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Talisman's Avatar
Join Date: 18 Aug 2001
Location: Travelin' . . . like a ball of twine unravelin'
Posts: 491
The Very Best* Beginners Spread

*I'm not gonna qualify things, but try to sound as dogmatic as possible to encourage disagreement and discussion.

'Lo all,

In a number of posts, most in the archives, I've slammed the Celtic Cross as a spread useful for beginners. (I was the laggard caboose on Thirteen's train; she was the first to say the Emperor had no clothes.)

So, here it is, the absolutely perfect beginner's spread. (Even if this really is the very best advice ever, the absolute beginner like I was, with only a new deck of cards and the little white book (LWB) that came with it, will never see it. Alas.)

The very best spread for a beginner is the three-card spread.

(The wonderful thing about the Celtic Cross, for a beginner with a LWB, is, they have their brand new deck, and really want to look at a lot of cards. Don't tell them they should only lay out one spread a day, or one thoughtful spread a week. Hell, the very day I brought my first deck home, I layed out dozens of Celtic Crosses, thumbing through the LWB with every card, reading and re-reading the scanty definitions. And trying to remember what all those crazy spread positions meant. One card a day? Barring catastrophes, 78 days of solemn, serious study to learn the deck? You gotta be kidding. 'Least the kinda newcomer I was. 'Sides, how you gonna remember that far back, 'less you gotta steeltrap brain. But, if the 3 of Swords shows up 14 times the first day, you tend to recall it. Oh, yeah!)

The three-card spread in endlessly adaptable. It can be anything the beginner wants it to be. Tinder, Kindling and Logs. (A good formula for building a fire.) Or, Uncertain, Maybe and Undecided. Or anything that comes in threes. (I've said this before, but MeeWah, in a whimsical mood, once described it as the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner spread.) Extremely malleable. Hammer it into the shape you want. A metal you can mold.

And think of the ramnifications of the number "three." Three acts to a play, three in fairy tales (as a pre-schooler and still life-long fairy tale addict this one hit me hard), etc. (I realize you can do this with any number, but still . . .)

What about the layout? The Celtic Cross has captured people's imaginations for more than 100 years. Well, yeah, but sometime when you're playing with your cards, see just how many ways you can lay out a mere three cards. A horizontal line, a vertical line, a fan, several kinds of triangles, etc. You'll be amazed. And, best of all, it is only three cards -- you'll never have to stop and think, "Now what does position eight mean?" Three is easy.

With three cards, you don't have to think about the position of the cards, but you can focus on the cards themselves.

With three cards (as opposed to the "card a day") you learn how to read the cards in a flow, a story.*

(*Where 'n hell is Mojo, who had the best explanation of story-telling card reading I ever read; unfortunately it wasn't in a bunch where you could print it out, but spread over dozens of posts.)

With three cards, you can lay out a quick Larry, Moe and Curly spread before the day claims you, and, since three cards take up a small space, find them waiting for you when you return. Second sight is very different. If you live in a very busy household, and you can't leave the cards laying out in a breakfast nook or something, you can leave them on top of a dresser, or even, under your pillow.

If you have a lined, spiral-fixed notebook, you can mark off three-columns and mark your daily spread in boxes, using colored pencils, water colors, markers, etc., and in no time have the beginnings of a colorful band, allowing you to spot repeptitions and patterns at a glance. Try that one with a 10-card spread.

You can have fun, instead of concentrating on esoteric bull****.

Best of all, you can explain this amazing layout (to beginners) in one simple paragraph. Try that with the Celtic Cross.


The secret to magic is knowing what to wish for. If you wish for things you're not going to get, your magic will never work.
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #1
faunabay's Avatar
Join Date: 28 Aug 2001
Location: Missouri, USA
Posts: 8,219

I just missed you soooo much!!! ROFL
Your thoughts are so much fun to read!!

aeclectic name: faunabay
fairy name: Pithia Feedle Blackthorn Silvenslipper
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #2
jmd's Avatar
Join Date: 05 Aug 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 8,502

Talisman, you may be disappointed in that I agree with you - it seems to me that a three-card spread has all the essential ingredients to make this the most dynamic and malleable of spreads.

