The Celtic Cross is the most popular spread in the Tarot world. I begin every reading with it because it gives me an overview of the client — their strengths, their struggles, where they are coming from, where they are headed, their main challenge of the moment, and how it will resolve– all in one spread! Hard to believe, but I’ve thrown this spread over 15,000 times in my career – that’s how good it is.
Most people throw just ten cards for this spread, but when I first learned it 35 years ago, I was taught to throw eleven cards. The extra card is number 2 – sometimes called the personality card, but also known as something more outward about that the person, as opposed to the first card, the soul card, which is something inward about the person at the time of the reading. Life is always flowing between two extremes – the yin and yang, the high tide and low tide. It’s simply the way energy oscillates as it flows forward. And it’s the way the psyche oscillates at we flow forward, in a spirallic flow that is both circular and forward in motion. So I prefer having two central cards (soul and personality) rather than one to more accurately gage the person’s process.
When reading the Celtic Cross, I begin by doing something that I recommend you do when reading every spread, and also even when reading a single card — allow your eyes to settle on the images that jump out at you, rather than trying to read each card in a specific order. In this way, you are allowing your eyes to guide you, rather than some kind of logical or rational rule. Your senses, including your eyes, are your intuitive antennae to the world of energy, so allow them to guide you.
Here’s a guide to the spread:
With all of these locations, be flexible and loose about how you interpret each card. Go with the first thing that pops in your mind about each card’s meaning for the person’s situation.
- The Significator: The central feeling or state of mind, also called the soul card. It is the most important statement about what is going on. It’s the jumping off point. It doesn’t have to mean someone’s soul, but it does refer to something deep that is happening within the person we are reading.
- Another part of the person that is more outside, rather than inside. Best way to think of this is to contrast it to the significator. You could think of this card as the outer you, versus #1, which is a deeper more inner you. You may vacillate between these two extremes or #2 may be the face you show to the world in contrast to #1, which is what is what is really going on inwardly.
- Your challenge at this time– something you must confront if you are to move forward in your growth. This could be something you are avoiding or something you know is coming and are trying to deal with or something that is simply in your way, a challenge or obstacle.
- Something that is foundational for you, often a childhood situation that continues to effect you, especially in your present situation. It can be a trigger for you in your current situation that effects how you react. It can be a strength you lean upon.
- The past, or something that is pertinent to your situation that you are growing away from. Even though it is something in the past, it is still relevant to your situation. It’s good to know, however, that it is something that is exiting as you move forward.
- Something that graces you in your situation, often one of your strengths. If the card seems negative, then it is still somehow helping you so try to think of how a negative energy could be helping you.
- Near future. What to expect next, or where you are headed. This card is often describing something that is already happening. If not already happening, then it should be coming very soon.
- Something else about you in this situation that it is helpful to understand at this time. It often describes a trait of yours that is operating right now, that you can either rely upon for strength, or could be making things a bit harder for you or something in between. But it’s helpful to become aware of it.
- Your environment – could be the work or home environment, often describing whether you are supported or stressed by it. It might be a person or group around you that effects your situation or it could be an energy, like joyful pleasure or stress. Remember, the goal of the reading is awareness, understanding of your situation to help you grow from it.
- Hopes, dreams and/or fears. You can decide if the card is about hopes or fears depending on the feeling the card gives.
- Outcome – how this situation resolves for you. Since life never stops and we keep on moving along the path, if you don’t like the outcome, you can always throw more cards to see what happens after that, until you see the situation resolve to your satisfaction. When the outcome is negative, you have a few options: 1. Step back and see if there is a lesson in the whole spread that will help the person change the outcome. or 2. If it doesn’t feel like it’s something to avoid or something that can be avoided, then throw more cards to see how it all eventually resolves. Nothing ever stays terrible forever, so it’s good to get perspective by looking further ahead. However, it is important to read the outcome card because it comes out of all the other energies and gives us information we can use.
If you have questions about any of this, please post and I will respond! I love questions!