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How to Tackle a Year Ahead Spread

Note: These types of readings are not only great for the New year, but also for birthdays or any special anniversary (wedding, business opening, sobriety dates, if it takes consistent work and/or is something you care about, it’s worth taking the time to check in).

To start, you’ll need to decide on a spread. You can grab one from a number of places, including pinterest, or you can put one together. If you are creating one for yourself, consider starting with a card that looks at where you are now, and maybe one for how the last year looked for you. Looking ahead, you’ll want to think about sectioning. This can be done by year, season, or even by things like quarter if you are specifically looking at money or business. Then you’ll need to decide on sub sectioning, such as a card for the theme and what to look out for.

After you’ve written down the questions you’ll be asking, it will be time to pull the cards. While you shuffle, be intentional about looking forward to the next year. Then you will pull out a card for each position/question of the spread. Be sure to take pictures and write down which cards belong where. This is something to do anytime you pull cards for yourself but especially for these long spreads that will require a lot of reflection.

Once you’ve written down the particulars, it is time to begin your interpretation. Again, you’ll want to focus on the year ahead but you also need to be able to relax into listening to your own thoughts and feelings. Record your first impressions. No matter your experience with cards, the first part should always be writing down what jumps out at you. Images, feelings, phrases that come to mind, and anything that you notice should be jotted down. Then move into a card by card analysis and do the same thing. This time, if you want to grab your guides or journals or other resources you use for meanings, that works as well. The key here is not to force anything. If you have a guidebook but feel that what you’re reading doesn’t fit with your spread, then let it be for now.

After looking at each card, it’s time to look at the relationships between the cards and any patterns you see. This is where a big spread can become a little daunting but I have some tips on how to make that easier.

There are two strategies that I find most helpful for getting all of the insights and clarity available from the reading. The first is to break the bigger spread down into smaller and more manageable pieces. The second is understanding that what is in the reading is not written in stone. We cannot allow ourselves to get trapped in what we think has to happen. The cards should be a guide to help, not the final call on what life has to look like.

Let’s tackle the process of breaking things down into pieces first. Whether you create your own spread or you grab one from somewhere else such as a blog or book or even pinterest, chances are it is going to be bigger than what you are used to. The great thing about this is that it gives you a chance to really get a feel for themes and patterns. The downside, though, is that these may get lost in the sea of the very messages you are trying to receive. It can also be overwhelming. That is why, when I do these, I use some form of the following systems.

I start by deciding what pattern or theme from the reading I’d like to focus on. Then I group the cards from the reading according to those ideas (we’ll get into this further but essentially we look at one piece that is in every month or season depending on how you chose to break up the year, and pull that one piece from each section and look at them that way.). Grouping by month is also a nice way to section and may be easier if you are new to big spreads. After we’ve broken it down, we’ll put together a follow up plan. The last part is optional but super helpful and that is remembering to come back to the reading often. When you first do it, take lots of notes and hold yourself accountable for the follow through.

The very first step is determining what information you want most from this reading. For many it will be what is going to happen this year so we will start there. Before we go into it, it must be noted that this will bring its own set of complications. The key to looking at a year ahead reading as a method for finding out what will happen, is understanding that every decision you make will affect the path you are on and therefore the outcome. There are plenty of ways to handle these obstacles and we will discuss them, but it is important to be aware of them.

The second step is to pull out the cards that fit this goal and gather them together. For this example, we are focusing on what could happen and therefore pulling that portion from each section of your reading. Use this to get a quick story of your year, but again remember that every choice you make may change how that story reads. Because of this, there are a couple of options for how to handle this. Preparation or reflection.

Example: In January, you see a heads up that there will be communication issues and February will bring a falling out. The thing is, now you have that heads up and are prepared for it. Having this information means that your February could look different now.

This is where reflection and follow up come into play. While you are making decisions about how you’ll handle what is coming in January, or reflecting on how you handled it, you can look at how your choice may have altered your path.

