How to Use Tarot Cards: Three-Card Spreads

How to Use Tarot Cards

Since Tarot cards have been around for centuries, there are a number of ways that readings can be done. This article is going to cover how to use tarot cards, especially how to do a three-card tarot reading.

Choosing a Deck

First things first, you need to select a card deck. There are so many different designs and patterns. Picking a deck is one of the most important things. Select one that speaks to you and grabs your attention. Whether designs are ones you think are pretty or they are from your favorite book or movie, the cards should reflect who you are. Though the most common deck is the Rider-Waite, you do not have to select this deck. If this deck resonates the most with you, there is nothing wrong with picking it.

Hermit, Tarot, Rider-Waite
This is an example of a Rider-Waite design.

How to Use Tarot Cards: The Basics

First, we are going to look at the basic reading you can do with Tarot cards. You should remember when done correctly, Tarot readings provide a kind of guidance. The cards help you to look at different ways you can approach a situation. It is more complicated than a Magic Eight Ball that simply answers yes or no questions.

Empress, Tarot, Cards, August 3 Zodiac
Did you know that tarot cards can be used for much more than telling the future?

Pick a Question

Have a question in mind when you are first setting up. The question can be anything you are worried about: how your studying for school is going, how your relationships with others are going, even how your job is going. Focus on this question throughout the entire reading.

Connect with the Deck

This is not as creepy as it sounds. This simply means you shuffle the deck and allow some of your energy to flow into the deck so it can guide you better. As the energy going into the deck as you shuffle, remember to let it clear your mind. There is no need to be stressed about the question anymore. If there are a number of factors as to why you want guidance with the question you selected, you can think about those to influence the deck in how to advise you.

If the deck you brought was owned by someone else, someone else has used it, or you are borrowing a deck, you can shuffle it as many times as you need to. It should feel like it belongs in your hands before you try to do the reading. Try to shuffle only once, but it is alright if you need to shuffle more. After you feel the cards are cleared, keep them face down on the table.

Playing Cards, Tarot Cards, How To Use Tarot Cards
Use the deck often so it feels like your own.

How to Use Tarot Cards: Three-Card Readings

One of the easiest readings to do is a three-card spread so we are going to start with that one. To do this spread, you spread the deck so you can see all the cards. However, keep them face down. Next, take the three cards that call out to you the most. You can take your time with this because it might take a while to find the right ones.

Flip the cards so they are face-up, one at a time going from left to right. The cards guide you in the past, present, and future. The left card being the past, the middle is in the present, and the right is the future.

Feel the Cards

Before you go into the meaning for the cards, get a feeling for them first. What do cards make you feel emotionally? What do their colors, symbols, people, overall images, and so forth evoke from you? The feelings you get from each of the cards is important through the rest of the reading. Does one give you a foreboding feeling while another gives you hope? How do you feel?

History Of Tarot, Tarot Cards
How do the cards make you feel?

Look Up the Meanings

The last step of the reading is to understand what the cards are telling you. They mean different things. Not just the pictures but the direction of the cards as well. If it is upside-down, then it does right-side up. Some people memorize what the cards mean but there is nothing wrong with looking up what they mean.

An important thing to remember when getting the results different people take them in different ways. The meanings of the cards are like poetry. Everyone reads the same words every time but they mean different things to everyone.

Tarot Cards, How To Use Tarot Cards
Each card has its own unique symbolism.

At the End

There is not a special ritual or anything to be done at the end of the reading. When you are finished, simply clear the cards again. Once you have cleared them, put cards away in a place you will remember where they are and where they are safe.

How to Use Tarot Cards: Additional Ways to Use a Three-Card Spread

If you do not need guidance with a question, you can still use Tarot cards to get an answer. The past, present, and future layout is the most common, but there are other ways you can use this same layout. You use the same steps, you simply use the results in a different way.

History Of Tarot, Tarot, Divination
This is the basic layout for a three-card spread.


Love is a challenging thing. It makes sense people use simple three-card spread. The spread is easy and it does not take long to do. There are three major ways you can get guidance in your love life.

First, you use the spread to learn where your relationship is going. People find comfort in this one because it shows, from right to left, what you from the relationship and what your partner wants from it. The last card reveals where the relationship is going.

Priestess, Tarot, August 8 Zodiac
Will your cards reveal true love or heartbreak?

A simpler version of this is simply you, your partner, and the relationship. The last set up you can do with a three-card spread relates to the factors of the relationship. Like in every relationship there are factors that draw you together, factors that push you apart, and factors that need to be your attention and to be worked on.

General Situations

These relate to the past, future, and present spread. If you have a question or are debating a situation, then these can help you as well. You can get a new look at the situation through the cards, get an idea of what the obstacle is, and get some advice. If that does not work, then you can try focusing on the situation so you can learn where you need to place the brunt of your focus and end with a possible outcome.

Hierophant, Tarot, 23, August 5 Zodiac
Tarot cards can be used simply for advice.

The Past

Everyone has encountered something in the past and has yet to understand why it happened. However, there is the saying of “everything happens for a reason.” This three-spread can help you to learn what the reason is. You can think about the past situation to find what went well, what went wrong, and things you can learn from what happened. If you want to dig a little deeper you can use the spread that teaches you things you can change, things you are unable to change, and a sort of warning to look out for.

Making a Decision

Countless people are bad at making decisions or simply cannot make up their minds. There are a few different three-card spreads you can use, but we are going to look at the least complicated two.

First, think about the problem you need help with. This is because the cards show you two options and give advice on how to choose just one solution. The second way is similar. The reading gives a new outlook on your choices and the third card sums up what you need to know so you can decide.

Chariot, Tarot Card, Tarot
Use the cards wisely to help with decision-making.

How to Use Tarot Cards: Conclusion

There are many ways you can do a tarot card reading and many of those ways involve more than three cards. However, this article focused on one of the easiest and most basic ways to do a reading. Though there are only three cards, you can still use them in a plethora of ways to get advice on countless issues. There are even more combinations you can use that were not covered in this article.


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