We all have a spread that we start off with when we learn the tarot. Some choose to keep a tarot diary specifically for spreads, which is their main reference whenever they have a question geared towards a very specific niche. It helps to have them glossed out by topic in the case that you're on the go and you need a quick when-and-how. Mine are added as I find them, but some people like to keep them in categories: Romance, Friendships, Careers, Financial, Education, Family, Decisions, etc. Sometimes it helps you stay organized unless you have a good memory, and you can recall generally where you left each spread. That's my case!

I love simply looking at the structure of spreads. Sometimes all you need is the correct positioning of cards to watch their story come alive. The spreads are very indicative of the style of the reader. While I tend to read my cards sequentially in a horizontal manner, I do know of a few readers that prefer to read with vertical columns. They claim it makes more sense to them. To me, having the cards side by side rather than one over the other helps me to get a panoramic scope of the situation. When placed horizontally, cards interact with one another directly. When placed vertically, the dialogue is cut up into scenes. I don't see interaction between the cards, just one leading to another without a link. Again, it depends on the style and preference of the tarot reader!

It isn't necessary to learn spreads by heart before using them. You learn by doing it. After using the same spread for a number of times, you will become familiar with the value of each position a card lands in. You will also learn how to string together the meanings of the cards according to the nearby cards as opposed to those that are furthest from the starting point. Before you know it, you will be reading narratives that correspond to your life, or the life of the sitter. In time you will most likely be designing your own spreads. Make sure to tailor them specifically to your needs, or the needs of the question. Sometimes it's okay to pull freely here and there, but other times you will need a structure for your reading. This is what tarot spreads are meant for!

The most popular spread is the one with three cards. The very first one sets the stage for the situation, then the following sets the mood. The final one states how it's going to go. It's simple and straightforward, which will provide the desired answer without giving you too much to think about. This spread isn't meant for meditation or groundbreaking epiphanies; it simply exists to point you in the direction you want to go — or warns you not to go. It's really very useful — I prefer it over a daily draw!

Past – Present – Future

Adding two more cards, you get five. These two cards will explain how you got from the initial situation to where you are now, and finally how you get to where you want to go. It adds some depth to the reading, and possibly some clues to achieving what you want. Usually I draw them after I draw the first three. Usually, I will cut the deck into three and turn each card over accordingly. If I want more cards, I pull them out from underneath each card. In the cases that I just want two, I pull one from under the past for No. 4, and one from under the future for No. 5. They're meant for clarity.

Past – What Happens from the Past to the Present – Present – What Happens from the Present to the Future – Future

Transformed! Now you get more details! The one that I learned from my friends Niki and Tori is a four card spread, as illustrated above. I used this one for the longest time when I was studying the tarot. This basic spread actually made me give up the three card spread! It goes as follows:

You now – Emotional – Mental – Future

It basically connects your emotions and mental state of mind from now to a week or so. It’s a quick reading, and as you string the cards together, you get the answer to your question. I’ve always loved how direct it is! It's also a good way to assess your progress, especially if you journal about your learning process actively. At least that's how I learned. Usually when you're starting out in tarot, you pick the spread that you're most comfortable with, and you go from there. Along the way you may adopt another spread or modify the one that you begin with to suit your needs. I eventually went from 4 cards to 21. That's a lot of cards!

The four card spread is based off the present as it moves towards the future. The past is disregarded although in many situations it helps the reader — sometimes the querent — to understand where it all comes from. Sometimes it helps to see what is going on to fully understand it. There is no rodeo or room to change things around.

Give it a shot, share your results!



Today I want to talk about a very special deck of tarot cards that came into my life this past Christmas. It was a very thoughtful gift from my boyfriend J. After unraveling the box, I had in my hands the ethereal Shadowscapes Tarot deck by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. The paper has a nice glimmer to it when you turn the cards over, it’s always an oddly satisfying quality. I was compelled to try it out in a reading as soon as I finished looking through each card. I kissed J lightly before I shuffled, then I focused my thoughts on a question with my eyes closed. When I laid out the cards, I winced back. The message was clear and very strong for such delicate cards. Nice!

