A Snapshot of the Lessons to Come by Heather Hardison Ph.D

Written by: Heather Hardison, Ph.D. Published on: December 28, 2021

“Year ahead spreads have proven to be very accurate when I’ve tracked these energies throughout the year. The main advantage of pulling cards for the year ahead is to get a heads-up on what you will face and experience over those twelve months.”

A Year Ahead Tarot Spread

As one year is closing down and another is about to begin, I sit down with my favorite tarot deck and pull a year ahead spread to get a glimpse of the upcoming twelve months.

I pull one tarot card for each month of the upcoming year to capture the main energy and theme of that particular month. I start with January and work my way through each month of the year. If you throw this spread for yourself, you can shuffle between each monthly card pick or you can shuffle and then pull off the top twelve cards of the deck. Use whatever method feels natural for you.

I place the cards in a clockwise fashion and start with January at the 1 o’clock position and go all the way through December. When I finish pulling the cards for all the months, I pull a card for the overall energy for the year. To finish up, I pull an oracle card for each of the four seasons.

After the cards are all pulled and arranged in front of you, take some time to review all of the cards you pulled for each month, plus your oracle cards. Look for patterns in your spread.

Check for Patterns

What suits are the most prevalent (wands, cups, swords, pentacles)?

Are any suits missing?

How many major arcana cards are present?

If you pull five or more major arcana cards for the year, this will be a year full of significant life lessons that will unfold over the year. This could also signify major astrological transits in your birth chart, causing impactful changes in your life.

Look for patterns in the numbers. If you have several aces, you may have new cycles starting in several life areas. If you notice several nines or tens, then you may be closing down chapters in your life and wrapping things up that were part of a ten-year cycle. When looking for numerological patterns, check the numbers associated with the major arcana cards as well.

What Court Cards Tell Us

Which court cards came up?

Are they mostly pages, knights, queens, or kings?

Pages would signify beginnings, knights could symbolize action and movement, queens could show which areas you will be nurturing over the year, and kings could be mastering skills or leadership in certain areas.

Are there any court cards not present? Sometimes the absence of certain court cards or suits is very telling.

Assess which time periods over the next year might represent struggles, challenges, and obstacles by identifying the months where the difficult cards fall. This helps you prepare for what may be coming your way over the next year.

Mark these periods down on your calendar so you can watch out for these challenges and take action. For instance, make a note of any of the troubling cards such as The Tower, The Devil, Five of Cups, Five of Pentacles, Five of Swords, Five of Wands, and Seven of Swords. These cards could be warning of conflict, illness, deception, delusion, unexpected crisis, someone cheating, or someone stealing from you.

I’ve completed year-ahead spreads for customers only to find them back requesting a follow-up reading in the middle of the year due to one of these chaotic times. In one case, I remember looking up their year ahead spread thrown six months prior and noticing immediately that The Devil card was the card pulled for that month. This is why it is important to check back and review your year-ahead spreads throughout the year.

After I pull my year ahead spread, I open my planner for that year and log each of the tarot cards I pulled for that month. This way I have access to that information right at the beginning of the month, which helps with planning.

What to Do with the Information

Year ahead spreads have proven to be very accurate when I’ve tracked these energies throughout the year. The main advantage of pulling cards for the year ahead is to get a heads-up on what you will face and experience over those twelve months. Use this information to your advantage. Be proactive and make a plan on how to deal with that Tower card or emotionally prepare for the heartbreak of the Three of Swords. Forewarned is forearmed.

It is important to note that not all of this energy is set in stone. Some events are fated, while other events can be changed due to the free will of all involved. Know this going into this type of reading. If you see The Tower and you take action to prevent it, then you could change that course for yourself.  

And by all means, try to build in extra safety measures when you pull a card like that ahead of time. You can even throw a spread on how to handle that energy when faced with it. Ask the cards for words of advice for that situation.

Tarot is a tool that can be used to make informed decisions in situations where you could be facing adversity. Use the cards to gain more insight into the circumstances surrounding these energies.

Take a photo of your year ahead spread and check in regularly throughout the year to remind yourself of the energies and life lessons that are unfolding. Let this reading continue to work for you all year. Journal each month on how the themes of that card are playing out and how you are processing those lessons.

Spend time at the close of the year to review the year in its entirety. Assess how all the cards came into play for the year. How accurate was the spread? Do you feel you learned the lessons from the year? If not, which lessons will you need to carry into the next year?

This is my favorite reading to do for myself and others. I find that it lessens my anxiety to get a glimpse around the corner of things to come. Even when the events may be negative, I’m certainly grateful for the extra time to prepare myself emotionally and to make a plan of action. This is just one more way the tarot helps to empower you during these chaotic times that we find ourselves in.

Heather Hardison, Ph.D.

Dr. Heather Hardison is a clinical psychologist and is the host of the podcast, Healing Thru Tarot. Heather is a tarot reader/consultant and tarot blogger, shining light on the tarot as a healing and therapeutic tool. Her blog, custom tarot spread, eBooks, and tarot reading services can be found on her website healingthrutarot.com. You can find her on Instagram @healingthrutarot