Here are some possible 'versions':
  • Past - Present - Future;
  • Reasons for problem - Problem - Resolution;
  • Decision - Implications - Ways to action;
  • Why - What - How;
  • Place (where) - By whom - Why;
  • Situation at hand - How others perceive it - Course of action/resolution;
  • Problems - Benefits - Advice;
  • Physiological - Emotional - Ideas;
  • Personal - Social - Spiritual;
    & c..
Looking forward to further discussion!
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #3
Melvis's Avatar
Join Date: 07 Aug 2001
Location: Minnesota - The Star of the North
Posts: 1,556

One of my new favorites that someone here originally mentioned (don't remember who?) is: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. I love that kind of breakdown of a problem.

A three-card spread can be three parts that make a whole, or three steps toward your future. It can be three opposing points in a situation or two ends of a spectrum and the middle that joins them.

Sorry, Talisman. I tried to think of a way to disagree with you and stir things up, but I just can't do it. You make too much darn sense!


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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #4
The Thirteenth Moon
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Join Date: 17 Sep 2001
Location: Pluto
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<Thirteen leaping to feet and applauding wildly>

Bravo! Bravo! Author! Author!
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #5
Major Tom 
Papa Toad
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Join Date: 06 Aug 2001
Location: Texas, USA
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Re: The Very Best* Beginners Spread

Originally posted by Talisman
Hell, the very day I brought my first deck home, I layed out dozens of Celtic Crosses, thumbing through the LWB with every card, reading and re-reading the scanty definitions.
This so closely describes my first day with my first deck, except that I also bought a book - oh - and I only used the majors.

I wouldn't deny anyone the thrill of that experience of laying dozens of Celtic Crosses - the brain positively buzzes.

I suppose if I were a sensible beginner - I would choose to start with 3 card spreads. After all it's a spread that can be anything you want it to be...

But I was always one of those that wanted to 'dive in'.

"We are all free to do whatever we want to do...Isn't that a great way to run a Universe?" from 'Illusions' by Richard Bach

"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility." Eleanor Roosevelt
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #6
Sinta's Avatar
Join Date: 13 Oct 2002
Location: Where the sea kisses my soul....
Posts: 190

It seems a lot recommend the 3 card readings.. I've tried the more complex spreads, and they work alright for me, yet i do believe they can be way out of my league x.x Thanks for the advice. I'll try and practice more with 3 card readings, until I believe i can use more complex spreads in daily readings.

Iniquity tips her quill,
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #7
Tarot Junkie
Moose's Avatar
Join Date: 05 Aug 2001
Location: Hasbrouck Hgts., NJ
Posts: 115

See, you're not "windy" at all, Talisman.

Thank you for the clear, concise and practical approach to the beginner's Three Card Spread.

Years ago I started with the CC and have adapted it so many times that it no longer bears resemblance to the original. Unique, but at times confusing. I wish someone had given me your advice from the get-go.

My advice would be to always start with 3 cards. One card doesn't give a beginner enough to delve into. I think 3 cards definitely gives the read more range. Of course, I'd stay with the 1 card early am draw for the day.

Thanks again.

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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #8
Jenny-Li's Avatar
Join Date: 31 Mar 2002
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 937
You're BACK!! Missed ya!

Couldn't agree more (sorry...!), and unknowingly I am already a diligent adept of this learning model. Three cards, every morning, just look at them, write down what I think, then leave them - and come back to them in the evening and sum up the day and the cards and whatever I can think of. Works like a clock...!

So glad to have you back!
Light and love,

Edited to add: And the great thing is: Who says it's just for beginners?? This is a habit I'm intending to keep - it's so rewarding!

Aurum nostrum non est aurum vulgi.
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Old 18-10-2002     Top   #9
Shanna's Avatar
Join Date: 13 Oct 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 6

That's good advice. I'm a beginner now and I always do Celtic Cross and the one card-a-day readings. I find the one card readings to be . . . less than useful . The Celtic Cross usually is right on target for me, but it is very difficult and frustrating to learn the positions, and being presented with that barrage of cards can be daunting! Now, I'm considering the three card or five card spreads. But I am afraid that I will miss all the insights that the Celtic Cross offers.
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Old 20-10-2002     Top   #10
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