Shakespearean Sonnet Spread

I believe that reading poetry will make you a better Tarot reader and reading Tarot will improve your poetics. Poetic forms can be used as templates for Tarot spreads. One such form is the Shakespearean sonnet—this structure can be used in a four-card spread.

Most sonnets by Shakespeare are 14 lines long, and can be divided into four parts:

-Argument 1
-Argument 2
-Argument 3

Often, the third argument is a counterargument. Each argument contains four lines (a quatrain), and the conclusion is the final two lines (a couplet). This structure can be seen in Sonnet 29


(Photo of the 1609 edition is from the Folger Shakespeare Library, retrieved via Early English Books Online)

Argument 1: The speaker is disgraced by Fortune, and therefore cries to the stars.

Argument 2: The speaker is discontented, and envies the lives of other people.

Argument 3: But then the speaker remembers “thee,” which causes rising joy.

Conclusion: The speaker decides having “thy sweet love” is better than having the lives of others.

To use this structure in a Tarot reading, shuffle the deck while thinking about a question or issue. Pull three cards to represent three claims about the issue (the third card being a counterclaim) and a final card to represent the conclusion or outcome.

A sample reading

Much has been written about the connection between poetry and painting. I thought about Sonnet 29 and asked ‘how are poetry and painting related?’ while shuffling.

photoArgument 1: The Lovers, reversed—A poem and painting can capture the same scene (such as Adam and Eve in Eden), and the artist must choose how to paint the scene. The relationship between subject and representation is complicated and choices are not always clear; this fraught relationship inspires art.

Argument 2: Seven of Pentacles, reversed—Poets and painters often create art because of dissatisfaction with work. Furthermore, art can be related to a lack of success in the material world (both poets and painters often struggle financially).

Argument 3: Three of Swords, reversed—However, poets and painters use sorrow and confusion to create art. They both hold onto and make meaning out of suffering.

Conclusion: King of Cups—Poets and painters need to accept emotions to find success; commanding creativity and understanding feelings will make them “scorn to change their state with kings.”

You can even try writing a sonnet based on the arguments and conclusion by using your Tarot reading as an outline or prewriting for a poem.

Would you like me to read for you with the Shakespearean Sonnet Spread? Visit Nerdy Tarot to book your reading!