Past, Present, and Future are ambiguous words, so the 3-card spread can cause confusion. How long ago is the past card referring to? Does the present refer to this exact moment in time, while I’m reading the cards? And how far into the future are we talkin’ here?
A New Way to Read the Past-Present-Future Spread
Another way to look at the Past-Present-Future cards is: 1) Where am I coming from? 2) Where am I now? and 3) Where am I heading? While that may seem like symantics or splitting hairs, it’s an important distinction. Rephrasing the questions this way focuses the reading on the querant, rather than on a time-frame.
How to Read the Updated Three-Card Spread
Shuffle and cut your cards with your query in mind, and consider these questions as you lay the spread:
🔮 Card 1 “Where am I coming from?” can be thought of as your foundation – the things you believe or have been taught (education, religion, tradition, etc.)
🔮 Card 2 “Where am I now?” is where your head is at in this present moment based on your current environment and circumstances.
🔮 Card 3 “Where am I heading?” is the possible outcome of your situation, based on the action you take today.
Let’s try this method using a sample 3-card spread.
🧙♀️ Let’s read the 3-card spread pictured above using the updated definitions of Past-Present-Future. And, let’s attach a question to it: “What do I need to know about my new business idea?”
Card 1: Where am I coming from?
The Queen of Pentacles sits in a flourishing garden, which represents her nurturing nature. Everything is in bloom, and a rabbit is entering the scene beside her throne. The throne itself is decorated with wild animals, illustrating her connection to the earth. She is cradling a coin – the pentacle – not in a possessive manner, but indicating that she understands its value in creating security and is willing to share her abundance.
The suit of pentacles, or coins, is about practical matters like finances and career. And, traditional keywords for the Queen of Pentacles include: nurture, focus on home, security, and charity. So, when we frame up the card in this first position as “Where am I coming from?” (rather than an ambiguous “past”), and in the context of the question, we could say: At your core, you value financial security. You have lovingly nurtured this new business idea.
Card 2: Where am I now?
The Nine of Wands depicts a man leaning on his staff, looking disheveled and injured. At first glance, this looks like a dismal scene, but look closer. Yes, he has a bandage on his head, but he’s still standing. He’s been through a battle and is stronger for it.
Some traditional keywords for this card include resolve, resilience, strength, stamina, defensiveness, and road blocks.
Reading the card in this second position, “Where am I now?” or “Where is my head at?” in the context of the question, we could say: Getting to this point with your business idea has not been easy. You’ve battle hard, and it looks like you’ve overcome some obstacles. But, you’re still standing, and now all the naysayers (represented by the abandoned wands) are nowhere to be found. You stuck to your guns and perservered!
Card 3: Where am I heading?
The World card is the 22nd and final card in the Major Arcana (it’s numbered 21, because the first card, The Fool, is numbered zero). It is about completion, fulfillment, triumph, reward, and accomplishment. So, if this card lands in the third position, the “future” looks bright indeed.
But remember, tarot illuminates the path ahead to reveal possible outcomes based on your actions. The tarot does not trump freewill! Also, any card must be read in consideration of the other cards on the table. So, in the context of the other two cards in this spread, and the question asked, we could say: It looks like if you continue on this path — sticking to your guns and not allowing yourself to be discouraged — and if you hold fast to your values of security, the world is your oyster and there is nothing to stop you from succeeding in your business!