Three little cards

Every question can be examined from three aspects. Every action, for example, usually involves three choices: your current position, a new possibility or opposite action, and the integration of these in a new way. […]

The three-card spread is a powerful tool for feeding back information about your own processes of making decisions and dealing with situations. It can help you to clarify options before acting and to understand the dynamics that take place afterwards.

Mary K Greer, ‘Tarot for Your Self

So, a three card tarot reading.

I’ve been attracted by the versatility of three-card spreads before, and recently started thinking about how simple it would be to design a three-card right in the moment – when confronted with the question. And then only yesterday, I swapped readings with another learner – he took my quesion and separated it into three angles, addressing not only how I should make a choice, but why and what I might choose:

Question: How should I prioritise with the different projects I’m involved with?

1. How should I prioritise? (Methods, motivations, underlying factors to consider)
2. What should I prioritise? (And more importantly, why)
3. What should I not prioritise? (And why)

(In fact, my reader drew three cards for each aspect, making this actually a nine-card spread, and gaining far deeper insight into the nitty-gritty of each part of the question.)

Let’s look at some traditional aspects in three-card spreads:

1. Past   2. Present   3. Future
1. Context    2. Focus   3. Outcome
1. Who have I been?   2. Who am I now?   3. Who am I becoming?
1. Inside   2. Outside   3. Advice

The trick is about the question: it’s finding those three angles from which to examine it. Let’s try with a simple, popular quesion:

Question: How can I find love?

So….when you’re looking for love, the factors to consider are…where your head’s at. What you can give. What you’re seeking, How about…

1. What it is you’re seeking – what do you want from love? Commitment? Adoration? An open partnership? Independence? Hot sex? Children? A soul mate?
2. Your emotional state – where is your mind/ Are you ready/too desperate/not bothered etc? Have you been ‘waiting all your life’ or just decided it’s time for some lovin’? What are you able to give?
3. What you’re able to give to a new relationship.

But you know what? I almost think that there’s so much info I want to explore in each of these aspects, that I find myself wanting to follow the lead of my recent reader and draw three cards for each.

I tried this again with a few other simple, common quesions (Should I look for a new job? How can I get out of this rut? What new direction should I take? Am I making the right choice?) and turned up the same thoughts each time – it just. Needs. More.

So maybe I just like extensive readings?

No – anyone who’s been sharing the two-card challenge with me recently will know I ain’t opposed to short and sweet – I love it! I think the need to extend the reading comes when the positions aren’t ‘pre-set’ as in the list of spreads above. As soon as I start thinking about a specific question and how I can best ask the cards to help me answer it, I get into all sorts of difficulties. Am I complicating things?

I feel all unsatisfied, like it’s a puzzle I can’t work out.

So I’ll set myself a little exercise:

Formulate a simple question, three positions, and do a three card reading. Then draw two more cards for each and lay them directly below. Read the full spread again. What’s the difference? Do the extra cards simply add information to the first three? Or do I end up with something completely different? Does one seem better than the other?

three card tarot reading

I just came across this interesting post about ‘stepping stone’ cards, which I found super-helpful in the whole three-card-unsatisfaction thing.

Meanwhile my exercise has proved kinda just what you’d expect. Three cards – fine, interesting…still a sense of wanting more.

Add extra cards to each position – super-way-more-interesting!

Here’s a reading where I had a pretty deep experience with this sort of ‘building’ spread.

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  1. HELEN says:

    hi beth,
    my partner 8 of spades, 9 of spades and 9 of hearts – what does this mean? thanks H

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