This week’s podcast episode is a popular one from our archives. It’s the only 3-card Tarot spreads you’ll ever need for your Tarot readings
When I first started learning to read Tarot, I felt overwhelmed by complicated Tarot spreads like the 10-card Celtic Cross or the 13-card Horoscope spread.
So I went on a mission to find the very best 3-card Tarot spreads to keep it simple, but also get deep insight into my life with Tarot as a guide.
In this episode, I’m going to share my very best, never-fail 3 card Tarot spreads. Plus, as a special treat, I’m going to do a couple of sample readings with these spreads so you can get a sense of how they work.
Here’s what I’ll cover:
- How keeping it simple with just 3 cards can give even more insight than more complicated Tarot spreads
- How to handle a general reading with ease and grace
- How to uncover the dynamics of a relationship with just 3 cards
- What Tarot spread to use when faced with a difficult decision
Plus, make sure you download the free PDF with all of my very best 3-card Tarot spreads.
Let’s get into it…
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You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 83 from the archives: My Never-Fail 3-Card Tarot Spreads.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. Now, here is your host, Brigit Esselmont.
Hello, and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. Today, we’re dipping into the archives to bring you one of my favourite podcast episodes. It’s my Never-Fail 3-Card Tarot Spreads.
Now, I chose this because I am such a big fan of keeping it simple and using simple Tarot spreads even if you are an absolute Tarot master. So, sit back and enjoy, and listen up as I share with you my best 3-card Tarot spreads in this podcast episode.
MY NEVER-FAIL 3-CARD TAROT SPREADS
When I first started learning to read Tarot, I was just itching to get my cards and do an actual Tarot reading for myself. But when I looked in all of my Tarot books, all I found were complicated Tarot spreads, like the 10-card Celtic Cross or a 13-card horoscope spread, and it was totally overwhelming, particularly when I was just starting to learn. So, I went on a mission to find the very best 3-card Tarot spreads so that I could keep it simple but also get deep insight into my life with Tarot as a guide.
So, today, I’m going to share with you my very best never-fail 3-card Tarot spreads to help you read Tarot with confidence and to get you out there and doing Tarot readings as soon as you can. Plus, as a special treat, I’m going to do a couple of sample readings as we go with these 3-card Tarot spreads so that you can get a sense of how they work.
Now, I’ve made a very special PDF download for you as well so that you’ve got these 3-card Tarot spreads in front of you, and you’re going to find that over at BiddyTarot.com/10, and you can download it there.
All right, are you ready to get into it? I certainly am.
AN INTRODUCTION TO 3-CARD SPREADS
When you’re thinking about 3-Card Tarot spreads, what’s the first thing that really comes to mind?
Well, I know for me it’s probably the Past-Present-Future spread. That is probably one of the most common and popular Tarot spreads when it comes to just using three cards.
Now, I think Past-Present-Future can be quite a fun way of working with the Tarot cards. It’s nice and easy. It gives you a good sense of things, and it’s a nice spread to use if you are doing like party readings or high-volume readings.
But there are a number of different 3-Card Tarot spreads that you can also use, so that is what I am going to be sharing with you today. Let’s just get started with Past-Present-Future.
Why would we even use the Past-Present-Future?
Well, like I said, it’s a quick and easy spread. It also just gives you that concept in terms of timing. And some people would say, “Well, why do I even need to focus on past when really what I want to know is what’s going to happen in the future?”
I think that the past position can really tell you about what’s shaped who you are, and you’re coming into the present time, and then where are you going in the future. That past card can really tell you where you’re heading to in the future.
The present tells you where you are right now, it’s often an indicator of where you’re heading to in the future as well. We can see, typically, some different themes flowing through what’s happened over the past and the Present – so what changes have happened – and then where that might lead you to in the Future.
So, let’s just draw a couple of cards.
I’m going to make today really simple for me. I’ve got three little piles in front of me. For each reading, I’m just going to be taking the top card off each of these piles.
And if you’re at home (or wherever you are) with your Tarot cards, then you can do this as a practice as well. So we are not necessarily doing real deep and meaningful Tarot readings with specific questions and so on, but we’re doing this more as a practice session.
So, let’s see. I’ve got the Six of Swords reversed for the past, I’ve got the Justice card reversed for the present, and I’ve got the Five of Cups reversed for the Future.
