Two-Card Tarot Spread

I’ve been doing a daily one-card tarot reading for the past ten-and-a-half months. I plan to finish out my “tarot” year with the one-card reading, then graduate to a daily two-card reading. To that end, I’ve been researching how to do a two-card reading, but even something as simple as that is as confusing as the rest of the tarot information.

For example, there is no such thing as simply choosing the two cards and laying them out since there are several ways of doing it. A reader can shuffle the cards, deal two cards off the top and lay them side by side. Or a reader can shuffle the deck, cut it, lay the two piles side by side, then turn over the two top cards. Or a reader can shuffle the cards, fan them out, and pick two cards and lay them side by side. The side-by-side layout supposedly gives the two cards more or less an equal strength.

Another possibility is to do one of the above ways of laying out the cards, but instead of side by side, one is dealt beneath the other, which gives the lower card a supporting role.

A third possibility is to shuffle the cards, deal one card upright, then deal a second card sideways over that card to cross it. Or deal one card sideways and deal the crossing card upright. Whichever way, it’s still basically the same thing — the bottom card is your situation or question, and the crossing card shows what is crossing you or challenging you.

As if that weren’t enough, there are all sorts of possibilities for the reading of the cards.

For example, in the side-by-side layout, the cards can show two different possibilities, such as yes and no; if this then that; a valid fear and an invalid fear; perception vs. reality; what you need vs. what you want; what you need to act on and what to leave alone; what you know vs what you need to know; what to banish and what to attract; your strength and your weakness; a mistake you made and what you can learn from it; what you are feeling and what you are thinking.

The top card in an up and down layout can show things like what your situation is or what you need to know and the bottom card can give any extra information that might further explain the top card. (Though it seems as if these would work just as well in a side-by-side layout.)

The crossing cards can show things like what your goal is and what is blocking you; what is blocking you and what the solution is; what your ideal is and what you are settling for; what your situation is and what your obstacle, challenge, or adversary might be; a possible opportunity and what might prevent you from following up on the opportunity; what is happening today and what you need to resolve; your state of mind and what problem you face because of it; how you perceive a situation and what the situation really is.

My first quandary, of course, would be how to lay out the cards. Up until now, I have been shuffling the cards, fanning them and then picking one rather than dealing the card from the top of the deck. I could continue to do that, but since I think I’d like to do a reading choosing one major arcana card with a supplementary minor card, I could also shuffle each stack, lay them side by side, then turn up the top card.

Generally, when a person does a reading, they need to ask the cards a question. Since I have no real desire to know anything in the future (since obviously, I will find out what the future is going to be once I get there), and since I think I’m fairly self-aware (the cards have not told me anything about myself that I didn’t already know), mostly I ask “What do I need to know today?”

So my second quandary is: if I continue asking that same question, how would I know what the second card means? Is it an explanation? Is it a challenge of some sort? Is it showing my fears or something else that could be stopping me from knowing what I need to know? Do I have to figure out ahead of time what the second card could represent, or would I try to figure it out from the card itself?

My third quandary would be how long to do a two-card spread before I continue to a three-card layout. Do I do it for a year as with the one-card or just wait to see how I feel?

I don’t suppose any of this really matters. All I know for sure is that it’s a good thing I have several weeks before I have to make any sort of decision.


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13 Responses to “Two-Card Tarot Spread”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    I know very little about tarot reading. One naively question ?
    When you take two cards to read in the same day.
    If one is optimistic other one is pessimistic !
    Which one you are going to consider and is it will you help you start a good day.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good question. It’s why I need to figure out how to read the cards. If the primary card is optimistic, then it would seem as if the pessimistic card would suggest caution. If the primary one is pessimistic, then the optimistic one would offer hope. Or at least that’s the way I understand how it works.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    The side-by-side approach sounds good to me.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think so too. The cross approach is the centerpiece of the Celtic Cross spread, so I’ll get plenty of experience in that later on when I advance to that point.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        You’ll be getting farther than me. The Celtic Cross was much too complicated for me.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          What spread do you usually do?

          • rami ungar the writer Says:

            The five card spread. Takes the shape of a simple cross. The center is the present, the left is the past, the top is the cause, and the bottom is the potential.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            It will be a while before I get to five cards. First, I need to do two, three, and four.

            Do you ask the cards a question before you do the spread, or do you just read the spread?

          • rami ungar the writer Says:

            I ask a question. It’s usually something specific, like “Will I find a home for this short story?” Or, “Am I right to be worried about this?” On Thursdays, I tend to ask how the following week will go for me. And if I can’t think of anything to ask, like with my most recent reading, I ask what do I need to know at the moment.
            BTW, the cards say that I’m in the middle of a major opportunity, but I may experience obstacles that I will hopefully overcome without too much trouble. I’ll believe it.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            Your spread has specific meanings for each location, but in other spreads assign different meanings for the locations. I was wondering if you knew how that worked. Do you need to know ahead of time what meanings to assign to each? Or they depend on your questions? Or do they depend on the lay of the cards themselves?

            For example, other possibilities for a five card spread are:

            You as you are, are you on the correct path, what is the main obstacle, what is helping me, how can progress be made

            Situation, challenge, guidance, focus, outcome

            The far past the near past, the present, the near future, the far future.

          • rami ungar the writer Says:

            That was just the version I was taught. And for me, it makes sense and covers all the ground I want to cover in a reading. Both for myself and for others. That’s why I continue to use it (often leading to rave reviews when I do readings for other people, BTW).

  3. Bri Cruz Says:

    he best thing about Tarot is there’s no wrong way to do it – since it’s all intuitive based. I say try them all and stick with the one that feels most natural to you & your practice when it comes to the format of two card drawings.
    You could also use them all interchangeably for different readings (ex. maybe side by side feels appropriate for yes/no while the two stacks feels appropriate for a question of the day w/ a follow up card).

    Great post, I love connecting with other card readers! What drew you to Tarot initially??

    xo Bri Cruz

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