Tarot Spread: Deck Interview

As you may have noticed in my last dozen or so deck interviews, I’ve been using the same spread for interviewing tarot decks for a while. It wasn’t mine, and I only barely tweaked it now and again because it served its purpose well. I still think it’s a good standard for any tarot deck interview, but I found it to be lacking or confusing with the oracle decks I use. Now, oracle decks are often more vague or, conversely, precise in their answers, so they can sometimes be harder to interpret in response to specific questions; to be fair to the spread, it might be more an issue with how I use oracle decks than an issue with the spread. Nevertheless, I decided that I wanted questions that spoke more to the heart of how I understand oracle decks to work.

To me, oracle decks are less about reading stories in a card or identifying meaningful patterns of astrology, numerology, and elements; it’s more about guidance from some Other source. The oracles of old were believed to be vessels through which the gods spoke. But if I learned anything from creating my Vessel Work exercises for the season of the Crab, it’s that cartomancers and other diviners (not just oracles) are mediums of messages from that divine Other (hence ”divining”). If that’s how the cards work for you, then why not lean in to that with questions that get to the heart of the matter? 

Even if I use the cards to help others through psychoanalytic reflection, a kind of esoteric Rorschach test, rather than anything ”woo,” as I sometimes do, I may still be getting my interpretations and probing questions from somewhere beyond my own personal experiences and book learning. With that in mind, I decided to make a seven-question spread for interviewing oracle decks, as well as tarot decks. I’m not sure how well these would work with an affirmations or words-only deck since my oracle decks are pretty nebulous and image-based, but feel free to try it and let me know how it works out for you.


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1. What major lesson are you here to help me learn?

2. Through which divine energy can we best communicate?

3. In what area can you aid me to help others?

4. In what area could your guidance be easily misunderstood?

5. What can I do to keep our communication clear?

6. How can I use your guidance for the highest good?

7. How will I know when we’re ready for a new lesson?


THE PROCESS

I’ve previously talked about the process I went through to make a tarot spread in step-by-step detail because it had lots of shifting parts. This one, like the Hermit’s Guidance spread, was much more straightforward. The challenge with this one was wording the questions correctly.

THE QUESTIONS

You may note that some are quite similar in concept to the previous tarot interview spread I used: what lesson the deck can teach, where the deck works well and not so well, and how we can work together. But they’ve been reworded in a way to better align with how I like to view the relationship between cards and card reader.

For example, I made it clear that the deck isn’t here to teach me but that I’m here to learn from the deck. It’s a slight difference, but I think it better reflects my understanding of the cards. I also wanted to make sure that what the cards might view as a strength was something that would help my practice. I don’t care if the deck is loud and proud and full of juicy flavor, something I learned about the Prismatic Tarot and which I could see from just looking at the cards. I want to know where it will help me help others. That’s why I do this. It’s not to look at pretty pictures, although I certainly appreciate that part of the cards. I also don’t think a deck necessarily has “weaknesses” but that it might not have the clearest or most useful guidance, and I want to know that before going into a reading with a paying client who gets a muddled response thanks to an ignorant deck choice on my part. Sure, any deck can be used for any question—I absolutely believe that—but that doesn’t mean that they all provide the same kind of response, and that kind of response is often the difference between a good and bad reading for someone. Similarly, there are lots of ways that a reader could “work best” with a deck, but what really matters to me is not the ritual of keeping the deck cleansed or stored in a bespoke container made of reclaimed Mexican mission ceiling tiles or whatever I might choose to do for my own reasons, answers which could easily come win response to that other question. The cards are lovely, but they’re not the end point, so I don’t want the question to be misunderstood. I want to know how to keep communication clear because that is the purpose of our relationship.

And then there are some new areas of inquiry. The main question I felt was missing regarded the connection to some Other source for which the oracle (or the deck) is the medium. It was important to me that a reader who may not have a lot of experience with Spirit or their Guides (or who may have a diverse “team” of guides) have a chance to set themselves up for success and confidence in knowing that they’re drawing on the right energy or petitioning the right deity or focusing on the right part of Source, whatever their practice suggests. I could do a whole spirit guide exercise with my deck (and I highly recommend that), but if you’re getting started with the deck anyway, why not just cut to the chase and get the most pressing details first.

The other two questions stem from my own purpose for practice, helping to work toward a higher good, and my recognition that there is more than one lesson. This doesn’t have to be a first and final interview with the cards. The relationship will evolve, especially if you use the deck for a few years or more, and it’s useful to know when you’re aiming for something else. That last question could even work well as a sensory cue exercise style of question, although most of us do not have sufficiently stable memories to last long enough for us to remember that cue when we’ve finally gone through that major lesson.

THE LAYOUT

That it looks like a ship is a happy accident suggesting forward motion and charting a course together. In reality, the cards were laid out to represent the levels of connection, with Cards 1, 3 and 4 all on the same level while Card 2 was the highest point. The fifth card is a remedy to the problems of the fourth, so it crosses it as an inverse “obstacle.” The sixth card is the elevation of the third, and Card 7 begins the next phase, where this accidental ship heads.