Now, obviously, we have got three cards that are in the reversed position which, in this case, would indicate perhaps more of an internal focus. So, if we were just doing a general reading, and we’re going for Past-Present-Future, I would say that from these reversed cards a lot of the focus is within.
Now, with the Six of Swords reversed, and the Five of Cups, it’s kind of like that feeling of needing to move on, but feeling regretful about it. Then having the Justice reversed in the middle, that sort of feeling of unfairness.
Now, let’s bring it back to in the past. In the past, you may have needed to move on from a situation but you didn’t feel like you were really ready for it. And right now, in the present, the Justice reversed card shows that you’re feeling that it’s completely unfair. In the future, as you’re sort of holding onto this resistance of moving on and feeling the unfairness, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to make that transition forward. The emotions and the feelings that are around that may end up having you feeling quite stuck.
So, you can see here how this Past-Present-Future reading starts to evolve, and you can see all the baggage that you’re holding onto from the past is actually influencing and shaping you in the future.
Now, of course, we know that we all have Free Will, and the beauty of the Tarot cards is that it can show you: The path that you are on right now, this is where you’re heading to, but it’s within your control to change your future.
So, with this kind of Tarot reading, I would suggest that you need to start to focus on releasing those feelings of unfairness and resistance to change, and accept that what has happened has happened, and now it’s time to move forward because the longer that you hold onto those feelings of resentment, the longer those negative emotions will stick around.
I always find it funny that the Five of Cups has that bridge in the background. It’s kind of like: Build a bridge and get over it!
And that’s what I see as the message in this Tarot reading. There’s an example of how the Past-Present-Future could work.
FIVE MORE 3-CARD TAROT SPREADS
Now, I’ve also got a few other 3-Card Tarot spreads that I would love to share with you for more general questions.
You can often get a little bit stumped when someone says, “Just tell me about my life.”
You’re like, “Oh my goodness, where do we begin?”
These can be helpful 3-Card spreads for those general questions, but they can also be helpful for more specific things like, “Well, can you tell me a bit about my career?”
So, let me go through the first one that I’ve got for you.
So, one is Situation-Action-Result—really nice and simple. The Situation is telling you what’s happening right now, the Action is telling you what action is recommended, and the Result is what will occur if you follow the advice of that action and make the most of it.
Let’s just set it up that this was about Career.
I’m going to draw the cards again.
Oh, goodness me—it’s all reversal cards. Oh, goodness, I’m just making a quick check to make sure that I do have some upright cards and reversed cards as well! Yes, we’re all good. It’s a nice mix in there.
OK, so back to it. We’ve got Situation, and we’ve got the Knight of Cups reversed. We’ve got Action, which is Page of Swords reversed. The Result is Seven of Pentacles reversed, and we’re asking this around the career.
So, the Situation with the Knight of Cups reversed can sometimes indicate a fantasy outlook on things. So you might have unrealistic expectations about your career. Or you may also be feeling quite unfulfilled emotionally when it comes to your career. It is just not quite gelling in the way that you want it to.
So for the Page of Swords reversed, the Action might be to think before you step out. I often see the Page of Swords as ready to begin a journey with that new energy and a new thought pattern. But, given that we have the Knight of Cups reversed here, which could be that fantasy, or not seeing things in the way that they really are, then you’re actually advised not to necessarily go out there and find that new career straight away because you might end up in a place that’s not in alignment with what you really want.
So, it’s a little bit of a “back-to-the-drawing-board” with the Page of Swords reversed for the Action.
The Result here is the Seven of Pentacles reversed.
Now, I often connect with the bored look that’s on this guy’s face. He’s like, “C’mon man, I’m waiting and waiting for this plant to grow—it’s those coins. What do I have to do to make this happen?”
There’s kind of like this feeling of frustration and boredom that things aren’t happening as quickly as maybe you want them to.
Overall, to me these three cards would say: In terms of career, make sure that you’ve got realistic expectations of what you really want because right now it feels as if that’s a little bit out of balance. The risk with going ahead and trying to make change now, with things being out of balance, is that you’ll probably end up on the wrong path, and it will be back to square one again. And whilst you might be feeling frustrated with the lack of growth, it’s actually a better idea to bring your attention back inwards first—do the inner work—and then move forward with career.
