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3 Card Tarot Spreads - A List of 18 Simple Tarot Spreads by Layout

By Tina Gong


For all the looming, more daunting questions and problems in our lives, we have the giant 12 card, 20 card spreads. But (hopefully?) the majority of our time is not filled with those questions, and for those moments, simplicity is best. Sometimes, we just need a status check, or a little hint or suggestion for things to become clear. Sometimes, we need to start a conversation, to weed out the gaps, and to learn where there still unknowns - in order to start asking the right questions. For all these little daily needs, there are single card spreads, and 3 card tarot spreads.


Why Organize 3 Card Tarot Spreads by Layout?

It’s easy enough to just draw three cards in a line, and you can absolutely still do that with all the spreads listed in this post. But I’m a visual thinker, and because of that, I prefer having the layout of the cards to guide the way that I process the information within the tarot reading. In nature, spatial positions help us see relationships. A simple example of this is that when we see things clustered together, we tend to understand them as a group. 

That’s why I’m a firm believer that the structure of the reading helps create more meaning in the reading itself. For example, if I’m doing a reading about a relationship, I want it to be symmetrical in order to reflect the parties that are present. The visual nature of the spreads are usually what makes them so helpful. Their power lies not in their assigning meaning to the order the cards are drawn in, but rather that the location of the cards can help you intuitively feel the meaning within them, and between them.


How to Use These 3 Card Tarot Spreads

And so, the following is a list of 3 card tarot readings that I’ve organized and classified based on the layout of the spread itself. If you’re interested in building your own spreads, we hope this can be helpful in terms of helping you understand how to create layouts and distribute visual information. Think of these 3 card tarot spreads as being building blocks for creating visual relationships between cards. Once you understand these, you can use them in building larger, more complex spreads for your personal use.


In this Post: Luminous Spirit Tarot

Holographic, minimalist deck. Companion app focused on moon phases included.

Linear 3 Card Tarot Spreads

As you can imagine, this layout is good at suggesting some sort of linear path, sequence of events, cause and effect, or a way of getting from point a to point b.

  • Past, Present, Future
  • You, Your Path, Your Potential
  • You, Relationship, Partner
  • Situation, Action, Outcome
  • Idea, Process, Aspiration

 Linear 3 Card Tarot Spreads - Simple Tarot Spreads Organized by Layout

Balanced 3 Card Tarot Spreads

In this layout, each card of the spread has a common intersection. They are all equally important, like three sides of a pyramid. Without any of these, the whole structure collapses. 

  • Mind, Body, Spirit
  • Physical State, Emotional State, Spiritual State
  • Subconscious, Conscious, Super Conscious
  • Option 1, Option 2, Option 3
  • What I think, What I feel, What I do

Balanced 3 Card Tarot Spreads - Simple Tarot Spreads Organized by Layout 

Foundational 3 Card Tarot Spreads

I think think one is a little harder to explain, but I like thinking of these spreads being communicators of advice in a way such that “given X and Y, the result is Z”. X and Y attempt to give you a clearer understanding of options, and Z is a summary, a crux, a way to move forward given the information that is there. In fact, even when phrasing these spreads, I like saying them in a way that follows this formula to make the point clearer. The bolded items represent the actual card positions.

  • Given your strengths and weaknesses, this is my advice.
  • Given what worked well, and what didn’t work well, this is the key lesson.
  • Given that this brings you together, and that this pulls you apart, you must focus on this.
  • Given that you want this from the relationship, and your partner wants this, your relationship is heading towards this.
  • Given Option 1 and Option 2, This is what you need to know to make a decision.

 Foundation 3 Card Tarot Spreads - Simple Tarot Spreads Organized by Layout

Crossed 3 Card Tarot Spreads

As the layout would imply, this is about understanding conflicts and obstacles. The card that crosses over is something that stands in the way and that needs to be overcome, something that blocks you from attaining your ultimate goal, while the third card acts as a sort of advice card, looking at the situation from a more distant viewpoint. These can also be used as simpler 2 card spreads if you want to use only the crossing cards.

  • Situation, Obstacle, Advice
  • Aspiration, Obstacle, How to Overcome
  • Opportunities, Challenges, Outcome
  • Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Crossed 3 Card Tarot Spreads - Simple Tarot Spreads Organized by Layout

The Luminous Spirit Tarot Deck - Holographic tarot cards featured in this postWe hope you enjoyed these cards! If you're looking for the deck featured in this post, the Luminous Spirit Tarot, you can get more information about it here.

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  • Chris C
    Are all of these spreads available in the app? I’ve been using, but I haven’t seen all of these. Am I just overlooking some of them?
  • Nidhi
    Everything in this blog has so much knowledge to give ! Thank you !
  • Cheryl Thibeault
    I did the 3 card crossed spread. 1 was Ace of Wands. 2 was upside down Queen of Wands. 3 was King of Cups. This is the first time doing just a 3 card reading. What does that mean?
  • Michelle March
    In a 3 card tarot reading, I drew page of cups, king of cups and queen of swords. What does this mean?
  • Spooky
    For the crosses spread, what is the correct way to read the horizontal card if reversals are involved? In the Celtic cross it’s read normally so I was wondering if there’s a proper technique or if I’m just over complicating things haha

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