How to craft an engaging three-card tarot spread

Three Card Tarot Reading

Learn to craft an engaging three-card tarot spread, that will open up your conversation with the cards

You probably have seen the most common three card tarot spread that uses past, present and future for the query of the cards.

As a beginner tarot enthusiast, I quickly felt like this format was a bit thin to gain real traction in a reading.  Try as I might,  I grew weary of this common beginner spread.  I felt like it did not offer a strong enough portal to generate a quality conversation with the cards and therefore offer me the insight I was seeking.

basic three card tarot spread


But what other options are there?  A natural response could be to move on to a more complicated spread, however, there are definite benefits to a quickly formatted tarot spread.

The benefits:

  • Ease of interpretation and integration for the novice tarot person
  • Speed and efficiency a shorter spread offers for the reader
  • Flexbility for addressing multiple questions in a timely manner

Transforming a “boring” spread into one that is more exciting to work with

So, I decided to take a deeper look at what was actually “boring” about that common three card spread of “past/ present/future”.   I discovered it wasn’t the number of cards but the nature of each position so I started to explore the nature of the questions for each of the three spots in the lay-out.   I also investigated different methods for pulling the cards.  And suddenly that boring three card spread started to provide a much more exciting and insightful conversation.

Here is what I learned about querying the cards

First let’s look at the query for each position of the three cards.   This is where we dig into our box of creativity and inquisitiveness to find a world of new approaches for querying the cards.   I started with reflecting on the tarot deck itself and what each aspect speaks to.  The Tarot breaks down to this: The Major Arcanca, The Court Cards and The Minor Arcana (you can even break it down further by working with The Aces as a grouping)

The Major Arcana offer us insight in the greater spiritual mysteries or life lessons at play in a given situation.  The Court Cards represent  “people” in a reading and/or the “personal development” level of a person.  The Minor Arcana show us the “stages” where a particular pattern, lesson or spiritual mystery is playing out or showing up.  (The Aces offer us the seed energy or potential and element vibration of the suits.) Keeping that in mind, I began experimenting with each position within a three card spread and formulating new takes on the spots.

Three Card Tarot SpreadsSince I am visual, I drew out several three blank squares set-up for this part and create a basic template to get my creative energy flowing.  (You can see my dog Juno checking it out.)

Then I thought about a focus for a reading that I might go to the tarot with or that a client might ask me.

A sample focus: How might I be getting in my own way in regards to my career path.

Then I think about what each category of the tarot offers for wisdom and insight: The Major Arcana, The Court Cards and The Minor Cards.  From there I formulated the role for each spot.    This is the brain storming part of the process.  It helps to have an investigative attitude.


So let’s look at our sample focus:

How might I be getting in my own way in regards to my career path.

Then brain storm what perspective the Major Arcana can lend.  I came up with the following:

  • Core Energy Of The Situation
  • Obstacle
  • What You Might Not Be Aware Of

And brainstorm questions for the Court Cards:

  • Where You Are At In The Process
  • Where You Stand
  • Allie For Growth

And brainstorm questions for a Random Card of Action

  • Action To Move Forward
  • Action To Clear Way
  • Action To Create Change

You can see how it all pulls together here

Crafting Three Card Tarot Spreads

Bonus Challenge:

You can turn these three cards spreads into four cards spreads by adding an ace to each reading.

Add another level to your spreads by how you select the cards

The next step is to bring your creativity to how you decide to pull the cards for your reading.   Here are some suggestions that I have found really great to implement.

For the Major Arcana Positions:

Shuffle the cards while energetically engaging the nature of your question.  When ready, start turning the cards over one by one until you come to the first major arcana.  Stop there and place the card in its spot.

For the Court Card Positions:

Same thing as above in regards to the shuffling.  Then pull cards one by one until you come to the first court card. Stop there and place the card in its spot.

For the Random Card of Action:

Do not shuffle. Take the very next card after your court card and place in the spot for the random card action.

Here is my three card reading

Three Card Tarot Reading

Sample reading with the Everyman Tarot Deck by John Mangiapane

Experiment with how you shuffle and pull the cards.  There is so much potential here.  Perhaps you shuffle and make three piles straight away that you pull card from for each spot in the lay-out.  Have fun with it.

If you are looking to take this format of reading up a notch, you can do the following optional add-ons.

  • Separate out the Aces.  Shuffle just them while reflecting on your question and pull one card.  Add that to the reading as additional insight to the over all energy of the reading.
  • Pull additional clarifying cards on any of the first cards you placed that you feel you would like more expanded guidance on.  Shuffle the remaining cards while energetically asking for clarity for whichever area you feel it is needed and then pull a clarifying card to add to the reading.

Now its your turn.

What questions did you come up with?  Did you find another way to pull the cards?  Share you feedback in the comment section below



Signup to receive my Newsletter ( Learn more … )

*I respect your email privacy. I promise to never share your information with anyone else. If you should decide that these newsletters are no longer in alignment with that which you seek, you can choose to opt out at any time.

Keep in touch follow me on your favorite social media site…

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment