Though it is neither ancient nor celtic, the _Ancient Celtic Cross– spread is a favorite among many tarot readers. Popularized by A.E. Waite in his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, the Celtic Cross spread typically consists of 10 cards (though I’ve seen it with more or less than that) and can be a good spread for a general reading – that is to say, those readings where the client doesn’t have or doesn’t want to ask a specific question.
I typically don’t offer the Celtic Cross to my clients as I prefer to create my own spreads on the fly or use a 7-card Horseshoe Spread, which is one of my Go-To spreads. However, clients do sometimes request the Celtic Cross so as a reader, it behooves you to learn how to throw it, if asked.
The positions I use are as follows (note that this is only one way to lay out the Celtic Cross spread – positions and order will vary from reader to reader):
The (not so) Ancient Celtic Cross
Significator: card is first chosen from the deck to represent the client. This is called a Significator and typically is a Court Card, though you can use any card from the deck. I allow the client to choose their own significator to represent either them or the situation. I always use a separate deck for significators, so as not to remove any cards from the reading deck.
Position 1 (laid on top of the Significator card): Represents the general atmosphere or influences that surround the question. This is the central issue.
Position 2 (laid across the Position one card): Opposing forces. Another aspect of the situation, usually indicating a problem or obstacle. If it is a “positive” card, it can point to something that helps the client.
Position 3: It represents conscious understanding of the matter – how the client perceives the situation. This can sometimes reveal flaws in thinking.
Position 4: Unconscious factors – factors that lie in the unconscious mind. This position can represent unacknowledged feelings, attitudes or beliefs on the part of the client.
Position 5: This represents influences that have just passed, or are now passing away, though the client may still be affected by them.
Position 6: Influences or energy that will soon manifest. This is the probable future if the client continues along the current path.
Position 7: Things about the client that are contributing to the situation. These can be strengths of the client helping the situation or weaknesses that are worsening it.
Position 8: Opinions and actions of family and friends on the matter. These can either help or hinder the client, depending on the card.
Position 9: The client’s hopes and fears about the issue.
Position 10: Probable resolution or outcome = the result of all of the above actions, influences and attitudes. If one of the more difficult cards appear here, you can read this as advice to avoid the undesirable outcome. A positive card here suggests that the client is presently on the correct path. Again, this is only one way to approach/read this position.
Below is the promised mnemonic to help you remember the positions of the Celtic Cross.
A Celtic Cross Mnemonic
- This covers you
- This crosses you
- This crowns you
- This is below you
- This is behind you
- This is before you
- And a card for you
- And one for your house
- And one for your hopes and fears
- And one for that which is yet to come
If it helps you, feel free to rearrange the order in which the cards are laid out as well as the meanings of the positions. I’ve seen versions of the Celtic Cross that barely resemble Waite’s original, as published in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.
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