Spread overview

The 3-card tarot spread using the Situation, Challenge, Resolution layout provides a succinct yet comprehensive view into the dynamics of a scenario and the pathway forward. This structure is particularly well-suited for those seeking clarity on a current problem, understanding the obstacles they face, and for finding potential ways to overcome these hurdles.

Often in a reading, it can be overwhelming to sift through the many layers of symbolism and meaning in each card. The beauty of this spread lies in its simplicity, carving out a clear narrative arc from the complexity of life's situations. The 'Situation' card offers insight into the current state or context you are dealing with. The 'Challenge' card throws light on the immediate difficulty or issue that is at the core of the problem. Finally, the 'Resolution' card suggests a possible solution or approach to tackling the issue at hand.

This position-based spread allows tarot enthusiasts, whether novice or expert, to form a targeted inquiry into their lives with greater focus. Due to the flexibility of tarot, this spread could pertain to any number of situations, ranging from love and relationships to career choices or personal development. The key to unlocking the power of the 3-card spread is to approach it with an open mind, ready to accept the wisdom that the Tarot has to offer, and the will to act upon it.

Three card "Situation, Challenge, Resolution" spread

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King of Cups tarot card


Ten of Wands tarot card


The Magician tarot card


King of Cups tarot card

The upright King of Cups symbolizes mature emotional leadership, compassion, and diplomatic handling of situations. It represents a wise, understanding individual who balances emotion and intellect, often acting as a counselor or healer.

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Ten of Wands tarot card

The Ten of Wands upright symbolizes carrying heavy burdens and responsibilities, often indicating stress and potential burnout. It suggests the nearing of a goal but warns against overwhelming oneself. Reassess and prioritize tasks, delegate when possible, and remember to care for one's well-being.

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The Magician tarot card

The Magician upright represents manifestation, resourcefulness, and personal power. It signifies the ability to use one's talents and tools to fulfill potential, symbolizing new beginnings, action, and the blending of spiritual and material realms.

Card details

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 working with the Situation, Challenge, Resolution spread, it's essential to frame your questions to align with the spread's structure for the most insightful reading.

Consider questions such as: 'What is the root of my current workplace challenge?' or 'How can I move forward in resolving my personal conflict?' This targets the 'Situation' and 'Resolution' respectively. For the 'Challenge', ask questions like 'What obstacles must I overcome to achieve my goal?' or 'What is blocking my path to success?' This sort of questioning aligns with each card's intent and maximizes the effectiveness of your reading.

What questions better to avoid?

It is equally important to recognize the questions that are not well-suited for the Situation, Challenge, Resolution spread.

Avoid questions that do not pertain to specific situations or challenges like 'What does my future hold?' or 'Will I be rich?'. This spread is designed for targeted inquiries into a particular context, so broad questions might not yield useful insights. Also, questions that call for a 'yes' or 'no' answer such as 'Should I take the job offer?' would be better addressed with a different tarot spread that is tailored for such dichotomous queries.

Spread step by step guide

  1. Begin with focusing your thoughts on the specific issue or situation you wish to inquire about.

  2. While holding your question in mind, shuffle the deck to transfer your energy to the cards.

  3. Cut the deck into three stacks, then put them back together in a way that feels right to you.

  4. Draw three cards from the top of the deck or spread the deck out and choose three cards that you feel drawn to.

  5. Lay the cards out in a row from left to right: the first card represents the 'Situation', the second the 'Challenge', and the third the 'Resolution'.

  6. Interpret each card individually within its position's context before drawing the narrative together for a comprehensive understanding.

Card positions in details

Understanding the significance of each card's position in the Situation, Challenge, Resolution spread is vital for a meaningful reading.

The first card, representing the 'Situation', acts as a mirror reflecting the present state or the context surrounding the inquirer’s circumstances. It reveals the background and the basis for the current issue.

The 'Challenge' card, placed second, highlights the immediate problem, stumbling block, or complication that needs to be understood or overcome. It's the what's getting in your way card.

Lastly, the 'Resolution' card, poised in the third position, provides guidance or potential solutions. It helps to navigate a path forward by suggesting areas for growth, adaptation, or action.

Sample of reading

A client once came to me with concerns about stagnation in their career. 'What's hindering my professional growth, and how can I break through?' they asked.

Upon drawing the cards, I revealed The Eight of Pentacles in the Situation position, The Tower in the Challenge position, and The Star in the Resolution position.

The Eight of Pentacles emphasized hard work and dedication—my client had been honing their skills diligently but felt unacknowledged. The Tower as the Challenge suggested an abrupt upheaval or a need to deconstruct old ways of thinking about their career path. It could indicate external factors causing disruption or the need for a radical change in approach.

The Star as the Resolution offered hope and inspiration. It advised my client to remain optimistic and to look for opportunities in what appeared to be chaos. The Star encouraged them to think innovatively and to consider alternative career paths that align with their true passions and unique skills.

Spread tips

  1. Concentrate on one issue at a time to ensure that the reading is focused and relevant.

  2. Be open to the messages the cards are conveying, even if they seem challenging or unexpected.

  3. Consider the interplay between the cards – how the Situation and Challenge might influence the Resolution.

  4. If a card doesn't seem to make sense, meditate on its symbolism and relate it back to the specific context of the question asked.

  5. Use this spread as a guide for action, not just as an indicator of circumstances.

Common mistakes

  1. Ignoring the context of the question when interpreting the cards, which can skew the reading's relevancy.

  2. Choosing a spread this specific for vague or unrelated questions, leading to confusion.

  3. Expecting the Resolution card to provide a definitive answer rather than actionable guidance.

  4. Failing to see the cards in relation to each other and missing out on a deeper narrative.

  5. Getting stuck on traditional meanings of the cards without considering the intuition and insight they may be sparking in the current reading.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Can the Situation, Challenge, Resolution spread be used for any type of question?

This spread is most effective for specific questions about particular situations or challenges, rather than very broad questions or those seeking yes-or-no answers.

Are reversals important in this spread?

Reversals can provide additional insight but are a matter of personal preference. If you read reversals, integrate their nuanced meanings into the reading.

What if the Resolution card seems negative?

Tarot doesn't offer all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, the resolution involves acknowledging and working through difficulties or understanding that things may not resolve as desired.

How can I improve my interpretations of this spread?

Practice regularly, trust your intuition, and don't shy away from delving into the symbolism of each card.

Can this spread help with decision-making?

Absolutely. This spread can offer clarity on the underpinnings of a situation and the challenges faced, ultimately leading to informed decisions.

Is it suitable for beginners?

Yes, due to its straightforward layout, it is an excellent spread for beginners to practice and gain confidence in their tarot reading skills.

Check other tarot spreads