Tarot Spreads for Beginners: 3 and 5 Card Tarot

Tarot Spreads for Beginners: 3 and 5 Card Tarot

Spreads can act like a template for your readings - they provide structure and help with guidance. In this article I share some of my favourite spreads and how to use them.

I love using Tarot spreads in my Tarot practice and also when I’m reading for others. Spreads can act like a template for your readings – they provide structure and help with guidance. As you develop as a reader, you’ll find that you’ll have some spreads or questions that you fall back on regularly because they align with your style of reading or even the decks you are using.

Today I’m going to share some of my favorite Tarot spreads for beginners.

When you are using Tarot spreads, you can use any Tarot or Oracle deck that you feel drawn to. It also can be helpful to use specific decks for different types of readings. For example:

  • For love readings, I use the Modern Love Tarot. 
  • When I’m trying to discover things that might be hidden below the surface, such as shadow readings or trying to discover what may be locked in the subconscious, I work with The Penumbra Tarot. 
  • In readings where I need some hard hitting truths, I use the Bad Bitches Tarot.
  • And when I’m looking for healing, I use the Awakened Soul Oracle.

If you’re interested in discovering what type of readings your deck will be great at, try the Interview Your Deck Tarot Spread. I’ve also written more about What To Do With A New Tarot Deck.

What Is a Tarot Spread And What Makes a Tarot Spread Easy To Use? 

A Tarot spread is a way of arranging the cards so that each position represents a question that’s been asked. Using a Tarot spread will help keep you focused so you don’t get lost down a rabbit hole and miss getting the information that you came to your deck to find. 

Think of your Tarot spread as the outline of a story you’re writing or the lines in a picture that you’re coloring in – it can always be changed or rearranged later, but a Tarot spread gives you a place to start and a framework to create within. 

The most important thing when selecting or creating a spread to work with is that it makes sense to you and you find it easy to work with.

What is a 3 Card Tarot Reading? 

Three card Tarot spreads are great because they are simple. You don’t have to worry about card placement, you can just line them up side by side.

There are many variations of a 3 card Tarot spread. The most common is probably a past, present, future reading. In this type of reading you ask your question and then look at how the past affects the situation, what is happening in the present, and what you need to learn for the future.

Other popular 3 card Tarot spreads include:

  • Situation, Challenge, Advice
  • Action, Reaction, Outcome
  • Do, Don’t, Proceed with Caution. 

I’ve outlined some specific 3 card Tarot spreads below for different types of readings.

How to Read a 3 Card Tarot Spread 

A great way to read a 3 card Tarot spread is to see how the cards relate to each other and make a story out of it. This is otherwise known as card combinations. Seeing the story in the cards helps you to read more holistically as you can see how the cards relate to each other.

As you develop as a reader you’ll move away from reading the cards as stand alone and will start to read them together as a complete picture by seeing how they relate to each other.

When you are preparing for your reading, pick the questions and the spread you want to use. Shuffle the cards while you concentrate on the questions you’re asking. When you feel ready, cut the cards and then lay them out one at a time as you ask your questions. 

Simple 3 Card Tarot Spreads 

3 Card Tarot Spread for Love –  Finding “The One”

This spread is a great one if you are just getting back into dating but you don’t want to waste time kissing all the frogs before you find that special someone, or if you’ve been out there for a while and are ready to settle down.

“The one” will mean different things to different people, so before you start, figure out what it means for you. Once you are ready, hold in your heart your meaning while you carry out this 3-card love Tarot spread. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Where am I most likely to meet this person? This helps set direction of where to focus your time. Maybe dating apps aren’t for you. One of my clients took up swing dancing and met her husband there. 
  2. How will I meet this person? There might be some clues on something you need to work on within yourself, or depending on the answer you got on question 1, it might give you clues on what to focus your time and energy on.
  3. When will I meet this person? While we may be ready right away, the circumstances of meeting our partner may not be quite finished cooking. 

3 Card Tarot Spread for Career – Leadership Tarot Spread

Work can be challenging, especially when you are leading groups of people. This spread is great for addressing an issue in the workplace. If you aren’t the manager, you still have the ability to make changes (even if they are just in yourself). Personal leadership is a great way to have a positive impact on your career. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Communicate – How can you communicate better or address  the issue?
  2. Motivate – How can you motivate or what needs an energy injection?
  3. Celebrate – What needs to be celebrated in your workplace?

3 card Tarot reading past present future 

Since our thoughts, actions, and beliefs shape us, it’s important to look at the cause and effect of our lives. Whatever is going on now is the result of decisions or situations of the past. If we are unhappy where we are, we need to understand how we got here. Then we can change our circumstances to create a better future.

This spread is helpful for those times when you need to pause and reflect. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Past – this card will highlight the choices, actions, beliefs, and situations that have led to your current situation
  2. Present – a snapshot of what is going on right now
  3. The future – the most likely outcome if things continue as-is 

3 Card Tarot Spread – Spread to find direction 

Are you working on a goal and want to get some clarity about how to achieve it successfully? This spread will help you find your footing in the present and plot your way forward.

Since some goals take a long time to achieve, it can also be handy to do this regularly to keep you on track. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Where I am in regards to realizing this goal – what’s my starting point?
  2. Where am I currently going?
  3. What action do I need to take? How to get there – or how to avoid going there.

3 Card Tarot Spread – give it to me straight

Sometimes in life we just need a bit of truth. Look to this spread to be your sassy side-kick who is going to tell you how it is. It’s a “to the point” Tarot spread that can be used for any question or situation. 

