Many querents tend to ask the same questions over and over
again without realizing that they are always asking about a
different version of the same old disturbing problem. The
cast of characters may change, but the problem does not.
Some querents are sophisticated enough to recognize that the
same thing is happening to them again and again, but they
have no idea what to do about it. They would like more from
a reading than their question suggests, but they do not know
what to ask for.
As a psychologist who also reads Tarot cards, when I read
for a querent I usually have at least two goals in mind.
The first is to use the cards to answer the querent’s
basic question, while the second is to help the querent
learn something new and useful that they can apply in their
everyday life. I have built this dual focus into a simple
and practical Tarot Counseling spread`that I call “Find
the Pattern.” “Find the Pattern” focuses on what is
really going on under all these similar, but different
instances and what the querent can do to move things along
in a more positive direction.
For example, my querent Sara briefly dated a series of men
that she had met through an online dating site. By briefly
I mean that she rarely saw any of them more than once or
twice before they stopped contacting her. Sara was always
hopeful that the man was still interested in her, but that
work or school or other life events were temporarily
distracting him from contacting her again. After each man
disappeared, Sara would come for a reading with basically
the same question: “Does….(fill in the blank)…still
like me?” or “Should I try and contact…(fill in the
blank) again?” “(Fill in the blank) liked my picture on
Instagram. Does this mean he still cares about me?” The
same thing seems to happen to Sara over and over again with
a rotating cast of characters. The name of the man that Sara
is focusing on changes, but the questions stay basically the
same. I decided that Sara needed an insight-oriented
reading that would help her understand and break out of this
The next time Sara asked for a reading, I suggested that we
try something new, a spread that I had developed for her
that might be able to give her insight into what was really
going on with her and all these men and how she might shift
things to get more of what she wanted and less of what she
did not. This piqued Sara’s interest and she was eager
for me to do this reading.
Below is the generic version of my “Find the Pattern”
spread that you can adapt to different circumstances.
FIND THE PATTERN SPREAD
STEP 1: Select and layout 7 cards
Using your usual method, have your client select 7 cards.
Lay the cards out and assign the following meanings to each
of your spread positions. You can use my layout below, or
make up one of your own.
Card 1: Querent—A card that describes the querent in this
Card 2: Others —What all the different “others” have in common
Card 3: Connection —What connects the querent and these
others (Lay out this card horizontally so that it connects
Card 1 to Card 2).
Card 4: Hidden Factor— Something that the querent is not
aware of that underlies this pattern
Card 5: Do — Something the querent can do to change this
pattern in a positive direction
Card 6: Stop Doing—Something that the querent needs to
stop doing in order to change the pattern
Card 7: Learn — What the querent is meant to learn from this
Optional Card 8 (Bottom of the deck):
Commentary— Confirmation that the reader is on the right
track or further details.
LAYOUT OF SPREAD
Card 7 (Learn)
Card 5 (Do) Card 6 (Stop)
Card 1 (Querent) Card 3 (Connection) Card 2 (Others)
Card 4 (Hidden)
Card 8 (Optional bottom of the deck commentary)
STEP 2: Look at the card at the bottom of the deck
After you finish reading the 7-card spread, turn over the
deck of remaining cards and look at the bottom card. This
card can be used to summarize or comment on the reading.
Often it will confirm whether your reading is on the right
track. You can choose to read this as Card 8 and put it face
up on the table and share it with the querent, or you can
keep its meaning to yourself.
STEP 3: Summarize the Pattern for the Querent
I have found it useful to take a few moments at the end of
the reading to look at the reading as a whole, and then
briefly summarize its message about the pattern that
underlies all the separate, but similar instances that my
querent has experienced. I suggest that you do this after
you have already read and discussed all the cards with your
One of the virtues of summarizing the pattern is that it
forces both the Tarot reader and the querent to focus on the
overall message, instead of individual cards in the reading.
One of my pet peeves when I get a reading is that some
readers are so busy interpreting each card or reassuring me
that everything will be fine that I don’t come away with a
clear answer to my question.
How to Introduce the “Find a Pattern” Spread to a
Querent: I usually keep things very simple and direct. I
will use my client Sara as an example.
“Sara, I was thinking about your situation and I had an
idea for a reading that you might find helpful. I know that
many of the men that you have been dating have been
frustrating and disappointing. Would you be interested in
my doing a special reading that focuses on discovering the
pattern that underlies these separate situations, and how to
shift this pattern into something more satisfying to
Sara eagerly agreed and said that she wasn’t aware that
there were different kinds of readings that we might do.
