When I started my Tarot reading journey, I remember being stuck learning how to create straightforward spreads. This beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started. The three-card spread is a fantastic way of tapping into the Ether.
A three-card Tarot spread refers to a layout with three cards used in a Tarot reading. The cards have a predetermined positional meaning in the layout. This, in conjunction with the card meaning itself, creates the message. The “Past, Present, Future” is a common three-card spread.
Three-card spreads are a fantastic way to get depth to your reading. The most common is “Past, Present, Future.” The wonderful thing is that you can customize your three-card spread to fit your personality and question.
WHAT A THREE-CARD TAROT SPREAD IS
A three-card Tarot spread is a card layout where the Tarot reader uses three cards. The positions have predetermined meanings. The card’s meaning and position will determine the answer. You place the cards from left to right in a row.
Card position meaning + card meaning = Answer
In the picture below, you see what a three-card spread looks like. I have marked the positions of the cards along with the card meaning to make it easy for you to follow along. This is the basic structure of how to read a tarot spread. You can use this technique in any spread, as the same rules apply even if there are more or fewer cards.
HOW TO READ A THREE-CARD TAROT SPREAD
It is easy to decipher meanings when you use a spread with predetermined positions. Use the picture above as a reference.
The card on the left represents the past. The card is the nine of wands, which means (in short) resilience. The message is, therefore: the past + in the past, you experienced resilience. So in the past, the person who the reading is aimed for experienced some form of resilience.
The card in the center represents the present. The card in this position is the four of swords. The card meaning is (in short) contemplation. The message is, therefore: present+ contemplation. In short, the person who the reading is aimed for experience contemplation.
The same technique is applied to the third card, the one to the right. The position represents the future. The card is the Ace of Pentacles. This card means (in short) a new opportunity. The message is, therefore: present + a new opportunity. The person who the reading is aimed for will experience a unique opportunity.
It is relatively straightforward. With a bit of practice, you will master this technique. If you want to, you can change the meaning of the positions in the spread to accommodate your query or concern. There are endless variations you can create. A Tarot is a fantastic tool.
Now when you know what a three-card Tarot spread is and how to use it, it’s time to learn what you can use it for.
AN EXAMPLE READING WITH A THREE-CARD SPREAD
As an example, we can take a look at the spread above. Let’s continue using the “Past, Present, Future” spread.
- Past: Ace of Swords
- Present: Justice
- Future: Hermit
- Positional meaning + card meaning = Message
- (Message+Message+Message) + Intuition= Reading
In the past, you experienced a breaktrough (Ace of Swords). In the present you are experiencing dishonesty (Justice reversed). In the future you will experience soul-searching (Hermit).
The next level is to connect the messages into a full reading. This is something you learn with time. To do this, you combine the messages to create a complete reading. It’s here you let the magic of your intuition shine.
In this reading, my take on the reading would be something along these lines:
You are experiencing dishonesty due to the big breakthrough you had earlier. Maybe someone envies you for your success? In the future, you might need to keep your ideas for yourself to shield yourself from the envy of others.
As you notice, adding intuition to the mix makes the reading come to life.
Of course, you can go more in-depth with the meaning of the cards if you want to. In this example, I kept it easy for you to follow along.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away. Just keep practicing with the card meanings and the positional meanings. When you feel you got that part down, start adding your intuition to the mix. You will be able to do this in no time, I promise!
THREE-CARD SPREADS FOR BEGINNERS
Three-card spreads are great for beginners as they are not too overwhelming. It is a great way to learn how to connect the card meanings and make a comprehensive reading.
The ” Past, Present, Future ” spread is the most common three-card spread for a beginner Tarot reader. The layout is multifunctional and allows for a wide array of queries. This makes it perfect as a starting point for learning reading multi-card spreads.
The most famous three-card reading is the “Past, Present, Future” spread. You find examples of how to do this spread in the previous section of the article.
In the table below, you find a massive list of 50 powerful three-card spreads perfect for beginners. As you grow as a reader, you can start creating your custom spreads. But until then, feel free to use the spreads below.
The spreads are divided into categories. Use the toggle to find the perfect spread for you if needed. The themes are as follows:
50 THREE-CARD SPREADS FOR BEGINNERS
|Position 1||Position 2||Position 3||Theme|
|You||Your current path||Your potential||Career|
|Where I am now||What I want to achieve||How to get there||Career|
|Financial strengths||Financial weaknesses||Undiscovered potentials||Career|
|Option 1||Option 2||Option 3||Decision-making|
|Option 1||Option 2||Advice||Decision-making|
|Solution 1||Solution 2||Advice||Decision-making|
|Option 1||Option 2||How to decide||Decision-making|
|If I say yes||If I say no||If I say maybe||Decision-making|
|Best case scenario||Worst case scenario||Likely outcome||Decision-making|
|Option 1||Option 2||Blockage||Decision-making|
|Option 1||Option 2||Opportunity||Decision-making|
|Option 1||Option 2||Doing nothing||Decision-making|
|What do I want||What do I need||What is blocking me||General|
|What you want||What they want||Your Future||General|
|Tomorrow||Next week||Next year||General|
|What you control||What you can’t control||What you need to know||General|
|What you want||What they want||Where the relationship is heading||Love|
|What brings you close||What rips you apart||What your relationship needs||Love|
|Love interest 1||Love interest 2||How to decide||Love|
|How to attract love||Where to find love||Advice||Love|
|Problem||Underlying factor||Resolve||Problem Solving|
|What I think||What I do||What I feel||Spiritual|
EASY THREE-CARD TAROT SPREADS FOR ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS
If you are an absolute beginner, I would recommend starting with the essential three-card readings. These will help you get started, and they are perfect for most questions or situations.
