The Three-Point Pull

One of the perennial beginner’s questions is “How do you pull the cards from the deck to populate a spread?” There are many opinions on this: from the top (and occasionally from the bottom), from a splayed “fan,” by holding your hand over the cards and taking the ones you intuitively “feel,” etc. The old-school way (and the one I first learned from Eden Gray back in 1972) is to shuffle the deck, cut it into three piles “with your left hand to your left,” reassemble the cards and then draw from the top of the pile. I’ve been doing it that way ever since with generally good results. The key point for me is that I believe the shuffle-and-cut steps put the cards in the “right” order for the reading and I don’t want to sabotage that by the way I draw them.

But lately I’ve been considering a new wrinkle to that approach. Rather than putting the deck back together before pulling the cards, it may be productive to leave the as-cut piles separate and draw the cards randomly from each pile. I haven’t thought through how to do this in a way that creates an intelligible distribution, but here is my current thinking.

The cards drawn from the pile that was on top before the cut represent what is obvious about the situation (kind of like the first four cards in a Celtic Cross spread); the cards taken from the segment that was in the middle before the cut will show what is “on the horizon,” “rising to the top,” or just emerging in the matter (for example, the fifth and sixth cards of the Celtic Cross); and the cards pulled from the bottom portion suggest what is yet to come and still obscure about the querent’s circumstances (the four-card “staff” of the Celtic Cross that shows the individual’s incipient response to the cards in the “cross”) – successfully figuring out this last part is the cartomancer’s main gig. When doing a Celtic Cross, I would therefore pull four from the top section, two from the middle section and four from the bottom section; I like the numerical symmetry of that.

This would obviously work best with spreads like the three-card line or any layout that breaks down equally into sets of three cards, but I’m sure I can come up with a rational way to make it work with any spread. This offers an excellent opportunity to apply intuition in making the pull, while still keeping some semblance of the original order generated by the shuffle.

It would be necessary to pay close attention to how the sitter places the cut sections of the deck to keep all of this straight in your head; some put the top section to the far left and cut the remaining sub-pack in two, some put it in the middle and then cut it again to the left. I’m going to have to practice this before springing it on paying clients. Give it a try and see what you think.

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