3-Card Tarot Layouts (Past, Present, Future Tarot)

One of the best Tarot layouts for beginners is a three-card spread. While there are many variations of the three-card spread, the most common one is the Past/Present/Future layout. This is a good spread to use when you have a specific question or need to look into a situation. The Past/Present/Future spread provides just enough information without feeling overwhelming. It’s best to learn the ins and outs of this spread because it is one of the most useful. It’s also a great way to practice your Tarot reading.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this three-card reading as it can reveal insightful and deep information. Although this layout can provide some deeper information about your situation, this spread works best for uncomplicated questions. In this guide, you’ll be presented with the basic Past/Present/Future layout and some of its variations.

3-Card Past/Present/Future Tarot

This three-card spread is a very common one and involves reading your past, present, and future regarding a particular situation in your life. As the name implies, you will be drawing three cards, one at a time, and each card will correspond to the Past, Present, or Future. Before you begin any Tarot reading, it’s important to hold the question or problem clearly in your mind.

Card 1: The first card that you draw will be placed to the left. This card will reveal the past energies that are affecting your current situation. It may also reveal what may be blocking or helping you move forward in the situation. The information revealed here can help you learn from your past.

Card 2: The second card drawn will be placed to the right of the first card, which will become the middle once the final card is drawn. This card represents the events that are currently taking place in your life. It is the energy of the present moment.

Card 3: The third and final card will be placed to the right of the middle card. This card represents the outcome of the situation. The information revealed may or may not be what you were looking for, but it is only the possible outcome. This outcome is based on the current course of events of the situation.

An important thing to remember when conducting a Past/Present/Future reading is that the time frame for these events may vary wildly. For example, the outcome of the future card may not come to pass until a year later or it may happen in a few days. It’s up to the Tarot reader to trust their intuition to give the querent a time frame for the events.

3-Card Past/Present/Future Variations

The straightforward and simple mechanics of the Past/Present/Future layout make it highly flexible. The category assigned to each of the cards can be modified to suit your needs.

A variation on this spread that doesn’t involve time is the Situation/Challenge/Guidance layout. You would conduct this spread in the same way that you do the Past/Present/Future spread, but the insights and information revealed will be a little different. The first card reveals the energy surrounding the situation you are asking about. The second card represents your current challenge in regards to the situation. The third card will reveal the information that you need to help you with your question or situation.

Variations for Understanding a Situation:

  • Current situation/Obstacle/Advice
  • Situation/Action/Outcome
  • What you can change/What you can’t change/What you may not be aware of
  • What I think about the situation/What I feel/What I do
  • What worked well/What didn’t work/What I learned

Making Decisions:

  • Option 1/Option 2/Option 3
  • The solution/An alternative solution/How to choose
  • Opportunities/Challenges/Outcome
  • The Pros/The Cons/Other information to take into account

Getting To Know Yourself Better:

  • Mind/Body/Spirit
  • What does my Heart want/What does my Head want/What does my Soul want
  • Stop/Start/Continue
  • Material State/Emotional State/Spiritual State
  • Your conscious mind/Your sub-conscious mind/Your super-conscious mind


  • You/The other person/The relationship
  • What you want/What they want/Where the relationship is heading
  • What brings you together/What pulls you apart/What needs your attention

As you can see, there are endless variations to the three-card Past/Present/Future spread. What you want each card to represent is completely up to you. As a Tarot reader, you have the freedom to decide the structure of your spreads.

With over 37 years of experience in reading Tarot, I have developed many strong skills. However, my specialty is providing 3-card readings that shed insight into your past, present, and future. When you’re ready to shed some light on the truths of your life, request your free 3-card reading from me. This personal reading will reveal everything you need to know to live your best life.