Cartomancy 101.12 – Simple Storybook Spread

Shuffle and cut the cards. Deal off the top seven cards in a line from left to right as shown in the illustration.
story book spreadThis is a ‘storybook spread’. In this type of spread, the cards are read one at a time in the order in which they were laid down. Each card represents an event, and these events are assumed to occur in time in the order in which they appear in the spread. Be aware, however, that any two cards can combine so as to describe a single incident. For a woman hoping for news from her boyfriend, currently overseas, the Ace of Hearts next to any King will indicate that she may expect a loving letter from the gentleman. Whereas the Ace of Clubs reversed beside the 3 of Diamonds predicts the receipt of documents of a legal nature that will cause the inquirer some anxiety. It could be an official letter about unpaid parking tickets or, at the other end of the scale, it could be a letter from a legal representative threatening to sue for libel depending on the inquirer’s situation at the time of the reading, their standing in the community and other variables.

There is a skill to linking the seven cards together to produce a coherent story, and some readers are more adept at it than others. I will demonstrate the method by taking the first seven cards from the pack I have beside me. Before I do so I must think of a question. If one lays the cards out first, one might be tempted to frame the question to fit the implications one recognizes as being described in the cards the spread is composed of. I imagined a young man about to take on work in a distant town. He hopes to marry and wonders whether his lady-love will be willing to join him or whether her own career prospects will incline her to stay put. These are the cards I laid out.

10 Hearts, 9 Diamonds, Jack Spades, 3 Spades, 6 Clubs reversed, 7 Hearts, 8 Spades

As sometimes happens, the spread answers the inquirer’s question . . . but not in a way he was expecting.

Spades being in the majority flags up a warning. In relation to matters covered by the question asked, the inquirer is likely to suffer loss, worry, and a severance more permanent than the brief separation between himself and his girlfriend that he had in mind when he came for a reading. There might also be the possibility of some underhand dealing if the cards in the spread tend in that direction – which sadly in this case they do.

The first card, the 10 of Hearts, is a symbol of romance and deep emotion. Bear in mind, however, that it is the leading card in the spread. As such it tells us the starting position – and that only. Other cards in the reading will reveal whether or not the course of this young man’s love will run smoothly.

The first and second cards sum up between them what we have already been told by the inquirer. The 9 of Diamonds speaks of a business opportunity involving relocation. The 10 of Hearts stands for the woman he must leave behind. So far so true. But what is to come?

A false friend is revealed by the presence of the Jack of Spades, a young man who is not all he seems. His card falls next to another Spade card, the 3, denoting estrangement and a third party entering the picture, disrupting a relationship. This third party is described by the cards as having a predominantly Spade-type personality – reserved, self-contained and radiating energy, though his normal demeanor is one of measured, deliberate movement. (This is the Spade temperament with a dash of Diamond-nature, as the Jack has a Diamond card on one side, a Spade on the other. The Spade influence is the strongest because the Jack itself is from the suit of Spades.) Our description may enable the inquirer to identify the person represented by the Jack of Spades.

We should not be tempted to interpret the 6 of Clubs reversed as material ambitions quashed. The cards on either side obviously refer to the inquirer’s relationship with his girlfriend and so the 6 should be accepted as part of that scenario. It is the inquirer’s romantic aspirations that will be cast into the dust. The 7 of Hearts coming next tells of fickle affections – his lady-love will find consolation elsewhere while the inquirer is away attempting to lay a solid foundation for his career hopes. It is an old story, oft repeated, and neatly summed up in the meanings associated with the 8 of Spades: troubles, hopes disappointed, plans unraveling and friends who can’t be trusted.

Although I prefer not to end readings on a negative note, sometimes that isn’t possible where the answer to a question is an out and out ‘no’. Should an inquirer ask if she will be given a certain promotion, one possible answer to her question is ‘no’, plain and simple. As the focus of her attention is on the promotion, being told that she is about to inherit a sizeable amount of money or that the man of her dreams is about to walk into her life is unlikely to be seen as an acceptable consolation prize. Nevertheless, one should try to conclude on an upbeat note where possible. In a situation like that found in the example spread, the reader can draw a further card to take the story another step forward. I reached for my deck and dealt off one more card: the Ace of Hearts. The inquirer will find love and happiness once the incident with his current girlfriend has passed. We can leave him with that hopeful thought, at least.

As with the previous spread we studied, the middle card, the 3 of Spades, is crucial to the narrative the cards are spelling out, and the final card gives an overview of the whole story. With the seven card spread that pattern doesn’t always occur, but it occurs often enough, so keep an eye out for it.

There are two cards in the reading that can carry cheerier interpretations than those I’ve allowed them. I’ll explain the reasons for my decision to take the bleaker view of these cards. The 10 of Hearts is strongly beneficent. It stands for success in a general sense as well as love and ‘good fortune after difficulty’. Might this card’s influence not countermand that of the baleful omens in the spread, you might ask. No, it does not. The card’s perspective is backward looking; it relates to the past not the future. We might, therefore, use it to look at the inquirer’s past, in this instance his past before he entered the room seeking a card reading. The 10 of Hearts tells us that, at the present time, he is experiencing good fortune in love, though previously he has had only limited success with women.

Another card that can take on an upbeat significance in certain circumstances is the 7 of Hearts. The list tells us that it can sometimes indicate some small success or other. But it is not capable of doing that here, where it is trapped between the negatively oriented reversed 6 of Clubs and the 8 of Spades. As always in cartomancy, context is everything.

About auntietarot
Born in Britain just before the outbreak of the second world war, I was taught basic tarot skills by my maternal grandmother. In the sixties, I joined a Golden Dawn-type esoteric school, passing through the curriculum and becoming an instructor in ritual etiquette and the making and consecration of talismans. At the beginning of the eighties, I left the school to plow my own furrow in areas such as tarot and astrology. Since my retirement I have spent time researching the occult history of the tarot and the various ways the tarot has been used for divination in the past.

5 Responses to Cartomancy 101.12 – Simple Storybook Spread

  1. read84 says:

    Wonderful delineation of the spread! I do, however, have one observation. You read the 3 Spades as interference from a third party, etc., which is the upright meaning of the card in your list. But you state that the 3 Spades is reversed, which meaning would be confusion. ??? Read

  2. 1960boy says:

    I am wondering if you could talk a little more on this part of the reading “We should not be tempted to interpret the 6 of Clubs reversed as material ambitions quashed. The cards on either side obviously refer to the inquirer’s relationship with his girlfriend and so the 6 should be accepted as part of that scenario” I don’t quite understand why the card was skipped.

    • auntietarot says:

      Dear 1960boy,

      The 6 of Clubs’ meaning is not skipped over. It is reinterpreted slightly. Instead of applying the meaning as found in the list of significances – “material ambitions quashed” – it is interpreted as “romantic ambitions thwarted”. This minor adjustment of tone is made because the 6 of Clubs lies between the 3 of Spades (separation, estrangement) and the 7 of Hearts (fickle affections). Because of the way it falls in the spread, the 6 of Clubs is re-cast as an indicator of romance, emotions, the affections, rather than pointing to the usual realm of Clubs – career, ambition, business.

      Auntie

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