The “3-Card Twist” Advice Spread and Walk-through

I’m intrigued by surprise endings in tarot readings, which I usually achieve through face-down “hidden” cards. But here is a spread that uses the successive “facing” of the randomly-drawn cards to offer the possibility of a “twist” or emphatic bend in the flow of the narrative. This spread requires the use of reversals to populate all possible scenarios. Appearances can be deceiving; this looks like a 12-card layout, but it actually produces a three-card reading using a defined selection methodology. As far as reading it, the occult attributes of the cardinal compass points can be brought to bear: Above is Fire/South, Below is North/Earth; Left is East/Air and Right is West/Water. A leftward flow of the cards from Card #1 shows that a detached, contemplative orientation to the matter is recommended, a rightward flow advises discretion and compassion, an upward flow denotes enthusiasm and ambition and a downward flow imparts a pragmatic and methodical gravity. The diagonal or “ordinal” directions blend those propensities.

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Copyright 2019, Parsifal’s Wheel tarot & Astrology

I tried out this spread by asking “What is the advice for tomorrow?” The first picture below shows how the draw progressed within the overall pattern. I didn’t deal all of the face-down cards, just the three face-up ones, but I thought it would be useful to put in placeholders showing the flow of the cards in the “big picture.” The advantage of this spread isn’t in the ordinary three-card series but in the method of placement and how the direction of movement influences the reading.

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All card images copyright U.S. Games Systems, Inc, Stamford, CT

I drew the Ace of Cups upright as the “trigger” card. This card doesn’t have a head-to-toe figure on it but the hand holding the chalice has a “directional bias” toward the left.

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Accordingly, I placed the next (“focus”) card in the “Card #2 Left” position in relation to Card #1. It was the 10 of Pentacles upright. Although this card contains several figures, it has no clear directional bias. The old man and child are looking to the right, the woman and dogs are looking left, and the younger man has his back to the viewer. Although the postures of the woman and child contradict their gaze (a frequent motif in the RWS), they effectively cancel one another out. The Tree of Life array of pentacles is static, although the archway opens to the right; while I might have interpreted that last feature as dictating a rightward flow, I decided that the card has too many cross-currents to be definitive. But if I had done so, the reading would have become a two-card affair, with the 10 of Pentacles as the “effect” card and the Ace of Cups as the “cause;” the interpretation would not have been appreciably different, except that there would be no “action” phase and my stalled project (see below) would not have figured as prominently in it.

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Consequently, because the 10 of Pentacles was non-directional and upright, I placed the next card directly above it in the “Card #3 Left/Up” position. It was the 2 of Wands reversed as the “consequences” of my action (or in this case, inaction).

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The flow of the cards was leftward and up, indicating that I should approach the day in a thoughtful and optimistic manner.

The Ace of Cups suggests an emotionally charged day ahead. (The Thoth version of this card reminds me of a water balloon splatting on a pavement.) However, as Aces usually convey, it will most likely be long on promise and short on delivery. At the very least I should be in an upbeat mood. Oh, and my young granddaughter is coming over for the day, and that’s always gratifying.

The 10 of Pentacles says “Stay at home and take care of domestic affairs and family” (so what else is new in these sequestered times?). I’m close to finishing the major portion of a home renovation project but I’m lacking a single piece of trim board I need to get it done. I typically stay home when my granddaughter visits, so there is that to persuade me.

The 2 of Wands reversed as the “twist” in the reading is telling me I most likely won’t be able to move ahead with my project tomorrow. This is a card of hesitation when upright, and reversal attenuates the indecision and inertia. It may very well rain anyway and I won’t be able to transport materials.

Elementally, the “focus” card (10 of Pentacles) is friendly with the Ace of Cups (Earth and Water) and on cordial terms (“neutral and supportive” in Golden Dawn language) with the 2 of Wands (Earth and Fire). The recommendation to stay home feels like a correct call to me.

I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at

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