A Tarot Spread to Gain Insights on Your Past Life

Throughout history, many different religions and belief systems have sprung up around the idea of reincarnation.

From the Buddhist cycle of rebirth to Jainism’s concept of deliverance to the Hindu process of samsara, there are a variety of perspectives on the ways that our soul moves through different bodies over different lifetimes.

Some people develop clear memories of past experiences, sometimes while still children and other times later in life, with intentional and focused exploration. But even if you don’t have a deep awareness of previous journeys that your soul may have taken through this world, there are different methods that you can use to begin exploring possible alternate lifetimes.

Working with a professional is the best place to start for many, like getting a past-life regression reading or an Akashic records’ healing session.

Someone trained for this type of work can help you get into a deep state of meditation and can guide you through memories or experiences that you may not have known how to access on your own, as well as help you understand and come to terms with the discoveries that you may make along the way.

But if you want to start a bit simpler and feel comfortable working by yourself to start, Tarot can be a useful tool to begin dipping your toes into the waters of past lives, offering a framework for this kind of exploration.

Gain Past Life Insights With the Tarot

Rather than attempting any kind of memory regression or hypnosis on your own, this Tarot spread instead offers opportunities for simple insights into a previous version of yourself and can help you begin to dig into lessons, successes, and challenges that you may have been through.

In considering the kinds of successes and obstacles that your soul has already experienced, you may be able to connect more deeply into your present and find richer meaning or fresh perspectives on what you are working through right now.

As past lives and concepts of reincarnation can be a sensitive or challenging topic for many, it’s important to view a reading like this as the gentle opening of a door rather than a deep dive into potentially traumatic memories or emotional wounds. Give yourself plenty of time to get into a meditative state before diving in, and be open to whatever the cards may show you.

If you find yourself having a strong reaction or experiencing difficult emotions, give yourself permission to step away from the cards and care for yourself. You can always return to the reading later.

You might also like: How to Use Your Past to Influence Your Future

Past Lives Tarot Spread

A sample tarot spread to gain insight into your past life featuring space for four cards.
  1. An insight into someone you once were
  2. A challenge that you experienced in this previous life
  3. A lesson that you learned in this previous life
  4. An energy from this previous life to explore

Sample Past Lives Tarot Spread

A sample tarot reading featuring the tarot cards: Knight of Materials, 2 of Voices, 3 of Emotions and The Priestess.

As always, this sample reading is meant to offer you an example of how to work with these cards and is not a collective or community reading.

Card One: An Insight Into Someone You Once Were

Knight of Pentacles (Materials)

Grounded, patient, responsible, and focused, the Knight of Pentacles shows someone who knows what they are working towards, who is willing to put in the effort to create the kind of stable, secure life they crave.

Knights always ask us to consider how we are balancing a particular element in our lives, and the suit of materials is concerned with physical health, a stable home, and career, resources, pleasure, comfort, and legacy. While this person can be stubborn at times, set in their ways, or determined to follow their course despite challenges that may emerge along the way, this knight is strong and loyal, able to keep their eyes on the prize and remember what they are working towards.

Card Two: A Challenge That You Experienced in This Previous Life

The Priestess

The second advisor that the Fool meets along their journey, the High Priestess, is a figure of wisdom, intuition, and personal magic.

This is someone who asks us to pause our movement and instead consider how our choices are reflecting our values, desires, and experience; to look at the opportunities before us and consider what truly feels right. As a challenge, the Priestess could speak to someone that had to wrestle with trusting themselves or who struggled to fully believe in the wisdom that they carry.

Learning to listen to our intuition can be a lifelong effort, so a previous life may have been defined by a desire to tap more fully into the magic within or to learn to follow their own insights rather than being steered by the demands of others.

Card Three: A Lesson That You Learned in This Previous Life

2 of Swords (Voices)

A card of balancing viewpoints and struggling with blockages, the 2 of Swords often explores internal conflict or indecision when we are faced with two paths forward and can only choose one.

The suit of swords is tied to the intellectual self and the mind, and with the 2, we are trying to figure out which truth, idea, or ambition to pursue. In this position, a previous life could’ve been marked by learning to be decisive, perceptive, or independent. Whether big or small, the decisions that are made can have a huge impact on our lives and end up defining both who we are and who we are not.

This person may have found power, magic, and courage in learning to make their own way, in defining for themselves how they would move through the world.

Card Four: An Energy From This Previous Life to Explore

3 of Cups (Emotions)

Blending community, celebration, and chosen family, the 3 of Cups is a card of connection and compassion. It’s here that we share our hearts with others, that we find the people that support and love us in good times and in bad, that see us for all of our facets, that stay by our sides through challenges and victories.

While the first three cards in this reading feel very solitary, showing singular figures of purpose, solitude, and intention, this last card is one that shows hearts united, emotions intertwined, joys shared.

As an energy to explore, this card reminds us that we are rarely as alone as we think we are and that sometimes we find our deepest magic in the connections we form and foster with other people.

What Will Your Past Life Reveal?

The Tarot has so much wisdom to offer and can be a great jumping-off point for exploring alternate lifetimes or past memories that you may not otherwise have access to.

If you find yourself deeply intrigued by what you discover in using this spread for personal readings, I highly recommend seeking out an experienced professional who can help you dig deeper, understand what you’re feeling or finding, and process this new information with grace and compassion.

What do you believe about reincarnation, cycles of rebirth, and past lives? Have you used Tarot to explore old memories or hidden mysteries? How can the cards offer new insights into people that you might have once been?

This post features cards from The Muse Tarot.

Related article: A Crystal Pairing for Your Tarot Cards

About The Author

Meg Jones Wall

Meg Jones Wall (she/her) is a queer photographer, writer, and tarot reader based in NYC. She is a columnist and contributor at Autostraddle, shares daily card studies and original tarot spreads as 3am.tarot on Instagram and recently launched a tarot newsletter, devils & fools. She is currently working on her first book and is available for personal readings and writing opportunities through her website.
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