Nine-Card Tarot Spread

Updated: Sep 23


When you’re a working Tarot reader, you will eventually find yourself reading in a busy environment like a festival, market, or restaurant. A successful event will provide you with back-to-back clients. Seeing a line of people waiting to read with you is both exciting and daunting, but you shouldn’t let these feelings push you into rushing someone’s reading. Clients are not less deserving of a meaningful message just because they found you in a hectic environment.

Instead, I suggest using a spread that will help you establish a connection quickly by providing a snapshot of the querent's situation. I use a 9-Card spread for efficiency. Other names for this spread are The Portrait, The Box, or 3x3 spread. This spread was popularized by the Lenormand, a different divination system (the Lenormand is not an oracle deck) that originated in France. The symbolism in the Lenormand is more literal, and therefore their spreads allow for more literal interpretations. The client, or significator, is in the center of the spread. If the person is asking about a specific situation, it will represent the central theme of the situation. The cards circling the significator (curved arrows in the diagram) provide additional information about their client’s environment. While the earthly plane row describes literal situations and events, the cards surrounding the client allow for a more liberal interpretation.

The top row represents the spiritual plane. This stands for the universe, fate, God, whichever belief system works for you and the client. These are the greater forces in life that gently push the significator forward.

Like previously mentioned, the earthly plane is the most literal. Use this to gather concrete details. For example, timing, specific amounts, or description for people.

The bottom row represents the subconscious mind: dreams, secret desires, inner wisdom, or intuition. While Tarot readers should have tact throughout the entire reading, this row requires special attention because it may reveal private feelings or concerns.

When the clients have follow-up questions, we can read the cards diagonally (dotted lines in the diagram) to infer more information.

Read vertically, the spread will indicate information about the recent past, present, and near-future if the situation does not change. Consider the context first, but the recent past usually represents events that occurred three months prior to the reading and the near future can predict up to three to six months.

And that’s it. In one spread, you learn about a person’s spiritual, literal, subconscious concerns, as well as their past, present, and future, and it still leaves room for quick follow-up questions. If I want to provide a bonus card, I flip the remaining deck over and use the bottom card as the summary card. This card represents the reading’s overall theme. If you use this Tarot spread, share it on Instagram and tag @gemblackthorn. You can book an online Tarot reading session or subscribing to my newsletter for more occult content. If you found this Tarot spread useful, consider showing your support by buying me a coffee.


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