The questions in this spread are:

  1. The Past – What you did to get you into this hot mess. 
  2. The Truth – What is really going on.
  3. The Action – What you can do to get past this shit. 

What is a 5 Card Tarot Reading? 

5 card Tarot readings use spreads that need more complexity. They can be used to look deeper into the subject of the reading. Like with 3 card spreads, when we are thinking about the story the cards are telling, the way the cards relate to each other becomes richer with more cards.

How to Read a 5 Card Tarot Spread 

As you start to work with 5 cards, you can keep it simple by telling a linear story. Look at how card 1 relates to card 2, how card 2 relates to card 3, and so on, rather than looking at how they all relate to each other. As you get more experienced, you’ll begin to see the overall story and give priority to how certain cards relate to each other.

Start the reading by centering yourself and taking a moment to think about what you would like to learn from the Tarot. Grab your deck and then ask the question for each of the 5 cards in your spread. 

Lay each card out and read the story the cards are telling you. It will be very helpful to record your findings in your Tarot journal. I also find it helpful to create a Tarot reference book. This is where I record all of the learnings I have about cards and combinations. I still use mine, it’s my personal Tarot encyclopedia.

Simple 5 Card Tarot Spreads 

Here are some Tarot spreads I use regularly including love, career, overcoming obstacles, and an all purpose spread. I’ve also included a Mercury in Retrograde spread that I’ve found to be really helpful during that challenging time.

5 card Tarot spread: love – What’s the future of my relationship?

This 5 card Tarot spread can be helpful when you are going through tough times in your relationship or if you are questioning the future. Sometimes the lessons we learn may be about what is going on with us and how we are creating the current situation, other times we learn it’s time to move on.

This spread can help you determine the most likely outcome of your current relationship from this point. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Strength of the current relationship.
  2. Challenges of the current relationship.
  3. The lesson you’re being presented with in this relationship.
  4. The lesson the other person is being presented with in this relationship.
  5. Future of the relationship.

5 card cross Tarot spread – All-Purpose 5-card Tarot Spread

This 5 card spread is a great staple to be used with any situation, problem, or area of your life. It will help you get to the core of the matter and there is potential for a lot of deep learning and transformation. The questions in this spread are:

  1. Center – the energy around the person or situation you’re seeking guidance about. 
  2. The Past – what has happened in the past to trigger the current situation or energy? 
  3. The Future – What is the most likely outcome if things keep going the way they are or what is being projected into the future? 
  4. The Known – what is known, what is dominant, what the person is aware of or focusing on. 
  5. The Unknown – what is unknown, what is passive or subconscious, what is beneath the surface? 

5 card career Tarot spread – Queen of Pentacles Career Tarot Spread 

To really get into the zone before doing this reading, pull the Queen of Pentacles out of your deck and take some time to think about all of the things the energy of this card represents in your life. You can even visualize yourself as the Queen of Pentacles when performing this reading for yourself or others.

What aspects of this Queen’s personality could you emulate to help move you forward in your career? What would you like to gain from working with this energy? Would you like to be more practical when making decisions? This is a great Archetype to work with if that’s the case. 

The questions in this spread are:

  1. The current state of your career.
  2. Your attitude and energy around this subject. 
  3. The supportive energies and influences that surround and impact you in your career. 
  4. The biggest obstacle you need to overcome.
  5. Action you can take toward achieving your goal.

5 Card Tarot Spread – Mercury in Retrograde 

This Tarot spread is designed for you to use before any Mercury in Retrograde to help you safely navigate and avoid pitfalls caused by miscommunication, tech hazards, and feeling like the universe is generally out to get you. 

There can be some temptation during this astrological event to blame everything on Mercury, but remember that this tiny planet is millions and millions of miles away. Use this spread to keep yourself on track and make sure that you’re not giving away your power. You should also probably give that important work email a 2nd or 3rd read-through before hitting ‘send’, too. Control what you can and you’ll come out the other side smelling like a rose! 

The questions in this spread are:

  1. Prepare yourself – How can I best prepare for this Mercury in Retrograde? 
  2. MR theme – What is the key theme or lesson I will experience during this time? 
  3. Wrap it up – What would benefit from being completed or resolved before this Mercury in Retrograde? 
  4. Get off the hype train – Where will I need to hold my power during this MR?
  5. Throat chakra – What can I do to ensure I am clear with my communication during this Mercury Retrograde?

5 Card Tarot Spread – Waning Moon Spread to Overcome Obstacles

The waning moon phase is a potent time to release anything that you feel holding you back. If you have trouble deciding which area of life to concentrate on right now, you can check which sign the moon is in to help you narrow it down.  The questions in this spread are:

  1. My biggest obstacle. 
  2. What do I need to stop doing to get past this?
  3. What can I release that is holding me back?
  4. What can I hold onto while I face this challenge?
  5. Advice from my guides.

I hope you enjoy these beginner spreads and they help you become more confident reading the Tarot. Comment below which one is your favorite.

Until Next week...

7 thoughts on “Tarot Spreads for Beginners: 3 and 5 Card Tarot”

  1. I’ve been kind of stuck in a rut doing the same thing over and over, so this article showed up at just the right time. I’m looking forward to trying some fo these

  2. I am so very grateful for you and your wiling to share so freely and lovingly. Brightest Blessings to you and yours.

  3. Many thanks for sharing these helpful, insightful, and beautiful spreads! Your effort and kindness is very much appreciated.

  4. Laura Rounsville

    Thank you so much Ethony, these spreads will be very helpful to me as I continue on my journey of learning how to read the tarot.
    Blessings and much love,

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