Spread: Tom Benjamin’s General Reading Spread (Adapted)

Tom Benjamin’s YouTube Video: An Experimental General Spread

I am a Tom Benjamin stan, and I followed along as he looked for a general spread.

The video above contains his thoughts on how a general spread could work.

In Tom’s experimental method, he explores the four areas of the querent’s life that correspond to the elements and dives in from there.

That felt a bit too much for me, so I’ve devised a simplified method that concentrates on just one row/column combination.

Tom Benjamin’s General Reading Spread (Adapted)

My Method

  1. Lay out 16 cards in rows. Start with FIRE/FIRE and end with Earth/Earth
  2. Find the double element that feels most out of balance
  3. Read that card’s row as the ‘Problem.’
  4. Read that card’s column as the ‘Solution.’

I read it more like a Lenormand box spread, so I read the cards in combination rather than individually.

The card that lands on the double element is the focus or heart of the matter. You may want to discuss the other dual element cards to acknowledge those areas in the querent’s life.

But like everything cartomancy, it’s best to try various methods and see what works for you.

I hope you try it out and see how you find it.


Experimental: Yes/No Questions Using Lenormand

From the onset, I’d like to say that I haven’t found a definitive way of answering Yes/No questions.

But what I have found is a method that is helping me to see the positive/negative direction of a situation by leaving me to decide if the cards I have pulled mean that it’s a yes or no for me.

Before I get to that, lets have a look at Yes/No questions more generally.

I agree totally agree with with Lisa Young-Sutton‘s assessment:

While it’s true that the Petit Lenormand is well-suited to answering yes/no questions, interpreting them isn’t always easy. Because this is a system that excels at description, asking questions that allow you to see a picture form or a story unfold are optimal.


The recommended solution to a Yes/No question is to rephrase is it so the cards can provide you with an outcome, a description, or advice rather than a yes or a no.

The problem is that some inquiries just demand a yes/no answer regardless of the general advice to avoid that sort of question. This is because, as Lisa says, it is hard for the reader to get a black or white answer.

I’m going to looking at Yes/No readings as a self-reading proces, though thinking about it I should try these out on others. But for now, I’ve been trying them on personal questions so that I get a feeling about what does, and doesn’t, feel right for me.

If you want to try a few, here some recommended ideas:

  • Use the cards solely as their Positive, Negative, Neutral, Positive/Neutral, and Negative/Neutral aspects without interpreting the individual cards – if trying this it’s probably best to use a 5-card line.
  • Use the playing cards inserts to and look to blacks and reds or define a suit to be Positive, Negative, Positive/Neutral, and Negative/Neutral. Again, it’s probably best to use a 5-card line.
  • Read the Cards as you would normally and apply that to the question. This is probably best with a 3 or 5 card line.

MY FAVOURITE method is by Camelia Elias and she uses just two cards. All the details are in her YES/NO: LENORMAND 2-CARD post, but in essence you use two cards to get to a yes, no or a maybe. What you do is to combine the ‘primary vibes’ of the two cards to deduce if they the overall feeling is positive or negative or meh. The important bit if when applying what the description of the cards says to the question. The feel of positive or negative can only been fond in the context of the question not just the cards themselves.

Toni from The Card Geek explains the difficulties with Yes/No answer and questions. When it comes to what makes the cards say yes or no you need to compare the answer with the likely hood of the out coming being positive or negative.

For example, the question ‘Will I get post today?’ has a high likelihood of having a positive answer (unless you’re asking on a Sunday). So if you get negative cards it might be that you will still get post but it may not be the post you’ve be waiting for.

Another example of the answer in the context of the question is, ‘Will I will the lottery this week?’ If you get positive cards it might just mean you will only end up winning a small amount as it’s highly improvable statistically that you’ll be one of the big winners.

Please do watch Toni’s YouTube video for more exploration of this topic.

Going back briefly to the pairs of cards, if you think about what they say as a pair as a comment on your question then consider if you see the answer is positive, negative or meh as a reaction to your question.

Further Information:

Lisa of Lisa Loves Lenormand has a whole video on the subject to check out.