Every time I flip through them, I’m amazed at how dreamy they feel. Every card feels like a portal to another world in which color mixes with reality. Sometimes I feel as if they are snapshots of actual dreams from the artist. The use of color feels like  mix of emotions and a clear indicator of the element of each suit. The complexity of the Major Arcana makes it so that you focus on a different aspect of the card every time it is turned over.

I was surprised the very first time I shuffled the Shadowscapes Tarot deck. The reading was surprisingly clear, it didn't sugarcoat anything for me. I can appreciate a deck that cuts through the sugarcoating and tells me what I need to hear as it is. Sometimes we get caught up in the dreamlike aspect of soul searching and feeling our way through the journey, when what we need the most is the straightforward answer to our question. That won't happen with this tarot deck, although I do admit that I get caught up staring at the pretty pictures rather than interpreting what they mean. I get distracted by the beauty weaving all of the elements together in the cards! Regardless, every time I draw cards from Shadowscapes Tarot, I feel that this tarot tells me exactly what it needs to. It doesn’t motivate me to contemplate higher meanings of my life as much as it tells me, “hey, listen! You’ve got to do this…” or, “you’re not taking that seriously.” It speaks in a quiet tone, but one reinforced with certainty and presence. There’s no missing that quiet whisper, not a chance!

I have always been partial to dark tarot decks. They read surprisingly well because they resonate with my personality and I really like the way they look, which is a huge bonus. However, I admire decks that are beautiful and ethereal as long as they can carry a message accurately and directly. I don’t often like to get caught floating in the clouds if I can help it! I have also noticed a tendency to prefer reading decks with actual pictures in collage or digital painting that makes it seem like a lifelike illustration. Novices have a harder time connecting with illustrated tarot decks, especially if they can’t recognize the symbols yet.

Don’t be fooled by the swirls and the whimsical mystique! The Shadowscapes Tarot delivers bone-chilling readings. To be honest, I half-expected an optimistic outlook, but I was very wrong to think so. This tarot is as accurate as the leading ones, with the perk of being really lovely. As always, the tarot is very unpredictable, and you need to be open to the message that you will be receiving. We don't always like the sound of what we need to hear, but we ask anyway... for a reason.

When I find a treat for my eyes such as this, I treat it like rare candy that I only sample on weekends or special occasions. In this case, I’m trying to spoil myself now and then by unveiling secrets with the Shadowscapes Tarot.



3 of Swords. I have never seen a more beautiful illustration for this card! The very first time I saw it, I thought to myself, "that swan looks so beautiful as it surrenders to its defeat!" It reminds me of instances in which we are so blinded by pain that we choose to manifest it for others to see, just to make it more real. This card reminded me that sometimes the pain remains internal, and that others don't need to know how we feel all the time. It is a reminder that feelings are individual and that by including others in the subject, we're extending that pain rather than dealing with it. It's hard to nurture from a disappointment if you're focused on manifesting it. Sometimes it's difficult to keep quiet, but it's also the more mature thing to do. This card says that one should accept heartbreak with grace and poise.

6 of Cups. My impression is that the Shadowscapes Tarot states that it has good intentions and noble impulses. It will tell us what we need to hear and it will try to tell us in a comforting tone, but often times it will just come off as blunt. Even if we try to sugarcoat our messages sometimes, the truth remains cold and unchanging. Regardless of that, this tarot deck has a very lighthearted feeling to it. It makes even the most aggressive cards nice to look at. The Shadowscapes Tarot  stands out for enjoying the simples pleasures and joys that life has to offer according to the original meaning of this card.


Queen of Wands. By intuition, I can tell that the Queen of Wands is creative as well as passionate. The suit of Wands pertains to the element of fire, which ties in to hard work with passion. The Queen of Wands plays a harp that comes from a tree, which leads me to infer that she creates beauty using day-to-day things, and seems to play the music for herself even though others are listening. The atmosphere is vibrant with life and energy, but flows harmoniously.

According to the Shadowscapes web site, the description for the Queen of Wands is as follows:
She is dedicated, engaging, and attractive. Her presence exudes confidence, and the knowledge that she can handle anything and anyone. It is not arrogance, but a simple understanding and truthful assessment of her skills and abilities. Mesmerized by this, the world hushes at her entrance to hear her, see her, bathe in her radiance. Her exuberance in life sings out as her hands dance across trills and runs and glissandos upon her living harp.
That is not a bad definition at all! I hope you enjoyed my review of the Shadowscapes Tarot! All of the images in this tarot were illustrated by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, and most of the original paintings are still available for purchase.


