How to Read a 3 Card Tarot Spread - Past Present & Future


Are you just getting started reading tarot, but you’re confused about how to do a reading? In this video, I’ll be showing you how to interpret a 3-Card Past Present and Future reading and give you some exercises to work through to help you interpret the messages that are presented.


In this video, I’m also assuming that you’re familiar with each of the cards meanings, but if not, I’d suggest you learn the basics before starting to read with a spread.


The past present and future reading I usually like to use when someone is looking for general advice and needs confirmation that they are moving in the right direction or if there are any blockages preventing them from moving forward. If the seeker has a specific goal or outcome they are trying to get to, this is a great reading for that.


Now I’ll show you an example 3-card layout and how I would interpret it. And then it will be your turn to see how you would interpret this same layout.


Start by laying down the middle card, or the present card. This is where the seeker is in the present moment. This will give you much insight into where they are. Next, place a card on the left-hand side of the present card. This represents the past or where the person has come from in the past up until this point. This is where you’ll get an idea of what has plagued them in the past or if there are any blockages they may have that will lead up to the reason they’re seeking an answer to their current question. Next, place a card to the right-hand side of the present card. This is the future card or showing the possible outcome of what the seeker is looking to accomplish.. This can be the immediate future or more long-term future. The future card will help direct you to the tendencies that they have leading them from the present to the future.


One important thing to note before we go into the sample spread is that your intuition will guide you as you are looking at the spread and help identify what messages are important to relay.


Your reading really starts before you even meet with the seeker to do the reading. A great practice to have is to engage in meditation prior to your meeting, so that you are grounded and ready to be a channel for spirit to come through. This is just as important if you are doing a reading for yourself. I also like to have a few decks around me during meditation for the seeker and either during or after my meditation, I am usually drawn to a specific deck to read from.


OK, so now that your preparation is complete and you’ve selected your deck, it’s time to pick the cards for your reading.

In my example, I have selected the Radiant Rider Waite tarot deck, as it’s a clear deck to use for this purpose.

For this exercise, I would suggest following along with me, and then pausing the video and try a reading on your own and see how you feel. If you have any questions as you’re going through it, please leave them in the comments below, and I along with others can help from there.


So, first of all before we begin, I want to note here about shuffling your deck. This is an IMPORTANT part of the reading, as it is all about generating and working with the energy for what cards will appear. This is a personal preference how you shuffle your cards and the shuffling has to resonate with you, so that the energy will flow through naturally to the cards. There are lots of opinions on the proper way to shuffle a tarot deck, but most importantly, it has to resonate with you as the reader.


Since I don’t have a specific question, I’ll just pull 3 cards as a general reading. This will also happen in a real reading, as sometimes the seeker doesn’t have a specific question. The cards I pulled for this sample reading are the “tower” in the present position, the Page of Wands in the “past” position, and the six of pentacles in the “future” position.

Right away you can detect that there’s some sort of change or shake up in this person’s life and it would also explain why they’re coming to you for guidance at this time.


With the page of wands in the past, this could indicate that someone has provided a message to the seeker that is now causing a change. My instinct from this reading tells me that it has to do with work - a job or career. I feel like the seeker could have had a change in their work responsibilities, or a new boss has come in that is younger and more vibrant, and the seeker is feeling like they are going to be replaced. This could indicate that they have just lost their job to in fact someone younger, and they are wondering how they are going to move forward financial to care for their family or even if they are alone, care for themselves.


With the Six of pentacles in the future position, I feel like they will eventually get financial assistance, whether someone lends them money, or they get a loan, unemployment etc…


There is another way you can read this spread that is more positive, and your intuition will guide you on what that appropriate scenario is. It could be that this person has done some good work in the past to help a greater cause and things are changing for the better. It could be that it is balancing some system, so that money or finances are being redistributed to people who deserve it. In a mundane scenario, this could be that this person has either done some hard work in changing policies or processes within their current company to make a change for the better. Maybe there has been a change in minimum wages or raises given to employees, and this person is part of making it happen due to their creativity. I also feel here that there may be more than one person involved in making this change, but I see it as a small team versus many people. I think the change is made for the better and this person takes pride in making sure that they are working towards a greater cause, not just for selfish purposes.


So, as you can see, I’m guided in this reading towards work or financial matters, versus love or family related issues. Now, there are questions you can ask the person you are reading from to clarify this message, or at this point you can pull a clarifying card over the tower to see what type of change is currently happening.


The clarifying card I pulled was the 9 of swords, which tells me that this person is worried about this change. So to me, it is guiding me towards the first scenario of the person possibly losing their job. Though, If you are really drawn to the second scenario during the reading, this would relay that they are worried that they are actually making a difference, and if this is even going to work in the way they imagine. They might have gone a bit too far, and are possibly worried that it won’t work, or they may ultimately lose their job.


So, now it’s your turn. I’d suggest pulling 3 cards on your own and seeing what message you are drawn to. If you don’t have a tarot deck, you can use general playing cards. I’ve done a video on how to do a reading with playing cards, and I’ll link to that video here.

Let me know in the comments what 3 cards you pull and how you interpret it, and let’s start a conversation together on the ways to interpret these readings.

Enjoy the reading and I look forward to seeing you next time!

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