3 Card Tarot Spread ~ Past, Present, Future

3 card tarot layout

Card back images are from the Universal Waite Tarot Deck, U.S. Games, Inc.

This 3 card tarot spread is a quick and simple way to get insight into the past, present and future. There are many variations on the 3 card tarot spread, including the past life tarot spread, but this is one of the most common and useful (in my opinion!) spreads. This spread also works great with oracle cards if you prefer using those.

1. Past

  • Energies and events that are in the past yet still effect you
  • How your past either holds you back (blocks) or helps you move forward (growth)
  • What you need to take from the past and use to your advantage today

2. Present

  • What is going on for you right now
  • The energy of the present moment
  • Opportunities and challenges that are currently being presented to you

3. Future

      • Outcome of situation
      • The direction that things seem to be moving in
      • What you are wanting



Look closer at each card and ask yourself what it represents:

Some possibilities are…..

        • A person in your life
        • A situation
        • Your emotions / feelings
        • Your thoughts
        • You and the way you are approaching things
        • A new way of seeing things
        • A possible solution

Here is a video demonstration and mini lesson (taught by me!) on how to read tarot cards using the past, present, future 3 card tarot spread:

Click here to order an interpretation of your Tarot spread

 See more tarot card spreads…

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21 Responses to 3 Card Tarot Spread ~ Past, Present, Future

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Hi, I just wanted to ask, is there a right kind of deck I should look out for? I got mine at a store called half priced books and my boyfriend said that I got the kind you “play” tarot with. Like a card game. I have looked it up and there is a card game but i am not sure if i can use this deck or if i should just go to an actual store and get them. Please help me! Im so confused right now. The deck says it was illustrated like a Marseilles Tarot Deck. Hope that last bit helped in telling me what kind of deck i have.

    • Hi Gabrielle,
      Don’t worry, you didn’t get the wrong kind of deck. You probably have a pip deck – which is a Tarot deck whose minor arcana cards are not fully illustrated, meaning the minors look similar to a playing card deck. These kind of decks are much harder to learn on than a Rider-Waite style deck, which is a fully illustrated deck (there are scenes on all the cards). If you are serious about learning Tarot i would get the Rider Waite Deck. Keep the deck you’ve got though, it’s not bad it’s just harder to learn with.
      Hope that helps!
      Kate

  2. Matthew says:

    So glad I found this information! I just learning the art of Tarot cards and now know how to read them this way.

  3. Nancy says:

    I recently found your site and am enjoying it. I have a generic question and one that’s probably been asked a million times. I’ve been dabbling in Tarot off and on for years and have, for the last month or so, been getting serious about it. I have used the Connolly Deck for all of this time and recently bought the Ryder-Waite deck that I’m only beginning to look at. However, the cards in the readings and interpretations that you’ve done on video for demo’s using the R-W deck are vastly different than my deck. How do I integrate the two without having to start all over? I’m also using a book called “Choice Centered Tarot” and I think that the way they describe the implication of the number on the cards may have something to do with why the decks may seem so different. Help?

  4. rebecca coffin says:

    hello, i am a beginner in reading cards would u say that to begin learning that i dont look at the meaning or interpretations of the cards that someone else wrote and that i should use the “insight” that i get from the cards. basically i am asking should i use my own understanding of a card or should i use one from another reader.

    • Kate says:

      Rebecca, I think it’s best to use your own understanding first. Hearing other’s ideas about cards can be helpful, but it shouldn’t supercede your own ideas!
      Good luck 🙂

  5. Susan says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if there was an app or a program that helps interpret a card spread. I’m just starting out with tarot and getting used to the cards for a few months now but I’m still a bit fuzzy. I did a 3 card spread today for myself and for some reason the cards I got kinda scared or worried me and I don’t know why. I got these in that order..
    Knight of Swords Knight of Wands Ace of Swords

    I’ve looked up the generic meanings, but just something about having 2 knights and 2 swords in a 3 card spread worries me. Any insight would be appreciated.

  6. Caroline says:

    Hello there, I had a quick question regarding reversed cards. Do you recognize it in a three card spread? All of mine were upside down and when I looked almost my whole deck is upside down. Should I set them all right side up like they were when I first got the deck? I Am a beginner, any tips will be greatly appreciated!

