4 Tarot Card Spreads and Their Meanings

Updated November 29, 2021
Tarot cards spread on wooden table background

The four tarot card spreads listed below are five-card tarot layouts. You can do each with the entire 78 card tarot deck. Or you can use only the 22 Major Arcana if the issue in question is of utmost importance or life-changing.

Five-Card Tarot Spreads

In numerology, the number five is the number of change and regeneration, but it also embodies surrendering and having trust in the power and intelligence of the universe. The number five card of the Major Arcana is the Hierophant. The Hierophant possesses intellect and wisdom, knows secrets, and reveals them. The qualities of the number five and the Hierophant instill a five-card tarot layout with exceptional wisdom and the ability to bring Spirit to Earth.

Methods for a Five-Card Tarot Reading

Reading the tarot cards is a ritual that the individual card reader usually defines, but typically the reading begins by:

  1. Ask the querent what they would like to know.
  2. Then, ask the client to meditate on this with you as you shuffle the cards.
  3. Set the shuffled deck between you and your client and ask them to cut it into three stacks.
  4. Ask your client to choose the pile from which you will deal.
  5. Follow the spread image examples.
  6. Place the top card in position one and do the same with the following four cards.
  7. Interpret the cards in numeric order to tell a story related to the inquiry.

Five Card Pentagram Tarot Spread

The pentagram is a mystical, magical and sacred symbol that is tied closely to the number five. This spread will give a querent clarity and spiritual guidance on whatever information they're seeking.

Pentagram spread

Meaning of the Positions

Each position has a specific meaning for the reading.

  • Card 1: The first position gives some background related to the client's inquiry. The experience brought them to ask for a reading or caused them to ask this particular question.
  • Card 2: The second position reveals where the client will end up if they stay on their current path.
  • Card 3: The third position reveals the querent's challenges to find the answer and achieve their goal.
  • Card 4: The fourth position gives clarity to the client. It tells them what they already understand but may not know. This card may show where the gaps are and what is left to obtain to answer the question.
  • Card 5: The fifth position is the querent's ultimate goal. This card reveals the question's objective and what the client is hoping to get out of it. (Note: If the number five card doesn't with card two, changes will have to be made because things may not be moving in the right direction.)

Example Reading of a Pentagram Spread

The querent's inquiry was for guidance related to her grown bipolar child's financial difficulties.

  • The 4 of Pentacles reversed, in the first position, indicates a tendency to extravagance is causing her child's money problems.
  • The Ace of Pentacles, in the second position, reveals that there will be reassuring news about her child's money problems if the querent does nothing.
  • The 8 of Cups, in the third position, indicates the challenge for her child will be to accept the truth and seeking a new way of living.
  • The King of Swords, in the fourth position, reveals that help is coming from a government official.
  • The 9 of Wands, in the fifth position, shows that there will be triumph after the challenge, and the child's burden will soon be lifted.

Five Card Tarot Sunshine Spread

The Sun Card shines the light on happiness, success, optimism, vitality, joy, confidence, happiness, and truth. This spread can be uplifting when the querent feels down and is seeking happiness and fulfillment in life. It will remind them of the good things in their lives and what they do for others. (Note: Before shuffling and cutting the cards, remove the Major Arcana Sun card and set it above the layout.)

Sunshine spread

Meanings of Positions

Each card in this spread has a specific meaning.

  • Card 1: The first position reveals what's flourishing and thriving in your life right now and where there is abundance and the need to celebrate.
  • Card 2: The second position suggests where you can go and what you can do to bring more sunshine into your life.
  • Card 3: The third position reveals what you love about yourself, where it comes from, and how it's usually presented
  • Card 4: The fourth position reveals what you bring to others, what you're radiating to the world, and what others appreciate about you.
  • Card 5: The fifth position represents the clouds the keep your sun from shining. What stands in the way of you being able to appreciate all the good things in your life? What needs some clearing?

Example Reading of Sunshine Spread

The querent asks how they can set themselves up to be their happiest and best self.

