In-depth Relationship Analysis

Reading with Nikky Mackay’s 15 Card Relationship Spread

My favourite in-depth relationship spread is the Heart of the Relationship spread I created a while back but after giving the Relationship Spread by Nikki Mackay from the book Tarot for Understanding Love and Relationship Patterns (also available on Kindle), I now have another useful spread for doing in-depth relationship readings.

The layout is clear and I like the symmetry of it. The shape of a spread is important to me – it has to make sense and the energy has to flow in the right way (hard to explain!). Placing the unconscious fears/challenges cards sideways to form an obstacle to the flow of energy makes a lot of of sense.  I also like the ‘How he/she saw her/him when they first met’ positions, as they can be used to verify the truth of the reading.



1. What she is bringing to the relationship – 3 of Pentacles: She is willing to work hard to make things work, especially with regards to practical matters. She’s assuming a lot of responsibility.

2. Where she stands now, in relation to him – 4 of Pentacles: She feels safe and contained in this relationship. (I’m considering the preceeding 3 of Pentalces as the 4 of Pentacles is a perfect match for what she is striving for. In another reading, the 4 of Pentacles could point to stagnancy or lack of intimacy.)

3. What she is hoping to achieve or get from the relationship – 9 of Staffs (Wands): She’s hoping to establish a bond of trust. There may have been boundary issues in the past, especially with the 4 of Pentacles preceeding. The 4 of Pentacles and the 9 of Wands are the two ‘boundary issue’ cards in the deck.

4. What he is bringing to the Relationship – King of Staffs (Wands): He’s bringing inspiration, as well as a sense of fun and lightheartedness.

5. What he is experiencing or stands within the relationship – Page of Cups: He’s allowing himself to be vulnerable, which means he feels safe.

6. What he is hoping to achieve – The Magician: He’s hoping to create something completely new and unique. Communication is important to him.

7. How she sees him – 7 of Wands: In a wood full of trees (men), the only ‘tree’ she has eyes for is him. He has won her heart, well and truly. However, she may feel that he is being selfish at times.

8. How he sees her – 4 of Swords: If this was a passionate/stormy relationship to start with, the passion has now been replaced by quiet contentment and relationship harmony.

9. How she saw him when they first met – 2 of Staffs (Wands): The ultimate man (Mars in Aries). Sparks would have been flying!

10. How he saw her when they first met – The Devil: As a temptation. Possibly also as quite demanding and/or controlling.

11. Her fears or unconscious anxieties – The Hermit: She has a fear of abandonment.

12 – His fears or unconscious anxieties – The Ace of Staffs: This could concern fertility issues.

13. External influences on her – 8 of Cups: Big changes and challenges that deeply affect her emotions. (You could pull another card here to find out more.)

14. External influences on him – 6 of Swords: He may be forced to move, travel or change locations. (Again, you could pull an additional card to gain more information.)

15. Where the relationship will go – 9 of Swords: Anxiety follows from the combination of the last four cards. The 9 of Swords is most likely not the final chapter of this relationship as it foretells only of worries and not of how things will work themselves out. Another reading to clarify the challenges and the best approach to deal with them is recommended.



9 replies »

  1. I did this spread the other day and my cards were:
    1. Wheel of Fortune
    2. VI Stands
    3. Page Cups
    4. High Priestess
    5. V Swords
    6. Judgement
    7. Strength
    8. Empress
    9. Fool
    10. 3 swords
    11. 4 pentacles
    12. Emperor
    13. 4 Swords
    14. 4 Cups
    15. 2 Cups

    I was taking this to mean that he saw he as more established in my life and that though he is very drawn to me that he has fears of the past and doesn’t feel as secure in his own position/status. That he wants stability and a relationship, but he is fearful. I got the sense that if I was patient that things will work out…what do you think?

      • Oh yes sorry- that was meant to be IV Wands. I understand the difficulty. When doing this complex a spread and you speak of cards interacting, what should I be looking for?

        • Ah ok. :) What you should be looking depends on your knowledge of the cards. You could be looking for visual clues or trying to feel the flow of energy through the cards. If you know your elemental dignities, you could check how they match up in the two columns. Repeating numbers are significant too. In your reading, you have a lot of fours (including the Emperor) – this to me signifies, very little forward movement in terms of the relationship progressing… even IF the feelings are real.

