A 3-card spread in tarot in a popular way to read tarot cards. What does a 3-card spread mean? Plus how to read one (13 spreads to try!)
Co-authored by James Kerti
The most common way to do a 3-card spread is to draw a trio of cards from a tarot deck and lay them out horizontally from left to right.
When it comes to learning tarot by yourself, 3-card spreads are a wonderful way to practice the craft.
What does a 3-card spread mean?
The cards you draw can help you understand yourself better. They can also decipher situations you’re facing in your life.
Three-card spreads are a great way to start with tarot because they offer a solid amount of information without becoming overwhelmingly complex. You quickly get actionable, understandable information related to questions you have.
3-card spreads to read tarot
3-card spreads: 5 popular ones to try
Here are some of our favorite 3-card spreads for a general tarot reading or for specific topics that you might be interested in, like love and career.
Past / Present / Future
This is a popular spread that can help you understand the connections between:
– what’s happened in the past
– where you’re at now
– where you may be heading
If you’re looking for clarity on a current situation, this 3-card spread can help you connect the dots to past influences that may be coloring your view.
This spread also helps you see where things are headed in the future if you continue down your current path.
Situation / Action / Outcome
Is there a particularly challenging problem you’re trying to solve?
This spread shines light on:
– the current situation you’re facing
– an action you can take to influence it, and
– the most likely outcome
Mind / Body / Spirit
You may want to give this spread a try if you’re seeking greater balance in your life.
These three cards illustrate:
– your intellectual
– physical, and
– spiritual experiences on a specific topic or question
Subconscious / Conscious / Super Conscious
Feeling like taking a deep dive into the inner workings of your mind? Wondering what beliefs or fears are influencing the current situation?
This 3-card spread works across multiple dimensions and can bring fascinating insights!
– The subconscious card reveals what may be brewing below the surface but that you’re not quite able to put into words.
– The conscious card reflects something that is in your current awareness.
– The superconscious card reveals your untapped potential and wisdom that is available to guide you through this situation.
Current Situation / Obstacle / Advice
When you’re dealing with a clear-cut challenge, this spread helps you understand how to navigate it.
– The first card is clarifying, representing a theme or topic that helps explain the situation.
– The second card reveals the obstacle standing in the way of the outcome you want.
– The third card gives provides guidance on the best path forward.
3-card spreads about love: 4 to try
You / The Other Person / The Relationship
As we wrote about in our book Supercouple, when two people come together there’s a third “entity” that’s formed: the relationship itself.
These three cards represent:
– the other person, and
– the relationship between the two of you
What You Want / What They Want / The Future
If you’re unsure whether you and another person are aligned, this spread can help bring understanding and clarity.
– The first card brings clarity about what you want.
– The second card reveals clues about what the other person wants. How much alignment is there between these tow cards? While it’s not necessary for you and your partner to want exactly the same things, if there’s a fundamental disconnect or incompatibility present, this spread may help reveal it.
– The third card shows what the future may hold.
What Unites You / What Divides You / What to Focus On
We like this spread because it can help you assess
– what’s bringing you closer,
– what’s pushing you apart
– which influences are in your control
Love Interest No. 1 / Love Interest No. 2 / How to Decide
When you’re trying to choose between different love interests, you can try this spread to get clues about how each relationship may unfold.
– The first and second card each represent one of the people you’re asking about
– The third card suggests a theme or criteria for making a decision
3-card spreads about career and money: 4 to try
Challenges / Strengths / What to Focus On
Ae you facing a challenging situation in your career or finances?
Pulling these three cards can paint a clear picture of the different influences at play—and how you can exert some control over them, illustrating:
– where to focus
What You Want / Opportunities / The Future
We like this spread because it helps clarify
– what you want
– your future
Note: When the first card doesn’t line up with what you think you desire, you may take a moment to reflect on whether there might be some truth to it. Sometimes our subconscious drives can be playing a bigger role than we think!
Passion / Talent / Opportunity
This spread can be helpful when you’re exploring a career change or new opportunities.
These three cards provide insight about
– the passion and talent you bring to the table,
– with the final card representing a job or other opportunity you may want to pursue
Present / Future / What to Focus On
This simple spread can be helpful because it offers clarity on
– the current situation
– where it may be heading
– sense of where to focus your time and attention