Minimalist Tarot – a clutter-free approach to reading the cards

A guest post shared by Anthony.

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I hate clutter.

I hate stuff on my desk, my counters, my tables. I hate it in my life.

But I mostly hate it in my Tarot.

When I started learning Tarot, all I had was a deck and a LWB. I didn’t have Kabbala or astrology, it wasn’t until a few years later that I even had the companion book to my first deck. When I learned, I learned from the cards.

That’s why I’m a tarot minimalist.


What is minimalist tarot?

It’s focusing on the cards. Their power is to convey messages and teach use how to look at the situation from different perspectives. I don’t need a deck with astrological symbols or runes or I-Ching or anything else people want to add. I don’t find it useful. (Mostly I find it distracting and redundant)

The cards themselves talk about minimalism. From the Hermit who sheds all worldly possessions to find inner truth to the High Priestess who creates boundaries around herself so that nothing can get it to the 10 of Cups telling us to find happiness in the people we love to the 10 of Wands who is burdened by the weight of his to do list. The cards scream for release form the add-ons.


I like my cards straight forward. Just the number and the symbolism on the card. I say number, because when you look at the older decks (eg, Visconti-Sforza or Marseille) they only had the numbers on the pips; there weren’t any pictures. Numbers help us to tie the deck together, the aces and Magician are linked by being number 1 and the fives and the Hierophant by the number 5. The symbols let us understand the message the card conveys. And between those two things that is all you need to give and get an accurate, deep reading.

So you wanna be a Tarot Minimalist?

Me too! It’s easy to do. First, pick one deck that you absolutely love. That one that you always go to when you need the best reading. And use it! You don’t need other decks if you have one that always works. (I’m not saying don’t buy other decks, but when you do be incredibly picky). Don’t pay attention to the astrology or runes or other things that have been added (here’s a hint: you don’t need them).


Use simple layouts. I don’t (typically) use spreads, I read nine cards (three rows of three) at a time. I look at the context they give one another and how they are related to each other. I tell a story using the cards as the clues to what is going on. No spot has a meaning, there is no spread or focus aside from the question itself. Everything goes back to the original question of the reading.

Cut to the chase. You don’t need 400 words to explain one card. Remember your Shakespeare “Brevity is the soul of wit.” People, when they want a reading, don’t need all of that extra stuff, they want a clear and concise answer. Tarot can be ambiguous, but how you talk about the cards doesn’t have to be.

The Tarot Minimalist Spread

Like I said, I don’t (typically) use spreads. But sometimes I need one. I use this spread when I feel like my life is getting cluttered and I don’t know what to work on first.

It’s simple to use, pick your favorite deck and shuffle and think about your life (or an area of your life like career, home, work, etc). When you’re ready, lay out three cards in a row (like a past-present-future reading). Here’s what they mean:

Where is the clutter? – What can I eliminate/let go of? – What do I need more of?

Nice and simple.


When I used this spread this is what I got:

10 Wheel of Fortune (clutter) – Ten of Wands (eliminate) – 18 the Moon (need more)

Here’s how I would interpret the cards:

The one that makes the most obvious sense is the 10 of Wands – I have way too many things on my plate, I need to start to eliminate some of the things that don’t serve me. Those things (the clutter) are the choices – in a sense, I have too many options in front of me. The clutter is all of the things in my life that I have to make decisions about. What I need to bring into my life is the connection to my dreams and intuition, I need to pull all of the resources to see what really matters (in this deck the Wheel has a blindfolded woman), to remove the cover from my eyes. Opening my eyes will let me see past things as they are and to see past the illusions the clutter creates.

Deck: the Nigel Jackson Tarot ( © 2000

This isn’t a manifesto

How I do minimalism isn’t going to be how you do it. It isn’t necessarily how you’re going to do minimalism. For me, minimalism is about eliminating clutter and connecting with the things I find most meaningful. Use the spread to figure out what clutter is in your life, eliminate it, and bring in what you need more of. Keep it simple (and minimal).



About the author

I’m Anthony and I’m a tarot minimalist. I started reading when I was 11 with just a deck and LWB, I don’t need much more than that. Now I’m a student and blogger trying to figure out how to cut the clutter in my tarot life and get back to the cards. I like to share my thoughts about purging the excess and help others do the same. Who really needs a tarot junk drawer anyway?!

Visit Anthony’s blog at

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  1. Elisabeth says:

    Great article! I share your desire for minimalism. Minimalism and brevity force one to cut to the heart of the matter. That can be difficult but is so worth it. I also wish cards were published without the title of the card printed on them. One of my first decks (a real mistake) had runes, astrological correspondences, hexagrams, the number, the title, and meanings on each card! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes! Nice article!
    Pare it down!! Get rid of what you don’t need and focus on what’s in front of you. (It is a bit of a manifesto…) 3 cards in a spread can pack so much more power than 10!

  3. Ooooooh, I LOVE this! I try to incorporate minimalism into all areas of my life and I love the idea of bringing it into reading. This is incredibly helpful and so wonderful. I like the extra things at times, but it’s nice to just focus on the cards and nothing else.

    Thank you for this lovely post, Anthony!

  4. Anthony says:

    Thanks for all of the love! Check out the blog for some ideas on incorporating minimalism. Its a struggle, but KIS (keep it simple) whether you’re reading tarot or living life.

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