          Next time you post a reading, please do what Ceri did – she posted the meaning for each position with the individual cards she pulled. That makes it much MUCH easier for me to see what is going on. Otherwise I would have to open two screens or scroll back and forth to know what’s what! Cheers

  2. I did that spread on someone whose path I have been crossing now and then for some years.

    1. What she is bringing to the relationship
    Knight of Swords

    uoh, starting with a difficult card for me. lol

    I might bring a certain bluntness or surprising communication into this connection; a very mental attitude, and probably a certain restlessness.
    I guess this relates to my tendency to analyze practically everything.

    2. Where she stands now, in relation to him

    The need for stability? To make things happen?
    I am not sure aobut this one.

    3. What she is hoping to achieve or get from the relationship

    That`s easy! a leap into the unknown, a total new beginning. Change.

    4. What he is bringing to the Relationship
    3 of wands

    Enthusiasm. Fun. Creativity. Outspokenness.

    5. What he is experiencing or stands within the relationship
    Knight of pentacles

    Hmm, he experiences it as boring and dull? lol

    Maybe also thinks it is moving too slowly along?

    6. What he is hoping to achieve –
    Wheel of Fortune

    I guess this relates to changes as well. How interesting that I am having the FOOL in that position, and him the WHEEL. Both seem to relate a lot to changes with unforeseen consequences.

    7. How she sees him

    in a positve light I guess. Though maybe it tilts the interpretation a bit more to a friendlike, platonic direction?
    (not very sure about that though)

    8. How he sees her
    Ace of Wands

    hmm, as an inspiration?
    Would be nice actually.

    9. How she saw him when they first met
    4 of pentacles

    Boring? LOL

    Actually what I found most intriguing about him was how comfortable and “at home” he felt in his body, as this is quite foreign to me. Despite all silliness, creative energy and enthusiasm he always seems very grounded and “physical” to me. Maybe that is what it relates to.

    10. How he saw her when they first met
    Knight of cups

    Emotional, sensitive, vulnerable?

    11. Her fears or unconscious anxieties
    8 of pentacles

    Maybe also that work leaves too little time for develop a possible connection or friendship?

    12. His fears or unconscious anxieties

    Speaking literally maybe he fears being “judged”.
    Since this card deals with changes as well, maybe he fears that a closer connection to me could result in bigger changes that he feels comfortable with (though before we saw that he actually wants to achieve some changes).

    13. External influences on her
    8 of cups

    Deep emotional turmoil affecting me probably. I pulled another card as you suggested and that one was: 9 of swords (I pulled it a bit later, so Idon`t know how valid it is)

    Anyway, 9 of swords would make sense to me since I am prone to overthink things too much and develop anxieties.

    14. External influences on him
    9 of swords
    He seems to be prone to overthinking and anxieties as well.

    Seems due to external circumstances both of us doubt the existence of the connection.

    Which is actually a realistic thought. He is a local singer, and usually I wouldn´t even think of it as any kind of “connection”, and don´t really do. If it weren´t for the fact that he repeatedly “singled me out”, and as a matter of fact, he payed attention to me, before I even really noticed him.
    And now there is a very weird situation of alternating between recognizing and ignoring on both sides.

    For me it is clear, that it`s all just part oft he show, but I am not very well equipped to handle the sort of attention (even if it is just part of a show) I am oftentimes receiving.
    It`s complicated and difficult to explain, especially since I don´t want to come across as some naive, delusional woman. lol

    Maybe I am though. ;)

    15. Where the relationship will go
    9 of cups

    Now that was rather surprising.

    A good way?
    Emotional contentment?

    • 8 of Cups could signal a need to move on from this situation… if so, the 9 of Cups could be the ‘reward’ for detaching… or it could mean you getting your wish for this to develop into something more. Depends very much on how he plays the Judgement card, I feel…

      Judgement does indicate that making any sort of move would be a big deal and lead to irreversible changes for him.

