The Horse Shoe Spread – Practice Reading
Here is a Tarot Reading for you to have a go at. It is a Reading I did a few years ago. I have been given permission from the Querant to use it for Practice Reading purposes when teaching. The Horse Shoe Spread is very popular among Readers of all levels and can be used for multi-purpose Readings. It is a variation of the Celtic Cross Spread. It has a basic shape of 7 Cards laid out in a Horse Shoe shape. In the Reading below, extra Cards have been drawn for some of the positions at the request of the Querant at the time. When doing Readings, it is perfectly fine to add extra Cards in a Spread, but try not to add too many as the Reading is liable to get confusing. In addition to the Cards drawn for the Spread, I have also added the Base Card.
The Base Card is the Card that is found at the bottom of the Deck, after all shuffling has been completed, and before Cards are drawn. It is the very last Card in the Deck. The Base Card often yields substantial information about the nature of the Reading, and as a Stand Alone Card, it can be uncannily accurate. The Base Card should be looked at before any other Cards. If its meaning is not clear at first, it will likely make its relevance apparent as the Reading progresses.
It is important to understand what area a Position in a Spread covers. It is best to approach each Position with a flexible and open-mind. This is important for the Querant to understand too. For instance, Querants do not always understand what the Past Position means. They can take it too literally; they can think it refers to the recent past or distant, but not both. You may see something in their Past Position Card and go to great lengths to explain what it is. The Querant can look blank and say it has no meaning for them. This gets you off to a bad start. You may see a broken relationship in the past that is causing them problems, but they disagree with you. Later in the Reading this comes out again and again before the Querant eventually makes a connection saying, ‘oh yes, there was a relationship, but that was over a year ago. I thought you meant in the last couple of months’. So a two-way flow of communication is very important. The Querant must know what you are referring to in relation to time spans and what the Position implies. However, do not get bogged down in having rigid views.
The Horse Shoe Spread has Seven Positions
Position 1 – The Past (This can be any time from a couple of weeks ago to two years ago. Depending on the Reading, and if you get a sense about it, it may refer to the distant past or childhood. Experience and practice will help with this. This Card should give background information as to the root cause of the situation i.e. where it is coming from).
Position 2 – The Present (approx. 3/4 weeks each way, but it may be more than that, so keep an open mind. This Card should yield information about what is happening in and around the situation at the moment. This Card can also throw some light on the people who are involved if Court Cards are present.
Position 3 – The Near Future (approx. 3/4 months) This Card should give an indication of where the situation is heading based on the last two Cards, how it is likely to develop. Here is where the first bit of constructive advice can be given if the Card appears to be negative or unwelcome. The Past cannot be changed, the Present is happening now, but the Querant does have the power to take steps to change the future. They can do this by changing their attitude, behaviour, feelings and actions. If the Card is a Major (one of the 22 Cards of The Major Arcana), then the situation will be quite difficult to change as these Cards indicate a more fixed state.
Position 4 – The Answer (one of the most confusing Cards and needs a lot of practice to understand its nature. The Answer does not mean the Outcome. The Answer can represent The Desired Outcome and may not be based on reality, but more like wishful thinking. The Answer can represent advice, or the solution to the situation or issue, but it does not mean that it will occur or be taken on board. The Answer can act as confirmation or reiteration for the Outcome Card, suggesting that yes, it is the best Outcome under the circumstances. The Answer Card if in opposition to the Outcome Card, can suggest that you are heading for the wrong Outcome by the choices you are making. The route you are taking is not in your best interest, there is another way.
If you are looking for a definite ‘Yes’, then the Outcome and Answer Card should both be Upright. A Reversed Answer Card can indicate blocks or set-backs to the Desired Outcome. Once again, if the Answer Card is a Major Card, either Upright or Reversed it carries more weight than a Minor Card.
The Answer Card can also stand as a representation of the Querant, highlighting their personality or where they stand in the situation and how it is affecting them.
