Whether you are a tarot newbie, or a seasoned reader, there is nothing like a simple, 3-card tarot spread to give you some quick insights.
Three-card spreads are a great way to practice tarot when you don’t have a lot of time, or when you’re still learning the card meanings.
These spreads are perfect for daily mindfulness, journaling, or working on self-growth.
Below are 25 of my favorite 3-card spreads. Please note that the cards should be laid out horizontally and read in order unless specified otherwise.
1) Past – Present – Future
This is THE classic 3-card tarot spread.
The Past card represents past influences – things that happened in your recent or distant past that are affecting your present situation.
The Present card represents what is influencing your present, or it gives you a snapshot into the present situation you are doing a reading about.
The Future card suggests the likely outcome if things don’t change.
I don’t believe that the Future card will tell you exactly what will happen in the future (I don’t use tarot for divination), but the card can give you some insights and prompt thought experiments about how things might turn out based on past and present influences.
2) Release – Receive – Hold Onto
This is a great 3-card tarot spread to work with during moon cycles, or to begin a new year (or season).
The Release card tells you what you need to let go of.
The Receive card tells you what you need to receive (from yourself or others.)
The Hold Onto card tells you what you should hold onto.
3) Body – Mind – Soul/Spirit
This is a great self-check in spread.
The Body card tells you what you need to work on for physical health and/or how to go about doing it.
The Mind card provides insights into your thought patterns, and what might need to change so that you can feel more joy, calm, etc…
The Soul or Spirit card tells you want you need to work on in your spiritual practice.
4) Desire – Conflict – Resolution
This is a great spread for relationships. You can also use this spread to gain insights into your goals and the challenges you face reaching them.
The Desire card provides insights into what you want – your goal or dream.
The Conflict card gives you insight into a major obstacle or conflict with getting what you want. This is what is standing in your way, and it might be yourself.
The Resolution card shows what action you may need to take to resolve the conflict, or overcome the obstacle.
5) Energy – Action – Obstacle
I do a simple 2-card Energy/Action spread every morning. This 3-card spread takes it one step further. I recommend doing this spread first thing in the morning.
The Energy card shows you your energy for the day. This can be either how you are feeling about something coming up that day, or your overall mood/inclination for the day.
The Action card tells you how you need to show up to “win” the day.
The Obstacle card gives you a heads up on what might get in your way. This could be something that negatively shifts your energy, or an obstacle that thwarts your action.
6) Decision – Pros – Cons
This is a simple decision-making spread when you are feeling indecisive.
Simply shuffle your cards and choose an option, then lay them out. You can do this for each possible option that you are choosing between.
The Decision card gives you insights into the choice you made. This could be how you would feel after making the decision, for example. Or it could suggest how that choice would affect your life.
The Pros card gives you insights into the benefits of that decision.
The Cons card gives you potential issues and fallout from making that decision.
7) Head – Heart – Spirit
Here’s another self check-in spread. This is a great spread when you are facing decisions about your life – especially career/job, or when you feel like you need to make some big, sometimes scary changes in your life.
The Head card gives you insights into what your logic brain is telling you to do.
The Heart card gives you insights about your passion – what your heart is telling you to do.
The Spirit card gives you insights on what your soul needs.
8) Morning – Afternoon – Evening
This simple 3-card tarot spread is a fun forecast spread for your coming day. Do this spread in the morning, before you start your day.
The cards may tell you what obstacles you might face, or how you should show up at these particular times.
For example, the 8 of Wands in the Morning position might tell you to hustle in the morning, while the 4 of Swords in the afternoon position might suggest that you should clear your afternoon schedule after such an intense start to the day.
9) Sunday (or Monday) – Wednesday – Friday/Weekend
This simple “Week Ahead” spread is a forecast for the week.
10) Within – Without – Relation Between The Two
This is a great self-reflection spread, and I highly recommend journaling to further explore what the cards tell you.
The Within card gives you insights into how your own thoughts, emotions, and energy is affecting what you are asking about.
The Without card gives you insights into how your external circumstances (people, career, etc…) are affecting things.
The Relation Between The Two card connects the dots, providing some insight into how your internal world is affecting your external world, and vice versa.
11) Above – Below – Relation Between The Two
You can interpret this spread a couple ways.
The Above card can be read as spiritual influences, or simply how your own thoughts and mindset affect the situation.
