New Year Tarot Spread Explained

The New Year Tarot Spread Explained

A New Year Tarot spread is one of the most popular spreads that a tarot practitioner can do. The general idea of the New Year spread is to explore the energies of the upcoming year for the querent. 

No one spread works best for everyone when doing a New Year reading, but for most, it is best that this be a larger, more detailed spread. A lot can happen in 12 months, and just pulling a few cards around these energies won’t provide sufficient expectations for the year to come. 

The purpose of this guide is to have the New Year tarot spread explained and to help you develop your own New Year spread rather than plug into an already developed spread. Spreads that are created and developed by the person doing the reading always have more accurate results, as they are imbued with the energy of the reader and their style, and even personalized to the querent if need be. 

When developing your New Year spread, be sure to put your own personal twist on it. You’ll be amazed at the results! 

The Focus of the New Year Spread

There are a few options when it comes to the overall focus and purpose of a New Year spread. Some may choose to use it as an outlook for the upcoming year and what energies and themes may be present. Using tarot to look into the future can be a tricky thing, as there is no fixed future that can be divined through tarot. Therefore, the energies that will appear will be where things stand as they are now. It is up to you to keep track of your progress and check in with your spread as you progress throughout the year to see what needs to be refined or revisited.

You may also choose to use the New Year spread to clarify lessons and themes from the past year that you may integrate into your life in the year ahead. Since these things have already happened and you are familiar with the events of the previous year, this may be a more effective way to do a New Year spread. 

You may also choose to use a mixture of the two, where the first part of your spread speaks to the lessons to be integrated from the previous year, while the next part speaks to what you may have ahead of you. 

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to do a New Year spread – do whatever feels intuitive to you! 

When to do a New Year Tarot Spread

Aside from the beginning of the Julian calendar year, beginning on January 1st, a New Year Spread can be done other times of the year. While we generally use the Julian calendar to mark our days and years, many pagan societies of old considered the new year to start in the fall, when the bounty of the harvest had been reaped, and trees and plants began to die and decay, to provide fertile soil for the following year.

For these nature-reliant people, the New Year began around Samhain, what we now call Halloween. Many people who follow a pagan or witch’s path (including me) choose to do a New Year Spread on Samhain eve when the veil between this world and the Spirit World is the thinnest. I find that ancestors, spirit guides, and even deities are most active at this time and willing to speak through the tarot

Other cultures also have New Year’s apart from the traditional Julian New Year. For instance, in the Jewish culture, the New Year starts at Rosh Hashanah – a different day each year, but generally during the month of September. As the tarot as we know it borrows heavily from Jewish mysticism, Rosh Hashanah would be a potent time of year to do a New Year reading. Other cultures also use a Lunar Calendar, so doing a tarot card reading during any Lunar New Year will work as well.

Another good time to do a New Year reading is on the querent’s birthday. The solar return marks the beginning of a new year, and readings done for the year ahead during this time can be useful as they are personalized to the querent as well. 

How to do a New Year Tarot Spread

Like most spreads, a New Year spread consists of a number of cards pulled while focusing on a question or prompt. Depending on what order they are pulled in, each tarot card then answers the question of that placement, and it is up to the reader to interpret the answers intuitively as they come. 

You may choose to follow the exact meanings of each tarot card as you interpret them, or you may be a more intuitive reader and allow the cards to be a jumping-off point for the reading, based on their basic energy or imagery. The method of reading changes from reader to reader, and the more spreads you do, the more you will come to develop your reading technique. 

The Structure of the Spread

There is no right or wrong way to structure a New Year spread, but I have some ideas that may be useful as you develop your own spread. Some of these ideas work better as a prospective outlook spread, while some work better as a retrospective of the previous year. Find what works for you, and feel free to tweak as you go.

