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General Tarot Readings: What They Are And What To Expect

    What is a general reading, and what answers do they bring? This article teaches you everything you need to know about general readings and what to expect from them.

    A general reading is a Tarot reading that doesn’t answer a specific question or solve a particular problem. A general reading is used to hone in on overarching energies at play. The general card spread has fixed card placements and meanings. A common spread is the “Celtic Cross.”

    Generally, Tarot card readings are divided into two main groups: General readings and specific readings. There is no particular question being answered in a general reading—the reading focuses on overarching insights. On the other hand, a specific reading focuses on a particular question or problem. 


    A general reading hones in on overarching energies. It will not give the seeker detailed answers to specific questions in their lives. Many use general reading as an opportunity to listen to Spirit’s direction or as a starting point to gain questions. The questions are later investigated in-depth in a specific reading.

    The most common general reading card spreads are the “Celtic Cross” and the “Past, Present, Future spread.”

    Sandra Tornroth

    The most common general reading card spreads are the “Celtic Cross” and the “Past, Present, Future.” Feel free to create your version. There are no one-fits-all solutions in Tarot. 

    General readings have fixed card spreads – for example, the “Past, Present, Future spread.” The placement of the cards has set meanings – so there is no need for a specific question.

    A specific reading has dynamic placements of the cards. The card spreads are customized, and there are no fixed meanings or arrangements. 

    A common practice is starting with a general reading if the client or you has no specific question in mind. Sometimes it is hard to know what questions to ask the Tarot if you are not used to the concept.

    As the reading progress, the Tarot reader hones in on questions that emerge during the general reading. The general reading has now turned into a specific reading.

    An easy general card spread for beginners
    An easy general card spread for beginners

    General readings aimed at an unspecific audience are widespread on social media. The reader pulls cards and delivers insights for their audience. As a general reading of this kind is not aimed towards a specific seeker (person), take it with a grain of salt. The general readings on social media are a great way to learn the basics of the Tarot and how readings work. Be careful not to take them too as truths, though. 

    A general "Past, Present, Future spread"
    A general “Past, Present, Future spread”


    A general reading will give you insights into the overall energies at play but no in-depth answers to specific questions.

    If you have difficulty knowing what question to ask the Tarot, a general reading might be an excellent start for untangling a cloudy mindset. Maybe you feel something is off but can’t put your finger on what it is. In this case, a general reading can be beneficial.

    If you are doing a general reading for yourself, you can narrow it down into specific areas as you progress. Pull a clarifying card when new questions arise. 

    If you seek answers from a general reading on social media, please be aware that your answers are diluted. The reading is not channeling your energies. Don’t make critical decisions based on these kinds of readings.

    If you are having issues getting to the heart of the matter yourself, a professional reader will help you narrow down your questions. A skilled reader will pinpoint the question or situation that needs attention. It’s tough to do readings for yourself if you have a very stubborn Ego getting in your way.


    General readings are an easy way to start learning the Tarot. The easiest one is the daily card pull. Pull a card in the morning and reflect on the emotions or thoughts it brings you. You don’t even have to know the meaning of the cards. If you want to, you can also analyze the card’s meaning, but you don’t have to. Just go with your intuition. In the evening, reflect on your day and experiences. Make a note of what you learned. 

    When you evolve as a Tarot reader, you can add the card meaning to the mix. Combine your intuition with the card’s meaning for added depth. 

    The next step is to start using spreads. I recommend starting with the “Past, Present, Future” spread. When you feel confident, you can create customized spreads for your reading style and needs. 

    The “Celtic Cross” is quite complex, and I don’t recommend it for beginners. It’s easy to get lost in all information thrown at you. The “Celtic Cross” is a ten-card spread – so it’s easy to understand how you can get overwhelmed.


    Another easy way of conducting a general reading is to draw one card at a time. Start pulling one card and reflect on your insights. If questions arise, pull another card for clarification. Let the cards lead the way. The Tarot has a beautiful way of helping you find the answers you need.

    I love using the one-card pull myself.  As the Ego has its way of concealing what needs to be addressed, this spread makes it easy to bypass the blockages.

    Before you start, set a clear intention to let your heart be open to receiving all messages. Be willing to let the Tarot be your guide and trust the process.

    Check my article "What Is A Daily Tarot Spread And What Is It Used For?"


    General card spreads are a great way to start a Tarot reading if you are unsure where to start or what question to ask. Asking the right questions is one of the hardest things in Tarot.

    The one-card pull is one of my favorite spreads, as you add a card when a new question pops up.

    You can also try the “Past, Present, Future” spread. The “Celtic Cross” is a complicated spread and can quickly overwhelm a beginner. 

    General readings do not answer specific questions but can help you get in touch with overarching advice from Spirit.

    General readings are a great way to start exploring and learning the Tarot. You will be amazed how fast you begin to understand the process of the Tarot.

    When you gain confidence and experience, you can create customized card spreads. As always, there are no rights and wrongs regarding the Tarot. It’s a personal journey. Let your Tarot deck take you by the hand and lead the way. 

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric


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