This simple three-card layout is perfect when you are seeking a yes-now answer to a question. It is also a good way to learn how to interpret composite Tarot sentences. The layout consists of a single triplet that is read in the form of a Tarot sentence. The cards are shuffled and cut, then dealt in the layout in order.
All the cards of the layout are dealt facedown, then all are turned face up in the same order in which they were dealt. When turned, the cards should maintain the same orientation to the diviner, who reads them in the same direction they were held by the querent when the querent cut the deck. The way in which the cards are turned, either side to side or top to bottom, is not important in itself—what matters is that the orientation is preserved. If you are doing a reading for yourself, the cards should be turned from side to side so that the orientation to you in the pack is the same as their orientation to you on the table.
A triplet with two or more upright cards gives an answer of yes, and two or more inverted cards, an answer of no. Both the individual cards and the composite Tarot sentence they make up collectively provide additional insight into the matter under inquiry.
Example of the Yes-No Layout
Grace, a shy woman who is attending university away from home, asks the cards whether she should go out on a blind date with Jerry, the cousin of her roommate at university. She knows nothing about Jerry other than that he is seven years older and works in a bank.
She shuffles and cuts the deck while concentrating on the question, then deals the following three cards on the table in front of her in the Yes-No Layout:
The short answer to the question is, yes, Grace should go on the blind date with Jerry. This is indicated by the two upright cards, which give a positive response.
The most important card in any triplet is the first. In this case, it is the Five of Swords. An unfortunate card, the Five of Swords generally signifies dishonor and loss. The individual Tarot sentence for the card reads: Defeat dishonors with pain.
There are no trump cards in the layout, suggesting that the question of the reading has no higher significance in Grace's life, but that the answer of the cards refers to immediate practical matters. Since there are also no court cards, the number cards must provide information about the human beings involved in the question—usually it is the court cards that represent people. The dominant male figure pictured in the first card gives insight into the character of Jerry, and the attitude with which he approaches the blind date—he regards it as kind of a conquest.
The card in the active place in the triple is the inverted Two of Swords. When inverted, this card is less favorable than when it is upright. It indicates the actual process of the date itself, the way in which it will unfold, the nature of its actions. The individual Tarot sentence for the inverted Two of Swords reads: Affront resumes with insensitivity.
The affront is probably some comment or action that Jerry will make toward Grace in the course of the date. It is given with insensitivity, and is persisted in or repeated. There is also the suggestion, in the blindfolded female figure with two swords, of a blind choice that has been unfortunate or has had unhappy consequences.
The card in position 3, the place of direction, is the upright Seven of Pentacles, an unhappy card in this generally positive suit of Pentacles, a card that indicates anxiety and disappointment. The simple Tarot sentence for the upright Seven of Pentacles reads: Failure disappoints with sorrow.
The final card in any layout provides insight into the outcome of the matter under question. In this case, the indicator is unfavorable. Since the matter under question is the blind date, this card suggests that it will end in an unsatisfactory way for Grace. She will be disappointed with Jerry.
By taking part 1 of the individual sentence for the Five of Swords, part 2 of the sentence for the inverted Two of Swords, and part 3 of the sentence for the upright Seven of Pentacles, we arrive at the following composite sentence for the triplet: Defeat resumes with sorrow.
"Defeat" represents the subject or identity of the composite sentence. "Resumption" is its action."With sorrow" is the manner in which that action fulfills itself. The composite sentence can only be understood in the context of the question.
When the meaning of the composite sentence of a triplet is unclear, it may be helpful to construct its extended version by gathering its parts from the descriptions of the individual cards. This is optional and will not be necessary in all readings.
The answer to the question,"Should Grace go on a blind date with Jerry?" is yes, based on the two upright cards out of the three in the triplet. However, the date will be marked by a clash of personalities that will result in sadness on Grace's part. The decision to go on the date will seem at the time to be a mistake, indicated by the inverted Two of Swords, and will result in the extenuation of her loneliness. After it is over, she will regret that Jerry is not the man she has been seeking in her life.
If the cards appear so unpromising, why is the overall response to the question a yes? It can only be that, although the experience will seem unfulfilling to Grace at the time, it will produce some unforeseen benefit in her life that will make it worth the effort. Perhaps she will learn something that she can turn to her practical advantage, or meet somebody else who is more compatible with her needs than Jerry. Why she should go on the blind date is not indicated in the cards, only that she should go, in spite of the potential for disappointment. Forewarned by the cards, Grace can enjoy the date itself without expecting too much from Jerry.
Excerpted from 1-2-3 Tarot, by Donald Tyson