Tarot: The Flexibility Of The Three-Card Spread


Tarot: The Flexibility Of The Three-Card Spread by Vincent Pitisci

Tarot card spreads are usually described as having “positions”. I prefer to use the term “elements” instead of “positions” as you will see as you read on.

These positions / elements are usually laid out in a specific order. When element one and element two and so forth are laid out, a pattern will form when complete.

Most card spreads imply that the element’s meanings should not be changed. They remain the same from one reading to the next. Furthermore, if the element’s meanings don’t seem to relate to my question, I should find a different card spread with elements whose meanings fit closer to the answers I seek.

This seems like the tail wagging the dog. We can change the element’s meanings to anything we choose; to things that directly pertain to the question being looked into.

A very common card spread many of you have heard of is the Three-Card Spread. Its elements are very basic and usually identified as Past, Present and Future. But Past, Present and Future doesn’t really answer too many questions. These elements can be changed to something more useful such as Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunity (numbers A-1, B-6 and C-2 in the diagram shown). This would give us better results to objectives we are looking into when consulting the cards.

Another example of more useful elements could be demonstrated with a question concerning something such as opening up a coffee house. Elements of Location, Hours of Operation and Strategy, which are not shown on this chart, would be be useful in this situation. Here, the Three-Card Spread is not limited to the elements of Past, Present and Future. Finding elements that directly pertain to the question asked can create better answers in the reading.

We can also add more elements if we choose to. For example, change it to a four-card spread by using elements of What, Why, How and When.

Again, I prefer the term elements instead of positions because that is what they are: elements of the question being looked into. It is beneficial to have elements that directly pertain to the question in some useful way. Think of a card spread as a conversation you are having with a friend. You might ask your friend a question about something on your mind. By thinking that way, elements of your question will naturally start to come to you, which you can then use for your card spread.

Sometimes finding good elements to your question can be challenging. Here is a way around that. I call this spread the Random Three-Card Spread because there are 216 possible positions.

So after seeing this card spread you may feel I’m insane. I’m not. Although things are very nice here at the home. Nurse!!! ……… Nurse!!!

OK I’m back. Don’t worry. It’s still just a three-card spread.

I worked out this spread to randomly find useful elements to questions. This forces you to see a question from a different perspective instead of a normal thinking mode.


How the Random Three-Card Spread Works

In the diagram shown we see three columns labeled as A, B and C. Under each column we have six various elements that can be randomly selected and used as elements for our spread. Roll a six-sided die one time for each column. The number rolled for each column randomly selects which element to look at our question with.

Pitisci Article Photo Sept 2015


For example, let’s say we rolled a four for column A, which gives us the selection of Caution; we rolled a two for column B, which gives us the selection of Creativity; and lastly we rolled a five for column C, which gives us the selection of Reversal. The elements of our Three-Card Spread have now become Caution, Creativity and Reversal instead of Past, Present and Future. Using this spread, we can look at our question in a cautious way, getting creative as we look for answers and maybe reverse some part of our strategy to give us better results. There are 216 various combinations of elements. (Notice that by rolling a five for column A, a three for column B and a four for column C, you would have selected Past, Present and Future.) Any of the other 215 possible random combinations will give you something different to look at.

At first glance, random elements might seem strange to your question. Then the mind will search for meaning. This can bring about dynamic results not thought of before. Random stimulus creates a way of thinking that goes beyond conventional thought. It is a common creative-thinking technique used today by creative consultants and think tanks to find solutions to challenges and yes…. to make predictions on future objectives.                                                                                                                             

Placing and associating a Tarot card into the three positions can offer new and better insights than will Past, Present and Future in most questions asked of the cards.

You can change these elements to your own liking as well. For example, change Assertive in column B to Fears, or change Timing in column A to Alliances. The elements will work fine as long as they can be associated to questions in some way. Or maybe you would like to replace Past, Present and Future with something like Restrictions, Obligation and Location. The list is endless and so is your imagination.

This technique forces us to look at various aspects of a question in ways not seen with normal trains of thought. And that’s intuitive. With randomly selected elements associated to the question being looked into, we can discover some very dynamic concepts in our readings and find innovative solutions to problems being looked into. It enhances our creative and intuitive minds wide open.

I hope you like this method of the Three-Card Spread. I can tell you from experience that it works with surprising results!


Vincent Pitisci is the author of Genius of the Tarot: A Guide to Divination with the Tarot and The Essential Tarot: Unlocking the Mystery (CreateSpace, paperback).Pitisci’s private practice and residence is in Chicago’s southwest suburb of Berwyn, IL. His contact information and services can be found at www.pitisci.com.



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