The Dreaded General Tarot Reading – One Readers Approach

Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that many readers are comfortable with, and highly proficient at, reading without a question. Or with opening a reading simply by asking what a seeker needs to know right now.

With scenic decks, I usually address this with a celtic cross spread with good result. However, I find that many, many seekers, particularly in situations where readings need to be quite speedy, wish to have an overview of multiple areas of their lives. Which makes absolute sense to me – but how can we do this and also examine the impact of one area of life upon others with clarity? How can we give a useful and focused reading in a fairly short time that also examines life in the round?

I’m sure there are many solutions to this dilemma, but I’ve found a way that works well for me as a reader, and has had good feedback from those that I’ve read for. I have to add the caveat that I’ve not tried this method with decks with scenic pip cards such as the Rider Waite Smith or the Wildwood, but can’t see why the method wouldn’t be applicable to them.

I start by separating the trumps from the pips and beginning with the trumps I pose the question ‘What is going on with the seeker in these areas of their life’ and go on to list agreed areas – very often ‘self’, ‘relationships’, ‘work/career’, ‘material matters’, ‘spiritual matters’. Obviously, different folks have different things going on in their lives. They may not be in a romantic relationship and be disinterested in the prospect of such so family or friendships may be more of an issue. They may be retired, a carer, a mum who stays at home and have no need to explore work or career. In this situation ‘creative outlets’ may be more pertinent to them. Whatever aspects are agreed with the seeker, become the ‘headings’ described in the trumps.

Self, Relationship with Partner, Work, Finances, Spiritual Life. The headings can be discarded in the initial read of the line of five which gives a sum up of life in general at the moment. Taking control of ones life exposes vulnerabilites and can upset the balances. The choice is whether to carry on regardless or stay static and confined, making frantic gestures, nose pressed against the window to all who will look – on the inside looking out.


The line of trumps is addressed and read as a whole first. It tends to give a very obvious feeling of the state and balance of affairs. It also highlights areas that warrant further exploration or that stimulate further questioning from the seeker.

For the further exploration, added layers and depth I bring in the pips. At this point, the questions posed by the seeker regarding each area of their life as described in the line of trumps is addressed. I usually use three pips in this exploration. Simply because it works for me. Three cards maketh a story for me – one may do it for you, or five, or twenty seven, I don’t suppose it matters.

In this instance, I decided I wanted to explore two areas further – the trumps as headings are back in play. I wanted to know why, in my relationship I feel vulnerable and that I’m always pouring out so I can’t look up, see the stars and expand so I drew three pip cards. I wanted to explore how I can be less ‘dang fool’ with my finances so drew three pips for insight. So Recent decisions regarding work have left me wondering about how the balance can be regained in my relationship – all of that giving just to the relationship has been a wee bit overwhelming so separating for work, coming together at home and whilst working look away from emotional entanglements and get the job done to bring in the buck. Finances need to be well ordered, organised constantly, as I’ve learned from errors in the past and put in a nice solid box with the lid firmly in place (or in the bank and out of mind).

Not all areas will always warrant further investigation as the trump has said all that is necessary to be said. Full stop.

As always for me, the whole is usually way more valuable than the sum of its parts and this model for a reading does tend to highlight the relationship/inter-relationships, balance/imbalance in the the seekers life.

How do you as a reader address the general reading? With scenic cards or with marseille type decks? I’d be interested to know. I’m always up for discovering ways to improve what I see in the cards in order to be more useful to seekers in all kinds of reading situations.

The deck used throughout this post is Jean Claude Flornoy’s reproduction of the Jean Noblet tarot cards.


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