Learning how to create tarot spreads from scratch is one of the most fun parts of tarot reading. The creation process will help you understand the interaction between card meanings and you’ll start thinking about the questions you ask more deeply.

Cards from the Smith Rider Waite tarot deck fanned out on a table with the text "How to Create Tarot Spreads from Scratch"

I do at least one tarot spread a week, and two tarot spreads for the month. (One of these monthly spreads goes in my personal planner, and the other shows up in my newsletter. Subscribe to Saturday Morning Donuts so you don’t miss it.)

I love pulling cards and making up new tarot spreads. It can be as simple as creating a good morning tarot spread you do every day, or as complicated as a yearly spread that uses multiple decks.

What Makes Tarot Spreads Good?

It can be easy to assume that a good tarot spread takes a lot of work and setup. And sometimes they do. But for the most part, you can ask a few simple questions and pull some cards.

So, if you’re stuck in the mindset that you need to do an immaculate Celtic cross tarot spread every time you pick up your deck, please know that isn’t true.

Sometimes tarot can be real sexy. Like, you lay out an altar cloth, light some candles, cleanse the room with some incense and start pulling cards. Other times, you pick up the deck, ask a quick question, draw a card, then go about your day.

Both types of tarot reading are valid and have their place. And both can help you get some answers. Whichever you choose will depend on the questions you’re asking.

And if you want to create your own tarot spreads, whether for big spreads or little ones, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Clear, Open-Ended Questions

One thing that should be included in every tarot spreads for beginners post is the need for clear and open-ended questions. Or, at least, the understanding that even if you ask a simple yes or no question, the tarot is going to give you an answer that means more than yes or no.

You could pull a card that feels like a no, but it could just be a no for now, or a no under specific circumstances, or a no until it’s a yes. There is no card that can be interpreted to mean just one thing, much less yes or no.

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But when you ask questions that can go in any direction, you’re going to get more out of your tarot spread because you’re going to get answers you weren’t anticipating.

Creating unique tarot spreads that make room for multiple interpretations is one of my favorite ways to play with the cards. And if you try a message from the universe tarot spread, simple and direct questions that can go in any direction are going to give you a bigger answer than very limited questions ever could.

Emotional Maturity

Life is big and weird and full of mysteries. Tarot reflects this.

So if you’re interested in tarot spreads for love or tarot spreads for clarity, know that maybe your answers from the tarot are going to frustrate you more than appease you.

If you have enough life experience to tell you that sometimes, things just are what they are and you can’t know the answer, you’re going to be okay. I know that sounds like a cop out, but that’s life. Sometimes you aren’t going to get an answer or the answer you want.

And just because you don’t get an answer that makes sense one day doesn’t mean that it will always be unclear. You can keep asking the same questions.

Just be ready for the cards to be unclear until they’re not.

Openness to Mystery

On that note of cards being unclear until they’re not, sometimes you pull some cards and they just make you ask more questions. That’s totally normal, and honestly, my favorite thing about tarot.

If you’re interested in tarot spreads for guidance, know that you’re never going to get a simple plan from the tarot. Everything will lead to more questions, or it may be that you’ll have to think about the cards you pulled for a long time until they sort of make sense.

That’s why personal tarot reading is the best. You can pull cards and leave them out on the table all week until you think of more questions to ask and you can pull more cards. Tarot spreads for self readings give you the space to let the cards really marinate.

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How to Create Tarot Spreads from Scratch

Creating tarot spreads can be easy and rewarding if you keep the tenets of a good tarot spread in mind. From there, you can follow these steps and make your own tarot spreads.

001: Pick a theme for each of your tarot spreads.

Have you seen the Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage video? Generally, you don’t want to go to a place that offers both food and foot massages. That seems pretty gross.

The same is true of tarot spreads.

You can ask a billion and one questions about every aspect of your life, but you’re not going to be able to keep the meaning straight if you pull too many cards.

Picking a theme allows you to focus your questions on one topic. Plus, each card you pull will build on the meaning of the card before it, which will give you a much more clear and cohesive answer than a spread that’s all over the place.

002: Determine what questions need to be answered.

These should be those open-ended questions, by the way.

Think about the theme or topic you’ve chosen and write down all the questions you want answered. These questions will be answered by a card you pull.

You also don’t have to use all the questions you come up with, and you can pull more than one card per question if you want to.

It’s your tarot spread. You’re the boss.

003: Add clarifying questions for stuff you haven’t thought of.

Once you’ve got all the questions surrounding your theme written down, it’s time for some more nebulous questions.

You’re going to think of all the questions that will come to mind. But you won’t think of the questions that won’t. (That’s possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever typed in my life. Stick with me.)

Some of your questions are going to be more direct than others. But for the questions that are naturally more broad, add some clarifying questions. Here are some I recommend:

  1. What more can I know?
  2. What am I being called to pay attention to?
  3. What’s the advice?
  4. What is the lesson?
  5. What energy should I embody?
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All of these questions, when asked after another question, can help you get a better idea of what the overall answer is. This is really good for a tarot spread for two choices too.

004: Draw it out.

Now, it’s time to create the actual spread. Tarot spreads exist in three-dimensional space. So, before you pull them and lay them out on the table, draw what you’re spread will look like.

There’s no harm in just pulling cards and laying them out in a line. That tends to be what I do most of the time.

If you want to get a little more intricate, drawing your spread will help you keep it organized until you memorize the spread. (You don’t have to. But if it’s something you plan to do often, you probably will.)

I recommend drawing card silhouettes in whatever pattern you want, and numbering each of them. Those numbers will correspond to one of your questions you listed earlier.

005: Try it.

Once you have your spread, try it! I wrote about how to practice tarot reading because you have to play with the cards and your spreads to learn card meanings and how they shape the answers in a spread.

You may find that your spread is the best and needs no updates. You may find you need to go back to the drawing board.

Remember, you can modify your tarot spreads to change them as much as you want. So let this step be the stage where you refine it.

What’s Your Go-To Tarot Spread?

What are your favorite tarot spreads? Have you ever created your own? What questions do you like to ask the cards?

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