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Laying the Cards

Laying the cards involves setting the cards out in a pattern. Each position in the pattern has indications as to how the card falling there relates to the subject of the divination. The indications may be determined in advance of or after laying the cards. Patterns with predetermined indications are called spread patterns. When the cards are spread without predetermined position indications the pattern is an open pattern. Together these positions form the structure of the reading.

Most published patterns involve laying the cards out face up and this is fine for simple spreads with clear definitions of the positions. More complicated patterns are easier to read when the cards are laid face down, allowing the various groups to be viewed individually before viewing the entire pattern.

The open method of spreading the cards involves choosing a card to represent the start point, this card is usually called the significator. Traditionally the significator is a court card which most closely matches the person initiating the reading, contemporary tarot readers are often found using a blank card or one with a single symbol. After this card is chosen the deck is shuffled until the time feels right, the deck is then looked through to find the significator and the cards on either sides of it are paired, continuing until one side is depleted. The pairs are then spread out beginning with the two cards that were closest to the significator and continuing in order of closeness.

They are viewed like a cartoon, a comic strip. The beginning is the pair closest to the significator, the end is the last pair formed when one side of the deck ran out. The symbols are used to weave a story around the subject of the divination, it does not matter whether the story is true or false - what matters is that it is another view, one different from your usual.

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This page last updated 9 November, 1997 by Bev Thornton

Copyright © 1997 Bev Thornton, All Rights Reserved.