The Answer Card in The Horse Shoe Spread is generally read last. However, should you see a very positive Outcome and Answer Card from the outset, it can be very reassuring to let the Querant know this. When both Outcome and Answer Cards appear Negative or Reversed attention should not be immediately drawn to them. The Reading should be worked through so that the Querant is gently guided and assisted in understanding the reasoning and logic behind them.
Position 5 – The Surrounding Energy (Another difficult one for Readers to interpret. It is a bit like the Base Card, but instead of it giving you background information, it will let you know the general feel surrounding the issue or situation. It can show how others are perceiving the issue, family and friends for instance, and whether the atmosphere is either positive or negative. It can expose information that the Querant may not necessarily wish to reveal, therefore, hidden agendas or the ‘real story’ can turn up in this area)
Position 6 – Hopes and Fears – This is quite straight forward. If it is an apparent Negative Card, then it represents the Querant’s Fears about the situation. It is also shows that they are quite pessimistic about the Outcome. Their Fears can be discussed and extra Cards may need to be drawn to get to the root of these fears. If it is an apparent Positive Card, it reflects the Querant’s Hopes, and suggests they are quite optimistic about the Outcome and have a positive outlook.
Position 7 – Outcome – This Card represents the Probable Outcome and not a definite Outcome. In Tarot, nothing is set in stone or absolute. No guarantees should ever be given. Telling a Querant that a certain Tarot Card is telling them exactly what is going to happen or what they have to do is interfering with the individual’s freedom of choice. No matter how excellent a Tarot Reader you think you are, you can never be 100% accurate.
The Outcome suggests the most likely Outcome based on the attitudes, actions, behaviour, feelings and thoughts of all involved, if the situation continues as it is. If the Outcome Card is Positive and Welcome, it suggests that there is great potential for all to work out in the end. This can be very reassuring for the Querant. If the Outcome Card is Negative and Unwelcome, then it can suggest that the Querant is unlikely to be happy about how things are going to work out. They may not get what they want. If you are using Reversed Cards, they may have appeared in the Reading highlighting blocks, negative mind-sets or behaviour that is stymieing a successful Outcome. Constructive advice can be given or extra Cards drawn for further insight. Look to the Answer Card in Position 4 for advice, solutions or options. It is quite common to do a second Reading using a Negative Outcome Card as the focus, with the intention of seeking constructive advice and a way forward for the Querant.
Along with Reading the individual Positions, you should be observant of Cards that are opposite each other, and diagonal to each other. If there are Court Cards, note which way they are facing and which Card is opposite them. For instance, a Court Card directly opposite an apparent Negative Card can throw light on who is causing the problem.
Querant – Male. Late Fifties. Quiet spoken and a bit unsure as to what will come of the Reading. Slow to communicate in the beginning, but once he settles into the Reading and sees how relevant all the Cards are he becomes quite animated and leans closer to view the imagery on the Cards for himself. He has never had a Tarot Card Reading before but connects quite quickly to their symbolic nature. He sees things in the Cards himself and points them out to me as we go along.
Question – I am going through a difficult time at the moment and would like to know what the next year holds for me. I am filing for divorce, have a lot going on in work and can’t seem to see the wood for the trees. My divorce is not amicable so I know it is going to be tough going. The good thing is, I am in a very strong relationship but feel I cannot fully commit until I am totally free. I feel tired of it all right now and would love to see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
The Horse Shoe Spread
Position 1 (Past up to 2 years) Position 7 (Probable Outcome . see notes below)
Position 2 (Present 3/4 wks each way) Position 6 (Hopes and Fears. see notes below)
Position 3 Near Future (3/4 months) Position 5 – Surrounding Energies. see notes below)
Position 4 – (Answer or Represents Querant)
Horse Shoe – Seven Card Spread laid out in shape of a Horse Shoe.
Base Card – Judgement (XX) Major Arcana
Card 1 – 2 of Swords Reversed
Card 2 – 10 of Wands
Card 3 Near Future – 7 of Wands and 5 Wands
Card 4 Answer – 10 of Cups
Card 5 (Surrounding Energies) – 9 Pentacles/4 Wands
Card 6 (Hopes and Fears) – 6 Swords
Card 7 (Outcome) – 8 of Wands
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