Beginners Guide to Doing a 3-Card Tarot Cards Spread for Divination

tarot card meanings

These days a lot of people are curious about the future, both their own and that of other people. One way that has been popular over the centuries to divine the future is tarot cards and various kinds of tarot decks.

There are several ways to use tarot cards from a basic 3-card spread to more complicated readings that involve more than 20 cards. However, since this is an article for beginners to the world of tarot cards, we will stick to the tarot card meanings for doing a 3-card spread for either yourself or someone else.

The Cards Feature Different Images, Meanings

Firstly, there are many different kinds of tarot decks and some feature angels, while others feature Greek Gods, or perhaps animal or even fairies. You have to choose a deck that calls to you as tarot decks are personal to the user. However, you can use any of the basic tarot decks to do a 3-card spread.

For this lesson, I am going to use the Sharman-Caselli deck, which is one of the tarot decks recommended in some beginner’s guides. So, this tarot deck has 78 cards, which may be a bit overwhelming if you are just starting out. There are 56 cards that represent Minor Arcana, and 22 card that represent the Major Arcana.

Minor Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

The cards in the Minor Arcana represent influences in someone’s daily life. They include the Suits of Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles. The Cups card has to do with a person’s emotions and relationships, while the Wands cards refer to the person’s imagination and creativity, and the Swords cards refer to some sort of challenge the person is going through, and finally the Pentacles cards refer to the person’s finances and their life’s material aspects.

Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

The Major Arcana tarot cards define significant experiences and phases of someone’s life. For example, if you were doing a reading and pulled the card known as The Fool, it could represent the start of some sort of new adventure or cycle in someone’s life. Whether that is good or bad depends on if the card comes up right-side-up or upside-down. Right-side up is positive, while upside-down is normally read as a negative.

3-Card Spread Represents Past, Present, Future

So, using a basic 3-card spread is meant to refer to a person’s past, present and future. The person doing the reading should first ask the person a specific question, of which the answer to that question will be revealed via the tarot card meanings that come up.

Then, the person getting the reading will divide the tarot deck into three piles, each of which should be as equal as possible. Then, they will turn over the first card in each of those piles. The first card refers to the past, the second to the present and the last to the future.

Card 1: Explaining the Past

The first card to be read is the card representing the person’s past. You may think that is a simple process, but you would be wrong. There are a lot of subtle things to be considered when divining this card. For instance, it could involve some sort of past event or feeling that someone close to the person did that influences the current and future situation. Plus, it doesn’t have to involve the long ago past, in some cases it could refer to something that just happened a few minutes prior to the reading.

Whatever the case, understanding how the person’s past is interwoven into their present and future is vital to getting the tarot card meanings correct for their situation. The past isn’t necessarily good or bad, but either way it definitely influences the present and the future so it is a vital part of the reading.

Card 2: Explaining how the Present fits in

The second card refers to the person’s here and now, the present. It can represent many different things, so is a powerful part of the reading. Since this type of divination only includes three tarot cards, a lot could be read into this step. For example, the card could refer to outside influences on the person’s situation, or perhaps how someone close to them sees things, or it could refer to some sort of hidden obstacle to the future event, or if there is any discord, etc. It isn’t necessarily cut and dried and care must be taken when determining the tarot card meanings and how it is interwoven with the past and future to answer whatever the person’s original question was.

Card 3: Explains how the Future fits in

The third tarot card refers to the future outcome of the question being asked. Depending on that question, it could refer to a long-term goal or the immediate resolution. It depends on the complexity of the person’s question. For example, if the person’s question had to do with whether they would be moving into a new home or a new job, and the Ten of Cups came up and was right-side up, it could mean they were indeed moving into the new house they crave. This card shows two people surrounded by happy kids looking at a house and there is a rainbow of cups over their heads, so it represents happy things and a person’s dream coming true.


All in all, reading tarot cards and using tarot decks takes a bit of time to fully understand. You should probably practice on yourself until you understand more about tarot card meanings so you don’t have to stop to look it up every time, which could put a damper on the mood. Tarot cards can be a fun thing to bring to a party, but if you truly believe in the tarot card meanings, they could also be a very serious thing. As they say, it’s all in the cards.

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