So there’s a Situation-Action-Result reading.
PRESENT SITUATION-DESIRED OUTCOME-RECOMMENDED ACTION
There are a couple of others here that I think would be very helpful for more general questions. The next one is the Present Situation—the Desired Outcome—the Recommended Action.
What I really like about this one is including that Desired Outcome. This really connects and taps into: What is it that you really want? How can you go about manifesting that?
Because, again, I really believe that with Tarot we have Free Will, and the Tarot is here to help us create the kinds of outcomes that we want, not necessarily to say, “This will happen and no matter what you do it will happen.” Sometimes that can be good news, yes, but sometimes that can be bad news.
Personally I just don’t see the world working in that way. I just don’t think that things are so pre-determined that there is absolutely nothing you can do to avoid a certain outcome or consequence.
- Present – what’s happening right now?
- Desired Outcome – what do you really want?
- What’s the Recommended Action in order to manifest that Desired Outcome?
I’m not going to do a sample spread with that because I think you probably know what that might look like.
OK, the third general 3-Card Tarot spread that you might want to use is: Problem—Cause—Solution.
Let’s say you’ve been having a fight with your sister, and you want to get into the Tarot cards and understand: What’s going on? Why are we butting heads all of the time?
We’ll just draw a couple of cards here.
Thank goodness, we’ve got one upright card here.
So, the Problem is the Two of Swords reversed. Well, what are you being blinded to? Is there something within yourself that you’re blinded to?
The Problem is also around stalemate—both of you are unwilling to see the other person’s point of view.
Now, the Cause is digging a little bit deeper. We know what the problem is how you are experiencing that problem, but what’s really going on here? And that’s what the Cause tells you.
We’ve got the Queen of Pentacles reversed, and I’m being a bit playful here, but the Queen can often represent the mother figure. Perhaps the two sisters are warring because they’re not getting the attention from their Mum, or they’re fighting for the attention of their Mother.
There could even be jealousy in terms of one another and career, and feelings of lacking self-worth, and thinking, “Oh well, maybe my sister doesn’t appreciate me anymore because she’s always working, or she’s got her family now, and I’m not important to her anymore.” Maybe that’s an underlying cause.
Then the Solution—we have the upright Emperor here. If we’re going to play along the lines of mother/father figures, the Emperor is certainly a father figure. The Solution might be to get Dad involved. When in doubt, bring in Dad!
Alternatively, the Emperor can be also about setting some boundaries and rules, and perhaps in this case, some agreements and being a little bit more tangible in what those agreements are. You might even need a mediator—someone to play that role in between the two sisters to say, “Right, you speak your piece. OK, now you speak your piece. Right, what’s the right solution here?” and then move forward.
So, I think that’s a really great spread to really dig deeper into what’s really going on – so the Problem, the Cause, and the Solution.
The fourth one is around Aspirations-Obstacle-Path Forward. “What is it that you aspire to?” is kind of like the Desired Outcome that we had before. What’s the Obstacle that’s getting in the way? Why are you not yet able to make this Aspiration a reality?
Maybe you are already on the path towards that, but is there something (well, is there anything, really) standing in the way of you being able to achieve that Aspiration?
If you’re drawing a card for the Obstacle like the Sun, then perhaps there really is nothing getting in your way, and it’s a clear path forward. That could be pretty exciting. But if you find some sort of heavier energy in the Tarot cards here, then you know what it is that you need to overcome in order to achieve the Aspiration.
So, we have got Aspiration, Obstacle, and then: What is the path forward?
What do you need to do right now in order to remove that Obstacle so you can achieve your Aspiration?
And finally, to keep things really simple with a 3-Card Spread for a general reading, you might simply do something like: Career—Relationships—Personal Development. Draw a card for each.
This is particularly useful if you have someone that just says, “Yep, I just want a general reading.”
So, you think, “OK, what might be the three most important topics for you right now?”
It could even be something like: Money—Family—Spirituality, for example. You can really choose any combination, but just think about those top three topics, and you can create a 3-Card spread.
OK, so those are the five spreads I have for you for general readings. Let’s just do a quick re-cap, and remember if you want to down the PDF with the summary of these 3-Card spreads, you can do so at biddyTarot.com/10.
