Today we will combine all the techniques we have learned into reading a three card Tarot spread. The techniques we will be using are:
- The divinatory meanings of all three cards
- The ED’s or Elemental associations
- Reversed Tarot cards
Understanding Three Card Dynamics
Before we go further, it’s important to discuss a few concepts concerning the dynamics that exist between three Tarot cards. The most important point I’d like you to remember is that the Elements number four, yet we are only using three. In this sense we have already created an imbalance. We are missing an Element.
In the last post I wrote on the Elements, as part of this Beginners Tutorial to reading Tarot cards, discussed the tension that exists between the Elements. They always seek a perfect harmony, yet this state of perfection can never be reached; the three card Tarot spread we will be discussing further exploits this phenomena, by allowing us to read the point of change.
The second point I’d like you to keep in mind involves the nature of the three card Tarot spread itself. In this Tarot spread, we will not be using positions to indicate the past, the present, the future, or any other combination commonly seen. How then do we go about giving the reading a structure? If we are not using positions to provide the structure, what then shall we use?
The answer lies in the middle card of the three card spread. We will use that as the focus point for our reading. Imagine that the two cards that flank or provide the border to the middle card, in some sense, create the middle card. Their interactions transform into the middle card. In other words, the middle card is the outcome card.
A note of caution: I rarely view things in that way, however, it’s important that we start somewhere so that your confidence in using spreads that don’t depend upon positions starts to grow. The less you see the cards as positional indicators, the more you’ll start to open up to the energy flow that the cards themselves provide.
This process of becoming less dependent on positional based Tarot spreads will really open you up to seeing how the Tarot itself provides the structure to base your readings on. This process does take time and the foundations that we have laid with this Tutorial Series will go along way to help you achieve a greater understanding of this ‘structure’.
Questions To Ask Ourselves When We First Deal Out The Three Tarot Cards
- What Elements are present?
- What Element is missing?
- Is there an excess of either the Elements, the Picture cards, the Court cards or the Pip cards?
- Is there a complete absence of either the Elements, the Picture cards, the Court cards or the Pip cards?
- How many, if any, are reversed
Try and ask those questions in the order I have provided above. Think of it as a checklist. By answering those questions we will already have built up a strong impression of what the reading suggests.
Example Three Card Reading:
- Elements present: Air or Spirit, Fire and Earth
- Element missing: Water
- Excess of Picture cards
- Missing the Court cards
- One reversed card
- This is the point we add the DM’s
Let’s start by looking at the Elements present. Apart from Earth, they are all active Elements. We know things are changing, and the Earth of the Universe card will give that ‘change’ a solid base in which to develop. In other words, these changes have the potential to last. I am viewing the Magus card as Spirit and as such, is supported by the Earth Element of the Universe card. However, we could say that the Magus, which, when seen as the Element Air is an Enemy of the Earth Element provided by the Universe card. This would certainly change the interpretation; it would indicate obstacles.
The excess of Picture cards indicates life changing events and the lack of the Element Water indicates that the client will be ignoring their health, other peoples feelings and their own. We can speculate that they have already put a lot of work into making this plan happen and are now at the point where circumstances have gathered enough energy to take the clients plan forward.
The reversed Universe card, in this context, seems to indicate delays. Why do I say this? Looking at the three cards I ultimately see the client’s plans working out for them, however, I see the Universe as indicating a resistance. It looks to me like this resistance is a product of circumstance rather than some inner subjective, or psychological resistance, that belongs to the client. In plain English, the Universe card reversed indicates that it may take longer to finalise certain key things; longer than the client may have anticipated. No doubt, the client will be feeling slightly frustrated while waiting for events to catch up or materialise. I would suspect these delays involve bureaucracy.
The Six of Wands is the middle Tarot card, and that is, in this version of the three card spread, the outcome card. The influences, or perhaps more specifically, the union (I’m often reminded of Yoga) of the Magus and the Universe have created a separate, individual Tarot card; a unique set of circumstances. Elementally, the Six of Wands is strong, it is well support by the other cards. Now is a good time to bring in the DM’s of the three Tarot cards, to assist our ‘narrative’.
The DM’s of the Magus, Six of Wands and the Universe card are as follows: Self-employment or self promotion; Victory and recognition; Success and Foreign countries.
Overall, this reading is telling me that the client will successfully expand their business into their foreign country of choice. They have worked hard to get to this point; they have ignored both their health and the feelings of others in the pursuit of this goal. There will be delays before the business is fully operationally; it looks bureaucratic in nature. The Six of Wands indicates initial success with recognition being given by their peers.
The Elements are looking to rebalance though; the missing Element of Water will need to be expressed soon. I would expect, at some point, that this area of the client’s life will require attention.
The missing Court cards indicates that the client may feel like they don’t need anyone to succeed in life. This fiercely independent aspect of their nature will inevitably catch up with them when the Elements seek to rebalance.
As you can see, from this simple three card Tarot spread, we were able to gather a lot of information on the client’s circumstances and possible future experiences. I would like you to continue practicing this spread as much as possible and remember, it is important to resist the temptation to read for others at this time. It’s much more important that you learn how to ‘open yourself’ up to imagination and allow different types of ‘narratives’ or stories to flow. This will not only give you the confidence to read for others, but will lay very solid foundations for your continued Tarot journey. It is my belief that by practicing the techniques that I have outlined in this Tutorial Series, you will avoid many of the pitfalls that can trap so many beginner students of Tarot.
For further research into reading three cards I would recommend the lessons on Supertarot’s Elemental Dignities and Reading Three Tarot Card Groups. You might also like to check out an awesome series of articles, by Tarot Elements – Elemental Dignities Mini-Series that introduce techniques for using Elemental Dignities within a three card reading.
This post is part of the Beginners Tutorial To Reading Tarot Cards.