DIY tarot spreads with the Spread Machine Cards + Oracle

In this guest post, Kim Tsan introduces her latest deck – a colourful, easy to use system for creating your own custom tarot spreads.

Hello everyone! I am excited to be showing you my deck, Spread Machine Cards + Oracle in this post today.

Spread crafting has always been a passion of mine, and I love injecting fun ideas and storytelling into the spreads that I create. I also love how a spread layout is like a map with designated pitstops, ushering you on a journey that you embark on in order to find the answers that you seek. Creating a spread for myself is like designing an adventure for my intuition to tread on to find the treasure at the end. Trying out a spread made by others is somewhat similar – except I’m taking a trip down someone else’s thought process and the journey that they designed for me.

Either way, it’s very exciting to be creating a spread for yourself or others. Personally, I think it keeps the tarot practice exciting, because you’re bringing conscious creativity, active introspection and synchronicity into it. You’re not just pulling cards to find an answer. You’re also designing an experience.

But anyway. I can gush about spread crafting all day everyday. Let me quickly move on before I drag you down my spread crafting geek dungeon! In this post, I’ll be giving you a basic introduction, and how you can get started creating spread layouts for your tarot readings, as well as other ways to make use of this deck and more.

What is the Spread Machine Cards + Oracle?

This deck is designed to be a cardslinger’s ultimate sidekick and companion – especially in the area of crafting spread layouts for cartomancy readings. It has 86 cards divided into five categories – each category contains spread prompts that are aligned with the theme of that category. Let’s take a look:

  • Seeker Cards – spread prompts that pertain to your personality, character traits and worldview
  • Focus Areas – important life areas and various topics of exploration
  • Lightwork – includes spread prompts that tap into the theme of healing and deep positivity – the “love and light” category
  • Shadow Work – cards that challenge us to excavate and confront the shadow aspects in our psyche and integrate them
  • Call to Action – cards with an action word or verb that inspire action and forward momentum

As you can see, Spread Machine Cards + Oracle mostly contain spread prompts that focus on introspection, emotional awareness, the balance of light and dark, as well as personal and spiritual growth. It encourages deep positivity and hardcore shadow work. I am hoping that the spread themes in this deck take your tarot practice to the next level, especially if you’re using tarot cards for these specific purposes: to grow, to heal, to get to know yourself better and to level up in life!

How to use this deck?

The main function of this deck is obviously to enable you to craft spread layouts for your tarot readings – but you can also use it in “reverse” and draw the spread prompts to clarify a reading you already did…but we’ll get to that later. Let’s start with crafting spreads!

Scenario 1: You already have a question in mind and you just want to flesh it out a bit more.

This is when Spread Machine can come in handy. With the question or topic you want to explore inmind, you can go through the deck prompts and consciously pick out the positions that you want to include in your spread.

If you feel drawn to doing shadow work, you can go straight to the Shadow Work category and pick out the cards that resonate with you. If you want to cultivate more self-awareness in a situation, you can head to the Seeker category and pull out some personality-based cards. You can also pull spread prompts from multiple categories to create a holistic and well-balanced spread, e.g. 2 cards from Light Work and 2 cards from Shadow Work category. The possibilities are literally endless.

Scenario 2: You want to do a reading but you don’t know what to ask or what to focus on.

Spread Machine can really help you narrow down your question and your focus – since it is a deck of cards, you can let the Universe decide on what spread positions are going to appear in your spread! Simply shuffle the deck, pull out the number of cards you want to use in a spread, and see what spread prompts turn up.

You can let synchronicity decide what you need to explore and allow it to reflect your energy and what needs to be answered at the moment. This is also a fun way to see if the deck agrees with what you thought you needed to hear rather than what you actually need to hear the most right now. (E.g. you wanted to do an angry vent reading because you feel like you’ve been wronged by your co-worker, but the deck calls you out on your rigid mindset and asks you to do shadow work instead. Yikes!)

