Three Card Readings: Not Always Past, Present, and Future!

Corbie Mitleid
5 min readFeb 21, 2022

I love my “deep dish” Tarot spreads: the ones that give details and possibilities and so much information it’s like a four-course meal.

It’s what I specialize in, and why my clients have come to trust my readings. It’s all about giving THEM the power, not me.

But for beginning readers — or when you have to make a decision FAST with not a lot of pondering time — the Three Card Option is the #1 Go-To Spread.

The basic three-card spread deals with past, present and future.

  • If Butch and Chloe are asking about their relationship, then past can be their past interactions, present can be where they are now, and future can be what they can expect.
  • If Ursula wants to know about her finances, she can see how they were in the past, what she has to deal with now, and what money opportunities might be coming to her in the future.
  • If Timothy wants to know about his health, he might see what past actions affected his health, where he stands with it right now, and what the future holds in terms of health or illness.

But there’s a lot more to three-card spreads than past-present-future. There are always options, choices, and three different ways to look at a situation. And the more you can think outside the box, the more useful a three card spread can be.

Here are some examples:

Relationship three-card options can look at:

  • Past mistakes, present possibilities, future best-case scenarios
  • His thoughts, her thoughts, their thoughts
  • Whether to break up, keep things status quo, or move them forward
  • Relationship potentials with Person A, Person B, or neither

What about financial options, or how to spend your money?

  • Spend, save or invest
  • Work with your own money, get a loan or grant, or find a financial partner
  • Go on a vacation, go on a “staycation,” or save the money for other things
  • Buy new, buy used, or put off the purchase

Housing questions can run the gamut:

  • Continue to rent, rent with an option to buy, or buy a house outright
  • Stay where you are alone, move in with a friend, or get a roommate
  • Build a new house, find a house already built, or buy a townhouse
  • Renovate what you have, put on an addition, or move.

Even spiritual questions can be answered with a three-card option:

  • Mind, body, spirit
  • Three different spiritual directions
  • Work with “this world” information, ask Spirit, or wait for signs
  • Three possible lessons a spiritual situation may be giving you

The key to your three-card option, as with any Tarot spread or oracle card draw, is to concentrate on the question. Clear your mind. Tell all your mental squirrels to go have a milk and nut-bar break. Turn off the television, the radio, the Internet.

Take a minute or two to think about the most important things you need to know on the given subject.

If you can think of more than three, try to bring them into a cohesive triplet; there is always another three-card option to use to clarify information if you have time, but we want to stay with three cards.

Shuffle your deck. Because this is a three-card option, I tend to shuffle nine times (3 x 3) to make sure that all energy is cleared from the last reading.

Whether you just pick the first three cards at the top of the deck, or fan them out and pick where energy leads you, resist the temptation to pick more cards!

This option is wonderful for teaching you to really dig deep for the nuances in a card, and how the card may relate to the other two in the draw, but ONLY if you stick with the formula.

You can even do a drill-down three on the card that holds the most information. Let’s say that you’re asking about housing, and the card says “renovate what you have.”

You might then pull three cards to ascertain whether you should renovate the kitchen, the bathroom(s) or the patio.

If you are asking whether to change jobs, get more education to better yourself, or open your own place, and the answer comes up “education,” you might want to ask about the three possible majors you could study, or the three educational institutions you’re considering.

The more you learn to pare down your questions to the clearest options, the better a reader you are going to be for yourself, and definitely for friends, family or clients.

Why? People come to a reader because they are confused — about options, about outcomes, about direction.

Helping those who sit across the table from you to clarify their true desires, differentiate between “needs” and “wants,” and to think logically about how a situation might pan out is as useful and educational as any information that the cards might turn up.

Remember that we are not “fortune tellers” — we are counselors, we are clear mirrors to help our clients look at their lives and make the best possible choices with the most useful information.

Three cards — it may look like a small spread at first, but it can be the doorway to fast, useful and clarifying information.

Make sure that a knowledge of how to develop an on-target three-card spread in an instant is part of your reader’s tool kit!



Corbie Mitleid

Psychic medium & channel since 1973. Author. Certified Tarot Master, past life specialist. I take my work seriously, me not so much.