful when working through issues. If you can sit down with your partner and discuss this with them you may find yourself making some great break throughs.
3/ Past, Present, Future
Nice and easy.
- 1- Past
- 2- Present
- 3- Future
This one almost doesn’t count as a spread because it’s so basic, but like cliché’s it’s a basic for a reason. I have found it most useful for very specific issues. It works with any deck. The trick with this one is not to over think it. This is where you really need to let your intuition be your guide.
2/ Let Love In
Sometimes we have trouble letting love into our lives and there are often many reasons for that, sometimes we know what those reasons are, sometimes we don’t. This spread is great for when you are confused about why things don’t ever seem to work out.
- 1- where you are at emotionally
- 2- the Universal/ spiritual reason for your current situation; the lesson you need to learn
- 3- what you can do about it, action to take or attitude to develop
- 4- advice
- 5- outcome if you take the lesson on board.
This is a deeper then usual sort of reading and requires an open mind. For this to work properly, you need to be willing to take a long hard look at yourself and admit that you may need to make some changes in your attitude, point of view or self. This is all about growing up. To let love into your life you need to be in the right head space and emotionally ready. This spread will help you get there.
1/ Harsh Truth
This is my all time favourite spread for everything. It is perfect for relationship readings as well. Just keep an open mind and be willing to see what’s actually there, not what you want to see.
- 1- what you want to be true
- 2- what you don’t want to be true
- 3- what is true
- 4- what you want to happen
- 5- what you don’t want to happen
- 6- what will happen.
This works best if you don’t have a specific question, just a topic, for example, “what is the harsh truth about this relationship?” The reading itself provides the detail. It does get a little confusing when you get positive cards in the negative positions (like the Sun in the what you don’t want to be true), but I have found that often means you’re afraid. Sometimes we are afraid when good things happen, either we are afraid we don’t deserve them or that something will take it away or there’s a price to be paid. Positive cards in the negative positions and negative cards in the positive positions means you really need to think through what’s blocking you, what your deeper issues are and whether your fears are taking over. On the whole though, this spread works wonders and is by far and away my single most used spread.
Just a few last notes on spreads about relationships. It’s next to impossible to use cards to read someone’s mind. If you are turning to tarot to help you explain someone else’s behaviour you are likely to be disappointed. We simply don’t have control over other people’s actions and card readings are no substitute for a decent conversation. That’s not to say that card readings can’t be helpful in relationships. They can be. Primarily as a means to examine your own psyche and issues. They can be used to promote discussion with your partner as well, as we saw in the Me and Thee spread. But what you gain most from relationship spreads, or any spreads for that matter, is a better relationship with yourself. The better you know yourself the better your relationships with other people.
Good luck. Let me know how you go!