Advice on how to create a tarot spread
For anyone wanting to learn how to read the tarot cards, or even for more experienced or advanced practitioners, learning how to create your own spread is a very useful skill. A 'spread' is the name given to the layout that the reader places the cards in once they have been drawn from the pack, in order to interpret their meaning. While for a beginner a simple 3 card spread may be easier to learn, it is often recommended to create your own.
Because the cards are said to be highly attuned to the owner's energy (one reason why many practitioners do not allow others to touch their cards), creating your own spread can be a very personal and spiritual activity, and is said by some to improve the quality of the reading received from the cards. To begin with, you need to know exactly what it is that you want from the reading. What is your main purpose for using tarot? Is it for guidance in relationships or your career, to ask questions from an oracle (popular with certain card sets such as angelic tarot cards, and cards adorned with Gods from certain ancient pantheons), to see into the future or just for fun?
Most tarot spreads include a past, present and future representation, each shown by at least one card. You could incorporate this into your spread, or combine several cards for each of these representations. Some spreads also provide cards that indicate your own power and energy, your hopes and fears, and the effects of other people on the situation that you are drawing the reading from. When a reading is desired to give guidance on a decision that you have made or a particular avenue that you are perusing, a card will also usually represent the outcome of the situation if you carry on doing what you are doing.
Note that this doesn't foretell the situation's outcome indefinitely, only if you keep on going about things in the same way. This is because the cards (in particular, oracular tarot cards) do not interfere with your free will. They simply advise you and help you to understand the possible consequences or advantages of a decision, and guide you in how to change if you are not completely happy with the outcomes that they have foretold.
When learning to create a tarot spread, you must also keep in mind the variant of tarot that you are using, and how this might influence your reading. It is generally not advised to ask 'yes' or 'no' questions when consulting your cards, and instead to ask questions that can be interpreted more openly. Intuition is another factor that is highly praised in the world of tarot, and more widely in the practice of all kinds of divination. If any cards from the pile seem to 'jump' out at you, go with your gut feeling and add them to the reading, as they may provide important counsel.
Tarot and divination, whether done for your own entertainment or for the purposes of another person, is a very personal practice, and, while you mustn't feel pressured into doing anything that you don't feel you need to, or that you don't feel comfortable with, being able to revert back to your own unique card spread is a very rewarding and comforting attribute.