365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day

Review By Diane Wilkes


365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day by Sasha Graham

Published by Llewellyn Publications, www.llewellyn.com

ISBN: 9780738740386

Retail: US $22.99

I love me some tarot spreads. I own and have actually read books that provide a cornucopia of spreads, as well as books on creating spreads. I not only have the various spread card decks, I have my own hand-made, index-card version with more than a hundred spread positions. I have even been known to teach classes on the subject. But since I really like Teresa Michelsen’s book, Designing Your Own Tarot Spreads, also published by Llewellyn, I’ve somewhat lost my interest in purchasing more books of tarot spreads. I see no point in becoming the Imelda Marcos of spreads, especially since I’ve come to the conclusion that, unless you’re creating a specific spread to fit the querent’s individual needs and issues, most spreads pretty much contain the same basic positions.

I’ve even broken down what kinds of tarot spreads exist:

Situational spreads 

Self-exploration spreads

Self-improvement spreads 

Preparation spreads 

Magical spell spreads 

Transpersonal spreads

The first three are self-explanatory (and numbers two and three have a lot in common). Preparation spreads are spreads that help the querent prepare for a specific situation or transition. Magical spell spreads are also self-explanatory: you choose the positions and sometimes, consciously, the cards that will help you manifest something—there are books on tarot spells, too, if you are more curious about them. Finally, transpersonal spreads are about things larger than the individual querent—they can relate to more philosophical concerns or they can address societal issues. 

But I digress. I was curious about Sasha Graham’s 365 Tarot Spreads because I know she’s a creative, cosmopolitan kind of girl and I suspected she knew her away around a tarot spread because she does a lot of tarot reading. Tarot readers are the best tarot spreadmakers. It’s not a philosophical art—or not solely—you need hands-on-cards experience.

Besides—365 spreads!?! That is Imelda Marcos territory. And I do love me some tarot spreads.

Perusing the book, I was truly impressed with the scope and nature of the spreads. Each one contains an introduction of the spread topic, often dotted with some interesting factoids about the subject. If the spread is based on a god or goddess (and a number of them are), we learn a bit about the deity. Other spreads are based on movies, books and/or authors, animals, and events.

Returning to my spread break-down, Graham has them all covered. For situational spreads, she has the querent covered from head to toe, with even an X- Ray Vision Spread that analyzes what is behind a personal facade. Graham addresses marriage, divorce, pregnancy, legal issues, and bad weather, both literal and metaphoric,  “the whole catastrophe,” as Zorba might say.  For self-exploration/improvement, Graham really covers the waterfront: astrological/holiday tarot spreads abound, as well as acknowledging topics of creativity, emotions, gratitude, diet, and stress. There are even a few preparation spreads covering making large purchases, party-planning, and the aforementioned family planning spread (Am I Ready for Parenthood?). 

While there are no specific magical spell spreads, many contain the kernel of magical workings within. For example, the Gravitation Spread addresses themes and patterns. I can easily see using these as a starting place for movement and personal change. As for transpersonal spreads, Graham has taken care of us there, too, with Sartre’s Existential Questions Spread and an Environmental Action Spread. And that’s just a tiny slice of the feast of spreads contained in this book.

Do I have minor quibbles? Always. (Didn’t Imelda Marcos?) While most of the spreads were really logically structured, a few didn’t make tarot-sense to me. For example, in the Big Purchase Spread, one position is “Can I borrow it?” That makes sense when considering a big purchase—much savvier and cheaper to borrow. But I think the answer residing in your brain is going to be more accurate than one the tarot provides. I’m thinking of possible cards for that position and maybe they’d work as a creative whack pack idea machine. But I’m still voting for one’s knowledge of one’s resources over a card here.

Some of the spreads seem overlong, but the urge to modify/simplify isn't the point—we all do that, but what matters is the source material. Usability is the overwhelming lingua franca and these spreads are abundantly useable. Some of them play just beautifully with one another: the Kick a Bad Habit Spread flows into the Excellent Eating Habits Spread which segues nicely into the Weight Loss/Gain Spread

Sometimes the structure of a specific spread doesn't align for me. The Feline Mystery Spread, for example, begins with these four positions:

1 What is tame in me

2 What is my most ferocious quality

3 Do people find me aloof

4 How do I locate myself in the here and now

The spread position is akin to kitty ears, but it is positions two and three that are next to one another (the ears). When there are two cards reflecting duality, such as positions one and two in this spread, it makes sense for them to be on the same line for easy comparison and contrast. Positions two and three don’t have the same kind of innate connection as one and two.

But these little parsings are truly minor and unimportant. The spread selection is so juicy you can always find the spread juste, not to mention scads of spreads you’d never have thought of, but will be enriched by.

Although the book is designed in calendar form, one doesn’t have to follow daily order. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not all spreads are appropriate for everyone. Not everyone wants to or can afford to be a mom or dad (the Am I Ready for Parenthood Spread also seems to contain some positions that are easily/better answered without tarot). Less urgently but equally specifically, not everyone loves horses (Horse-Lovers Spread). 

And that’s okay. 

It is also okay that the book is illustrated with the Universal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo, but I wish it wasn’t. Llewellyn utilizes this deck because it’s very similar to the Ryder-Waite-Smith, and U.S. Games makes them pay through the nose to use the illustrations. I personally loathe the Universal deck and wish Llewellyn would stop the tradition. It smacks of annoying (and inferior) wannabe issues.

But again…little snipings. 

I wondered whether this book would merely be a creative well for me to pick and choose from to devise my own layouts, or if I would use the actual spreads. I had a friend tell me via email what she wanted her reading to be about and then searched the book based on her answer to see if I could find an appropriate layout. When I showed her the one I thought would work best, she was quite enthused and, post-reading, found it quite helpful. I look forward to doing this kind of thing again. 

The best thing about the book (not including its substance, which is really fabulous): there’s a theme index at the end of the book. So if you want to find spreads about creativity or animal-inspired spreads or health spreads, you don’t have to go through the whole year. And I defy you to look at that index and not see googobs of spreads you want to take for a test-drive. Only someone with a dearth of interests could not be enticed by an Alice Hoffman book theme or vampires or Freudian analysis or Marilyn Monroe. There’s even a Limiting Beliefs Spread for those Four of Cups-types who have too much ennui to delve into the 365 pairs of shoes—I mean spreads—awaiting them. 

But you, clever reader, desire such deliciousness. Dive in!

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