      8 of Pentacles could be work or you feeling that you want to do things right… looking at the details, overanalysing, even picking fault with the situation…

      Between your 8 of Pentacles and his 9 of Swords, we probably won’t see much forward movement until you have resolved your fears. You both need to go ‘fuck it – what do we have to lose?!’

      The Star, besides friendship, could also mean that you idealise him in some ways.

      Ace of Wands… inspiration? I suppose. Attraction is definitely indicated.

      The Emperor together with the Knight of Swords could mean that you have attempted to make yourself feel secure in this situation by your use of words. I almost get an ‘attack is best defense’ feeling with these two here.

  3. Thanks Lisa,
    I am really trying to work with this spread as I find it in depth and interesting. I am not sure if it was a good idea to do the spread on myself since it is more emotional. But i drew cards on the guy I am currently seeing who lives far away.

    1. What I provide: 6 of Wands- That I bring sexual aggression and confidence to the relationship. I think this also had to do with the fact that I was feeling good about starting a new job.

    2. Where I stand: 8 of Wands- This one I saw as my great attraction to him and the fact that I have been a little more aggressive in pursuing him. I am highly attracted to him and the sexual chemistry is high.

    3. What I want: Ace of Wands- The number of wands in my part of the reading I took as a sign that I want a lot of passion in the relationship. I was a little confused since I am not looking for a short-term thing and the wands seem to indicate things that will burn out. But I am also going to be looking at the surrounding cards.

    4. What he Provides: King of Swords: That he is very intellectual and brings a refined level of communication. But can also be less emotional and more cerebral than other guys.

    5. Where he Stands: 6 of Pentacles- He thinks that the relationship is balanced and there is an equal give and take. When read with the Kind of Swords I think that he sees me as his intellectual match.

    6. What he Wants: 2 of Pentacles: I read this as him wanting to find balance between his work and the relationship. He runs his own business and is very busy and for him it would be a huge decision to dedicate more time to a relationship. I also saw the fact that there was a lot of pentacles in his reading as his wanting/needing to move slowly. Whereas with my wands, I want to move faster.

    7. How I see Him: 4 of Wands I was a little confused by this one. I now that it heralds stability and therefore is it that I see him as a potential long term mate? It could also be that I see him as someone who fits in well with my family because we have similar backgrounds.

    8. How he sees me: 6 of Cups- Do I remind him of a childhood love or is it that he thinks that I am his soul mate? I was reading this in connection to the 6 of Pentacles and figured that he does think that we are equals in terms of intellect, but maybe also that he feels that he can be himself with me, open as a child would be and that I will not judge him.

    9. How I saw him in the past: Strength- Again, a reinforcement of the sexual attraction. It is definitely clear on my side of the reading how much chemistry there is on my part, which is true. I also thought that this demonstrated that I saw him as a creative person.

    10. How he saw me in the past: King of Pentacles: I took this to mean that he saw me as a stable, thoughtful and trustworthy person. I am someone who can be independent and materially successful. But maybe I am also I little too concrete and not as much of a risk taker as he is or a little aloof.

    11. My Fears: Knight of Swords: that the relationship will be hot but fizzle is my fear- which is true.

    12. His Fear: 3 of Pentacles: I took this as inability to find work/love balance and that he would have to sacrifice one for the other.

    13. My Influence: 10 Pentacles- The need for financial stability and stability in general. Concerns about my finances long term.

    14. His Influence: 10 Cups- His desire for a family and to be a provider, seeing his family as an example of stability.

    15. Outcome: Page of Cups- I took this to mean that there would be more emotional awakening in our relationship. That we both had to open up to one another emotionally and maybe not think so much, but just go with our feelings. I also know that Page of Cups can herald pregnancy.

    With the repetition of 6’s in the reading I saw this as a sign that there will be forward movement. But that it the key is to temper my wand energy and need to move fast with his pentacles which is more slow moving.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, feedback and questions. Please note that, while I'm happy to answer questions about individual cards, I don't interpret spreads. I get several requests every day about interpreting DIY readings based on my spreads. Even if I had the time, I don’t think it would be a wise investment of my time to ‘read on readings’ – A reading is done in synergy between the cards, the question and the reader… in the MOMENT.

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