  • The 6 of Wands reversed, in the first position, indicates that you're not giving yourself enough credit and encourages you to be proud of and celebrate what you've achieved. Now the time to let your sunshine!
  • The Hermit, in the second position, reveals that you often find happiness and joy with introspection--going within yourself. This card suggests that you may need a period of inner reflection to realize that your life is filled with sunshine.
  • The 2 of Cups, in the third position, indicates your ability to meet and have emotional exchanges with others and the ease with which you make new friendships.
  • The 7 of Wands, in the fourth position, suggests that it's your ability to exercise your willpower and stand up for who and what you believe that radiates out into the world. Others appreciate your strong character.
  • The 3 of Pentacles, in the fifth position, is a call to step out of the shadows, share your expertise and talents, and work with others. The 3 of Pentacles also indicates that you're on the path that leads to joy and happiness.

Five-Card Relationship Tarot Spread

Relationships can be unpredictable and change over time. The advantage of a tarot love reading is that it can aid you in understanding the past, present, and future.

Relationship spread

Meanings of Positions

In the love spread, the cards have the following meanings:

  • Card 1: Querent's role in the relationship
  • Card 2: Partner's role in the relationship
  • Card 3: The past foundation of the relationship--how they came together and what initially united them
  • Card 4: The current state of their relationship and the dynamics currently in place
  • Card 5: What the future holds for the relationship

Example Relationship Reading

The female querent asks for guidance and clarity on a long-established love relationship.

  • The 5 of Wands reversed, in the first position, indicates her role in the relationship was to avoid conflicts and create peace and harmony.
  • The 6 of Wands, in the second position, shows her partner's role was to give her positive encouragement to believe and have faith in herself and her accomplishments.
  • The Devil, in the third position, suggests they came together because of emptiness and lack of fulfillment in their lives.
  • The Hanged Man reversed, in the fourth position, indicates that the relationship is currently at a standstill.
  • The 4 of Cups, in the fifth position, suggests that they should look back with nostalgia on their exciting love affair but accept and enjoy the deep companionate love they now share for one another.

Five-Card Tarot Spread for Decision Making

There comes a time when everyone has to make a tough decision. This spread can aid you in making up your mind.

Decision spread

Meanings of Positions

In this decision making spread, the card positions have the following meanings:

  • Card 1: The first position indicates what excites the querent and compels them forward each day and how that will affect their decision.
  • Card 2: The second position indicates the ideal outcome, what the querent would genuinely like to happen and what they desire to get out of these circumstances.
  • Card 3: The third position suggests the querent's values and principles and how these will affect the decision.
  • Card 4: The fourth position indicates the likely outcome if they take this path.
  • Card 5: The fifth position represents a second likely outcome if they take this path.

Example of Decision Making Spread

The querent is seeking guidance on accepting a recent job offer. (Note: The first three cards laid are Major Arcana, so this is a major and life-changing decision for the querent.)

  • The Devil, in the first position, suggests the querent is excited about money, power, and physical pleasures. This indicates that a position of leadership and authority with a high salary and time to enjoy life will be paramount in the decision made.
  • Judgment, in the second position, suggests the querent has reached a period in their life when they are ready to move on and create a dynamic new beginning.
  • The Lovers, in the third position, suggests the querent is seeking balance in life, learning to understand themselves, and what's important and has value in their life.
  • The 4 of Pentacles, in the fourth position, indicates that accepting the new job offer will bring material security and stability.
  • The 4 of swords, in the fifth position, suggests that it's time to gather new strength and prepare to face the challenges the new job will bring.

Quick and to the Point

There are many traditional tarot spreads, and many tarot readers design their own tarot card layouts. However, these four five-card tarot spreads are quick, easy, and to the point. Still, they give a great deal of information on the querent's inquiry. Plus, they're perfect for a beginner and for a professional who wants to do quick readings at parties or festival tarot booths.

4 Tarot Card Spreads and Their Meanings