9 Card Tarot Spread Guide: Up Your Tarot Game with These Spreads

A nine-card Tarot spread is a great way to gain in-depth insight and understanding into your life right now. If you have just started out with Tarot, nine-card spreads can be pretty overwhelming! There are a lot of cards. 

So, I want to write this nine-card Tarot spread guide that breaks down all the different positions to help you really get to grips with this kind of spread.

There are a few different ways to perform a nine-card reading. In this guide, I will look at the different ways we can use the nine-card Tarot spread, so you can find the best one that works for you.

Nine-card Tarot Spreads Up Front

My favorite nine-card Tarot spread is the one that provides an in-depth life check-in. It is a general spread, meaning you can perform it without questions for the Tarot. I went through this spread with my friend, and it was super interesting how it reflected her life.

By using the four elements alongside general cards, we can gain an understanding of the different aspects of our lives.

I have also included guides for a few other nine-card spreads for you to try out.

How to Pull the Cards for a Nine-card Tarot Spread

All nine-card Tarot spreads tend to follow the same layout. It looks like a box, with cards one, two, and three on the top running left to right. Directly underneath are cards four, five, and six, and directly under these are the final three cards.

How to Pull the Cards for a Nine-card Tarot Spread
Photo by Lou Siday

I usually pick the cards in order after shuffling the deck. However, you may wish to pick the central card (card five) first. This is because this card is usually the most significant in the nine-card Tarot spread. But, more on that later!

Reading the Cards Horizontally

If you are new to nine-card Tarot spreads, I recommend you begin by reading the cards horizontally. This allows us to take a three-card spread and enhance it, picking more cards to gain more understanding.

We can read a nine-card spread horizontally in a few different ways. I like to perform an in-depth past, present, and future reading this way.

In this spread, the cards should be read as followed:

  • The first line (cards one to three)  – The past
  • The second line (cards four to six) – The present
  • The third line (cards seven to nine) – The future

We can also perform a mind, body, and spirit reading in this way, allowing the cards to illuminate different things that affect these areas.

The cards pulled for this spread refer to:

  • The first line (cards one to three)  – Mind
  • The second line (cards four to six) – Body
  • The third line (cards seven to nine) – Spirit

As you can see, we can take any three-card Tarot spread and use it with nine cards to better understand our situation! If you regularly perform a certain three-card reading, have a see if you can add six more cards into the spread.

Reading the Cards Vertically – A Nine-card Tarot Spread for Growth

We can also read nine-card Tarot spreads vertically. I always use this method when I want information on progression and moving forward. It is an excellent way of getting guidance from the cards.

We are looking at three distinct columns in this kind of nine-card spread. The first column contains cards one, four, and seven. The second column contains cards two, five, and eight. The final column contains cards three, six, and nine.

This nine-card spread allows you to examine the different aspects of your life and what you need to do in order to move forward and unleash your potential.

The cards pulled refer to:

  • The first column (cards one, four, and seven) – Your current situation
  • The second column (cards two, five, and eight) – Your potential
  • The third column (cards three, six, and nine) – Action to take to get there

The cards here can also be read horizontally. So, cards one, two, and three may be linked and reflect a specific aspect of your life. The first card is where you are now, the second refers to the potential in this current situation, and the third card gives you advice on how to grow.

Let’s pull some cards and look at how we can understand this spread!

Reading the Cards Vertically - A Nine-card Tarot Spread For Growth
Photo by Lou Siday

The First Column (Cards One, Four, and Seven) – Your Current Situation

In the example reading, the querent received the Five of Cups, the Page of Pentacles, and the Four of Swords in the first column. As these cards represent the querent’s current situation, we can read them individually or as a whole.

The Five of Cups represents disappointment, with certain situations not going their way. The Page of Pentacles represents an ambitious and goal-oriented person. They have a lot of potential but haven’t achieved it yet.

The Four of Swords reflects a time of rest and recuperation. It will typically pop up when things are pretty stressful and we are in need of some time out!

As a whole, we can see that the querent is an ambitious person, but things aren’t really going their way. They may be overworking and stressed, and because of this, they are getting frustrated and disappointed in their situation.

