Each human being has his or her own unique story, which is, in turn, part of a larger continuum that encompasses all that came before our present existence, and all that will remain after we’re gone.
We each have a past that includes our every action, every thought, and every decision that’s impacted our individual journey and brought us to where we are in the present moment. Also in our past are the external forces—family, circumstance and destiny—that have authored our fate, influenced our character, and molded our current circumstances. But the past does not simply serve to inform the present: it also, for better or worse, seeks to guide our future.
The Big Picture
In literature, this dramatic convention is known as the “narrative arc.” This arc follows a specific chronological trajectory that includes an “exposition” to establish the atmosphere and introduce the backstory of the characters (the past); the “rising action,” a series of key events that move the story along towards the “climax,” or focal point at which the rising action comes to a head (the present), and leads to the final resolution, also known as the denouement (the future).
If you look at your life as if it were a story, and think of yourself as the main character. There is of course, your larger narrative—the before, during, and after—that makes you who you are. However, while we can make educated guesses, and intuit messages, none of us truly knows how our larger narrative is going to come out in the end.
Authoring Your Own Story
But along with the larger story is a timeline of smaller stories that are constantly being refreshed and renewed. These stories reflect our desires and our fears, and the choices we make and actions we take as we attempt to bring positive outcomes into our lives and deflect negative influences from taking hold of us when we can.
These small stories are like chapters in an unfinished novel, each building upon the foundation of the one before that leads the protagonist — you — to where you are, and points you in the direction of where you will wind up as a result of your actions.
The Three Fates spread consists of three cards: one to represent the past, one to represent the present, and one to represent the future. It’s like a story outline that quickly and clearly delineates the arc of the current chapter you’re living. For purposes of illustration, I’ve chosen three cards that form a simple and logical progression, and applied it to a theoretical question about love that often comes up in the tarot readings of women wondering if they can “have it all.”
“Rachel” is a woman who is not currently in a relationship. She’s been focused on her career and has achieved substantial success and recognition in her field. As grounded as she feels, and as much as she hopes to continue to pursue her work-related goals, she also yearns to start a family, and wonders if there’s any indication of marriage on the horizon.
When the High Priestess appears in the past position, it reveals that you have built a solid foundation of values and life actions. You may be aware of peer pressures, and from time to time, compare yourself to others around you, but your perception is realistic, so while your personality is open to new influences, your happiness is not dependent on others.
Your Current Situation
Now if the Eight of Wands were to appear in the present position, it would be an indication that you have already put the energy in motion required to bring about the changes you’ve been seeking.
The Eight of Wands is a card of action and of opportunity. You are definitely headed from where you were to where you’re hoping to be. But it’s not simply a case of leaving one thing for another. That which you’ve made, that which energizes and focuses you — your drive, creativity, the sum of your experience and accomplishments — are coming with you, fueling the journey, and assuring that once you arrive at your next destination, you will be well prepared to thrive in your new environment.
What Lies Ahead
When The Empress appears in the future position, she embodies the culmination of the current chapter. The Empress signifies not just finding love, but connecting with someone on the deepest of levels to form a relationship that is sustaining, healthy and balanced. Although she is part of a marriage, the Empress remains herself. Hers is a union that allows her best assets to shine and continue to develop. You may notice that The Empress appears to be pregnant. This can be read figuratively, as in something beautiful is growing inside her waiting to be birthed, or it can also be read literally: there’s a baby in the future.
Had I been reading for “Rachel” and these were the cards we turned up, I’d say that she was likely one of those lucky women who could have it all — career, marriage, and a family — and manage to maintain a healthy, productive balance that brings her satisfaction and fulfillment.
Of course, this is an ideal reading for a fictional person, and reflects the best of all possible scenarios. What a real person brings to a reading will reveal the truth that is unique to their own story. Turning up a negative card in the “present” position doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with a bleak future. Negative cards are warnings. Your future remains constant, only if you choose to continue on your current course. Outcomes can be changed if you heed these warnings, and modify your behavior to channel more positive influence into your life.
The arc of this story is clear: a strong foundation is followed by affirmative action that leads to a desired conclusion. If you want to get a quick read on your “three fates” a KEEN advisor is just the person to give you an overview of your before, during, and after.