Overview Spread: School Days

What follows is a spread I did for a mother who was concerned about her daughter who was leaving at the end of the month to begin college across country. Mom wanted to know that her daughter would be safe, and that she would have a successful winter semester.

I thought this proved to be a good example of a classic Overview Spread, giving a general overview of a specific situation, and so with Mom’s permission I am sharing it here…

Question: How will the daughter fare during her first semester away at school?


General Impressions

What struck me first about this reading is the beautiful symmetry in the suits and numbers. There are two Spades, two Clubs and two Diamonds. There are two Aces, two 5′s and two Face Cards, not counting the Queen of Hearts which I chose as significator to represent the daughter.

The two Spades indicate the challenges that the daughter will face, and the two Clubs show that she is willing to put forth the work to achieve success. The two Diamonds represent intellectual pursuits, and foretell a successful outcome for the situation.

The Heart suit is conspicuously missing from this spread. This can be interpreted as a good sign since the Hearts can represent laziness and a lack of initiative. On the other hand, the girl may need reminding that school should also be fun, and that it’s okay to take some time away from her studies to relax and enjoy herself.  The mother confirmed that her daughter is a serious student, and not prone to either laziness or frivolity.

The two Aces represent a major change in the daughter’s life– a pair of Ace bring new people, situations, and places!  The two 5′s indicate that the daughter will take things in hand. Her future is literally in her own hands, and this new experience will be whatever she makes of it. The two Face Cards represent the new friends that the girl will encounter living on campus.

Now for an analysis of the individual cards…

The Two Cards on the Left

The two cards on the left represent the premise of the question, the recent past or present influences on the situation. The Ace of Spades is a life transition. It is the ending of one phase of life, and the start of another. It also represents the anxiety associated with any major life change. The Ace of Diamonds is a new phase of life beginning, and brings a sense of adventure. Going off to school is clearly a significant event in the daughter’s life. The mother confirmed that the girl has never been away from home for more than a day or two, and both mother and daughter are feeling anxious about the separation.

The Ace of Spades and Ace of Diamonds can also indicate some anxiety over a letter, and there had been some concern over whether or not the girl would get into the school of her choice before the letter of acceptance finally arrived last month.

The Card Above

The card directly above the significator represents what is on the person’s mind regarding the question, or what the person hopes to achieve in the situation. The 5 of Spades is a card of movement, separation and loss. The daughter is obviously thinking about being away from her friends and family, and relocating to unfamiliar surroundings. The 5 of Spades can also indicate independence and the fear of striking out on one’s own. No doubt the daughter is feeling some anxiety, but she also looks forward to being on her own for the first time in her life.

The Card Below

The card below the significator represents what the person fears or dreads regarding the situation surrounding the question. The Jack of Clubs is a young person– usually male. The mother confirmed that the daughter has a boyfriend she has dated through high school. The Ace of Diamonds suggests that there may have been some talk of an engagement, and the upcoming separation from the boy is the single dark cloud in an otherwise happy situation.

Often the Card Above and the Card Below will refer to a single situation. It becomes obvious that it is the separation from the boyfriend that weighs heavily on the girls mind.  She does not dread the separation itself– which would have been the message if the 5 of Spades had fallen below. Instead, she’s looking forward to the change, but dreads how the move will affect her relationship with the boy. The Ace of Diamonds also suggests that they have promised to stay in touch through written correspondence.

The Two Cards on the Right

The cards on the right reveal the future influences or outcome of the situation. The 5 of Clubs brings good luck, and it is a card of self-sufficiency. The daughter will manage very well on her own, and the experience will build confidence and self-esteem. The Queen of Diamonds represents the personality traits that the girl will foster and develop through this experience– she is studious and energetic, intelligent and quick-witted, confident and independent.

The Queen of Diamonds may also represent is an influential woman who will play a significant role in the successful outcome of the situation. The daughter will be moving into a dorm on campus, and perhaps the Queen of Diamonds represents a roommate who will motivate the girl, and help distract her from pinning for the boyfriend.

The Outcome

Symbolically, the Queen represents personal power and growth. The Diamond as the final card in the spread indicates optimism and success, and foretells good marks in her classes. There can be no doubt that the daughter will come into her own at school. She will perform well, and her first semester will be a very beneficial experience for her.


The Overview Card Spread

Most of my work these days is by phone, and phone clients require fast and accurate information even when they are unable to clearly formulate a question. I’ve created the following spread, which I call the Overview Spread, for clients who want specific information in return for a vague or general inquiry.

For example, the client says, “I want to know about my love life.” Instead of trying to get the client to refine the question, I’ve found that the Overview Spread provides enough specific information to break the ice, and get the client involved in the reading.

