Family Spirits: Winter Tarot Spread by Sabrina Scott

For me, winter is a time of hibernation, incubation and rest. Unfortunately, in the Western hemisphere, this lovely, quiet season also comes with holidays that can throw us into direct contact with the franticness of family – or uncomfortably remind us of our lack thereof.

Chances are, even if you have an active and happy, loving relationship with your immediate family, it’s likely not perfect. For those of us who grew up in abusive homes, this time of the year can be particularly tough. Some of us may be adopted, have dead parents or have otherwise complicated and unresolved family situations that may compromise our ability to fully unfurl and relax in a season otherwise suited to both joy and stillness.

Winter is also a time of renewal, of turning over in our cozy beds, and yet envisioning a new future, a new self. Familial issues around this time of year are impossible to fully ignore, even if you – like me – are completely estranged from living blood family. Though I am incredibly ecstatic about my choice to not be in contact with them, I know that healing from dysfunction is a lifelong journey, and one I am happy to renew my commitment to every year at this time, while everyone else is caught up in big family events. And for folks who do spend time with family over the winter holidays, it’s likely to bring up (at best) or trigger (at worst) some things that may be less than pleasant.

The purpose of this spread is to invite some deep reflection on how both our dysfunctional family baggage and beautiful family gifts are influencing our present moment and what we might do about that. I have intentionally made this spread genderless (Parents A and B as opposed to mother and father) and would encourage you to work with as many rows of these cards as you wish. For instance, perhaps you are adopted and you feel called to draw dysfunctional cards for both your birth and adoptive parents. In that case, you would have many more cards than I’ve suggested here.

Maybe you want to get deep into issues of aunts, uncles, grandparents – whoever you feel has shaped you and your life. Another way to read this is that the card is not just referring to ‘Parent A’ themselves, but also Parent A’s lineage, and all of the dysfunction and gifts that culminate around how that parent has come into contact with you. This is a template, and I invite you to expand upon it as feels right to you!

This spread encourages focusing not only on hard realities but also on how we can successfully move through and past the more difficult things our families have left us with. The four suits of tarot can teach us what parts of ourselves (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) are most impacted by dysfunction or by gift. Major arcana popping up can tell us what lessons we will be learning over the next few years.

I would encourage making more space and time than you think you need for this spread, as it may bring up some sticking points that feel hard before they feel good. I suggest folks keep a written record of all tarot readings they do, but with this one in particular, the journaling practice and free-form interpretation of the cards can be particularly potent and powerful. Good luck and blessings as you dive into this deep and important soul work.


This tarot spread was originally published in the Ignota Diary 2020.