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Spreads: The French Cross (Tirage En Croix)

Serge Pirotte demonstrates the French Cross

Watching the recent video (above) on the French Cross, by the excellent cartomancer Serge Pirotte, has rekindled my interest in this type of spread.

In large part, that’s due to the way that Serge has presented his interpretation, especially how he uses the synthesis position.

The French Cross as presented by Serge Pirotte

In the video, Serge describes that synthesis as the ‘state of mind’ of the querent towards the question and the example he uses illustrates that perfectly. It’s also the first card he turns over even though it’s the last card placed. This, for me, adds context and allows for a more nuanced interpretation

I very much appreciated this approach as I don’t usually see spreads where the state of mind of the person getting the reading (self-readings included) is being considered.

Recapping the positions as I’ve recorded them:

  1. Pro – What’s in your favour
  2. Con – What’s working against you
  3. Judge – Advice on how to resolve positions 1 + 2
  4. Result – Answer to the question
  5. Synthesis – the perspective the querent has of the question

As this is already an adaption, I don’t think I will calculate the synthesis card, or use just the majors, but use it in the way Serge has suggested.

As a decision making spread this is one I am certainly to be adding into my active repertoire.

I have looked into the history of the spread a little as I always thought it originated with Oswald Wirth but it seems he got it from Josephin Péladan, though I don’t have the original sources of either to compare.

But in the links below from Tony Louis and Mary Greer’s respective blogs you’ll be able to compare Péladan’s reported crucifixion of Christ model with Wirth’s more legal model of interpretation.

Is this a spread you use? Please let me know in the comments.

Oh, and if anyone has any more sources please drop them in the comments too.

Further Information

Show and Tell

Show and Tell: OceanDry Tarot

Note: I am illustrating this post with a series of Daily Card Spells I’ve done with this absolutely magickal deck.

The OceanDryTarot is now on Sale

I have been fan of The OceanDry Tarot since Colin shared images on his Instagram (@oceandry).

I have been very privileged to own a prototype and I was in awe of the creativity and depth behind the imagery from the beginning when Colin first started sharing images on Instagram.

I am so very pleased say that it’s NOW ON SALE and available to the world via the print on demand service thegamecrafter.

Reasons to get this deck as given by its creator include:

  •  Major Arcana tells a new “Fool’s Journey”
  •  Created using an interlocking system of 10 colors
  •  Free of human figures for abstraction and inclusion

I agree 100% with the above.

Colin has also done an excellent series of YouTube videos exploring this new ‘Fool’s Journey’ that sits behind the numbering of the Majors in the OceanDry.

The journey is a new story based on the Majors.

The story in OceanDry is much different. It begins with the Sun and ends with the Moon. It’s the story of a hero wandering an endless desert only to have their entire reality shattered through knowledge. 

The OceanDry Tarot Guidebook

Colin’s video below tells the story of the hero as he wanders the desert, and if this doesn’t convince you to buy it, I’m not sure what will.

Set aside 30 minutes, give it a listen/watch, and relax as Colin tell you the tale behind the OceanDry.

It’s not just a visually stunning deck. It’s a Tarot whose whole visual design has been fundamentally tied into the meanings of each card. And colour plays just as an important a role as the story.

For example: the entire deck is created from 10 colours:

  • Grey
  • Emerald
  • Lime
  • Cyan
  • Sapphire
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow 

Each suit is created using 5 colours. Each colour symbolizing something specific. The colours can be added together like a maths problem to help inform your reading of the cards. Colin goes into a deeper and expansive explanation in the guidebook for the deck

Each card’s description in the LWB has examples of this “colour maths” and this is the first half of cardspell above.

2 of Disks – change | discretion | alternating Two disks form opposite poles in fields of color. Their positions oscillating back and forth in rapid attempts to interpret the plans of the Ace. Lime expedites and encourages plans to form, while red halts and offers careful consideration. Pink bursts form each disk, showing that each approach is just as valid. The pink disks symbolize the fruitfulness of balanced action. 

Guidebook for the OceanDry Tarot

To find out more about the colour system, watch Colin’s explanation video:

OceanDry’s Colour System Broken Down.

The Majors get a slightly different treatment as get the cards place in the story, a reflection on the image and a ‘divinatory’ meaning.

