Fool’s Journey: A Thanksgiving Tarot Spread To Help You Survive Family Gatherings

First things first, if you’re a tarot-y-type person and you haven’t taken my fun little survey yet, head over here and do it! It’ll take ten minutes. I’m trying to find out more about the ‘alternative generation’ of tarot readers — queers and edge-walkers and all you crazy cats.


I’ve had a whole load of emails in my inbox this past week asking me for a Thanksgiving tarot spread. You wanted a spread which would help you navigate those tricky times that we all must gather with our families and eat and hang out together. For many of us, [XYZ-family-gathering] is a joyous, fun, or at worst, tolerable event. For others, it’s downright painful or unpleasant.

Does anyone's Thanksgiving actually look like this? Via

Does anyone’s Thanksgiving actually look like this?

Here’s a tarot spread to help you look at the energies around your dinner table and help you deal with whatever is getting you down.

This one is for Thanksgiving, but also Christmas, Eid and any other holiday, festival, wedding, party or celebration where families get together and you feel like you need a little extra help to get through.

If you’re new to tarot or you’re not familiar with doing full tarot spreads, start with a simple ritual to centre yourself and clear your mind. Light a candle if it helps, say a prayer if that’s your thing, or simply close your eyes, sit comfortably and breathe for a full minute, counting your breaths. You do you, ‘k? No-one can tell you how to approach your tarot cards, but a clear mind and calm heart helps a lot.

Now shuffle your cards, for as long as you like. As you shuffle, think over the last time your family gathered together, and focus your intent on something positive — whether that’s building a better relationship with such-and-such, or getting through Thanksgiving without going nuts, or finding the best way to respond when so-and-so does that thing you find so offensive.

When you’re ready, cut your deck, then lay out your cards in the following positions:


Card positions:

1. You

2 & 3. The *stuff* that surrounds you at family gatherings
This could be people who impact on you, energies which affect you, reactions you feel, or a big messy mixing bowl of all of it.

4. How to respond
This card shows you an energy to channel when you feel those difficult feelings.

5. What not to do
Seriously, this ain’t gonna help right now.

6. Hold on to this / your safe place
This is your grounding point, a place, person, thing, internal quality. It can never be touched or taken away by anyone in your family. This is yours alone. Hold onto it for strength.

7. Something to be thankful for
Even when times are tough, there is always a reason to have gratitude. Remembering this can be really helpful.

8. If all else fails
Make a swift exit and do this instead.


When you’re reading your cards, remember there are no right and wrong answers. The cards mean what they mean to you — whether you’re looking up the meanings in books, thrashing them out with a friend, doing meditation or visualisation or simply gleaning visual clues from the images on the cards. It’s all right and it’s all good.

If you need to, keep a card in your pocket or handbag when you go to dinner. It can really help you to hold fast to that strong, guiding energy if you have your ‘safe place’ or ‘gratitude’ card close by. When grandad makes another homophobic joke or your sister does *that thing* that makes you feel so small, you can visualise that card and know how strong and awesome you are.

And if you need extra help, try Dori Midnight’s Boundaries in a Bottle or my very own Secret Soul Shield to create a protective mist around you!

Try it out for yourself, and if you want to, share your reading with us!

What’s getting you down, and how are you gonna deal? What’s your safe place this Thanksgiving? How did your reading make you feel?

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Beth Maiden is a tarot reader and writer based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. She has two cats, a hot builder girlfriend, far too many tarot decks and not enough coffee cups. She's really into bread, the colour red, camping and brand new notebooks. She'd love to cut your hair, read your cards or hang out with you on her blog, Little Red Tarot!

Beth has written 111 articles for us.


  1. My thought process while reading this headline: Hahahahaha oh no. Yeeeeah, I need this.

    “Loraine, is that a card under your plate?”


  2. Both my fiancée and I lucked out re: family. Looks like I’ll have to do a plain ole spread this Thanksgiving.

      • So, my spread was kind of amazing, but I was confused on one of my cards. I pulled Wheel of Fortune for Position 5, and the only thing I could think was that I shouldn’t expect any major changes today. Things will probably play out how they usually do, so go in prepared. Yes? It was a hard one for me. But I got the Queen of Wands for my “safe place” and it almost made me cry, so yeah. Thank you again, Beth. <3

        • That’s interesting @barefoot – sounds like you’ve interpreted the Wheel in a way that makes sense for you.

