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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

REVIEW: Classic Tarot Spreads


Classic Tarot Spreads
by Sandor Konraad
Whitford Press (Division of Schiffer Publishing)
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN-10: 0914918648 / ISBN-13: 978-0914918646
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I can see where Sandor Konraad's Schedule for Learning the Tarot in Thirty Days would be a major attraction to anyone who wants to read the cards. I did not try the system Konraad presents because, well, I already read the cards. However, his method is systematic and organized, and might work pretty well for a lot of people.

Konraad recommends decks with unillustrated pips for beginners. I'm not sure I can agree with that advice. Certainly a non-illustrated deck can simplify the learning process, but in some ways (or for some people), I think it's more difficult to read with such a deck.

Konraad's writing style is straightforward and easy to understand. I know that I will often refer to the Table of Root Number Associations and the Summary of Meanings in Divination included in the book. I appreciate the fact that after he gives detailed instructions on how to handle the cards ("seal" the pack by placing benevolent cards at the top and bottom of the deck; wrap them in purple silk or velvet; place them in a wooden box, etc.), he writes: "It is difficult to say exactly how important the above is regarding the effectiveness of the pack in a reading but what is of considerable importance is the reader's attitude." Konraad views compliance with Tarot traditions to be an indication of the reader's "seriousness and respect for the Tarot." Obviously he is entitled to his opinion, but my respect for the cards is enormous even though I choose not to tie myself to rituals or traditions.

The one-page descriptions/interpretations provided for each Major Arcana card are well worth reading. Konraad discusses some of the symbols on each card, astrological associations, and associations he makes with Jungian and Freudian psychology. As I looked at the black-and-white illustrations, I found myself (yet again) drawn to the Oswald Wirth deck, which I do not yet own. Hmmmm.....

Moving on! Just so you'll know, I'm not a big fan of HUGE spreads. The times I have used them, I got such "information overload" that I was forced to lie down with a cold pack on my head (okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). An exception would be a zodiac spread, where each card represents one of the 12 houses of the zodiac. In that case, it's easier for me to see which information applies to which area of life.

In Classic Tarot Spreads, Sandor Konraad presents 22 spreads, most of which involve 12 or more cards. If you dislike large spreads, this may not be the right book for you. I confess that I will probably never use a lot of these spreads -- although I am going to try the Past Lives Spread. I hope to share my reading on this blog. Stay tuned for that.


Classic Tarot Spreads presents one of the most comprehensive collections of card spreads available in one book. It includes 22 classic spreads that provide a key to the history, mythology and metaphysical meanings of the cards. The book not only covers the practice and ritual of card reading, it treats the Tarot deck as a magical tool and counseling medium that can be used to resolve basic life issues. Sandor Konraad includes spreads for opening a reading - answering questions about health, love, marriage and money - as well as spreads for ending a reading.


According to the introduction to this book -- "Confessions of a Reluctant Tarot Reader" -- Sandor Konraad spent much of his life engrossed in parapsychology, not Tarot. He was staying at a guest home in New England, preparing a course in parapsychology, when he picked up a Tarot deck and book at a local shop. His purpose was simply to familiarize himself with the imagery on the cards. He ended up doing a reading for a woman who insisted he read for her, even though he warned her that he was a "total neophyte." His fascination with the cards grew from that experience, and the rest is history.

Konraad has studied extensively with the renowned Rolla Nordic. He holds a B.A. from Cornell and has done graduate work at New York University and the New School for Social Research. In addition to Classic Tarot Spreads, Konraad is the author of Numerology: Key to the Tarot.


This 160-page paperback book measures 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches. It is not a new book, having been copyrighted in 1985 by Sandor Konraad.

Following a Preface and the above-mentioned Introduction, the book is divided into four parts:
  • Exploring Inner Space: Reading and Interpreting the Cards in Divination
  • Questions of Concern Spreads
  • Life Reading Spreads
  • Transcriptions of Tarot Readings

Part One contains:
  • Schedule for Learning the Tarot in Thirty Days
  • Basic Patterns (summarizing Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, Court Cards, and Numerical Correspondences)
  • Interpretations related to cards numbered 1, 2, 3, and so forth (Kings=11, Queens=12, Knights=13, Pages=14)
  • Summary of Meanings in Divination for Major and Minor Arcana (by number)
  • Detailed descriptions and interpretations of the Major Arcana cards

Part Two addresses:
  • Opening a Reading
  • Using a Significator
  • Getting the Big Picture
  • Answering Questions Concerning Health
  • Finding Answers to a Difficult Question
  • Looking at the Year Ahead
  • Ending a Reading

The smallest spread in Part Two uses seven cards; the largest uses 49.

In Part Three we are given spreads related to "Life Readings" -- readings that are "less concerned with immediate questions and more questioning with regard to ultimate concerns." Like the spreads in Part Two, the spreads in Part Three are quite large. The smallest uses seven cards; the largest uses 50.

Part Four consists of transcriptions of four readings done for one client, four readings done for a second client, and three readings done for a third client.


Although the cards shown on the cover of the book are from the Aquarian Tarot (Morgan  Press), Konraad bases his descriptions of the Majors on cards from the Oswald Wirth deck (U.S. Games Systems). The Majors section is therefore illustrated with black-and-white images of the Wirth cards.

For the type of reading presented in Part Three, Konraad suggests that a deck with illustrated pips, such as the Rider-Waite  or Morgan-Greer (U.S. Games Systems), "might prove more evocative."

Even though Konraad gives us a lot of detailed information to learn, he also reminds us that when reading the cards, we should trust our instincts: "Just say the first thing that comes to mind. . . Do not hold back what intuitively comes to you."


  1. I am interested in looking over this book. Perhaps it can be found at a library, or can be loaned from another town locally- I will check it out. And I too agree that it is the intent and respect of the reader rather than a set rule of what type of ritual to use when storing or "prepping" the decks go- I tell newbies to follow their intuition and do it with loving respect, no matter what they choose. The way I started out was to pick a card at random almost every morning for @ a year, meditate on the image [I was gifted my first tarot cards- a rider-waite deck in 10th grade] and feel what it's meaning was. I did that before I delved into any books. Now, when I get a new deck, I sort-of have an innate understanding of the cards, even if they are slightly different from the traditional RW deck, then go to the book by the illustrator/author for their intentional divination explanation- since each creator of a deck puts a slight spin on at least some of the cards.
    As usual- thanks for a great post!!!

    1. How cool that you started reading the cards in 10th grade. I got my first deck in college (I think). It was the 1JJ Swiss so popular in the 1970s. But I didn't really try to read the cards much until many years later, when I picked up the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg. I very much like your approach (combining intuition, previously absorbed knowledge of the cards, and the deck creator's intent).


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from my readers!
~ Zanna