The OceanDry Tarot Guidebook

11 Judgementvision | revelation | overwhelming

on Story – A fever dream sets in as the poison of the plants courses through your veins. Suddenly you are on the sea. The sun blazing gloriously over the horizon. In the distance, a boat floats on
the water’s surface. The vision is intense and overwhelming. The heat of the sun blasting your face alongside the wind whipping over the surface of the water. The distant boat constantly
draws your attention as you do everything in your power to approach it.

on Image – The sun blazes in the sky, rays of geometry overwhelming the senses and overriding
the night from Hermit. Complex geometry draws the hero towards what will be a boat on the
horizon of the ocean. The symbol of fire encases the geometry symbolizing the fever dream and the intensity of the vision.

on Learning – A breakthrough or flash of genius. Writing a complex formula without knowing how to solve it.

The OceanDry Tarot Guidebook

I can’t recommend this deck highly enough. If you just want a pip-ish deck with amazing art. The OceanDry gives you that. If you want an alternative to the Fool’s Journey. Oh boy, do you get it. Do you want to feel depth and meaning in your readings from the colours and placement of the items in the image? Just lay the cards and be enchanted,

If you answer to any of the above is yes, then why haven’t you ordered a copy of already.

What do you think, is this a deck for you?


Reflection On:Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts

Deck collecting and deck reviews are not part of my “spiritual practice.” They’re my hobbies. The handful of consecrated and well-loved, worn-in workhorse decks I go to when life’s a mess– yes, that’s part of my spiritual practice.

Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts

I’d highly recommend reading Benebell’s post before reading on.

Read it? Good. Let’s get into it.

Maybe Lenormand

Firstly, I have to say that the picture of Bell’s collection gave me tinges of envy. Actually that’s not right. I had tinges of regret.

You see, I have, over the 25 years that I’ve been into tarot, bought a lot of decks. I have hunted down and obtained almost of my unicorn decks (the masonic is my deck that’s got away). But then, I’ve had a lot of them sitting on my shelf collecting dust, unused and unloved.

I have rehomed decks only to obtain them again as the regret of rehoming and it missing from my collection become an itch I needed to scratch.

But I think that was more that we (the deck & I) had/have unfinished business.

Some decks that I reacquired and have kept (for now) include:

  • The Wild Unknown Tarot (First and Second editions)
  • Naked Heart Tarot
  • Prisma Vision & Light Visions Tarot
  • Next World Tarot
  • Spacious Tarot
  • Way of the Panda Tarot
  • The Shimmering Veil 2nd Edition (is on its way thanks to Tom Benjamin’s video mentioned in my last post)
The Shimmering Veil

I have reacquired decks only to rehome them again. The Dante Tarot probably wins the award for being reacquired and rehomed. I must have done it 5 or so times.

I have rehomed different editions of the same deck. I once sold a copy of the first edition of the Alchemical Tarot by Robert Place to fund the 3rd edition.

And mostly I have no regrets in cards leaving my collection. If a Dante came along again for a bargain on eBay, I might add it back into the collection. But it would go against my ‘why’ of having a ‘collection’ of tarot decks.

Benebell’s ‘why’ is pretty clear. I am still wrestling with mine.

A hallmark of a compatible personal workhorse deck is that it’s going to be versatile. A querent can come at you with any sort of question and your personal workhorse deck is at the ready. But again, that’s different from the decks in a deck collection. The personal workhorse deck, at least for me, is now a tool. Not every deck in my collection is a tool.

Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts

I am the opposite, in that every deck needs to have a purpose beyond being a pile of Tarot cards on my shelf.

I used to collect decks for art, Dante is a prime example. I have collected a complete set of Robert Place’s work before realising that the Buddha, Vampire & Angel Tarots would rarely, if at all, come out of their respective boxes. I did have a wider range of historical reproductions that I do now.

I have had decks I wanted to study like the Pythagorean and Babylonian Tarot but I know that they’d never get the time I they needed, and they’ve left the collection with no regrets from me.

Crystal Unicorn Tarot

I am not going to stop buying decks as each as they potential to teach me something. That’s reason that the Way of the Panda is back in my collection and being used. And why the Shimmering Veil is on the way back again. More recent acquisitions have also become firm favourites – Benebell’s own Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is one such example.

