Sin 3: Three-Card Arrangements.

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Speaking from my own experience, what I've observed is that nearly any large arrangement can be reduced to smaller components which are frequently composed of just three cards. In fact, what you'll find as this book goes on is that I'm going to teach you how to create small, effective clusters of two- and three-card arrangements that can be combined into much larger arrangements. Based on my own years of experience, here are three simple arrangements that you'll find useful.

Past, Present, Future

I said, "past, present, future," but fundamentally this is about picking three points in time and connecting them in a straight line. If you prefer generality, then you can choose distant past, recent past, present; past, present, future; or present, near future, and distant future. If you prefer specificity, you can choose last month, this month, and next month; yesterday, today, and tomorrow; or even last hour, this hour, and next hour. Don’t over-complicate this: just pick a time-frame and divide it into three parts. This method is fast and easy, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of specificity. Timing is important to a lot of sitters, so don't lay a vague timeline if you’re not prepared to give further detail later in the performance. 

Also, this method must be combined with a separate anchor card because absent an anchor, you can only compare these points in time against themselves, and such a comparison will have absolutely no relevance to the sitter's question. Here are a few ideas how to use this arrangement, but if you’re creative, I know you can find even more.

Past, present, and future is a classic arrangement. My preference is to not investigate the past, and this is partly because I don't think it's worthwhile, but also because that creates opportunities for the sitter to complain that the performance doesn't match up with what he or she already knows. Territory that's unknown to the sitter is better because the sitter has no ability to judge its veracity. 
tarot spread past present future

Subject (Star) + Past (Slave of Spades)

Our subject "John" (The Star) is the anchor card, and the past (Slave of Spades) is the reference card. John's antithetical Star shows him abandoning his self-interest owing to the influence of ego-drive cliques shown through the Slave of Spades who expresses a fixed 8 of Spades. How did he permit his judgement and awareness to be impacted so, but more importantly, was it a productive decision that bettered him in the present? 

Subject (Star) + Future (Jack of Spades)

Our subject "John" (The Star) is the anchor card, and the future (Jack of Spades) is the reference card. John's antithetical Star paired with the Jack of Spades produces a fixed 2 of Spades which in this case shows John making further compromises in order to sustain his role as an inner member of the same clique that influenced his decisions in the past. How much of himself is he giving up to achieve this social station, and will he be willing to keep paying the figurative or literal member dues to retain his new level of social stratification?

Needs, Habits, Desires

I use Needs, Habits, and Desires in nearly every single performance. The habits card is typically my anchor position, and from there I look outward to the desires and the needs. This is a particularly useful combination of cards because it's a microcosm of my entire job as a fortune-teller: identifying inconsistent and hypocritical imbalances between needs and desires. Conflict in any situation is frequently the result of confusing desires for needs, and I believe this is so because many of the problems I see come back to people who just haven't thought about what they actually want in life. So said Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living." This three-card arrangement of needs, habits, and desires is a fast, efficient way to examine a life and make it worth living. 

tarot reading needs habits desires


Habits (King of Hearts) + Desires (The Moon)

The King of Hearts as Jane's Habits is the anchor card. The Moon as Jane's Needs is the reference card. Arrayed thus, the King of Hearts expresses the 6 of Hearts in a fixed aspect that contributes to the deterioration of her own desires represented by the Moon. Principally this combination shows us that Jane is going to get over whatever losses she's suffered, but only if she actively applies herself to recovery. Jane She can wait as long as she wants, but time doesn’t heal all wounds. Absent her efforts, the memories will remain. 

Habits (King of Hearts) + Needs (Illuminati)

The King of Hearts as Jane's Habits is the anchor card. The Illuminati as Jane's Needs is the reference card. Arrayed thus, the King of Hearts identically expresses the 6 of Hearts in a fixed aspect that also contributes to the Illuminati's own deterioration. In terms of the narrative, the cards reveal that Jane has almost perfectly aligned her needs and desires. She needs to trust in her own ability to recover from the loss she's suffered, but she's neglecting the importance of being objective. Jane's recovery from the injuries of the past can't proceed until she stops ignoring her wounds.

A + B + C

This ABC pattern isn't so much a pattern as it is a principle of reading Tarot cards: what happens when two people, situations, or things meet around a common point of interest? This isn't about reading three cards at once, but instead looking at how two individual subjects (A and C) react to a common meeting point (B). More than half of all readings you ever do will be relationship readings, so reading two cards on either side of a third card is a mandatory skill; however, this need not be only for relationships! There are so many other possibilities with an ABC arrangement, and here are a few for your consideration:
  • Lover 1 / Relationship / Lover 2
  • Employee / Job / Employer
  • Student / Test / Teacher
  • Author / Sales / Book
  • Photographer / Show / Portraits
  • Performer / Contest / Judges
combine three tarot cards reading


The damage to the city (Queen of Diamonds) is the anchor card. Both the City (8 of Diamonds) and the Hurricane (The World) are the anchor cards. In an ABC-style reading, the narrative that emerges from the arrangement is the result of evaluating the anchor card's relationship with both reference cards at the same time. This isn't a matter of combining both reference cards into a new card, but of looking at how the anchor card responds to dueling influences.

In this case, the Queen of Diamonds is our anchor card and she expresses two faces depending on which side of the sentence we read the story about the damage. The Hurricane itself as the antithetical Way of the World will travel a short path and die quickly upon landfall. In this light, the Queen of Diamonds expresses the 4 of Diamonds in a fixed aspect which says that the scope of the damage will be limited…

... however, paired with the City's mutable 8 of Diamonds, we get a less welcome message. The mutable 8 of Diamonds puts the city's Queen of Diamonds into a cardinal 9 of Diamonds in an attitude of superiority where the rich get richer and the poor can get fucked. Special interests and the political elite are getting to eat every slice of the pie, and the smaller, far-flung, worse-connected, and less-affluent parts of the city hammered by the hurricane will suffer the long-term damage of willful neglect and political bargaining for years to come.


Finally, if you’re looking for a snappy fortune, then this will serve you nicely: 

Needs, Habits, Desires

Past, Present, Future

This six-card arrangement is composed of two three-card arrangements and is just meaty enough to give the sitter something to think about.