The three-card spread is one of the basic tools that every cartomancer worth their salt has in their arsenal. Much like the Portrait spread in Lenormand, it offers a clear overview of the situation, allowing us to peek into the past, the present, as well as the future. As its name suggests, each of the three positions represent one aspect of the situation – the influences that came before, the way things are now, and the most likely outcome to unfold.
Still, not all three-card spreads follow this past-present-future pattern. Quite the contrary. Over the course of the centuries (for the idea is possibly as old as cartomancy itself), the layout has evolved to cover many other prospects that may present themselves before the querrent. Nowadays, a simple layout consisting of three cards can assume many different meanings and give predictions about the near future but also insight into any given situation, advice on how to solve a problem and many more. Here are but a few of the ideas that you might want to take into consideration:
1) Your story, their story, how the situation appears to neutral observers
2) Beginning of the story, its middle, the end
3) Your wish or desire, the main obstacle, the resolution
4) Problem, source of said problem, its solution
5) Change you are planning on, best possible outcome, worst possible outcome
6) Person #1, person #2, the nature of their relationship
7) Strength, weakness, opportunity
8) Hidden desire, its manifestation, and its ultimate consequences
With these ideas in mind, you should be able to give exceptionally insightful readings without having to resort to any of the more elaborate spreads. The options outlined above are excellent for the beginner not quite sure of their skills yet but can also serve the more seasoned cartomancer. As you progress on your journey through Tarot, you should also gain the courage to develop your own spreads or at least adapt the existing ones to suit your needs. That is how all of the concepts outlined in this article came into being anyway. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination.