Ballad of Tam Lin Tarot Spread

I feel like I need to preempt this by saying I’ve never created a Tarot spread before. Even so, this one’s been mulling about my mind for months now and as I had some questions I needed to ask but no spread that felt accurate for what I wanted to know, I decided the time had come to create this spread.

For many years, the Ballad of Tam Lin has been very special to me. I might go into why in the future, but suffice it to say that the tale has had a unique place in my heart and practice for quite a long time. If you’d like to hear the ballad, Tricky Pixie has done a lovely version on their “Mythcreants” CD. It’s around ten minutes long, however, so make sure you have the time to listen. Even so, it’s very well done and perhaps my favorite version.

The tale is about a woman named Janet and her faery lover Tam Lin. I won’t go into too many details, but basically the events take place at Carterhaugh, the place that Tam Lin is said to haunt, and in reaction to Janet picking a rose on the property, even though it is her own land, according to human law. The two meet, fall in love, and eventually Janet gets pregnant. As Tam Lin is of the fae folk, he can’t easily leave to be with Janet and the babe, but he knows of a way to renounce the fae and be with her; however, it won’t be easy. She must hide and pull him from his horse as the fae ride and then hold him through the three transformations that the Faery Queen changes him into. If she succeeds, she’ll win Tam Lin; if she fails, well…it’s better if she doesn’t.

So with those events in mind, we have our spread.


1. Janet – This card stands for “You” or the querent. Whoever is asking the question.

2. Tam Lin – This card stands for the goal, the desire. It also stands in for what you will win, should you succeed in facing the obstacles later in the spread.

3. Carterhaugh – This card is the setting where the situation is taking place.

4. The Rose – This card is the inciting incident, what causes the entire mess.

5. The Faery Queen – This is the querent’s opponent, whatever is working against them to keep them from their goal, the Tam Lin card.

6. The Obstacles – Three cards with each standing in for the obstacles. As in the ballad, the obstacles will grow in severity and/or difficulty with the third being the hardest.

7. The Curse – This card is what you will have to sacrifice should you fail in the obstacles.

And that’s it. As I said, it’s my first spread, so everything might not entirely make sense, nor does the design make the prettiest picture, but everything seems to work out from what I can tell.

If you use it or try it, let me know how it works for you, if some questions work better than others, that sort of thing.

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One Response to Ballad of Tam Lin Tarot Spread

  1. Pingback: Facing the Tower | The Crow and the Hound

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