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How To Do a Year Ahead Tarot Reading

Tarot cards.

It’s New Years Day, and you know what that means: time to shake off your hangover, pull out your tarot cards, and do a year ahead reading! A year ahead reading gives you a bird’s eye view of the major events, influences, and energies in the year to come, from January to December. Although it sounds easy on the surface, a good year ahead reading can be tricky to pull off. You need to get into enough detail to give you useful information to work with—but you don’t want to pull so many cards that you end up with an impossible to-do list, or a bunch of specific predictions that don’t come true.

Here’s how to do a year ahead reading that will give you a solid yet flexible roadmap for 2023.

Why a 12-card spread isn’t always best

Tarot cards fanned out on a table.
(Julia Glassman)

The most common type of year ahead reading is a 12-card spread, with one card representing each month of the year. For example, January’s card might be the Chariot, which means forward momentum. Great! January’s the time to start a new project! Then, February’s card might be the 4 of Pentacles: holding onto resources or hoarding riches. So, you’ll make some money from the project you started in January? Then along comes March, represented by Death. Are we still talking about that project, or is this something new? Either way, March looks like it’ll be dramatic. And there are still nine cards to go!

A 12-card spread will give you a really granular look at the upcoming year—and that’s not always a good thing. First off, too much information can get really confusing, really fast. The tarot isn’t infallible, and pulling too many cards can lead to a roller coaster reading that leaves you feeling overwhelmed. Secondly, the future isn’t written in stone! Even if a card seems plausible when you pull it in January, circumstances might have completely changed by October, rendering much of your year ahead reading pointless.

That isn’t to say that a 12-card reading will never work. If it works for you, use it! However, I have a method that has served me well over the years: the seasonal reading.

The seasonal year ahead tarot reading: how it works

A pair of hands shuffles tarot cards over a black tablecloth with candles.
(Mikhail Nilov via

There are two ways to do this reading. If you prefer to work with individual cards, then your reading will consist of four cards total. If you prefer to group cards together so that they tell little stories, then you can do this reading with four groups of three cards each. (For more info on how to do the story method, see Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Way of Tarot, or Camelia Elias’s Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading). Make sure you have something to write with, so you can take notes.

First, lay down one or three cards for the winter solstice through the spring equinox (January to March). What major influences or events do the cards point to for winter? Is it going to be an active, busy season, or will it be more introspective? Will you enjoy ease and abundance, or will you have to be cautious and thrifty? Don’t look at the card(s) as a rigid, inflexible prediction. Instead, look at it as a snapshot of how conditions are likely to be for you.

Next, lay down one or three cards for the spring equinox through the summer solstice (April to June). Again, don’t look for specific predictions so much as general energies. What will you have to work with? What will you need to work against?

Repeat the process for the summer solstice through the fall equinox (July to September) and then the fall equinox through the winter solstice (October to December).

After you’ve looked at each season, take a step back and see if you can identify any pattern or arc for the year as a whole. Do the cards point to anything major happening, or does the year ahead look pretty chill? If you have goals for the year, are there any seasons that look auspicious for getting them done?

This reading should give you enough information to create a rough plan for your year, without bogging you down with tons of details that may turn out to be irrelevant. Plus, you can always draw a couple more cards if you find that you don’t have quite enough information to work with yet.

Happy reading, and Happy New Year!

(featured image: Alina Vilchenko via

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Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and she consumes massive amounts of Marvel media, folk horror, science fiction, fantasy, and nature writing. She lives in Los Angeles, where she reads tarot and makes yarn on her spinning wheel. You can check out more of her writing at, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.