Questions, Insight, & Possible Interpretations
There is no spread I love more than one that features a three card draw. To me, three card draws are diverse and practical. It’s no surprise then that they are an important beginning step for any card reader. But what if you’ve already done tons of three card spreads? Well, all I can say is try another. There’s always something to learn in any tarot spread you do. I know for me, much of my progress has been showcased by reading three card draws. In any case, I was eager to see what Benebell Wen had to say about them in her book, Holistic Tarot. Do I even need to articulate how I wasn’t disappointed? Holistic Tarot is a book that just continues to give.
When discussing three card draws, I feel like the possibilities are endless. There are so many resources for three card spreads that I feel an entire blog could handle just three card readings. For this reason, I’m actually going to be very focused in how I share examples of a three card reading, at least for now. Holistic Tarot actually seems to walk you through spreads by adding on layers to already established skills. Therefore, I don’t want to get too carried away by adding my previous experience into it. So, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I want to keep it very focused on what Benebell Wen presents in her book. There are two, more or less, ways she presents three card spreads. Each method is discussed below.
Sample Reading One
For this sample reading, we can actually take a look at the picture above which features the Crystal Visions Tarot. While we can’t see all the card names, I decided to look them up for the purposes of this post. From left to right, we have the Queen of Swords (Card 2), The Moon (Card 1), and the Nine of Swords (Card 3). Benebell Wen suggests the most common form of a three card spread in her book. Therefore, Card 1 represents the present, Card 2 represents the past, and Card 3 represents the future. This is why Card 2 comes before Card 1. Don’t be confused by that part of it. If you did it yourself, you’d instantly understand it. Anyway, let’s take a look at possible meanings to this spread.
Without a significator, we’ll assume the person being read for is a female. The deck is very feminine oriented, and many of the cards are female themed. So, we’ll start with the present, or Card 1. The Moon is a card whose keywords are reflection, changes, and imagination. This tells us we are probably dealing with a person who is going through a time of personal change. They may feel like pursuing their dreams, but on a personal level or for themselves. To add context to this, we look at Card 2, the Queen of Swords. This card’s keywords are astute, high-achieving, and executive. For me personally, this makes me wonder if the person isn’t accustomed to questioning their judgement. They are successful, and often know what they want.
The Queen of Swords mixed with the energy of The Moon provides us an interesting atmosphere. The person may feel able to judge others or outside situations, but feel confused about their own feelings. They could also be experiencing a time of personal growth in which they assess their accomplishments. To know better what might be going on, we can consult Card 3, the Nine of Swords. This card contains the keywords haunted, insomnia, and troubled. With this added context, I’d say our assessment was pretty accurate. The Queen of Swords and The Moon stands for someone who is capable of assessing others, but is having trouble doing so for themselves. The Nine of Swords indicates their worries are only making the issue more stressful. If I did a reading on this, I would suggest the person relax. Spending time on themselves might be necessary. Likewise, pointing out the situation isn’t really as bad as it may seem couldn’t hurt either.
Sample Reading Two
As a second option, Benebell Wen offers a technique very similar to story telling. Instead of traditional meanings, you work off of the picture on the cards in front of you. Individual stories are then weaved into one for an overall reading. In this case, Benebell Wen compares the style of reading to that of a play where each card is an Act. I’m not accustomed to doing this, but I do love storytelling. For this reason, I wanted to highlight what to me seems a unique interpretation of the three card spread. Holistic Tarot really does a good job forcing me forward as a reader to try what I otherwise would not even think about. So, let’s take the same cards above only working through this new format.
To begin, we have the story pictured in the Queen of Swords. This shows a female faerie surrounded by light and happiness. All is as it should be. For her, there is a sense of peace when encircled by the butterflies. She is not defensive, but knowing, ready to handle whatever difficult may come her way. Then, we would add a story for The Moon. Here, we see a woman who is likewise confident and in control of her environment. There are fewer butterflies, and instead of a sword, she is guarded by wolves. The environment may seem more hostile, but this is only on the surface. If we look deeper, we discover the butterflies, while fewer, have simply transformed into a greater form of themselves. The wolves replacing the sword are likewise an added comfort, companions, and bring comfort as well as defense. All of this, including the flower meadow, allude to a greater sense of comfort.
Now, we add the final card’s story, that of the Nine of Swords. Here we have a faerie who sleeps peacefully, despite the environment around her. There is cold snow and hard stone for a bed, but she does not seem to mind. Around her, she is guarded by a group of crows. While the environment seems harsh and dark, all is not as it first appears. Her weapon is discarded, even in her sleep. The sun is also rising, bringing with it the promise of warmth. Perhaps this is not a hard time after all, but the beginning of a successful journey forward. Though, unlike before, she now wears the color of her experience. No longer is she pure and innocent, but filled with the knowledge that can only come from living through difficulty, from daring to experience.
If you wanted to, you could probably leave the reading there. However, Holistic Tarot encourages readers to connect the individual stories into an overall story. In my case, this would be a story surrounding a faerie who wishes to become Queen of the Faeries. It’s a popular fairy tale idea, at least to me, and it could symbolize the need to know oneself as well as others. Themes of transformation also work well with the butterflies and faeries in general. But, your overall story will largely be dependent on your individual card stories. With a few practice runs, I can see how one would naturally blend the stories into one without even thinking. So, if you feel like sharing your practice stories below, please do! I’d love to read them.
Personal Opinions On Both Methods
As I said earlier in the post, I really love storytelling. Whether I’m a good storyteller or not remains to be seen. But, with that aside, I actually really enjoyed trying Benebell Wen’s approach to a three card reading through story. I’ve always read with the method utilized in Sample One, and it does quite well for me. However, I think if I want to seriously learn tarot, I might need to integrate over to storytelling. Tarot is about archetypes initially, and archetypes are conveyed most often through stories. So, maybe, just maybe, storytelling and tarot are meant to go together. Who knows, maybe we just need to approach it as its own spread layout. Then, well then it is easy to use.
Queen of Swords, The Moon, Nine of Swords