Starting with smaller Tarot spreads is often recommended for beginners because there is less risk for confusion when you keep the numbers down. However, once you progress as a Tarot reader, it can be worth revisiting 2 and 3 card spreads to see if you are ready to take your reading skills to the next level. Or you may even start reading in a more involved way right off the bat. I only wish I had come across the information below when I first started out… It would have saved me a lot of time and grief!
A 2-card Tarot spread can be extremely powerful because it is open-ended and leave you to come up with the solution or figure out the projected outcome yourself. Rather than predict the future, they often show the pure dynamic at hand and help you find the answer/solution within.
Just starting out? Check out my Top 10 Tarot Tips for Beginners!
It is helpful to bear the numerological significance of the number two in mind for how we relate to and interpret the energy/messages of 2 card spreads.
The number two is about polarity, tension, change, choices, balance, relating, harmony and dissonance. In the Tarot the number two is represented by the wise and mysterious High Priestess. The Archangelic correspondence is Gabriel, ruler of The Moon. If you wish, you can imagine the pillars on either side of the High Priestess when you lay out the cards for many of the two card spreads.
Ten Favourite 2-Card Spreads
Pros and Cons
Issue/Situation and Main Challenge (heart of the Celtic Cross)
Block and Help (nature of block you are aware of + what can help resolve it)
Choice A and Choice B (stay/leave, get married/break up, buy house/rent etc)
Dark and Light Side of The Moon (hidden/subconscious + awareness)
Constrictive Element and Expansive Element
Core Need Person A and Core Need Person B (with regards to a specific issue)
Empowers and Disempowers
Do and Don’t
Verb and Adverb (for a nifty solution to an already known problem)
So how do we read these 2 card spreads? Once you get the hang of the spreads above, there won’t be any spread you can’t master, no matter the number of cards present… because how you read two cards is also how you read 20.
Three Main Steps to Reading the Tarot Cards
- Look and locate
- Feel and follow
- Synthesise and speak
Look and locate – When you look at the cards you need to know what it is you are meant to locate (besides basic card meanings). And here is the list for you to run down in order of importance:
- Major or Minor? Is one Major and the other Minor Arcana or are they both the same? Two Majors mean Major life lesson and fated elements overruling your own design and desires.
- Elements and dignities. Is it warm or cold, wet or dry? Tense or harmonious? Do the signs and planets get along?
- Numbers. Odd numbers are ‘yang’ and even numbers are ‘yin.’ Repeating numbers form an exclamation mark and are seen by some as angelic messages.
- Relevant visual clues. This can be anything that you respond to because it feels relevant to the question asked… Are there lots of people in the cards? Birds? Is red the dominant colour? etc
Some of you are probably scratching your heads right about now, asking ‘What about upright or reversed?’ HERE is why I don’t use reversals.
Feel and follow – So… based on what you see, how does this make you feel? Follow the feeling down the rabbit hole. Ask yourself why you feel the way you feel in response to what you see? Dig deeper. Then follow the energy from the source, through the first card and into the second card. How much resistance/tension is there between these two cards? Do they co-operate? Where in the body do you feel each card? Are they light or heavy? If this feeling were music, what would it sound like and how would you move to it?
Synthesise and speak – Next you translate what you have seen and felt into an answer that makes sense. Many readers are never taught the latter and only translate what they have seen in the cards. That’s a bit like trying to translate a poem from a foreign language into your mother tongue without fully understanding the feeling or magic behind it.
Don’t be afraid to speak in a more flowery or poetic way than you normally would. Oracular speak is more akin to poetry than prose. If you could logically analyse the situation, you wouldn’t need to reach for the cards in the first place.
Top Tip: Practice speaking your answers out loud as soon as you start reading for yourself. This will make it easier when you start reading for others. This doesn’t excuse you from keeping a Tarot journal though! You still need to be able to keep track of your readings in order to determine your progress.