Astrological tarot spreads

Astrology + Tarot can be a very powerful combination. The house-based 'Astrological' or 'Zodiac' spread (12 cards in a circle) is a popular starting point. But if your astrology isn't really based on houses, you might prefer spreads that use planets or harmonics.

Combining astrology and tarot
The historical connections between astrology and the tarot are obvious, just look at the zodiac signs and the element-symbolism used in classic decks like the Thoth tarot and the Rider Waite Smith tarot. But watch out: there are crucial differences as well. For example, the symbolism of the Sun and Moon-cards is very different from the astrological symbolism related to the Sun and the Moon.

The 'Planets' spread
If you want to blend the powers of astrology and the tarot in a systematic way, you should try this Planets spread. It gives you the total 'effect' of each planet for a chart (person or mundane event). Of course, as always, you can modify the spread to your own taste.

1 = Sun
2 = Moon
3 = Mercury
4 = Venus
5 = Mars
6 = Jupiter
7 = Saturn
8 = Uranus
9 = Neptune
10 = Pluto

11 = Chiron (optional)
12 = Galactic Center (optional)

As you play around with this spread, you'll find that it can also fine-tune your understanding of each planet's symbolism, and the way each planet interacts with the whole of the chart.

Here's an example of the Planets spread clarifying a mundane chart for the Battle of Cannae (2 august 216 BC, Cannae). Note that the Moon-card was drawn for the Sun-position. And since the asteroid Pholus is conjunct the 'astronomical Sun' and very important for this chart, an extra card is drawn for Pholus; the King of Swords on the left. If you are familiar with this event from a military point of view the result doesn't need interpretation. If you are not, note how Chiron points to the amount of suffering. The Devil's influence is strengthened by Jupiter. Two of Pentacles on Mars describes the nature of the battle. The hand of fate is present in the Wheel of Fortune on Venus. Pluto and Pholus are teaming up as Queen and King of Swords, which is interesting because astronomically they are also in the same team. Five of Wands is usually thought of as a playful fight, but not in combination with Saturn. The Nine of Cups points to the success of the winning side. All other cards point to fear, loss, trauma and death in battle. Mercury is spreading the news.

Variations using Golden Aspects
The exact same spread can also be used to look at the planets through the lens of Golden Aspect-scores but you will only get good results if you understand the Golden Aspect method and all of it's implications thoroughly.

An interesting variation would be to use two tarot decks, leaving the Major Arcana and the court cards out of the second deck.
Step one: use the regular deck for a regular Planets spread.
Step two: add a second card for each planet from the second deck. This card represents the (quantitative) Golden Aspect-score.

Harmonic spreads

Pretty much every astrological variable can be used in tarot spreads. Anything from sensitive points to thematically related asteroids, stars or black holes. The use of 'regular' aspects may seem less straightforward, until you start to think of them in terms of harmonics (David Hamblin-style). Again, this is about cumulative effects: the same principle that's used in the Planets spread and the Golden Aspects variation. You just create a spread containing all harmonics you need for a given chart, et voila!

Well, if you think this harmonic spread looks messy, you're absolutely right. Just keep in mind that the root or essence of this spread is the prime number-column. The 3-branch (6, 9, 12, 15), the 4-branch (4, 8, 16) and the prime x 2 branch (10, 14) are very optional. In the above example the position-number refers to the harmonic (position 1 = oneness, position 2 = twoness etc.). Say you want only the primes, then you could renumber the positions to something like this:

1 = Oneness (conjunctions)
2 = Twoness (oppositions)
3 = Threeness (trines)
4 = Fiveness (quintiles)
5 = Sevenness (septiles)
6 = n-ness (prime)
7 = o-ness (prime)
8 = p-ness (prime)

Or alternatively, if you're not interested in higher primes, use 6, 7, 8 or 9 positions according to your own taste:

1 = Oneness (conjunctions)
2 = Twoness (oppositions)
3 = Threeness (trines)
4 = Fourness (squares)
5 = Fiveness (quintiles)
6 = Sixness (sextiles)
7 = Sevenness (septiles, optional)
8 = Eightness (semi-squares, optional)
9 = Nineness (noviles, optional)

Spreads based on thematically related asteroids
Example: use the muse-asteroids instead of planets for your creative purposes. Or create a spread using your favorite love, romance and relationship-asteroids.

Muse asteroids
Euterpe (music and lyrical poetry)
Erato (love poetry)
Kalliope (epic poetry)
Polyhymnia (sacred music)
Terpsichore (dance)
Thalia (comedy)
Melpomene (tragedy)
Urania (astrology)
Klio (history)

If you want to learn more about designing your own spreads there are some great books available to get you started, like Tarot Spreads by Barbara Moore.