Way of the Panda Tarot by Kimberley Tsan also shown.

Scenario 3: You randomly pulled 3 cards from your favourite deck, but you’re confused by the message and you’re not sure if your intuition is cooperating.

Let’s say the Hanged Man shows up for the 5th time in your reading this week because he’s your lovely stalker card – and you throw your hands in the air and ask, WHAT IS THIS? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY? Should you just hang in there and wait? Or have you been hanging out for too long? Where in your life are you having a Hanged Man moment?

You can use the Spread Machine to clarify and contextualize your interpretations. You can take out the cards from the Focus Areas only and pull a card to see what the Hanged Man is referring to. You can also take out the Light Work and Shadow Work categories, shuffle them blindly and pick a card to see if you get a Light Work card or Shadow Work card – determining what you need to do to channel the energy of this tarot archetype. You can also use the Call to Action cards to see what the Hanged Man is asking you to do. If you pull the Release card, then it’s clear that you should let go of whatever it is you’re hanging on to. If you pull Explore, then maybe there is a lesson that you haven’t learned from the Hanged Man.

Scenario 4: You’re a professional tarot reader and a client comes to you and doesn’t know what to ask.

If you read for others professionally and need to constantly create customized spreads to suit the needs for your clients, this deck can be a valuable resource to you. It’ll give you a springboard for your ideas and your intentions for your client. You can also use it to start a conversation with your client and work with them to figure out a spread together. You can also use it as a point of reference or inspiration to come up with relevant spread positions of your own for your client.

Let’s say your client wants a general reading about her love life but she doesn’t know where to start. She tells you her story of how she’s really insecure in dating and have trust issues with the people that she goes on dates with. She bails and runs off after a short period of time and she doesn’t know to do. Combining your intuition, your knowledge and your expert observation, you feel that there may be some unresolved triggers and shadow work that need to be done. You can take out the Trigger card and browse through the Shadow Work category and work out a spread that will help her address her points of healing and anything that she can work on herself so she can be at a healthier place the next time she goes on a date and tries to build a relationship with someone. You can then defer to the Call to Action category to see what would be the best action step for her going forward.

Other uses of this deck

As mentioned earlier – this deck isn’t limited to just spread crafting. You can also use it for:

  • Oracle readings – shuffle this deck as you would a regular oracle deck and interpret your question based on the text-based cards that come up
  • Journaling – because each card and spread position are mostly accompanied by a collection of open-ended questions that prompt you to think, reflect and explore, these cards make perfect journal prompts
  • Intention-Setting & Manifestation Work – because this deck is text-based, it is very straightforward if you want to use it to set a positive intention for the day. The Call to Action category is great for this.
  • Witchcraft, Ritual and Magickal Practices – you can totally incorporate these cards into your magickal practices as well, especially if you have a strong connection with words, literature and prayer! Program and charge a crystal on top of a card, or use one of the spread prompts as an altar card to focus your energy and magickal intentions.

The Spread Machine Cards + Oracle is designed to be a workhorse of a deck – and there are SO many things you can do with it! I hope you’ve gained a basic sense of what this deck is and what it can do for you and your tarot practice, and I truly hope that it adds depth and more meaning and more fun to your cardslinging adventurers – fulfilling its destiny as the ultimate sidekick.

If you can’t get enough of Spread Machine Cards + Oracle – there are two more expansion packs from this series: Change and Quest. Change focuses on examining communication breakdowns, emotional triggers, controversies, and deeper shadow work that involves yourself as well as your place in the collective. Quest is all about gamification and fun storytelling language. If you like to talk about life’s obstacles as Boss Fights and overcoming challenges as Leveling Up, I think you’ll enjoy this deck immensely! (If you play DND, this deck is a perfect add-on to spice up your campaigns!)

And that is all, peeps! Enjoy the deck and it’s been awesome guest-posting! :D