Is there any “true” way to lay the cards? Probably not. But here is the first tarot spread to appear in print. It is in an article by le Comte de M*** (Mellet) in Court de Gébelin’s Le Monde Primitif (1781). The spread instructions were followed by a sample interpretation—the dream of Joseph in the Bible. I decided that such a simple but powerful layout deserves to be brought back “into play.” Try it out for yourself.

The layout is best accomplished by two people working together, who have divided the deck into two stacks so that each has one of them:

Person 1 — the 56 Minor Arcana
Person 2 — the 22 Trumps (Major Arcana).

Each person takes their stack, shuffles it, and then simultaneously goes through the stacks card-by-card as follows:

Person 1: Turns the cards of the Minor Arcana over one-by-one while counting Ace, 2, 3, 4, … Page, Knight, Queen, King (use the court card names from your own deck), and continue counting with the Ace. Any card which has the same number or rank as that named is to be set aside. That is, if when counting 5, you turn over a 5 of any suit, that card is selected and put to the side.

Person 2: Goes through the Trumps at the same time, putting down a card each time Person 1 does so, but without turning it over. When Person 1 puts a card aside (because the number and the card matched), Person 2 takes the card he/she put down at the same time and turns it face up next to Person 1’s card to form a pair. When Person 2 has gone through all the Trumps, he/she picks up the reject stack and continues to put them down in the now-reversed order.

The process ends when Person 1 runs out of Minor Arcana cards.

Interpret the resulting cards as pairs.

oldestspread025.jpgFor example, in the first reading I did with this spread, the result of the count was:

Ace of Pentacles — Lovers
Ace of Cups — Sun
Three of Cups — Death
Knight of Wands — Star

These cards had an incredible feeling of power about them. My partner in the reading immediately said, “It’s all about the deaths!” and I realized he was right. We had just found out about the deaths of three people we knew (Three of Cups plus Death). Three incredible people—each making the transition (Knight of Wands) to another world in their own way. They were being shown to us as Beings of Light (the Sun) starting a new phase of existence (the two Aces). I was awed by the beauty of their souls that radiated out from these cards as if reborn in the spirit (the Sun). It was good to feel that they were with loved ones (Three of Cups and Lovers), and it seemed to me that they were riding (Knight of Wands) towards their highest destiny (Star). I took it as a message to us from the other side, saying that they were all right and just where they should be. (Deck: The Albano-Waite Miniature Tarot Cards.)