The cards are laid out based on the following diagram:

Overview Spread2

Interpreting the Card Positions:

The Significator

This spread requires a significator. If the client wants to know about a specific area of live, such as romance or work, I will choose a significator to represent the situation. Otherwise, I’ll use a court card to represent the client or some other person the client wishes to know about. The significator is placed on the table, and the remaining cards are shuffled and then dealt according to the following diagram:

The Card Above

The card above the significator is the most important card of the spread. If the significator represents the querent, it reveals what is on the querent’s mind. If the significator represents some other person, the card reveals what is on that person’s mind. If the significator represents a theme such as ‘work’ or ‘love,’ the card above will reveal the influences currently ruling the situation.

The Card Below

The card below is also very important for deciphering the current situation. It will reveal what the querent dreads or fears in relation to the question or situation. If the significator represents a situation, this card will reveal what is harming the situation.

The Cards to the Left of the Significator

The cards to the left represent past influences leading up to the current situation.

The Cards to the Right of the Significator

The cards to the right represent future influences and the outcome of the situation.

Overview Spread: The Wayward Son

This is an actual reading illustrating the Overview Spread that was done for a female client who was estranged from her 27 year old son. A the time, the querent had had no contact with her son for almost a year, and she had no idea where he was or how he was getting along. She was deeply concerned, and wanted to know that her son was safe, and if she would have contact with him soon.

For significator I chose the Jack of hearts to represent the querent’s son because he is the focus of the reading.

Here are the cards that appeared in the spread…


The first thing I kept in mind is that the focus of the reading is the son, as he is represented by the significator ( Jack of hearts ). Therefore, all of the cards will describe him, his circumstances, his intentions, etc. I would not apply any of these cards to the querent directly, or to her life beyond the relationship with the son.

In this spread my eye was immediately drawn to the 9 of spades because it indicates a serious problem. The card falls in the the significator’s past, so we can assume that it was this problem that caused the estrangement with the mother. The 9 of spades represents a very stressful situation. The son was being harmed in some way, and he felt trapped and overpowered by the situation.

Next I was drawn to the card beneath the significator. It indicates what harms the son, or what he dreads. And there we find the Queen of spades. We already know that the mother and son are estranged, so it becomes clear that the mother is the problem. She was an overbearing influence in the son’s life, and he felt trapped and smothered by her. His wish (9 of hearts ) was to break free of this influence, and gain control of his own life. This must be what motivated him to cut his mother out of his life.

I suggested to the mother that her son may have felt that she was an overbearing influence in his life. At first she completely rejected the notion, but after I asked her to tell me why she thought her son broke off contact with her, she was forced to face the truth of the situation. She finally admitted that she did try to ‘influence’ her son’s life because she did not think the son capable of making his own choices and decisions.

The card above the significator describes what’s on the son’s mind, or what governs him. The 7 of diamonds is money card, so his current focus is on financial matters. This card also represents public recognition and status, so we can see that the son is making his own way in the world. His focus is on establishing a life for himself separate from his mother’s influence.

The mother admitted that she and the son had shared a joint checking account. She has continued to deposit funds into the account, but since he ‘took off’ the son has not touched the account. The mother is worried because she does not believe the son is capable of financially supporting himself. Although not stated, I got the impression that the woman was quite wealthy, and that the son had never had to work a day in his life before disappearing. I advised the querent that she had no reason to worry– based on the cards the son was very capable of financially supporting himself.

Finally, we can look to the two cards on the left to show us how the situation will continue to develop. The 2 of hearts is very positive card. It represents harmony, and good news, and positive emotions. It’s important to keep in mind that this card relates to the son, and not to the querent directly. It shows that emotionally the son is doing very well. He has set the stage for good things to happen in his life. The 3 of clubs is a card of practical growth, learning and understanding. It suggests that the son will learn as he goes and continue to do well on a practical level too.

From these cards we can answer the querent’s first question about whether or not her son is okay. His significator is surrounded by hearts– he is safe and doing very well both emotionally and physically.

So, will the son contact the mother? The answer is not so obvious, and we need to make a judgement based on the cards. How does the son feel about his mother? She is represented by a spade in the reading, so we can see that he sees her as a threat or as the enemy. This idea is confirmed by her card appearing in the position of what he dreads or does not want to know about. Therefore, I advised the mother that she would not hear from the son soon. The 2 of hearts indicates that he is working through some emotional issues that will lead to personal growth, and eventual understanding (3 of clubs).

I felt that he would eventually come around, but not until he is able to create a stable life for himself, free from his mother’s influence, and gain the perspective he needs to resolve his feelings about his mother.

I never heard from this woman again, so I do not know what happened with her son.