          Another way of looking at this might be to let go of what you might see as your responsibilities. I often find that The Wheel of Fortune reminds us to understand the difference between what we can and can’t control in our lives. I regularly see it crop up to remind me or a querent to relinquish control of something. The Wheel turns of its own accord and our efforts to steer it only frustrate us.

          • I love how you worded your interpretation of Wheel of Fortune. It makes me feel a little better, even though it’s so hard to relinquish control!

  3. This is such a great spread! Thanks for sharing it! I spent today with my wonderful girlfriend. I didn’t actually ask specifically about Thanksgiving when I did this, but was just asking for a general life check-in reading.

    1. Two of Pentacles: I’m juggling practical matters right now and just wanting to spend all my time cuddling with my girlfriend.

    2. Ace of Pentacles: This is a time with a lot of new energy and potential for me.

    3. 6 of Pentacles: Finances aren’t the greatest and I’m trying to figure that out, but as in the 2 of Pent. I’m also balancing that with using this time to recuperate.

    4. The World: I take this to mean that I should just be open to whatever happens. The word ‘possibilities’ comes up again for me when I look at it.

    5. The Wheel of Fortune: Interesting that Samantha got this one as #4, and that discussion helped me understand this. I tend to want to be a bit of a control freak. To always have a plan, to know what’s going to happen. I feel like right now is not the time for that. I need to just let things flow.

    6. The Sun: This is awesome! I recently had a free reading at my college and the Tarot reader/psychic did an interesting reading where she didn’t have a spread, she just put ther cards down and interpreted them via intuition/psychically…? She picked The Sun card off the table and said “This is you. This is your future.”

    7. The Moon: I feel like this is saying be grateful for that which is your inner most self and for the things that flow without needing to make it happen. Also, for this break in my life which is allowing me to recover a bit by spending whole days in joggers cuddling with my girlfriend and watching movies.

    8. 10 of Cups: This card speaks of making a family to me.

    I accidentally drew an extra card, the 7 of Cups. Since I’m not great at intuitively reading I’m not sure how to take this one.

    Great spread, and very interesting reading!
    Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

    • Actually I also got the Wheel of Fortune as #5, so that’s really funny that we shared that! I’m definitely someone who likes to be in control, and all my fears and stresses have to do with not having that absolute control, whether it’s over my future, my surroundings, myself… So yeah that was an interesting card to pull.

  4. I decided to do this for Christmas at home with the family instead of for Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to post my results here:

    1. Five of Pentacles – This makes total sense to me. I interpret this as my anxiety disorder manifesting itself when I’m around my family. I become a giant ball of worry around them, so it makes sense that the card that represents me is sadness and worry.

    2. The Emperor – I think this symbolizes my pride. I’m really proud of my life and beliefs and accomplishments, but my family doesn’t think quite as highly of it. That definitely tends to cause conflict.

    3. Three of Wands – Again, my sense of self and my morals don’t line up with my family’s, which causes conflict.

    4. Daughter of Pentacles – This is telling me to have inner strength and to not worry about impressing my family. I don’t have to be loud and in their face to feel whole.

    5. Three of Pentacles – I think this is trying to tell me that my “me against the rest of you” mentality is not a good way to approach my family (shocking). I should avoid statements that are exclusionary and just try to collaborate and enjoy what they have to offer while I’m here.

    6. Six of Swords – My safe place is that this is not my permanent situation. After my two week family visit I get to go back to my wonderful job with my wonderful friends and the wonderful girl I have a big queer crush on. This is all temporary.

    7. Six of Cups – I need to be thankful for where I came from. I know this, but it’s a nice reminder. Comparatively, my family and childhood are pretty great. They gave me skills and strength that I access every day in my job and personal life. They drive me crazy, but they built me.

    8. Two of Cups – If all else fails, I should apparently bail and flirty text the girl I’ve been talking to, which is actually probably the best idea :)

    This was actually super helpful. Sometimes I get so caught up in who I am and what I believe that I forget maybe just being quieter about it around my family would save a lot of trouble. Thanks for the spread!

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