Happy New Year!
One of my very favorite things to do right now is a Year Ahead Tarot Spread to get a peek at lessons and opportunities coming my way.
But I also know that interpreting a big ol’ card spread can get overwhelming, fast.
So today, I want to share how to do this without breaking your brain (or taking up your entire day)…
…even if you’re new to tarot.
Yep, and you don’t need to cobble together cookie-cutter interpretations from a book either.
By reading the cards intuitively (I’ll show you how!), you’ll not only get tailored-to-you insights, but you’ll be gaining valuable practice in listening to your intuition, so it’s a win-win.
“Thank you so much for this idea, I have really been diving deep into this…I did the four mini stories and they showed me what I needed to do. Many of the cards in the reading were reversed, but the mini stories showed me how to unblock that energy. I have actionable steps to avoid the negativity, and I’m putting reminders in my planner so that I check in and make sure I stay on track the whole year. Thank you so much!” -M.
Here’s our goal for the reading:
To help you grow and heal in 2023 by highlighting where your efforts will be best focused each month and how those efforts contribute to larger patterns unfolding throughout the year.
(Tip: Even if you use your journal, you might want to take a peek at the worksheet for ideas on how to organize everything.)
Shuffle your deck as many times as feels right, then cut it into three piles.
Use your intuition to reassemble the three piles into one deck, then draw your cards, placing them in the following spread:
Fill in the card names on the worksheet or your journal.
Then, let’s add in some details.
For each card, using your intuition and observation, note whether the figure seems to be in more of an active or resting pose.
If the card doesn’t contain a figure, use your intuition to assess whether the scenery feels more active (like a waterfall, for instance) or resting (such as a placid lake).
There’s no right or wrong; what’s important is to listen to your intuition. Mark this on your worksheet.
Now, for any minor arcana or court cards, check which suit the card is in, and use the elemental correspondence chart on the worksheet to match that with one of the four elements. Write this on your worksheet.
(And if you work with different correspondences, that’s totally fine! Use yours instead.)
If the card is a major arcana, either assign an element based on your intuition as you observe the card (for example, a fiery red card might feel like fire to you) or use the correspondence chart at the end of the worksheet.
Now we’re going to create a one- to two-sentence summary for every card.
A journal or some scratch paper can come in handy here, so you can free write first and then condense your notes into a concise sound bite for your worksheet.
These card summaries are super useful, and they’ll allow you to do some fun stuff later in the reading to see how patterns are unfolding throughout the year without getting bogged down in tons of details.
Okay, let’s create those summaries.
I’m going to ask you some simple questions to help you do this.
Don’t think too hard!
Try to keep your mind playful and exploratory, abandoning any thoughts of the “right way” to do things.
Jot down short answers to these questions on your scratch paper as you work through each of the thirteen cards…
If there’s a figure, what are they doing?
If there are multiple figures, how are they interacting?
How do they seem to feel about what they’re doing?
If there aren’t any figures (or even if there are, you can still ask these questions):
Briefly describe the setting–what do you see?
How would you describe the mood or atmosphere of this place?
Let’s work through an example together:
Here are my responses to the questions:
There’s a figure dressed in lush greenery sitting on a red rock, breastfeeding an infant. A raincloud falls on her head but nowhere else.
The figure seems serene yet watchful of her surroundings.
The setting is a roiling, fiery ocean with a bright yellow sky. It seems hot and unforgiving, but life-giving rain follows the figure around.
Looking over my notes, I condense this down to the following summary, translating my observations into the first person:
I’m in a hot, harsh environment, but the resources I need find me, and I’m able to support new life and luxurious growth.
Do this for every card in your spread, one through thirteen, and add your short summaries to the worksheet.
Okay, now that you have an interpretation for each card, we’re going to start putting everything together to access practical guidance that you can use each month.
Let’s use another example card:
The figure is active, and the element is fire (torches = wands = fire).
I’m determined to make my way through a shifting landscape that presents many obstacles. My wand leads the way.
To start, let’s pull in the active or resting piece.
For this reading, this qualifier indicates whether your work that month will lean more toward an active stance or a resting stance.
This doesn’t mean that the entire month you’ll only be active or resting.
It refers specifically to how to best approach your lesson or work that month, and remember, your card summary tells you what that lesson or work is.
Looking at my example card, I’m being shown that a more active approach will help me make my way through a shifting landscape with many obstacles.
Active might look like:
- Taking tangible actions in the outer world, as opposed to simply brainstorming and contemplating.
- Actually trying different things to see what will work, instead of creating endless lists of pros and cons.
- Making a decision when faced with an obstacle instead of waiting for life to make it for me.
Resting might look like:
- Meditating on the lesson or issue to gain insight.
- Resisting the urge to rush ahead and force a plan of action.
- Doing something else for a bit and waiting to see how things unfold on their own.
Again, think of the active or resting quality as giving you guidance on how to approach the lesson or situation you described in the card’s summary, and not how you need to approach everything in your life that month.
Let’s add in the final piece: the element.
For each card, the element gives you further clues as to how to approach the lesson or situation you described in your summary.
For instance, a water (cups) card indicates that working with your unconscious, perhaps by journaling your dreams; using divination tools; paying attention to your waking fantasies and interpreting them like night dreams; etc. would be useful.
Use the suggestions at the end of the worksheet to spark ideas for each element.
Using my seven of torches (wands = fire) example above, creating an unblocking ritual or asking my spirit guides for guidance might be useful when I’m faced with obstacles that month.
Now you have, for each month of the year, a clear idea of where your soul’s work will be focused (this is the card’s summary), and you have specific guidance on how to approach this work (active/resting and the element).
If you want to explore a little further, this is where your short card summaries really come in handy.
To see overall patterns throughout the year, look at each row of cards, treating them as the beginning, middle and ending of a pattern’s story.
Read each of your card’s summaries in story order, like a tarot mad libs, and see what insights come up.
For instance, read the summary for card one as the beginning, card five as the middle, and card nine as the end. This gives you an overview of a pattern you’ll see playing out in January, May and September of this year.
If you do this for all four rows, you’ll now have four mini stories.
How might these connect to the overall theme of the year? Can you see how the individual patterns help you explore the theme in ever deeper ways?
You can also compare card one (January) and card twelve (December) to see where things start and conclude. And then, you might tie this to the overall theme card and explore how these starting and end points help you live out that theme.
If this feels tricky, come back to the story aspect and be playful with it.
If you were given the overall theme of a movie, and then you were told the beginning and the end, what might that tell you about the journey in between?
Happy New Year!
P.S. Want to take your intuitive tarot skills to a whole new level?
My five-star-rated course, The Art of Intuitive Tarot, will have you reading the cards by the end of lesson one.