Three cards make for a quick snapshot of a situation or a quick summary of influences. When you know the type of information you are seeking, a set spread that frames the cards’ responses with that type gives you a focused reading. But what if you don’t know how to frame the answer or if the question is so vague, it can not be framed at all?
“This, That, & The Other” is a three card spread that gives such a general answer. How the cards apply to the query is determined on a case by case basis. Often the answers are informal and conversational with the Querent, much like two peers discussing an item. “Have you considered (This)?” “Can you use (That)? Why not?” “How about (The Other)? I know it’s out of left field, but it could be useful.” This spread is more the start of a conversation than a final and definitive answer.
“Good, Bad, & The Surprise” is a final check for a decision the Querent has already made or is on the verge of making. It will not give the Querent options to choose from, but instead reveals some details about the subject of the query. Each position stands alone and is not interpreted in combination with the other cards. This spread can be surprisingly sobering. Too much of a good thing can make the affair quite rotten, after all.
“Too Hot, Too Cold, & Just Right” is very much a riff off the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Where the previous spread excels at concrete inquiries such as a particular car, a potential client, or the outcome of a period of study, this spread excels at abstraction and reflective questions. It is most popular with Querents seeking a self-check of their spiritual progression, or those wishing to judge emotional impact before implementing an important decision.
These three spreads isolate the cards into pockets of information. The “Good” card does not influence the “Bad” card, and the “Surprise” is sitting out in the stands with the popcorn. Such spreads are good for defined shots of information, but are often inflexible. Alternate spread options lift from the application of linguistics.
“Subject-Verb-Object” is the underpinning of the English language. Useful for general and generic queries when the Querent kirself doesn’t know how to phrase kir question, setting the cards down in the form of a complete sentence can be the start of a conversation with the Querent. The terms can be switched around, of course, to suit the query, the native language of the Querent, or the desire to speak like Yoda.
“Primary, Modifier 1, Modifier 2” answers the query with one card but uses the other two cards to dignify the first. Now the cards start to influence each other and give nuances to the reading so the answers can start with “Yes! But…”.
Mathematics will show there are only 15 ways to combine up to 3 items. But when cartomancy is involved, there are more spreads for those three cards than there are words in a dictionary. These are only a few ways to read with them. Cartomancy is flexible when needed, and rigid when needed. Knowing when to follow a set spread and when to just let the cards determine their role is a skill honed with practice. Play your cards well.