The three-card spread is something of a gold standard among beginner readers and tarot professionals alike.
Simple, digestible, and flexible, it can be applied to any query or conflict. There are just enough cards to produce a dynamic, meaningful reading, and not so many that the querent (and the reader, for that matter!) is left overwhelmed and confused. Its permutations are endless. And, it photographs well (what can I say? I love photography and pretty things).
As far as size is concerned, six-card spreads are my go-to–they inspire me to dive in and unearth the hidden truths that help us grow and evolve.
Yet, there are times that I’m not trying to be completely knocked on my ass by the tarot.
Sometimes I have a question that’s not crazy-intense, or there’s a specific aspect of a larger problem that I’d like to address individually. And when I’m chilling on a blanket in the park and I’m jonesing to throw some cards, a full Celtic Cross takes up way too much space and kills the chill vibe I’m trying to facilitate. Enter the three-card spread. Not too big, not too small. Just right.
I’m an avid spread drafter, and I have an arsenal of three-card babies archived in a series of tarot journals just waiting to be shared.
For this post, however, I wanted to feature some badass three-card spreads proffered by my fellow Instagram cardslingers.
Check out how these rad tarot divas read three cards, and don’t forget to check out their Insta feeds!
Hello, You! Spread
When I draft a spread, I put commonly place self-reflection front and center–“let’s plumb the depths of our psyches and discover what lives there!” This is why I was strongly drawn to the Hello, You! Spread by Debbie of Cards and Cups–rather than focus on self-discovery, it holds space for a soul who’s recently fallen into your orbit and considers the relationship that may develop between you.
I’m especially drawn to the final position–regardless of the dynamic that blossoms, it asks the querent to consider everyone they meet a potential teacher. Spiritually speaking, this is a super high-vibe approach, and I dig it.
Thesis | Antithesis | Synthesis: Three Variations
Daniella Abend of My Tarot 3 throws a daily three-card spread that considers both self and spirit. In this sense, she’s prompting a conversation between the microcosm (her) and the macrocosm (the universe) to arrive at a synthesis between the two.
The Vision Quest Tarot, AGM, 1998
- The situation as it truly exists.
- The action that spirit suggests.
- The outcome.
I really enjoy that the language of the second position considers supernatural forces, but ultimately places power solely in the hands of the reader/querent–at the end of the day, the choice and ability to act remains with you.
Like Daniella’s, this three-card spread by yours truly considers the interplay between micro and macro. However, it seeks to synthesize the will of the two forces for the highest good of the querent.
The Linestrider Tarot, Lewellyn, 2016
- What’s my next move?
- What’s the universe’s next move?
- How do I synthesize these paths with my highest good in mind?
This spread is useful when objective conditions/circumstances seem to be in direct opposition to your will and and desire. It asks you to reconsider your current trajectory in light of your circumstances without prompting you to throw in the towel and subject yourself to the whim of the universe.
Like Daniella, Pauline of paulharpist offers a spread that considers both subjective and objective influences, but places emphasis on synthesis as mine does (great minds think alike). Her spread is ideal when you’re looking for something straight-forward and traditional:
- my situation/attitude
- external influences
- energies required to harmonize them
Environment / Self / Spirit
Taroist K Silver’s fave three-card spread invites clear, direct messages, and she uses it regularly to that end:
The Wildwood Tarot, Sterling Publishers, 2011
- My Environment.
- Spirit or Advice.
Though the language is direct, the topics addressed are broad, and she allows them a certain amount of flexibility in terms of how they may be interpreted. This spread seems a good choice for a daily draw precisely because it invites a wide range of interpretation–you can get quite a bit of mileage out of it. For unique illustrations and weekly tarot draws, check out K’s Instafeed at silver_allusion.
Bard’s Lament designed a spread to contend with the fortuitous opportunities that tend to crop up when we least expect them to. “It is really good at causing dynamic changes by making you look at things you maybe hadn’t noticed or considered,” she notes.
- Unexpected opportunity.
I’m a sucker for actionable advice in my spreads, and this one hits that nail straight on its head. Visit Bard’s Insta feed for woo, tarot goodness, and gorgeous Southwestern vistas.
Do you have a fave three-card spread that you use on the regular for guidance and insight? Share it below!
Much Love and Happy Cardslinging,