Spread overview

The 3 cards 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' spread is a simplified tarot reading that can offer profound insight into a specific situation. It's particularly useful for clear-cut, straightforward advice. The 'Problem' card identifies the root or nature of the challenge you're facing. The 'Advice' card provides guidance on how to approach or handle this issue. Lastly, the 'Outcome' card predicts the potential resolution or evolution of the situation assuming you take the advice given.

This spread is perfect for both beginners and seasoned tarot readers due to its simplicity and the clear structure it provides. It's a versatile tool that can be used for a wide range of questions, from personal growth and relationships to career and financial matters. The clarity of this spread lies in examining the present problem, the course of action, and the eventual result, thus giving a narrative flow to the reading that mirrors real-life situations.

A decade of experience has shown me that this spread offers clients essential clarity and understanding, often revealing underlying issues that weren't consciously acknowledged. It's a guided exploration that can often lead to 'aha' moments and provide a sense of direction during times of uncertainty. Whether you're in the midst of a dilemma or simply in need of some direction, this spread could be the tool you're looking for to help navigate the waters of life.

Three card "Problem, Advice, Outcome" spread

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Six of Pentacles tarot card


Six of Cups tarot card


Eight of Wands tarot card


Six of Pentacles tarot card

The Six of Pentacles upright indicates a period of balanced giving and receiving, emphasizing generosity, fairness, and the flow of resources. It's a reminder to maintain equilibrium in sharing blessings and being open to support from others.

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Six of Cups tarot card

The Six of Cups represents nostalgia, childhood memories, and a return to the simplicity of the past. It suggests reunions and the joy derived from sharing generously without expectation, reminding us to embrace positive aspects from our history.

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Eight of Wands tarot card

The upright Eight of Wands signifies swift action, rapid progress, and the quick unfolding of events. It suggests a time of motion and urgent communication, advising readiness to adapt and act decisively in the face of fast-paced changes.

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The tarot card meanings provided here offer general insights and may not precisely reflect your personal question. Use this tool as a catalyst for self-discovery, understanding that the interpretation is subjective, and the true value lies in your own reflections.

What questions you can ask?

When using the 3 cards 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' spread, the questions posed to the tarot should be specific yet open to guidance. Focus on inquiries that delve into the heart of an issue for which you seek advice and eventual outcomes.

Questions like, 'What is at the root of my current conflict at work?', 'How can I improve my financial situation?', or 'What should I consider when making this life-changing decision?' are well-suited for this spread. It's about pinpointing a particular problem area in your life and asking the tarot for the wisest course of action and probable outcome.

What questions better to avoid?

Certain types of questions are not ideal for the 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' tarot spread. Avoid yes-or-no questions, as they don't provide the depth required for a meaningful response. Also, steer clear of questions that attempt to predict the actions of others, as the tarot is meant to guide you, not others.

Questions such as 'Will I win the lottery?' or 'Is my partner cheating on me?' are not suitable. Instead of seeking direct predictions, explore themes of self-empowerment and personal growth, which are better aligned with the spread's introspective nature.

Spread step by step guide

  1. Set the intention - Take a moment to center yourself, focus on the situation at hand, and set a clear intention for the reading.

  2. Shuffle the deck - While keeping your question in mind, shuffle the tarot cards to transfer your energy to the deck.

  3. Cut the deck - Cut the deck into three piles and then restack it in a way that feels intuitive to you.

  4. Draw the cards - Draw three cards from the top of the deck, placing them in a row from left to right.

  5. Interpret the 'Problem' card - Reflect on the imagery and symbolism of the first card to uncover insights about the nature of your issue.

  6. Analyze the 'Advice' card - Contemplate the second card, focusing on the guidance it offers regarding how you should handle the problem.

  7. Predict the 'Outcome' - Examine the final card to predict the potential resolution or development of the situation if you follow the advice given.

  8. Synthesize the reading - Take a moment to reflect on the reading as a whole and how the cards relate to each other, offering a narrative of progression from problem to outcome.

Card positions in details

The significance of each card position in the 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' spread is essential to understanding the overall message of the reading.

The 'Problem' card is the window into the current challenge or situation that requires attention. It sheds light on underlying issues, reflecting what is consciously or unconsciously troubling you.

The 'Advice' card acts as a kind counselor, providing wisdom and potential strategies for dealing with the problem identified in the first card. It symbolizes the actions or mindset necessary to navigate the issue successfully.

Finally, the 'Outcome' card offers a glimpse into the future, outlining the possible result if the advice is taken. It signifies the transformation or resolution that may occur in response to your decisions and actions.

Sample of reading

A client once asked, 'Why am I struggling to find career satisfaction, and what can I do about it?'

The drawn cards were the Eight of Cups for the 'Problem,' the Knight of Swords for the 'Advice,' and the Ten of Pentacles for the 'Outcome.'

The Eight of Cups indicated that the client was emotionally unfulfilled with their current career, sensing a deeper calling that wasn't being met. They were clinging to a known, yet unsatisfactory situation out of fear of the unknown.

The Knight of Swords suggested that the client should take decisive action and pursue their ambitions with clarity and boldness. It advised not being afraid to make the swift and sometimes uncomfortable decisions required to follow their true passion.

The Ten of Pentacles as the 'Outcome' card offered a positive prediction, showing that with determination and a willingness to embrace change, the client could achieve lasting success and fulfillment, creating a legacy that aligns with their values and desires.

This reading helped the client understand their dissatisfaction and encouraged them to make empowered choices toward a fulfilling career.

Spread tips

  1. Stay objective - Approach the reading with an open mind and resist the temptation to project your hopes onto the cards.

  2. Contemplate the cards deeply - Take time to reflect on each card's meaning and how it speaks to your situation.

  3. Consider reversed cards - Reversals can offer additional insight, so include them in your interpretations if they occur.

  4. Look for patterns - Notice any repeating symbols or themes between the cards, as they can enhance the reading's significance.

  5. Summarize the message - After interpreting individual cards, synthesize the information into a cohesive narrative that addresses the problem, the advice, and the likely outcome.

Common mistakes

  1. Ignoring the context - Failing to consider how each card relates to the others can result in a disjointed and unclear reading.

  2. Overcomplicating the reading - Adding too many elements or additional cards can muddle the clear structure intended by this spread.

  3. Asking the wrong questions - Avoid questions that tarot isn't suited for, such as those demanding yes or no answers or overly specific predictions.

  4. Jumping to conclusions - Allow the reading to unfold and avoid making assumptions based on a card's initial impression.

  5. Neglecting intuition - Remember that while traditional meanings are important, personal intuition also plays a significant role in interpreting the cards.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How often can I perform this spread?

You can perform the 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' spread as often as you feel necessary. However, it's generally recommended to allow some time to pass before revisiting the same question to give the advice a chance to manifest.

Can this spread predict exact timing for outcomes?

Tarot readings, including this spread, are not typically designed to predict exact timing but rather to offer guidance and potential outcomes.

What if the 'Advice' card seems negative?

Even if the 'Advice' card seems negative, it may be pointing out behaviors to avoid or challenging aspects of the situation that need to be acknowledged for progress.

Is it suitable to ask about someone else's problems?

While you can inquire about others, the 'Problem, Advice, Outcome' spread is most effective when focused on issues directly involving you, as the advice is meant to be actionable by you.

Do I need to be a tarot expert to use this spread?

No, this spread is user-friendly and suitable for all levels of tarot readers, from beginners to experts.

What should I do if the cards don't make sense?

If the cards do not seem clear at first, take a break and return to them later, or seek the perspective of a more experienced tarot reader.

Check other tarot spreads