What is the best spread?

Someone wrote to ask: A friend wants to know who is his worst enemy. What spread should I use?

This is a good question, but it is not an easy one to answer in just a few sentences. Here is a long-ish reply.

If the person has a few people in mind as “enemies”, you could pick a single card for each one. Thus, you might ask: Is Tom my worst enemy? and get the Knight of Cups, reversed. The card is upside down, so the answer is No. Why not? We look at the card and say, perhaps, that he is influenced too much by conditions rather than being the kind of person to force his ideas and opinions on others.

Then you ask: Is Bill my worst enemy? and get The Devil. The card is upright, so the answer is Yes.  Why? Perhaps because he has a cruel and manipulative streak.

An approach like this might answer the question, but it does not seem very helpful to the questioner because he isn’t more knowledgeable about himself, and probably can’t lead a fuller and more creative life thanks to this information. The Tarot, I think, ought to be used to help people improve their lives.  All we may be doing here is re-inforcing the questioner’s prejudices and fears. That’s probably not such a good thing to do.

You might, however, go one step further and choose a second card because: You say Billl has a cruel streak, so what is the best way for me to handle him or his behaviour? An answer to that question could lead somewhere useful.

On the other hand, there is more chance of the questioner getting insight into the self, other people, and relationships, if you choose three or more cards to answer: Is Tom the enemy? These cards can show the past, present and future of the relationship, as well as the questioner’s dealings with Tom. There will be a chance for the questioner to get an idea of what generally makes a good relationship; what he is looking for from others, how they can teach him something about himself; how they can help or hinder him; and so on.

The same three-card layout for past, present and future, can be used if the questioner does not have anyone particular in mind as the worst enemy, but wants to know the type of people who will oppose him, or get in his way, or be his rivals.

Our thoughts and concerns change as we get older. This may be shown by the differences between the cards in the past and the future. Or there may be a common theme in all three cards, indicating a life-long or long-term lesson that the questioner has to – or ought to – learn.

The question was: What spread to use?

The answer may be: What will provide the questioner with the greatest amount of useful information?

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