I will also back Kickstarter projects, even if I rehome them at a later date. I want to hear for myself what the cards say.

From when I decided I was going to study tarot seriously in 2016/7, I have always had a range of ‘voices’ to choose from. They included the Universal Waite, Halloween, Medieval Scapini, Sacred Rose, Ancestral Path, and Thoth – all boxsets and I wanted to read what the creator (or their collaborator’s views on the cards). That’s one thing that hasn’t changed; if there is a book for the deck I’ll get it.

I have reviewed decks in the distant past, which was fun to do, and those decks have also found new homes.

But coming back to my ‘why’. For the vast majority of my decks, I have to feel that they are going to a a practical tool. I do have a small section of sentimental decks & a sub-collection of historical reproduction and a few decks that probably need releasing but I’m not ready.

The minimalist voice in my head says 22 decks total is ‘enough’ but I definitely need some variety and if I strip out the sentimental and historical decks I can’t quite reach that number. And that’s OK.

Playing Card Arcana

Jaymi Elford replied to Benebell’s public Facebook post saying she was ‘right-sizing’ her collection. And I totally agree. That’s what I want mine to be.

I also ‘right-size’ my other cartomancy decks. Over the last few days I have had a bit of regret around the Whitman’s Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards being rehomed. But The Life Line Lenoracle, the Hermes Playing Card Oracle, and the Maybe Lenormand incorporate some of the cards and their concepts. These are ‘enough’ for me to get what I need.

I guess I already have a deck for ‘that’ might be in the back of my head but it’s not really a strong voice. But it does get me to check my ‘why’.

Overall, I will keep adding and subtracting decks so that I feel I’ve got the ‘right-size’ but I won’t let it balloon. That might change if I have much more space, but as I’ve explained above I’d rather my decks had a purpose for me above being just ‘decks on the shelf’

Everyone’s why varies and not having a why is also totally fine but I hope I’ve explained mine.

What’s yours???


Reflection on: Reading Non-Representational Tarots: A Guide

Tom Benjamin is one of my favourite Tarot educators. With this YouTube tutorial, Tom must have known that I’d just bought the 20th anniversary edition of the Margarete Petersen Tarot despite knowing that abstract images on tarot cards scares me.

I bought it as I know Tom and Colin creator of the OceanDry Tarot (and YouTuber) both enjoy it. And I really wanted to experiment and experience a reading style outside my comfort zone. But I wasn’t sure what to start.

The Muse must have whispered in Tom’s ear, as this is exactly what I needed to hear.

In this video, Tom gives advice on how to use the tools that are already exist in your Tarot toolbox and gives permission (he gave it to me at least) to bring those into play during your reading.

He neatly demonstrates how (before you have the context of the question) you can build a series of connections that can be confirmed/or refuted when you know the context of what the querent wants to know.

Tom encourages us to embrace each tarot reading as an experiment. To see what talks to you from the cards on the table, and then add what you know about their meanings and connection so you build up the layers of meaning and understanding.

Thanks to this video, I now have a framework, based on the Pages, to experiment with the abstract image Tarot decks in my collection (which at the moment is only the Petersen). How long can I hold out before getting the Shimmering Veil’s 2nd edition?

I’d highly recommend this tutorial for those with abstract decks or for those who want to shake-up their reading style.


I Am Not an Expert

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’ve really just talking to themselves in the past.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

It’s worth pointing out in the early life of this blog, that I don’t consider myself an expert in divination or fortune telling. I see myself as a student sharing what I’ve found out about the various systems and cards that I’ve been studying.

I have only just set sail on this voyage

I feel most confident in Tarot, as I’ve been studying it for over twenty years, I also feel quite comfortable with Lenormand with seven years (how has it been 7 years) of use. Kipper is a system that I find fascinating and slightly uncomfortable (it weights towards to the dramatic and negative when I read for myself).

Tarot pulls me in at least three methodological directions ; the Golden Dawn/Occult Tradition (especially the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, which can still order); Marseille which I find more systematic (see the guidance book to Playing Marseille by Ryan Edwards as an example ); and the modern psychological (The Naked Heart Tarot by Jillian C. Wilde fits this mould)

And then we have newer card systems, oracle cards included, who are unique to their creators. I am getting to know Mildred Payne’s Secret Pocket Oracle and pulling cards from Wild Unknowns Animal Spirit, as well as trying out other oracles.