In our example, the reading indicated that January would bring about communication issues. If this were not brought to your attention then the falling out in February is probably correct. If you looked at the reading and merely accepted it, then both the issues in January and the break up or loss of friendship would still likely happen but you would see it validated and possibly inevitable.

If you used this information to mitigate the situation (you were careful with your words, took extra time to explain yourself or caught the situation as it was happening or soon after and took measures to resolve it) then you may find you’ve altered what will happen in February. The miscommunication being resolved or circumvented would mean no build up, no reason to walk away.

If you went with the preparation option, that means choosing to deal with the shift before you make it. To me, this is the best way to start working with this aspect of a year ahead reading. It will, however, be the most time consuming and energy draining. The plus side is that it gives you the most control of your situations. Here you isolate the first event (or the one that you feel you will handle differently since you have foresight) and look at how you can prepare. 

Our example is about communication issues so your options may be to be careful with your words, avoid texts in favor of phone or video calls (to avoid misunderstandings that can happen when tone does not translate) or, for the sake of thoroughness, let’s throw in the option of taking it as it comes. I want to add in that third one because sometimes the best strategy is to let things come as they may. This method gives us a chance to evaluate and decide for ourselves.

This step should be a new reading. Depending on how you think, you may want to grab a second deck or document the current spread so you can utilize the same deck. Taking pictures and recording your cards and notes is important though so be sure to do that either way. When you look back on this reading down the line, you want to be able to remember so you aren’t struggling to make things fit.

For this phase, we’re going to pull a pros and cons spread. The simplest way is to grab a pro and con card for each option. You can always pull clarifiers as needed. From here you can grab one more card to look at how this will shift the events coming in February. If you have the time and inclination, you can do that for each option but remember, no matter which you choose, the other person's choices will also shift the path. 

If you choose the option to leave it as is, you won’t need this step. If your actions don’t shift, there isn’t much reason to think the next month will and that’s ok. Sometimes relationships (I use this term to cover many kinds, not just romantic) are meant to end so you may not want to change things so much as accept them. But as Free Will’s biggest cheerleader, I’m going to pretend we chose option one. Asking how things will shift. Most likely we’ll see what may have been that falling out becomes an uncomfortable moment that actually deepens our relationship.

Should we do this for every event and action? Well, if the events all seem to be related then we may want to look at that. Personally, I would take it a month or two at a time. Keep reflecting and building as the months progress. I would recommend journaling or something similar on a weekly or even daily basis.

If you decide to use the spread as a heads up but make decisions as the events reveal themselves, you can still look at how being aware and ready affected the situation and therefore the pieces down the line. This could also be a new reading or it could be a journal entry. 

What did you do with the information you had? What did you learn? Are you satisfied with these actions?? How does this affect what’s coming down the line? The last question could be done as speculation if you decide to journal or process in a way other than with cards or other divination tools. If you are good at consistency and continue reflecting every month, speculation is a great way to build your reasoning skills and trust in yourself. Don’t be afraid to look for the answers within yourself. It’s how we learn.

So that’s looking at that particular group. Other types of information that are good to collect are those that look at patterns. One great thing to look at if you are doing readings that look ahead are obstacle and opportunity pairings. You can use them as an overall or pulling one for each section. Here is a great way that grouping helps. If you’ve pulled opportunity cards for each month or season or however you broke it down, taking those cards out and looking at them all together can show you where you want to look to have your most successful year. This is huge because we often get an idea in our heads of how our success should look and that keeps us from being able to capitalize on what is out there for you. 

Looking at the obstacles will give you the theme of what your lessons will be this year and you can learn them faster and more effectively. They will also give you a glimpse into some of your patterns that need to be broken and reestablished.

To close, make sure you are going back to this spread as you go through the year to see what you originally interpreted and how that manifested. How in tune were you with your intuition and what surprised you? Sometimes we interpret something but it manifests in a way we’d never expect. Now, go forward and grab those cards!

Best of Luck, 

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