The Deck of Shadows | The “All the Better to See You With” Spread

Today, let’s discuss fairy tales and how one fable in particular, Little Red Riding Hood, can provide an exceptional backdrop for a reading spread. We have all had times when we’ve felt cruelly trapped or devastatingly consumed; journeys that easily start out innocent enough, and then we stray from a familiar path we know we should be on. At those moments, we find ourselves looking for a way to get our bearings back. We’ve all had situations when we’ve chanced a conversation with strangers, only to remind ourselves we should have known better. Those panicky times, in other words, when you want nothing more than to just find your way back home, safely!

With the upcoming release of Warner Bros.’ new horror movie, Red Riding Hood, this seemed like a perfect time to reveal my All the Better to See You With spread. This Deck of Shadows layout is designed to provide lively direction when you have lost your way, and give you welcome wisdom when you have stopped listening to yourself.

I want to start this discussion by explaining that most people do not realize the intensely dark origins of the Little Red Riding Hood morality fable. For example, some of the early versions of the classic story actually involve a predatory bzou (or werewolf) that haunts and hunts the heroine. The wolf (of whichever variety you’d prefer . . . whether big and bad, or predatory demon, or just a man with too much testosterone) eats Little Red’s grandmother whole and then pretends to be the old woman. The wolf, dressed as Little Red’s family member, lures Little Red to bed. Little Red is told to remove all of her clothes, which she does. And . . . in original versions of the story, she is eaten whole, as well. In some stories she is rescued from the belly of the wolf. In some stories, she escapes before being eaten. In some stories, she is simply killed without a happy ending for anyone but the wolf.

Irrespective of which version of the story you are partial to, the Little Red Riding Hood tale contains some tremendous archetypes. These can be combined into a pattern that provides a colorful and dynamic insight into any situation in which you find yourself the apparent underdog or believe you have been outwardly vanquished.


To begin, take a shuffled deck, and remove seven face-down cards. The first four cards will be used to make a square. The remaining three cards are placed in the center of the square you just composed. They are placed, as follows:

The first card creates the top left corner of the square. The second card is placed to the right of the first card and is the top right corner. The third card is placed immediately below the second card and is at the bottom right corner. The fourth card is placed to the left of the third card and below the first card at the bottom left corner of the square. As I said, the remaining three cards are placed in the center of the square.

The card layout should look like this:


Once you have the cards in their proper positions, here are their meanings:

Position #1 – The Mother (Meaning: The Burden; The responsibility you carry and duty you think you must dependably fulfill)

Position #2 – Little Red (Meaning: The Innocence;  The effortless, yet childish, impulses you must learn to control)

Position #3 – The Wolf (Meaning: The Danger; What you fully believe is persistently hunting you and may ultimately consume you)

Position #4 – The Hunter (Meaning: The Rescue; What will remarkably save and protect you from your groundless desires)

Three Cards in the Middle – The Moral of Your Story (Meaning: The Lesson; What you will be learning from your current situation)

The last three cards provide you the most fun and creativity. Combine these three cards to create an exclusive moral to the current reading. The person you are reading for (including yourself) has a personal fable going on inside their head. Your quest is to make these three cards into a significant and practical lesson that can be taken away and applied.


If you want to take this reading to an even deeper level, pay particular attention to the complex interplay of the positions and meanings, themselves. For example, Little Red and The Wolf are the opposite of each other both in terms of sexual energy and meaning. The same applies to The Mother and The Hunter.

If you are familiar with my The Masks of Tarot book, you will see how this square formation ties in directly with the matrix technique explaned of the book. For example, The Mother actually becomes Little Red; her nurturing and protective nature turning into gullibility as she sends her own daughter (a symbol of purity) out into the big, bad world. Similarly, The Wolf turns into The Hunter as it becomes . . . well . . . wolfish in its exploitation and hunt of Little Red.

The diagonal positions reveal that part that is missing from each card. So, for Little Red, her innocence is missing the ability to save herself from danger. For The Hunter, he is missing the ability to see decency in all things. For The Mother, she does not heed the very perils she warns about. And, for The Wolf, he does not acknowledge the responsibilities for his actions.

Likewise, for those who use Tarot cards, you might equate the various positions/cards with the following:

The Mother = The Empress

Little Red = The Fool

The Wolf = The Tower

The Hunter = The Chariot

And, of course, the moral of of the story (the last three cards) is the lesson that each of the other four cards can use – each in their own way – to realize safety and shelter.

Just some thoughts on one way to live happily and ever after. Enjoy!

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© 2011 by Scott Grossberg. All Rights Reserved.

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