Twelve card spreads are a great option for examining the year ahead, but it's a shame that I only really seem to see these types of draws (and only really remember to use them myself!) either at the New Year, or for annual events, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Consequently, despite them providing a massive amount of information and guidance for a 12 month period, they're under-utilised and often not pressed into service in a way that will get the most out of them. Sadness!
So, in an effort to combat this, I'm going to present to you 4 (yes, 4!) ways of drawing and reading a twelve card/position spread!
Firstly, there's the standard 12-card draw, laying out the cards like the numbers on the face of a clock, starting with January at 1, February at 2, and so on until you reach December at 12. This can be modified slightly if you're reading mid-year, laying out the current month in the 1 position, and reading from there around the year ahead.
An alternative method here, if you want more detail per month, is to shuffle your deck, and deal out 12 piles of cards, either 2, 3, 4 or 5 cards in each pile! Obviously, at 5 cards per pile, this means a massive 60 card reading, but if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well, and this will provide an awesome amount of detail to assist with planning in the months ahead! I'd normally deal 3 or 4 cards max, to prevent overload, and to keep readings to a reasonable amount of time, but when I have the luxury of all the time in the world, a full deck reading can be a real break from the norm!
Another alternative is to shuffle and lay out 12 cards as in the first option. These first drawn cards will give you the situation for each month to consider... then, shuffle and draw 12 cards again, adding a second card to each point, and these will indicate the opportunities or advantages in a given month...then, shuffle and draw 12 more cards, adding a third card to each point, and these will indicate the disadvantages or potential drawbacks in a given month... This approach is more surgical, allowing for the detail, but controlling it in a way that provides clear pathways for each month!
The final alternative is not to draw on a month-by-month basis, but instead, for those of you familiar with astrology, to draw cards based on the houses. Now if you're familiar with the positioning of astrological houses, you'll know they're laid out slightly differently, effectively on the half-hour position, starting at 8;30 and working counter-clockwise, and you can lay them out in that way if you're comfortable, and it won't distract you from remembering where you're at. Alternatively, if you're new to the spread or the House positions, I'd suggest you lay out the12 cards like the face of a clock again (and again, the option is there to deal out more cards per position if you want greater levels of detail, and for this spread, this is something that I'd really recommend, using either of the two alternative methods detailed above!), but this time, the cards should be read as below, for each position, not giving information about the month, but instead about the energies represented by the 12 astrological houses:-
Card 1, the First House, Aries, talks about self and self-centred interests; vitality; demeanour; fire; action; the mantra "I am". Positive aspects: energy, leadership, enthusiasm. Negative aspects: impulsiveness, selfishness.
Card 2, the Second House, Taurus, talks about money and possessions; earth; stability; luxury; the mantra "I have". Positive aspects: reliability, loyalty, steadfastness. Negative aspects: jealousy, stubbornness, hedonism.
Card 3, the Third House, Gemini, talks about communication; relationship to the immediate environment; education; air; variety; the mantra "I think". Positive aspects: intelligence, versatility, keenness. Negative aspects: instability, shallowness.
Card 4, the Fourth House, Cancer, talks about home, hearth and domestic matters; ancestors; water; family; the mantra "I feel". Positive aspects: loving, sensitivity, kindness. Negative aspects: over-protective, immaturity, over-emotional.
Card 5, the Fifth House, Leo, talks about authority, power, leisure and pleasure; creativity; fire; power; the mantra "I will". Positive aspects: optimism, integrity, leadership. Negative aspects: egotism, forcefulness, temperamental.
Card 6, the Sixth House, Virgo, talks about health and service to one's self and the community; earth; work and co-workers; the mantra "I examine". Positive aspects: purity, hard-working, analysis. Negative aspects: fault-finding, cynicism, pettiness.
Card 7, the Seventh House, Libra, talks about balance, partnerships and marriage; air; contracts; harmony; the mantra "I balance". Positive aspects: harmony, justice, romantic. Negative aspects: indecisiveness, dependency, materialism.
Card 8, the Eighth House, Scorpio, talks about self-sacrifice and shared resources; transformations; financial investments; water; sex and sexuality; occultism; the mantra "I desire". Positive aspects: resourcefulness, dedication. Negative aspects: jealousy, vindictiveness, fatalistic.
Card 9, the Ninth House, Sagittarius, talks about exploration and discovery; fire; freedom; philosophy; faraway travels; the mantra "I see". Positive aspects: optimism, charming, spiritual. Negative aspects: lawlessness, narrow-minded, tactless.
Card 10, the Tenth House, Capricorn, talks about social status and ambition; earth; success; professional destiny; public perception; the mantra "I use". Positive aspects: depth, respectful, hard-working. Negative aspects: narrowness, coldness, condescending.
Card 11, the Eleventh House, Aquarius, talks about friendships and acquaintances; air; the individuals position in the group; personal projects; the mantra "I know". Positive aspects: originality, genius, friendliness. Negative aspects: stubbornness, unpredictable, argumentative.
Card 12, the Twelfth House, Pisces, talks about limitations; solitude; places of confinement; water; compassion; hidden ordeals; secrets; sacrifices; the mantra "I believe". Positive aspects: psychic, charitable, sensitivity. Negative aspects: carelessness, escapism, mood-swings.
I love to use the 12 houses version especially used for a new-year tarot mandala, with the advantages/disadvantages optional draw technique detailed above, giving a 36 card reading, which i then overlay with oracle cards and an 'inner' reading for the Wheel of the Year - it's my personal approach to my new year planning, giving me a time factor around the Wheel combined with an aspected 'House' reading, that I can use to focus my attentions on the 12 months ahead...but the 12 Houses version isn't restricted by a time or annual event point, giving it a greater freedom of usage, that a reader can just dive straight into at any point.
Do you use a 12-card month or house reading? Do you use any other tarot spreads or tools for yearly or advance planning? I'd love to hear your thoughts!