So we’ve got:
- Present—Desired Outcome—Recommended Action
- Aspiration—Obstacle—Path Forward
- Career—Relationships—Personal Development
(or really any combination of the various sort of life topics that you might encounter)
OK, so let’s now move onto a great and very simple 3-Card spread for relationships. We are diving in a bit deeper here.
A very simple and neat spread for a relationship reading is simply to draw one card for You in the relationship, one card for them in the relationship, and the third card for the nature of the relationship itself.
Now, you might be wondering about the ethics of drawing a Tarot card for the other person, particularly if they haven’t given you permission to be included in that Tarot reading. What I want you to know is that when you do a reading like this, the card that you’re drawing around the other person is more about how they are in relationship to you and what you need to know about them in the relationship. Does that make sense?
So, it’s not so much about everything that they’re thinking and feeling as a stand-alone, independent individual, but more about them in the context of the relationship that you have with them.
Let’s just draw a couple of cards and see what happens.
We’ve got you in the relationship—the Ace of Wands. Ace of Wands is perhaps you’re really inspired and excited and passionate about this relationship, and perhaps it’s a very new relationship.
For them, they get the Tower reversed. Now, this could be quite interesting. So many people just shake in their boots when they see the Tower and think, “Oh no! It’s disaster and destruction and everything’s going terribly,” but I find that the Tower is an incredibly powerful card, particularly in this reverse position. It’s kind of like you’ve been through a massive shake-up, and things have happened that have been quite unexpected, and a lot of destruction. But remember, wherever there is destruction, there is creation. And in order for us to be able to experience new things in life, sometimes we have to really shake the foundations of our existing life.
For example, you might have been in a relationship, and suddenly it came to an end. At that point in time you may have felt extremely upset and shaken by the whole experience, and thinking, “Why has this happened to me? I thought that the relationship was amazing, and now it’s just all fallen apart.”
But then a few months start to pass by, and you meet the person of your dreams, and you’re like, “Wow, I’m actually way more suited to this person than I thought I was to the other person.” That right there is the Tower because sometimes we have to go through that big destruction so that we can create something new but also something that is more in alignment with our soul’s purpose. That’s what I see in this Tower card.
So, in the context of a relationship, the other person may be coming into this relationship having experienced quite a big break-up but realizing that it’s actually all for the better.
Let’s draw that third card to see: What’s the combination here? What’s the dynamic of the relationship?
And we have Four of Pentacles—and this is kind of neat. I like this.
The Four of Pentacles, in this case, could be a card of commitment and creating a solid foundation together. Think of Four—Fours are very much about stability and foundations and so on. That could be quite comforting for the Other person with the Tower. They’ve just got through a very shaky experience and now need that safety and security of this current relationship to give them that comfort level again. And you, with the Ace of Wands, you are like, “Woohoo, this is the best thing ever!” and so excited, and you can bring a lot of that energy into this relationship too.
Now, I find what’s really interesting when you do this kind of reading is also to have a look at how the cards are interacting with each other. Or, more specifically, how are the figures in the cards interacting with each other?
In this case, there’s not so much because, in the Ace of Wands, there are no people in there. But if there was a person in there, I would be really curious to see: Are they facing towards the people in the other card? Or away? Or are they interacting in different ways? And what might that tell me about this kind of relationship? So, that’s always something to look out for.
All right, so you’ve got a really handy 3-Card spread that you can use now to understand relationships. Super easy!
CHOICES & DECISIONS
Now I’ve got four more that I want to share with you. I won’t do readings for all of them because I want to keep our podcast episode on time.
The next group of spreads is the choices and decisions.
Here are two 3-Card spreads that you can use when making a difficult choice, or a decision.
One is to look at:
OPTION 1—OPTION 2—HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE TWO
Let’s say you’re like, “Well, I don’t know whether to stay in Melbourne or move to London.”
Well, you might draw one card for: What might I experience if I stay in Melbourne? Let’s see. OK, Four of Swords. Well, rest and relaxation—OK.
What might I experience if I move to London? Page of Cups reversed. Well, that might be some disappointment and it not going as you expected it to.
And, number 3, how do I choose? The Ace of Pentacles—well, that actually might indicate that there’s another alternative that you haven’t considered already.