The Below card can be read as Earthly influences, or simply how your own body/health/behavior affects the situation.
The Relation Between The Two connects the dots between how the spiritual (or mindset) and Earthly (or body) are connected.
12) Problem – Do This – Not This
Here’s a quick “what should I do?” spread.
The Problem card represents the problem, giving you some insight into the core issue.
The Do This card suggests an option for solving or dealing with the problem.
The Not This card suggest an action or approach to avoid – something that could make the problem worse.
13) Red Light – Green Light – Yellow Light
You can also think of this as a Stop – Start – Slow Down spread.
The Red Light card shows what you need to stop doing, or at least pause temporarily.
The Green Light card tells you what you need to move forward on (or start doing).
The Yellow Light card means proceed with caution, or ease up on things.
14) Situation – Challenge (or Obstacle) – Resolution
Here’s a good general spread for pretty much any area of your life.
The Situation card gives you insights into the situation you are asking about.
The Challenge card presents possible challenges coming up.
The Resolution card suggests what approach you need to take to solve the issue and overcome the challenge.
15) Situation – Lesson – Advice
This is a variation of the spread above.
Again, the Situation card provides insights into the situation you are asking about.
The Lesson card points to a lesson that can be learned from the situation you are asking about.
The Advice card suggests a possible action or approach to solving the problem.
16) Strength – Weakness – Advice
Here’s another great self check-in.
The first card highlights your strengths.
The second card highlights your weakness.
The Advice card suggests a possible action or approach.
17) Option 1 – Option 2 – How To Choose (or What You Need To Decide)
Here’s a spread to gain insights about a difficult decision that you might face.
The first two cards provide insight into each of the options you are deciding between. The third card tells you how to choose, or what you need in order to make the decision.
Please note that a decision doesn’t have to be made with this spread. You don’t need the cards to tell you what to do. However, the cards can spark some intuitive insights and give you broader perspective.
Quite often, the decision is not laid out in the cards, but what you need to do to make a decision is.
18) You – Path (or Decision) – Potential (or Outcome)
Here’s another spread for considering your options.
The You card can show you how you feel about where you are right now.
The Path card can give you some insight on a particular path you are thinking about. This could be a career path, education, relationship, etc..
The Potential or Outcome card suggests the outcome of following the path you are considering.
19) Stop – Start – Continue
Here’s a simple life assessment spread.
The Stop card tells you what you need to stop doing. This could be bad habits or thought patterns, or it could be related to job/career, relationship, physical health.
The Start card tells you what you need to start doing so that you can progress to the next level.
The Continue card tells you what you are doing well, and should keep it up.
20) What You Want – What They Want – Relationship Direction (or Compromise)
Here’s a good relationship spread – particularly when you and your partner aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.
You both can do this one together, or do it separately and then compare notes. This could be an excellent way to foster deeper communication around an issue or conflict.
21) What’s Bringing You Together – What’s Pulling You Apart – What Needs Attention
This is another relationship check-in.
Again, this could be an insightful spread to do WITH (not on) your partner.
22) Where You Are Now – Where You Want To Be – How To Get There
This spread is for dreamers and those with big life goals.
23) What’s Being Planted – What’s Growing – What’s Ready For Harvest
This is a great 3-card tarot spread for checking in while working towards a future goal.
The What’s Being Planted card is about what you are working on improving in your life right now.
The What’s Growing card is about how you are developing or working toward your goals.
The What’s Ready For Harvest card is suggests areas where you are hitting milestones, and are already enjoying the benefits of your efforts.
24) You – Storm – How To Get Through It
This is a spread if you are facing a difficult time in life.
The You card represents where you are right now. This could be how you are feeling, or simply a snapshot of your current circumstances.
The Storm card represents what is happening, or might happen. This is typically some major upheaval, setback, or stress in your life.
The How To Get Through It card suggests an action or approach to weather the storm and emerge stronger, wiser, and in a better position than you are in right now.
25) 3-Card Manifestation Spread
For this spread, find the Magician card and place it in front of you. Then shuffle the rest of the deck.
Lay one card to the left of the Magician and one card to the right.
The card on the left is the thing that is stopping you from manifesting something you want in your life.
The card on the right is the thing that can help you manifest what you want in your life.
The tarot deck featured in this article is the Radiant Wise Spirit Tarot by Lo Scarabeo (available on Amazon.com) <– Affiliate link.