These Tarot Spreads Are Perfect For Dealing With Change
When you're faced with any kind of transition, it can be helpful to have an anchor: something that reminds you to stay steady, check in with yourself, and move forward in a way that is true and authentic to you. Tarot and oracle cards can be just that. Pulling your own cards is a beautiful ritual in moments of change and uncertainty. And feeling into the lesson behind each one is an exercise in intuition and trust.
The finish of the calendar year always feels like a time of endings, beginnings, and shifts waiting to be made. To tap into the energy of this December, I reached out to three tarot readers and experts for their favorite spreads for embracing change. Here are the ones that they shared with me, plus one very special reading that speaks to the collective changes we're all facing as we head into 2020.
For the traditional tarot deck: The 5-card "Elemental Turf" spread:
Bess Matassa, Ph.D., New York–based astrologer and tarot reader, referred to this five-card spread as "Elemental Turf." She uses it to become more comfortable going with the flow during moments of uncertainty.
Here's how it's done: First, take your 22 Major Arcana cards, as well as The Fool card, and separate them into a pile. (These are the cards that speak to bigger-picture themes of life, while the Minor Arcana cards are typically thought of as the ones that speak to everyday routine.) Then, divide the cards you have left over into their respective Courts. A traditional Rider Waite–inspired deck will have four Pages, Knights, Queens, Kings—each one corresponding to a particular suit (cups, pentacles, swords, wands).
After you do this, you'll be left with five piles of cards: 1 Major, 1 Page, 1 Knight, 1 Queen, 1 King. Pull a card from each pile and read on for Matassa's explanation of how to interpret each:
Card 1: Major Arcana card (the soul blueprint).
Think of this as your soul's biosphere in this moment and the macro meaning of this transition you're experiencing. It describes the "season" of your life you're traveling through and its energetic weather. (Feel free to queue up Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" for lyrical support.) For me, the Majors are big, soul blueprint backdrops that ask us to relax into their texture and simply dress for the weather. For example, we might find ourselves in the "Death" card and rather than freaking out and racing around to yank roots out of the ground and radically release something fueled by our own frantic willpower, we can say to ourselves, "Hmm...feels like this is a season of emotional exfoliation. How can I settle into this energy and open my palms a little wider to let the butterflies depart?"
Cards 2-5: Court Cards (the cosmic crew).
I think of the following group of four cards (page, knight, queen, king) as my little cosmic "crew" and return to them throughout a transition period, asking them about their desires, what they need to stay vibrant and satiated, and how they would approach the situation.
Page: The earth element. The Pages are our "fresh littles." They're the innocence we find on the other side of experience. This card can help connect you to the arena that is asking for your curiosity amid all this change. What tiny sparks and glimmers are seeding themselves on the periphery, beckoning you into a brand-new cycle?
Knight: The air element. Think of this card as your guide to the pacing of change, your soul soundtrack. Maybe the situation wants you to move at the rapid-fire, technetronic speed of light (Knight of Swords), or to settle into a slow savoring of the shifts (Knight of Pentacles). Use this card as your speedometer.
Queen: The water element. The Queens are our second skins. Our private boudoirs. In this spread, they describe the needs of our internal bodies, and how we can recover a part of ourselves we may have forgotten that is innately already still hanging in our closet, begging to be slipped on. For example, we may be asked to reconnect to our beautiful bods and the strength of our appetites (Queen of Pentacles) or our eternal flame and raw, rugged potential for pure creation (Queen of Wands).
King: The fire element. This card is your structural support during this threshold crossing. It describes the area of mastery you already possess that you can call upon, kind of like your personal life-earned Ph.D.; the self-sufficient throne you can sit upon as you let yourself get carried. Maybe it's your capacity to create a wide berth for complex emotions (King of Cups), or the power of your emboldened consciousness to clear the way and adopt a fresh perspective (King of Swords).
For any kind of deck: The 3-card "Finding Our Center" spread:
Lindsay Mack, intuitive tarot teacher and the founder of Soul Tarot School, shared this simple 3-card spread for coming back to yourself during times of external chaos. You can use any deck you like for this one: Simply shuffle and pull three cards from the stack. Each card will represent an answer to these questions. Feel free to journal on what they could mean for your life right now afterwards.
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Card One: How can I surrender to the change in my life?
Card Two: How can I care for myself through these shifts?
Card Three: What card is guiding me back to my center in this experience?
A collective 3-card reading for this moment in time.
Card One: I am of the earth and in harmony with nature.
This makes total sense: In the heat of change, getting into nature is key. Being in nature is grounding and calming for our mind and nervous system, which affects everything. Get barefoot on the earth, touch the trees, take several full body breaths deep in the woods or a park.
Card two: It is safe and beautiful to express my sensuality.
When change and transition show up in life, sometimes we may feel disconnected from our beauty or sensual nature. So this card asks that even in the thick of change and all of the to-do's or decision making that may need to come up, that you stay in tune with your feminine nature. This is the part of you that keeps beauty and sensuality alive. Soften into yourself and whatever change is unfolding. Beautify your home with flowers, drink fragrant teas, wear essential oils, take a salt and herbal bath with candles, dress in a way that awakens your sensual beauty, and perhaps give or receive a massage.
Card three: I shed habits that hinder my truth, I release and renew.
How perfect to end with this card—which is all about rebirth and renewal—during a time of change and transition. It's time to let go of the thoughts, stories, beliefs, patterns, habits, relationships, and anything else that no longer feels in alignment with the person you're becoming. These old ways may have once worked, but now they are expired and are polluting the present. Trust that you can change and have a fresh start. Your past has made you stronger and served its purpose, yet now it can serve you on a more aligned pathway. This is the time to release and renew.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.