Selecting a spread from the massive list above might be daunting, so I thought you might benefit from a list with the bare-bones spreads.
The easiest to get started with is the “Past, Present, Future” spread. The “Body, Mind, Spirit” is a great one too. The magic with these spreads is that you can use them for anything.
Even though I recommend them to beginners, they are far from less potent than the others. They bring you insights that you need to evolve as a Spiritualist. I know many readers who use these spreads regularly, even if they have been practicing for years.
In the table below, you find the bare-bones 3-card spreads that I recommend for an absolute beginner. They target general readings, which is perfect as you don’t have to form a query for the Tarot.
The “Body, Mind, Spirit” spread is perfect for anything related to your spiritual growth and wellbeing. The “Past, Present, Future” spread is ideal for anything about unlocking secrets about your future, what your blockages might be, and what to do to progress.
5 EASY THREE-CARD SPREADS
|Position 1||Position 2||Position 3||Theme|
|Option 1||Option 2||How to decide||Decision-making|
HOW TO DECIDE WHAT THREE-CARD SPREAD TO USE
Knowing what three-card spread to can be a bit tricky when first starting. But there is a technique you can use to make this process a bit easier. You will get a feeling for these things with practice, but a method is nice to cling to until then.
Start with your question about the Tarot. What do you want to know? Is the question general or specific? If it is general, which means you don’t have a question, it is relatively easy. Pick a spread from the available section of the table.
If you have a specific question, start by identifying what theme it belongs to. You find a list of themes in the section above.
Is it advice you are seeking? Try to find a spread with “advice” in it. If not, try to find a spread that speaks to you.
You can always retreat to the “Past, Present, Future” spread if you get stuck. This is a universal spread that works with most queries, situations, and problems. Try to see what might contribute to your issue from the “past” message. This is very helpful. In that way, you can make changes to alter the future.
As you might notice from the table in the previous section, you can use the spreads in other categories as well. The only limit is your imagination.
The tricky part is to find the right spread for your question. But don’t worry, with time, this process will get easier and easier. If you get stuck, use the famous “Past, Present, Future” spread. You can apply this to any question. That is why it is so magical.
HOW TO DO A THREE-CARD READING
Now it’s time for you to take your new knowledge into action. An important note is to not rush the reading. Take the time you need.
HOW TO DO A THREE-CARD TAROT READING
- Decide on the spread
- Hold the deck in your hands
- Set the intention for the reading
- Open your heart to receive the messages you need to hear
- Shuffle the deck
- Stop when you feel you are ready
- Place three cards facing up
- Start reading from left to right
- Use the formula: Card position + Card meaning = message
- Connect the three messages into a full reading
- When you are ready, place the deck in a safe place
- If needed, clear the deck by placing clear quartz on top of your deck
You start deciding on what card spread to use. Hold the Tarot deck in your hands. Set the intention for the reading, be sure to open your heart to receive the messages you need to hear. Start shuffling the cards. Stop when you feel you are ready. Pull one card at a time and place them from left to right. The spread should have three cards in total.
Take a deep breath and exhale. Gaze at the cards in front of you. Take your time to let the energy sink in. Start reading the first card, the one to the left. Use the formula: position meaning + card meaning= message.
Go on and read the card in the middle. Finish with the card on the right. Summarize your insights and try to notice connections between the cards. Do they tell a story? What is the message? Take the time you need to reflect on the cards. A reading can’t be rushed.
Summarize your insights and write them down in your Tarot journal. This will help you grow as a reader. With practice, you will gain personal insights into the cards, and it will be easier to connect the cards to a cohesive reading.
Three-card Tarot spreads are an excellent option for a beginner reader. It’s not overwhelming and yet brings fantastic insights. You learn how to connect the messages from the three positions into a cohesive reading.
Nothing happens overnight, though. Remember to allow yourself time to master using spreads. Start with the basic spreads as the “Past, Present, Future” or the “Body, Mind, Spirit” spreads. When you feel you get the hang of things, move on to more complicated three-card spreads. I love the decision-making spreads. They are beneficial and bring actionable advice to your everyday life. Decisions are so hard, and it is releasing to have the Tarot by your side.
Remember that the Tarot is only advice; you don’t need to do anything you don’t want to. In the end, you have free will and make your own decisions in life. You steer the ship. Use the Tarot as guidance and inspiration.
Enjoy the wonderful world of the Tarot. With three-card spreads, you get more advanced messages than one or two-card spreads. Have fun, and open your mind to let the messages through. Get ready to receive!
THE DEFINITIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE BASED ON THE RIDER WAITE DECK AND SYSTEM.
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