The “3-Card a la Carte” Decision-Making Spread

Those of you who follow me know that I’m not a fan of three-card readings. In my opinion they take too narrow a slice of the deck and tell too shallow a story, requiring  considerable intuitive guesswork to fill in the gaps in the narrative. I prefer not to work that hard when the information is available simply be adding a few more positions to the spread. But if I use them I prefer to extract the row from a larger population of drawn cards by applying some kind of a “pointer.” In this case I’m relying on the nominal “facing” of the figures or “flow” of the scenery on the cards in each of three positions to determine which of them to read in the columns. (This is what used to be called a “Chinese menu” approach – “I’ll have one from Column A, one from Column B and one from Column C” –  but I imagine that is now politically incorrect.)

The first two cards use rightward orientation to progress the reading, while the last card is “static” (facing neither left nor right) to reflect the end (and the resolution) of the matter. Reversal can be used with this spread, which may also switch the normal upright facing and alter the selection process. Cards are dealt top-to-bottom into the left-hand column until a card of the correct facing turns up. When that happens, the deal moves on to the middle column, where the step is repeated to arrive at the right-hand column. If there are no static cards remaining in the deck when the last column is dealt, the final card pulled should be taken to mean that the initial assumptions must be reconsidered (if it is left-facing), or that further input should be sought before taking any action (if it faces to the right).  Since the deck will have been exhausted at this point, precluding the use of clarifiers, there are a couple of choices: do another reading using a second deck and a different spread to extend the outlook; pull clarifiers from another deck; or use the “quintessence” to obtain a “roll-up” perspective on the situation. My personal choice would be the first one.

Below the spread diagram I’ve included a picture of what an actual layout looks like. The King of Pentacles in the Mystical Tarot faces straight out, so I dropped down to the second position in the middle column and got the right-facing 10 of Wands. The Hierophant in the right column still faces straight out even though reversed, so that ended the series.

3-Card a la Carte Spread.JPG


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