Below is the reading that I did for Sara using my “Find
the Pattern” spread and my summary of her pattern.
Card 1: Represents Sara in this situation of man after man
who disappoints her
Card 2: Represents some commonality that all of these men
Card 3: What connects Sara with these men?
Card 4: What underlying factor causes these relationships
Card 5: What is something Sara needs to do to get the kind
of relationship she wants with a man?
Card 6: What is something that Sara needs to stop doing?
Card 7: What is Sara meant to learn from this experience?
Card 8: Commentary about this reading
SARA'S CARDS AND MY INTERPRETATION
Card 1: Key 18 The Moon
Sara is still evolving with regards to choosing a mate.
Who she actually needs is not yet clear to her. It is still
early in the process.
Card 2: Ace of Swords
The men that Sara has been choosing to date are all verbal,
smart, and like to win.
Card 3: 5 of Wands
Both Sara and the men she chooses tend to be competitive
with each other.
Card 4: Page of Wands Reversed
Both Sara and the men she chooses tend to be immature, not
ready for a real relationship, and act out with each other
Card 5: 2 of Swords
Sara needs to pause and think about her choices. She might
want to consider limiting her verbal and intellectual
sparring with men.
Card 6: 8 of Cups
Right now Sara should stop searching for a man to love until
she makes some changes in her approach to men and
understands more about what she actually needs in a man.
Card 7: 10 of Pentacles
Sara needs to learn to become more practical about choosing
a man to date and marry. She would do better to focus on
men who see themselves as ready now for a serious
relationship that might lead to marriage and who are family
minded (as opposed to her guys who are immature and are
looking to date and have sex without settling down into
anything more serious right now).
Card 8 from the Bottom of the Deck: Key 5 The Hierophant
When I turned over Sara’s deck, there was an upright Key 5
The Hierophant. The Hierophant is sometimes read as a
marriage card. Upright suggests a traditional marriage,
reversed something not traditional. In Sara’s case, I
read it to mean that Sara would do best with a man who wants
to have a traditional relationship that ends in marriage, as
opposed to simply having sex or living together without
being married to each other.
SUMMARY OF SARA’S PATTERN
Based on this reading, my understanding of the basic
source of Sara’s disappointment with men is that she is
still a bit immature for her age and tends to pick the
wrong type of man for a serious relationship. Sara is
drawn to competitive men with sharp minds who excite
her because they can verbally banter with her and
winning their affection seems like a challenge. Sara and
these men both enjoy their competitive verbal sparring
and the sex, but they tend to have little else in common
that might lead to a serious relationship. Sara needs to
rethink her priorities, stop dating this type of man, and
look for someone who is practical, traditional, and ready
for a loving, non-competitive relationship that leads to
marriage and family.
The above is how I conceptualized Sara’s Pattern for
myself. When I summarized it out loud for Sara, I chose
my words more carefully. For example, no one likes to
hear they are immature, so I put my assessment more
“Sara, this spread suggests that you are still evolving as
a woman and that your approach to choosing men needs to
evolve as well for you to get what you really want. You and
the men you have been dating tend to be drawn together
because you both share a youthful approach to dating that
emphasizes the challenge of getting the other person to like
you, competitive verbal banter, and the exciting sexual
sparks between you. However, these men are too immature
for you and are not yet ready to settle down in a serious
relationship. If you want a more serious and long-lasting
relationship with a man, these cards suggest that you need
to look for someone who is financially stable, somewhat
traditional, and ready right now for a loving and
traditional relationship that leads to marriage and family.”
A LAST THOUGHT:
My experience is that most querents are unlikely to change
Dr. Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP, CPTR
their pattern after one reading, no matter how accurate it
is. This is no different than therapy. Therapy clients are
started on the road to change by a good session that results
in increased insight, but making the actual change takes
time and effort. The “Find the Pattern” spread is
designed to help expand our querents’ awareness of the
elements in their pattern that may be detrimental to their
long-term goals. If the reading gets them to think twice
before they repeat the same exact pattern again, it has been
a success according to my standards.
is an internationally renowned Gestalt therapy
trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis
and treatment of Borderline, Narcissistic, and
Schizoid adaptations. She has been studying
tarot since 1995 and is psychology consultant to
The Tarot School, where she earned a Third Degree
in Tarot. She is a member of B.O.T.A. (Builders
of the Adytum) and has been certified as a professional
tarot reader by the American Tarot Association.