While surfing the Internet I have found a wide variety of exercises to try out with your tarot decks. My favorite ones thus far have been through interviews conducted with the deck in order to get to know it a little better. It could be seen as some bonding time between the tarot reader and his or her tools of the trade. I have always been a fan of making things feel more personalized and cozy!

How do you feel about me? I shuffled for what felt like forever. There were no cards falling out even though I switched the orientation around a couple of times. After five minutes went by, hasty me pulled a card out that was only slightly sticking out.

9 of Swords.
It almost feels as if I’m being scolded when I think of the traditional Rider Waite! Lately my dreams are very crowded with all sorts of people I have encountered in the past year. There are time periods in which I have intense dreams and nightmares consecutively, sometimes up to 5 a night. The time that stretches amongst those dream intensive periods is known as a quiet lull, kind of like a calm before a storm. This has been going on for most of my life intermittently.

I couldn’t help but feel that the Vertigo Tarot’s message to me was that I’m a nightmare to work with. For a moment I felt guilty for riffling it in such a way that it looks so worn four years after getting it. Almost as if I was being scolded for not taking proper enough care of the deck, even though I intend on using it until it literally falls apart.

In the 9 of Swords, the person in the card is barely noticeable. The swords represent the problems of the mind and are so blown up that they become the primary subject — almost the only subject visible. The 9 of Swords depicts the problems are so blown out of proportion that a person can’t see a solution or the way ahead. The problems have grown into large crystal-like formations that obtrude the view. At a personal level I can say that I let my problems overwhelm me to the point that I get stuck. It is a very similar feeling to that of the 8 of Swords, in which the woman is bound up and unable to move because there are so many swords — or problems — around her.

In the companion book, the swords are addressed as cruelty and despair surrounding an eye that faces them without flinching. When compared to the current situation I am going through with my family, it is extremely relevant. Quoth, “the picture is frightening, even gruesome in its implications; but it is also courageous. We get a feeling that nothing, no pain or cruelty or oppression will make the person look away and deny the truth.” It is true that the person has to go through a lot of pain to arrive at the truth, and that’s where I am at present. The companion book tells me that I will continue to be surrounded by the pain and the suffering until I break out of that wall that is keeping me imprisoned. This covers the emotional and physical entrapment of being in Puerto Rico as well as the underlying problems of my family.

The tarot is telling me that I am enduring a painful or cruel situation without looking away. While that is very true, I don’t know how to get myself out of it. It is indeed a manifestation of the 8 of Swords presented in the pain of the 9 of Swords.

I shuffled again, but this time a card popped out and landed on the floor. When I went to retrieve it, I saw that it had turned itself over to reveal the contents.

8 of Cups.
Water. Emotions. I feel that it tries to make clarity of all the things that have shifted out of focus only when you go looking for new alternatives. The deck could be basically telling me that it wants to serve as a reminder that when things aren’t working, people are meant to move on. This could be to search for their true happiness or calling, an incitement to begin the journey once more. I feel like it portrays a situation that has been blurred to the point of the facts turning into muddled secrets. Vertigo tries to take those muddied waters elsewhere, flowing through the subconscious and taking only the things that need to be mentioned.

In the companion book it states that the cups are to the side but not spilled. If turned back to stand, they would be perfectly placed! It could be that the Vertigo Tarot takes the worst situations and looks for the positive aspect of each one. Even if people aren’t satisfied with what is going on in their lives, it looks like they can work with what they have to reach a higher level of progress or success.

I’m touched. It feels as if I am meeting my old friend for the very first time! The Vertigo Tarot companion book has been lying neglected in my room for years. It shows major signs of wear because I used to take it with me everywhere so that I could study it, but then I let it go when I decided that I wanted to learn the dialogue amongst the cards intuitively. The journey thus far has been beautiful, and I learn more and more every day! I feel as if I have been giving Vertigo an even darker positive outlook than was originally intended!