As I use the Celtic Cross spread in a lot of my readings, I thought now would be a good time to go into more detail about the two variations I use right off the bat.
In his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (originally published in 1910), A.E.Waite lists the Celtic Cross spread under the heading of ‘An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination’. Unless you have the lifespan of a mayfly, in which case yesterday would seem ancient to you, you might want to overlook that ancient and Celtic part and skip straight to the good stuff.
Whilst Waite certainly was the first to publish this version, we may never know who invented the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread for a fact, and those involved are more than certainly deceased at the time of this writing. It has been speculated that Florence Farr, along with other members of the Golden Dawn, used the spread, although not with the exact same positional meanings as Waite’s version.
So, the first published Celtic Cross, along with positional meanings goes like this:
S: The Significator (represents the person the reading is about)
1. This COVERS the significator: this position indicates the influence that is affecting the querent or the situation
2. This CROSSES them: this card represents the obstacles or energies working against the querent – if it is a favourable card, then the opposing forces will not be serious
3. This CROWNS them: represents the sitter’s ideal or goal in the situation
4. This is BENEATH them: the basis or foundation of the matter
5. This is BEHIND them: this indicates influences that have passed or are passing away
6. This is BEFORE them: what is likely to happen in the near future
7. YOURSELF: the querent’s position or attitudes towards the situation
8. Your HOUSE: environmental influences or people surrounding the querent
9. HOPES and FEARS: hopes or fears of the querent about this situation
10. WHAT WILL COME: the culmination or final result of the situation brought about by the other influences that have come up
Many modern variations of the Celtic Cross change the position of some of the cards, and also apply new positional meanings. The spread has evolved over time, but still retains the essence of this first published version.
Firstly – let’s muddle these numbers up a little!
I feel better already! The position of the cards is entirely a personal thing; I’ve found that this method makes the most sense to me and regardless of what positional meaning I apply, I always lay out my cards in this order.
Position 4 has always struck me as a ‘past’ card, probably because the first ever tarot spread I learned was a 3 card past-present-future spread. If you look at cards 4 – 1 – 6, you get the layout of the PPF spread.
Also, number 6 I’ve always thought of as linking up with the right hand column with the idea of moving into the future taking into account the advice of cards 7-10 – it’s almost as if you move through the spread as you move through life.
I very rarely use a Significator.
I also use a Modified Celtic Cross spread consisting of 13 cards which uses two cards each in positions 3, 5 and 6 for added insight, where the second card affects the first card.
Let’s stick with the plain old CC for now, though.
1. Querent – this card can represent the person I’m reading for OR the most prominent situation at hand for them in the moment
2. What crosses them – I use the same meaning as the one outlined in Waite’s Celtic Cross above.
3. Foundations OR what they NEED – again, the same basic assignment of position here. This card represents the basis on which a situation has arisen, or the basis upon which the querent forms their decision making process.
4. The past as it applies to the situation now.
5. Goals and aspirations OR what they WANT – what is the client’s motivation or what subconscious influences are taking effect on the situation.
6. The Near Future
And here is where my two variations mainly come into play.
7. Advice/Help card – what will work in the client’s favour, how should they best proceed in the situation? OR –
7.b How the client sees themselves.
8. Environmental factors of the situation – how other people or things might be influencing events. OR –
8.b How other people see the client (this can be very helpful when comparing it to 7.b, especially when it comes to conflict resolution and getting a new perspective).
9. Hopes and fears – no surprises there!
10. Outcome – how things are likely to progress based upon the clients current path.
When you receive a Celtic Cross Tarot spread reading from me, I will clearly state my positional meanings so you can apply each interpretation as you see fit with regard to your personal circumstances.
I’d really appreciate hearing your thoughts about this post! Did you find it informative and easy to read through? Did it give you a good introduction to the celtic cross tarot spread? Will you be trying this spread yourself?
I look forward to hearing from you!
In the meantime, tarot on, ninjas.
Some of my Tarot Colleagues have some excellent blogs with their own take on the Celtic Cross Tarot spread.
Check out Lisa Boswell’s example here: http://fortunetellerlisaboswell.com/2015/02/21/how-to-read-a-celtic-cross-using-tarot-cards/
Fiona Benjamin, Chinese American Diviner also has a blog on this subject which you can read here: http://blog.fionabenjamin.com/?p=9
If you’re interested in looking deeper at the origins of the Tarot and methods of reading I recommend the following titles. If you’d like to add to this list, please contact me directly.
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