James Schlesselman

This spread is based on the Tree Of Life glyph as found in the Kabalah. The cards are layed out in a sequence which follows the "path of the flaming sword", which is the traditional order in which each circle or, "sephira", is manifested on the Tree. The two lower sephira, numbers 9 and 10, are "raised up" to fit between the 7th and 8th sephira to form the pyramid configuration. The first card is refered to as the "key card", while the sixth is called the "core card".

The beauty of this layout is in its flexibility. The path of the flaming sword sequence is what generates the spread. The interpretation may then proceed from this literal "Tree of Life" format in which each card is referred to its corresponding sephira on the Tree, and is considered in light of the qualities thereof, or, once the spread has been generated, one may choose to "detach" from the "Tree of Life" format and introduce one or more of any number of possible configurations that form new patterns, or grids, based on various structural relationships. I have included nine samples of possible patterns that I have come up with. Of course, anyone can create their own patterns as well. Often, the placement of the cards will suggest a pattern on there own. This allows for the cards themselves to determine and reveal relationships that indicate story lines, or pictures, that can be used in the interpretation of the spread as a whole.

I have found this spread to be effective for most situations when I give readings. It is very powerful in that it is generated via the connection to the Kabalah:

"...the Tarot, the most satisfactory of all systems of divination, rises from and finds its explanation in the Tree and nowhere else. That may seem a dogmatic statement to the scholarly historian searching for traces of the origin of these mysterious cards, and we may add, most lamentably failing to find it; but when it is realized that the intitiate works the Tarot and the Tree together, that they dovetail into each other at every imaginable angle, it will be seen that such an array of correspondences could be niether arbitrary or fortuitous."
-Dion Fortune

So, being based on the Tree, the Pyramid Spread is rooted in a natural setting, and reflects the sacred and powerful energies associated with the ancient system of The Kabalah. This in combination with the variety and flexibility that it offers makes it a very practical layout to use.

Here is an explanation of the nine sample patterns which I included:


The key card oversees. The three solid black cards represent influences descending from above that wedges in between the two three card pyramids that represent two different ways of receiving and dealing with the solid black cards.

Grand triangle

Three three-card pyramids placed around the core card.

Grid and wheel

The solid black cards represent solid, fixed, male, or yang energies. The white cards represent yielding, moving, female, or yin energies.

Double whammy

The key card oversees two six-card pyramids representing two possible outcomes, or yin and yang, etc. The three-card pyramid at the bottom center is an area where the two six-card pyramids overlap and are integrated.


The key card, "x", absorbs or pulls up the two outer rows, "y and z", forming a single three-card pyramid comprised of "x,y,and, z". (all of the "component" cards are considered in this "reduced" pyramid.) This simplifies (reduces) the reading into two three-card pyramids consisting of "x, y, and, z" and the three "a" cards respectively.

3 pillars

This reflects a direct correspondence to the three pillars of Severity, Mildness, and Mercy found on the Tree of Life. (see either of the above mentioned books)

3 dimensional

As the name implies this pattern "pops out" at you, so the core (black) card is the uppermost point of a cone, while the six cards (grey) surrounding it are the central portion of the cone, and the three corner cards form the base. Or, the direction can be viewed in reverse, so the core card is furthest away, as if your looking into a tunnel.

Triple mesh

three three-card pyramids whose bases are represented by "A, B, and,C". the points of these pyramids can be outward pointing, represented by "X", or they can point inward and share a common point represented by "O".

Yod, He, Vau, He

Derived from the Tetragrammaton, this represents the sacred progression of manifestation. From the top of the layoout it's: the point, the line, the triangle, and the square.

Please, feel free to use this spread, to create your own patterns with it, or to edit, revise, add to, or subtract from, as you see fit. I submit it humbly, in service to the Great Spirit, to be utilized by anyone at anytime. I would appreciate any comments, feedback, or stories concerning The Pyramid Spread that anyone may have.

Here are two books that I highly recommend on the subject:

E-mail any correspondence to: James Schlesselman
This is a part of the Tarot Inspiration site.