There are likely as many Tarot spreads as there are people who consult the cards. Some can be as simple as a three-card “Past, Present, Future” spread that can be understood in a matter of seconds, and as complicated as one that uses all 78 cards and that can take hours to assess. Then there’s the simplest of all: A single card to answer a basic “yes or no” question. Experienced readers tend to shy away from single-card spreads because they don’t leave much room for flexibility in a reading, but for the novice who is still learning to “memorize” the cards, this is a good place to start because it allows her to focus her entire attention on a single image, free from the distraction of other cards on the table, the better to glean some insight from the card.
To provide an example, I asked a question which, while perhaps premature, is one that everyone who starts up a blog asks eventually: “Will this enterprise be a success?” I shuffled the deck, dealt the top card, and this is what turned up:
The image is fairly self-explanatory in its depiction of loneliness and solitude, of a seeker abandoning the treasures of this world—the gold cups that he is leaving behind—in search (literally) of higher ground. We can think of some parallels in myth—Siddharta’s seven weeks meditating under the bodhi tree, Christ’s 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, and the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in pursuit of the Promised Land. In each case, hardship eventually gave way to transformation, in great part due to the power of faith to elevate our consciousness and to conquer our fears—that “Dark Night of the Soul” in which our seeker currently finds himself. So, to answer my own question, this card says, essentially, “It all depends on your definition of success. If you’re thinking of making money, you’re getting it wrong. Remember what we were admonished many years ago: ‘If you would be perfect, sell everything you have and give the money to the poor.’ Your mission in life is spiritual enlightenment, not the wealth of this world, and that is what you should be seeking.” And thus the work continues.