The Thirteen Card Spread

Here's a nifty little layout that might be what you are looking for to introduce you to the world of multi-line spreads. I am going to describe it the way that it was taught to me, but you are of course free to adapt it to your practice. 

     This is the only spread that I know that would require you not to fan out the deck and have the querent choose the appropriate number of cards, but rather deal the cards by threes. I don't know why it works, but it does. Even then, if you don't like this way of proceeding, or if you are using a deck (such as Lenormand, or Kipper Cards) that has less than 52 cards, simply draw the cards as you usually do. 

     Very simply, shuffle the deck until you (or better, the querent) are ready, and have the querent cut it. At this point, discard the first three cards, pick the fourth and lay it face up on the table. Then discard the next three cards, take the fourth and lay it next to the first one. Proceed until you have no cards left. If you are using playing cards, or the Vera Sibilla, this should leave you with thirteen cards on the table*. Arrange them in the following order:

     (NOTE: as you can see, this is a Lenormand spread, so I had to have the querent choose the cards. If I had used my playing cards, or the Vera Sibilla, I would have used the above procedure. Another example of this spread, done with the Sibilla, can be found on this blog)

Thirteen Card Spread in Cartomancy
Thirteen Card Spread

     The order of the cards should be quite obvious: first fill the first row of five cards, then the second one, and then lay the remaining three cards at the bottom. 

     There are several layers of interpretation to this spread. The most obvious and straightforward is that this is nothing more than the sum total of two five card rows and a three card spread. I will dedicate some articles to those kinds of spreads. Roughly, this is true, but only in a preliminary sense. 

     It certainly helps, at the beginning when you first lay out the cards, to break it down into three smaller spreads. Attempt a first interpretation. As a rule of thumb, the first row of five cards describes the recent past or, more often, the present conditions.In general, the last couple of cards of the first row already project the reading into the near future, but check it against the querent's feedback to be sure. On the other hand, the first couple of cards of the first row are concerned with something the querent usually already knows.

     The second row of five cards usually gives the answer and speaks of the querent's future. Sometimes, depending on the question, both rows speak of the past or the present. 

     The eighth card of the spread (in this case, The Stars) is the heart of the reading. This card is extremely important. In this position you can find hints about what the real problem the querent faces/will face is; or it may give a short answer to the question; or it may tell you what is important to the querent, within the context.

     You may also want to read the first, the eighth and the fifth card together (Storks, Stars, Rider), and the sixth, the third and the tenth card together (Tree, Fish, Anchor) as giving additional information. Usually such information is more important in defining the context or circumstances, rather than the querent's action, but be open to what the spread is showing you. 

     Also, sometimes a short-hand answer will be given in the three card spread containing the first, eighth and tenth card. Don't read this triad unless it is gives a clearly meaningful statement about the situation. 

     With this spread, you may also attempt to read cards vertically in pairs of two cards. This doesn't mean that every pair is meaningful. The horizontal reading is always more important: use vertical pairs as confirming evidence only. Usually the card below shows the consequence, or the concrete manifestation, or the result of the card above. Again, be open. Also, don't be surprised if vertical pairs read more into the querent's psyche rather than in his or her objective circumstances or action. Here you will often find out about their (or other people's) habits, worldview etc.

     What about the last three cards? Don't blend them with the main two rows unless they are a clear continuation of the discourse started in the main body of the reading. Even then, they fulfill a different function.  

      They are something that is in the querent's destiny. Usually they relate to the question, but not necessarily. In general, they show something that is going to happen at most within a year and a half from the reading, but this is just statistics. 

     These last three cards will often show how the matter will evolve after: they show the aftermath. "Will I get the promotion?". Main body of the spread: you crazy? Last three cards: go baby. Answer: No, you won't get that promotion. But you'll get another one in the not too distant future. "Will we get back together?" Main body: yes. Last three cards: careful though. Answer: You'll get back together with him, but after a while you will start feeling he is unable to provide for your children and you'll leave him.