    Caroline

    • Kate says:

      Hi Caroline,
      I don’t read reversed cards, so I just make sure I keep them upright. If your a beginner I definitely wouldn’t recommend reading reversals – it just complicates things. But if you would like to learn a little about reversals, here’s an article I wrote: http://www.daily-tarot-girl.com/2013/06/29/how-to-read-tarot-cards-reversed/
      Good luck!
      Kate

    • Hi Caroline,

      The reversed and upright cards have different meanings, which are mostly opposite of one another. But, as a tarot reader, it is your choice whether you want to consider the reversed cards… from my 6 years of professional tarot reading, I always have considered the upright card meanings.

      Further, since you mentioned that the whole deck was upside down … there is no harm in making them upright and considering the upright meanings as your readings.

      Another solution for you will be to draw the cards again … by keeping the cards upright and then in case the reversed cards come out .. consider the reversed meaning

      Hope this helped

  7. Tanita says:

    Dear Kate,

    A while ago my mother bought a mind body and soul kit for herself in upgrading she has passed the set onto me. I would like to learn to read the cards properly to understand what they potentionally mean in using your step guide I have landed with a few really strange cards and numbers I am uncertain what they mean do you have anything on these that I may read up on to understand?

  8. Sarah says:

    Hi, I am watching your past, present, future reading demo. You didn’t mention if you would use this spread using ALL the cards, or just the minor arcana, etc.
    I am a beginner and so far have just been using the major arcana and doing a cross spread.
    What do you recommend as far as using spreads that only use certain cards in the deck vs. using spreads that use ALL cards in the deck.
    Thanks for your time!
    Sarah

    • Kate says:

      Hi Sarah,
      When I do a reading, I always use all the cards in the deck.
      However, when I was learning, I did readings with the Majors only, or the Court Cards only, in order to get comfortable reading those cards. So it is really up to you how you want to do a reading.
      I prefer using all the cards for a reading, but for learning purposes, its helpful to read with certain cards.
      Hope that helps 🙂
      Kate

  9. Chhaya says:

    Hi Kate,
    I would like to know Yes/No spread.
    Please can you guide me in detail.
    Thanks.

  10. Just B says:

    My reading/conversation with my Deck – Past, Present, Future:

    *Deck (PAST): Ace of Wands – “BOOM went the dynamite! You made some bold moves/changes in finally deciding to write your life story the way YOU WANT.”

    Me: Yah! No more comments from the peanut gallery! 😛
    It felt sooo good to finally stand up for myself & let go of my fears. I finally had the courage to say, “P*** off – you do You, and Imma do ME” 🙂

    *Deck (PRESENT): Ace of Pentacles – “GET IT GIRL!!! It’s all gravy, baby!”

    Me: Is this what people mean when they say “make it rain”? (dollar bills hahahaha) I’m guessing 2 Aces in a reading is friggin’ awesome?! It feels pretty awesome… 🙂

    *Deck (FUTURE): 7 of Pentacles – “Stop and smell the roses, cause the roses are a bloomin’ ALL AROUND YOU….. It’s ALL good :-)”

    Me: Lucky number 7! First thing to pop in my head! Weeeee! I wanna do a cartwheel!!! 🙂

    🙂 Roses for everyone!!! 🙂

  11. Hilario says:

    I would like to learn a simple 3 or 5 card Yes/No Spread

    Thank you

    • Mariann says:

      I use this spread for yes/no. It is a five card spread, and it works very well for me. Lay the card out like this:
      3
      1 4 2
      5
      Card 1 and 2 represent the heart of the matter. Card nr. 3 is the past, Card 4 is how things are now and it will give the yes/no answer together with card no.5 wich is the future. I hope you understand my explanations,as English is not my everyday language.
      Hugs,
      Mariann

      • Mariann says:

        The layout came out all wrong. 🙂 Card 3,4 and 5 are laying in a straight line under each other. Card nr 1 is placed to the left of card 4 and card 2 to the right. 🙂

      • Patricia says:

        Thank you for sharing this spread, Mariann. I just tried it and it worked beautifully!

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