  • Pull cards in groups of four, signifying the four seasons or quarters of the year. This works best when you choose to begin the reading at a seasonal new year, like Samhain, as you would begin the reading for the Winter season and move on from there. If you choose to begin the reading on the Julian New Year, you will split the year into quarters. 
  • Pull three cards for each season or quarter. These cards can then signify each month of that quarter or just provide a general picture for the entire quarter. I use this method as it allows more flexibility and accuracy in the spread.
  • You may also wish to pull 12 cards separately, signifying each month of the year, and then pull clarifying cards for each month
  • Separate the Major Arcana cards from the Minor Arcana, and for each season, quarter, or month, pull one Major Arcana card to represent the major lesson that will be learned during that time and a few Minor Arcana cards to represent the more day-to-day cycles that will be occurring. Put these cards together to create a story of what the querent may expect for the year to come. 
  • Build a ‘pyramid’ with your cards, with 4 – 6 cards forming the foundation. This foundation can represent the knowledge the querent is building upon in the new year, while the next tier may represent challenges to come, while the top tier of one final card is the overarching lesson to be learned in the year ahead. 
  • If you are not pulling live and have the time, I suggest putting cards back into the tarot deck after you have pulled them for each month, season, or quarter, after noting your interpretations. This is more time-consuming but doesn’t eliminate certain energies or cycles from repeating throughout the year. For instance, I may pull The Star for the month of February, clarified by Cups – a period of respite after an emotional upheaval. Later in the year, in September, I may pull The Star again, clarified by Pentacles, as I have just gone through a hard time financially and finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As you can see, re-using cards is a much more flexible and realistic way of reading in a spread, and there’s absolutely no rule that says you can’t do this! 
  • If you wish to do a retrospective spread, the four-seasons structure still applies – just use it for the four previous seasons.
  • You may wish to pull a card for lessons learned from the previous season and then a card for what lesson you may learn in the same season of the new year. See how these two cards create a story and how you are shifting from the energy of the previous year into the new one. You can even pull a clarifying card to represent what actions you can take to make this shift happen. 

Questions for the Spread

A New Year spread doesn’t necessarily have to have questions or themes – instead, each grouping of cards represents energies and lessons present for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, etc. However, some readers work better by having each card answer a question or represent a concept, depending on the order they are pulled and their place in the spread. Here are some ideas for such concepts you can add to your spread. Feel free to mix and match!

  • What lessons have I integrated from the previous year?
  • What is my focus for the new year?
  • What ways of being can I leave behind as I enter this new year?
  • What obstacles may I be presented with within the new year?
  • How can I overcome any obstacles?
  • What guides will be present with me in the new year?
  • What am I releasing this year?
  • What is being born this year?
  • What wisdom can I take with me into the new year?
  • What is my goal for each quarter of the new year?
  • How can I shift from my old self into my new self in the coming year?

These are just a few of the questions that work well in a New Year spread and should give you a general overview of what you can ask. Did any of these questions spark more questions or ideas? If so, great! Write those down and integrate them into your spread. The more personalized your spread becomes, the more flow will be present as you actually perform the reading. 

FAQ

Question: When is the Best Time to do a New Year Tarot Spread?

Answer: A New Year spread is best done at any point in the year when a new 12-month cycle is beginning. This can take place at the Julian New Year, January 1st; at the Lunar New Year, which will be different depending on that year; the pagan New Year, Samhain, October 31st; or on or just before the querent’s birthday. 

Question: How Many Cards Should be Pulled for a New Year Tarot Spread?

Answer: I suggest pulling at least 12 Cards for a New Year spread. This spread is meant to be an in-depth analysis of the year to come and could even be seen as a ritual to prepare for the New Year. It is also a container to hold space for the lessons learned in the previous year, so you should be taking the time to create a detailed spread


Question: Can I do a New Year Tarot Reading for Myself?

Answer: There are different schools of thought on doing tarot readings for yourself vs. somebody else. Reading for yourself is a great way to develop your own intuition and lexicon within the tarot and also to develop a relationship with different decks you may have. I always do a large New Year spread for myself around Samhain and offer Yeah Ahead readings for clients at the Julian New Year. Start by doing readings for yourself until you are comfortable doing them for others. You may also find that different decks work better for readings with yourself and for other people. There are no hard and fast rules in the tarot – it’s all about your own abilities, intuition, and comfort level. 

Question: What is the Benefit of Developing my Own New Year Spread, as Opposed to Using one I Found Online?

Answer: It is absolutely valid to use pre-created spreads, and there is no reason not to, especially if you are a beginner when it comes to reading the tarot. They are great jumping-off points. However, in my experience, when you develop your own personalized spread, the results are more in tune with your own nature and method of reading the cards. There is more of an intuitive flow. Also, it is very fun and satisfying to create a spread and see just how much more dynamically Spirit speaks to you through the cards. The magic of the tarot becomes very apparent when you develop your own spread and relationship to the cards, as opposed to rote memorization of spreads and card meanings. 

Conclusion

I hope that this explanation of the New Year spread and all the ways it can be used and developed has given you some inspiration and excitement to go ahead and create your own New Year spread. As there are many chances to use this spread throughout the year, find what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to revisit and refine the spread and your technique as you become more comfortable using it.

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