Playing Cards for me fall between the old and the new depending on what meanings you use or what customised deck you choose to end up reading.

I am currently exploring three variations. All more modern takes: Cartomancy Poker Cards, Open Portals Playing Card and Ana Cortez’s Playing Card Oracles.

In the future, I hope to start studying geomancy, oghams and runes in more depth. They all use casting in some way, and it’s not a technique I use.

Some guides I’ll be using:

  • Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie
  • Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle by Paul Rhys Mountfort
  • The Art of Geomancy Art And Practice Of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance by John Michael Greer
  • Geomagnetic Visions by James R. Eads [this is a coin set but comes with a guidebook.

The first threes have all been recommended by Kelly from The Truth in Story.

And thanks to The Living Wheel Astrology Cards I’ve finally taken then plunge into taking a serious look at Astrology – having a set of a cards to visualise the sky is breathing life into the chart for me right now.

But my current focus is a personal study of the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot: Revelation but also delving in again to the various correspondences using the Tabula Mundi Tarot and the Fortune Wheel House Podcast (via a systematic re-listen)

This is my aim

And I have only just set sail on this voyage, I am using this tweet by Sam Block to light my way. I am not sure what this blog might bring so this is an magickal mystery adventure.

As I’m on a this journey I hope I can help on your travels. I also hope that you will be able to help me along the the way too.

What are you currently studying?


Showing Up Daily

‘Write a spell in the morning, and it will act as a compass, a shield, and a map for your whole day.

– T. Susan Chang, Fortune Wheel House Podcast

One of the recommendations made to new tarot readers is to pull a card for the day. The idea is to help people to learn the card meanings, and integrate tarot into their daily routine.

And I do think it’s a great way to focus on getting to know the meanings, especially if you’re journaling and checking back later on to see how the card showed in your day.

But as a reader who has a few years under his belt, I do now find the idea of pulling a a single card tiresome. I don’t feel it activates or integrates Tarot into my daily life. It feels very passive and I fail to make it a habit.

Luckily, I discovered the Fortune’s Wheelhouse Podcast and the idea of a ‘tarot spell’ offered by T. Susan Chang.

I’m going to skim over the concept of magic and tarot as your ‘spell’ doesn’t need to be ‘magical’ but it does need to be meaningful to you.

I do think that pulling two cards everyday is a useful way of seeing the cards in different context and combinations and provides insight that you can draw on in future. This is especially true if you track your dailies and see what repeat cards come up.

I don’t go as far as completing a spreadsheet but I do note when I get the same cards turning up.

Things I do & don’t do in my current practice:

  • I do pull two cards
  • I do say something before I draw
  • I do write my ’spell’ on a bit of paper
  • I don’t log them in a spreadsheet
  • I change decks every decan
  • I do photograph my cards
  • I do write down my spells in ink
  • I do focus on guidance/affirmation based wording.

Here are a few samples of my daily draws:

A selection of ‘Card Spells’

Everyone’s practice is different.

T. Susan Chang has talked on her podcast appearances about how she focuses on fulfilling the requirements of the spell . This heads off the energy for the day so it doesn’t manifest randomly.

Personally, I want to see and listen to a message and, perhaps, prepare myself to change my vibe.

Drawing two cards and writing a two line ‘spell’ is how I now place tarot into the heart of my day.

Susie answers the question: Now, how do you go about creating this powerful talisman? in her article on entitled Tarot Spells: Make Magic from Your Card of the Day and provides an example. The also goes into detail in her excellent book Tarot Correspondences.

As I said above, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.

How do you make tarot part of your day? Do you have a daily draw routine? Please let me know in the comments.

Further Reading:

Tarot Spells: Make Magic From Your Card of the Day on
A Year of Spells on


In her book, Tarot Correspondences, T. Susan Chang acknowledges Paul Stuart as the person who introduced her to the concept of card spells.


#CartomancyQuotes Caitlín Matthews

Take time to set a question that clearly frames your issue in the most helpful way 
- Caitlín Matthews