The Second Column (Cards Two, Five, and Eight) – Your Potential

So, let’s look at the potential that the querent has. We know where they are right now in their life, but where can they be?

The three cards that make up the second column are the Queen of Wands, the Six of Wands, and the Sun. As two cards of the Suit of Wands have appeared, let’s remind us what this suit is all about. Wands typically represent passion and fiery energy. It will reflect energy and inspiration and our deep hopes and dreams.

This suggests that the querent has many things they are passionate about, and they have the potential for their dreams to come true! The Six of Wands is all about victory and success, with the Queen of Wands representing a confident and ambitious person.

We also have the Sun in this column. I love this card! This Major Arcana card represents success and optimism. There is an innocence to this card. It reminds us to look at the world through childlike eyes from time to time! Doing so will help us really appreciate where we are in life.

The Third Column (Cards Three, Six, and Nine) – Action to Take to Get There

So we can see that the querent has a whole load of potential in their life! But how do they get there? Let’s look at the three final cards. The Ace of Cups, the Six of Cups, and Strength have appeared in this spread.

Again, we have two cards of the same suit! The Suit of Cups reflects emotions and relationships, so we can see that these things will be important for the querent’s successes.

I love the Ace of Cups. I always think the Aces of every suit represent the fresh energy of the suit in its purest form. The Ace of Cups allows us to feel the emotions flowing through us. In order for the querent to move forward in life and achieve their goals, they need to open up their heart and let their love flow!

The Six of Cups is also a lovely and tender card. It is often called the card of childhood, as it represents nostalgia and happy memories. For the querent to move forward, they need to reconnect with their inner child. This will allow them to relieve the distress and disappointment that exists right now.

Strength tells the querent that they need to tap into their inner power to achieve their goals and grow. This card reminds us to be tender and caring when harnessing our strength.

An Extra Step – Reading Horizontally

A Nine-Card Tarot Spread - An Extra Step - Reading Horizontally

We can also look at the cards horizontally and see if there are any links between the cards. I am drawn to the third line of cards, where we have the Four of Swords, the Sun, and Strength.

The querent is under stress right now and needs recuperation and rest. But, they have the potential of the Sun within them. So, they must harness their inner strength to get through this challenging time and to the sunshine.

Similarly, I feel the second line tells a story. The querent has a whole load of potential, especially when it comes to their career. She is currently the Page of Pentacles but has the potential to be the Six of Wands (victorious and successful).

She needs to reconnect with her inner child to get there, which is what the Six of Cups shows. As the Six of Cups is on the same line as the Page of Pentacles and the Six of Wands, I feel that it reflects the querent’s work life. Nostalgia and happy memories will help the querent on their career journey.

A Nine-Card Tarot Spread for an In-depth Life Check-in

I am a big fan of doing general life readings. I think this is because I will often read cards for my friends, who usually ask for a general check-in. General spreads are great ways of practicing Tarot reading and discovering new insights into your life.

When we don’t really know what we need answers for but want to find new layers to our understanding of life, we can turn to this general in-depth Tarot spread.

In this nine-card Tarot spread, we pull nine cards in the box shape, just like the other spreads. However, you may wish to pick the fifth card first. This is because this card is the central card. Its meaning is most pertinent to the querent’s life.

The corner cards provide context to the central card.

So, what about the other cards? Well, this is where my nine-card spread differs from more traditional ones. We have four cards left – cards two, four, six, and eight. These cards are there to provide advice to the querent.

Because I believe the elements are deeply important to spirituality, I like to involve them in my Tarot spreads. I think that this nine-card spread is the perfect place to turn to the elements for insight and advice.

So, how can we do this? The four elements are linked to four different aspects of your life.

  • Card two: Earth: Material aspects, physical abundance.
  • Card four: Water: Relationships, emotions.
  • Card six: Air: Communication, creativity.
  • Card eight: Fire: Energy, passion, drive.

By adding the elements to this general nine-card spread, we can gain guidance from the Tarot and deepen our spiritual connection to the universe around us.

Let’s recap! The nine cards pulled in this spread refer to:

  • Card five: Central card -something big in the querent’s life right now
  • Cards one, three, seven, and nine – provide context and insight into the central card
  • Cards two, four, six, and eight – the four elements and the different areas of the querent’s life

So, let’s do an example of this spread to help us understand the different card positions! I did this reading on my friend, and it worked really well. It provided her with some interesting insight into her life right now.