I want to also point out here that the Tarot cards will not make your decision for you. They will show you what you might experience if you take either path, but ultimately you are the one that chooses. That’s why I have included that third card about how you choose between the two. What do you need to know in order to make that choice? Because, again, that choice is yours. The accountability lies with you.
Another way of making choices and decisions with the Tarot as your guide is to look at:
So, for example, if it was “Should I stay in Melbourne?”—well, what are the pros?
Knight of Pentacles—well, the pros are everything stays the same; I can keep comfortable; it’s all good.
The cons (the not so good things)—High Priestess. Well, maybe I’m not fully honouring my soul’s purpose. Maybe my soul is calling me to something else.
And the outcome—the Queen of Cups reversed. Well, I might just ignore all of that because maybe it’s too much to deal with the emotional side of things, and I’ll just keep things as they are because I like safety and routine, just as I see in the Knight of Pentacles. Or I might be ready to really challenge my need for emotional security and be ready to take a bit of a risk.
Again, completely up to you!
OK, finally let’s step into this last category, which is around personal development.
I think that the Tarot is such a good tool for connecting in with ourselves, with our soul, and with what our soul really needs from us. When we use the Tarot cards for these kinds of personal development readings, we just create a lot of potential and space to really tune into our own Inner Wisdom and Divine Guidance.
So here are two 3-Card spreads to help you do that.
One is very simple:
So what do I need to know about my Mind? Well, I’ve got the Seven of Cups reversed here. It’s a little bit sketchy—as in many options but not knowing which one to choose.
When I think about my Body—OK, Strength reversed. Well, maybe I need to workout at the gym a little bit more, and work on my strength… Taking that one quite literally! But you can also think of the Strength card as those raw instincts and, perhaps, learning to embody instinct and my more animalistic instincts and so on.
And Spirit—we have got the Judgement card. That might be that there’s a calling happening right now, and my Spirit is listening to that calling. Being a Major Arcana card, that might be somewhere where I really want to focus my attention as well.
Mind-Body-Spirit—nice and simple.
And one final one for personal development is:
YOU—YOUR POTENTIAL—YOUR PATH
I think this is really neat. This is something that you can do at any time to connect in: Well, what am I really here for, and how can I have the biggest impact?
So, the You, I’ve got the Eight of Wands reversed. Well, you might actually be feeling a little bit stuck right now, but what’s the Potential here?
The Two of Cups reversed. Well, that might be a sign that you can start to reflect inwardly, and even a bit of self-love actually might help you release some of that stuckness feeling that’s going on there.
Then finally your Path—the Seven of Swords reversed. In this case, it might be about: What can you leave behind so that you can explore your potential around self-love?
That’s quite an interesting one.
So, that was You-Your Potential-Your Path.
Well, there you have it—those are my favourite, never-fail 3-Card Tarot spreads, and I’ve given you quite a good selection of different 3-Card Tarot spreads that you can use so that when you do go to do your next Tarot readings, you can be doing it with ease and with simplicity. But I also want to just re-emphasize that you’re not necessarily dumbing down the Tarot.
When you use say one card, or two cards, or three cards, when doing a Tarot reading, please don’t feel like that that’s inferior to doing a 10-card reading or a 20-card reading. Oftentimes, it’s actually going to give you even more insight than those bigger Tarot readings because you’re allowing yourself the space to really get into each card, and to really explore those connections and extract as much information as you can from the three cards.
So, I encourage you to have a play with those spreads. Again, you can also download the 3-Card Tarot spreads from biddyTarot.com/10.
There you have it. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, and if you loved this episode, then you’re going to love my free Tarot tutorial series 5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence—and it’s all delivered direct to your Inbox. These are five really simple and fun activities that you can do to enhance your connection with the Tarot and start to integrate it into your everyday living. Because, in my opinion, I think that that’s where the Tarot is so powerful—when it’s integrated into what you do on an everyday basis.
To sign up for that free tutorial series make sure you head on over to biddyTarot.com/5ss, and you can start straight away—it will be direct into your email Inbox.
All right, well, I have had so much fun today sharing with you these 3-Card Tarot spreads, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your Tarot journey, and I look forward to connecting next time. Bye!