What follows are a couple of different 3 card spreads I use regularly with the position meanings and how to lay out the cards.
Past / Present / Future
The first is a very simple and often used “past, present, near future” spread. Typically, this is the first spread that comes to mind when people mention a 3 card Tarot reading. The cards are pulled and laid in a straight line from left to right.
The left card represents past occurrences that are still influencing the questioner or the current situation. Many times, this speaks to things that need to be cleared up before moving forward. We can't make the most of present circumstances when the past is still weighing on us. This card can show us what we need to move beyond and it may also highlight lessons that we should carry forward into the present and future.
The middle card represents what surrounds the questioner presently. It highlights current influences that are able to be shaped and molded depending on the questioners actions now. This card suggests either things that are going for or working against the questioner. This position reminds us that "now" is always where the most potential lies.
The right card represents the near future influences. Nothing can tell us what will happen with 100% certainty, but this card is more of an inclination as to where things appear to be heading based on past influences and present circumstances.
Body / Mind / Spirit
The next spread I use is the body, mind, and spirit spread. All of our “bodies” are connected. It's been shown that stress has a negative impact on the body and that meditation and other practices that relax and calm the mind can reduce blood pressure and stress related aches and pains.
This spread is ideal for looking at the “whole person” and giving insight into how all the parts function as a cohesive unit. This spread can be placed left to right or bottom to top and is really up to your personal preference.
The first position is the body and speaks to conditions that may be affecting your physical health (positive or negative). This can give insight into what you can do to improve your physical well being.
The middle position is the mind. This card speaks to the mindset of the questioner and gives insight into thought patterns. It can help determine if one is approaching conditions from the right frame of mind or if some adjustments need to be made.
The third position is the Spirit position. The card here shows the spiritual lessons being presented to the questioner at this time and gives insight into the larger purpose or plan behind present circumstances. This card can inspire the questioner to consider the deeper meanings behind what is happening and also show how to glean positive rewards from any experience.
If you would like to try this reading I invite you to draw a free Body, Mind, and Spirit Reading at Spiritual Guidance Tarot.