A Nine-Card Tarot Spread for an In-depth Life Check-in
Photo by Lou Siday

Card Five: Central Card

For her central card, my friend received the Lovers. This Major Arcana card is all about love, romance, and harmony. It can also sometimes signify a choice in life that needs to be made.

She liked this card as her central one, as she said that she is aware of the amount of love she has in her life. However, she did see that it can represent a choice, especially in her romantic life.

She has been with her boyfriend for a few years now and is currently considering moving in with him. However, she is in two minds about it. So, what insight does the Tarot provide her with? Let’s look at the corner cards!

Cards One, Three, Seven, and Nine: Context

I did feel that the context cards were relevant to both the central card and my friend’s current situation.

The four cards she received were:

  • The Chariot: Moving forward and overcoming obstacles
  • Five of Wands: Disagreements, conflict, and competition
  • Nine of Cups: Contentment and satisfaction
  • Six of Swords: Transition and acceptance

As we can see, change is a big theme in the four context cards. As my friend is currently deciding about making the next step in her relationship, it makes sense that these cards appear.

She also related to the Five of Wands, saying that she believed it represents the conflict within her. However, she acknowledged the Nine of Cups as being pertinent. She knows that she has a whole lot of love in her life right now, and she is pretty content about it all!

Card Two: Earth

The second card represents earth, which reflects the material world. For this card, my friend received the Four of Pentacles. As this is a card in the Suit of Pentacles, it is already linked to the material world, so we can read it at face value.

This card reflects my friend’s frugality when it comes to money. She has been a bit low on cash recently, so she is making sure she keeps her finances in check!

Card Four: Water

For the water card, which represents emotions and relationships, my friend received the Empress. This Major Arcana card represents femininity and nurture.

For my friend, the message of this card was clear. It reminded her of the importance of self-love and self-care. She is a wonderful person who is thoughtful, caring, and kind. She is the Empress and needs to always remember this!

Card Six: Air

9 Card Tarot Spread

Air is typically related to communication and creativity. It is also linked to the mind and may reflect intellectual pursuits.

For this card, my friend received the Five of Pentacles. The Five of Pentacles reflects a time of financial insecurity and hardship, so what does it mean in this position?

Well, my friend is currently finishing up her Ph.D., and it’s taking a lot of her creative and intellectual energy! This means that she feels she lacks the energy to pursue her hobbies and interests. I saw the Five of Pentacles as representing this struggle and loss. It is not a financial loss that she is going through but a loss of creativity in her hobbies!

Card Eight: Fire

Fire represents our passions and drive, and it was interesting to see the Five of Swords pop up in this position. The Five of Swords represents conflict and disagreements and usually pops up after an argument or fallout.

For my friend, she understood this as being a conflict within her regarding her passions. As we saw in the Air card, my friend is struggling to express her creativity and feels her hobbies are being ignored. She is very creative and has always had arts and craft projects going on!

However, because of the strain of her Ph.D., she has not been able to be creative. This is causing conflict in her life. She feels as if she is ignoring one of her big passions in life.

Nine-Card Tarot Spread Guide FAQs

Let’s look at some questions you may have about the nine-card Tarot spreads.

Question: Is a Nine-card Tarot Spread Suitable for Beginners?

Answer: If you are new to Tarot, a nine-card spread might be slightly overwhelming! However, by using this guide and breaking down the different cards and positions, you can confidently perform a nine-card spread.

Question: What Does Nine Mean in the Tarot?

Answer: The number nine reflects the Hermit card, which has energy of wisdom and introspection.

Question: How Do You Read a Nine-card Lenormand Spread?

Answer: The nine-card Lenormand spread uses card five as a central card, with the others providing insight into the querent’s life.

Further Your Tarot Skills with a Nine-card Spread

I hope you have enjoyed this nine-card Tarot spread guide. I have made it accessible to a whole range of Tarot readers. Even beginners can have a go at reading these spreads!

If you are struggling with the nine-card check, I have a whole load of other guides that use fewer cards. Check out my four-card Tarot spread guide that talks you through four different spreads that are perfect for beginners.

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