One Spread To Rule Them All


Today, I'm going to share with you my favorite three-card spread. It's the one I currently work with most frequently, and typically I draw it twice a week. It's pretty much my go-to.

Let's get right down to it.


Being three cards, it may seem very simple on the surface, but the contextual significance of the spread, as well as its layout, creates some very unique interactions with the cards.

Position 1: The Overarching Contemplation

Being at the pinnacle of the spread, this card typically demands the most real-estate of the practitioner's attention. It's essentially the "question" card—the subject matter that is advised to maintain awareness and attention on.

In my experience with this spread, this card always feels like it speaks to an inner abstraction that, in maintaining its presence in my mind, enriches my current circumstances. Sometimes, it can be rather tongue-in-cheek, and others, a very healthy guidepost.

Sometimes, this card can entirely change the spread. For instance, a card like The Chariot, with its two beasts, can really "take the wheel" of the interpretation (excuse my horrible pun) by considering how cards 2 & 3 might be driving the Chariot.

Prior to a big event, I once drew the Chariot in this position with the King & Knight of cups in the bottom left and bottom right. It was a really great spread that absolutely changed my perspective going into it, and I had an excellent time.

Position 2: The Arena

In the bottom left is "the arena." It's the primary contextually-supporting position that is intended to depict the arena of life where the spread is relevant.

Depending on what card falls into this position, it can sometimes be difficult to interpret with definitive judgment. Though usually, when I consider my personal interpretation of the card's central ideas, the "arena" becomes clear.

Some examples would include:

  • The Emperor. A card that I associate with order-keeping, responsibility, and vision-oriented management and leadership (including self-management & self-leadership). In the arena context, it might convey necessary tasks that have deadlines, or areas in which I am in a leadership position and thus responsible.
  • The 4 of Cups. While in some positions this card can convey a sense of idleness or despondency, in this position it feels to convey a sense of meditation and searching for inspiration.
  • The Queen of Wands. I perceive this Queen as a character who expresses a mature level of self-knowledge, expertise, and application of will. When I imagine her entering this position, I feel my attention drawn toward areas in which I am currently expressing proficiency and an advanced level of understanding. If there is a strong Queen of Wands presence in my life in the form of another person, I would consider her appearance in this position as signifying my interactions with that person.

Position 3: The Practical Advice

This is the card that is put to action. It is the building block that helps the overarching contemplation move into some observable fruition (if it's favorable) or bring it to resolution (if it presents conflict).

I rarely find this card difficult to interpret, though conflict cards (such as many of the Swords, or any of the 5s) can stir a sense of confusion.

Generally, if a conflict card emerges in these positions, I perceive them as an obstacle that requires resolution in order to move forward. A few examples:

  • The 5 of Swords. "Don't be intimidated or brought low by assholes with strong opinions."
  • The 8 of Swords. "Make a decision, already."
  • The 5 of Cups. "You're focusing too much on the past and its fleeting moments. There are other moments now, and tomorrow that need your attention."
  • The 10 of Swords. "You know what you need? You need to go out into the woods. And scream. For a long time."

These examples are just to help illustrate flexibility in interpretation—I know a lot of practitioners who, starting out, have a difficult time perceiving how certain cards can connect with the context of their spread positions.

Of course, you undoubtedly have your own relationship to the deck and your experience of this spread will likely yield unique results.

One of the sharpest tools in my drawer

In both my personal and professional practice, my aim is to bring light to the circumstances, and nudge awareness & attention toward the opportunities within them. I find that this spread really excels in executing this style of approach.

This is often a slam dunk spread for events, where usually I am spending under 10 minutes with the participants that sit with me. It's very clear in its purpose and layout, and the participants get really engaged with this spread, with minimal nudging on my behalf.

In private sessions, I find it to be great at either the beginning or the end of the session. Fitting this spread into a session can be a bit of an intuitive process, but my rule of thumb is usually something like this:

  • If the client feels bewildered in regards to their circumstances, sometimes a large, complicated spread just adds to the confusion. This spread can be a great way to gain some focus on the topic, in helping suss out what the real questions are.
  • During longer sessions, sometimes clients might have difficulty in assessing the key points, particularly in regards to forecast-style sessions that stretch out to an annual period. The aim is always to help clients work toward creating the future they want (with due preparedness), so this spread can really help tie up one of these sessions by providing some focus on the here & now.

Go forth and shuffle!

So there you have it! This is hands-down my most trusted spread at the moment. I have no doubt that you'll find this spread to be empowering & uncanny! My final recommendation is to let the spread aerate for a couple days, in a spot where you will see it often and can ruminate on it. After all, it is a spread that is geared toward enriching contemplation!

If you'd like some specific advice on your practice or pursuit as a professional practitioner, I recommend taking a gander at the ways I can help!

Until next time~

Insert photo of me
If you're looking for unconventional methods in tackling the abstract problems of human life, you've come to the right place.

Schedule Appointment