We are almost at the end of this Tutorial Series, and we have come a long way. There are no more techniques that you need to know at this stage in your learning in order to read with Tarot cards. Everything that we have already covered in this Tutorial Series will now form the foundations needed to read, not only the Celtic Cross Spread, but any spread you choose to study. At this stage of your learning, I would highly recommend you pick a spread you like and stick with it for a couple of months. Resist the temptation to read with other spreads. Why do I say this? If you can really build your confidence with one spread then it is very easy to apply that confidence and experience to any spread, but not so the other way around.
The Celtic Cross spread has become one of those Tarot spreads that is so well known and almost every popular book or resource has written on it. I have included the Celtic Cross as part of this Beginners Tutorial Series for two reasons. The first reason is that you will have inevitably read or will read about this spread, so I wanted to use this opportunity to show you the best way to read with this spread. The second reason is to help build your confidence in the techniques we have already covered. I think you will really see the benefit of doing all that practice when it comes to using the Celtic Cross.
The spread itself is not hard to learn. It’s positional based, and therefore it forms a logical structure for reading the cards. I personally don’t think there is anything logical whatsoever with doing Tarot readings, so I tend to avoid any positional based spread. I prefer to tap into the irrationality of Tarot as completely as I can; I tend to use non-positional based spreads. Regardless, choosing a Tarot spread is matter of preference and experience and we all, at some point, learn the Celtic Cross.
As I mentioned earlier, I do feel that with the techniques we have already learned, you will begin to see how the Tarot itself provides the structure, and the need to use artificially imposed limits and rules will seem unnecessary.
There are ten cards used in the Celtic Cross spread. The cross itself indicates time and the column of four cards on the right hand side of the cross represent influences.
- The present
- The present
- The card above will provide clues to the distant future
- The card below will provide clues to the recent past
- The card to the left will provide clues on the distant past
- The card to the right will provide clues to the immediate future
When you practice reading the Celtic Cross, look to this section first for your ‘narrative’ and only use the column of cards to support or add strength to your interpretations of the cross.
The Column provides us with information on the influences:
- The bottom card provides clues to the client’s influence
- The next card provides clues to the environmental influences (that means anything outside of the client’s control)
- The next card can be read as a potential outcome card and provides clues as to the influence of change
- The last card is traditionally seen as the outcome card. This card should be used as a way to validate your ‘narrative’ or story. Think of it like any historical event; there is never a complete outcome. There are always consequences
To summarise, the cross answers questions and the column informs the cross; the cross makes predictions and the column adds some extra detail.
Let’s check out an example of the Celtic Cross spread in action, and see some of the techniques we have learned come together.
Example Celtic Cross Spread:
The following reading is published with permission of the client. I wanted to show the approach I take to reading a very simple 10 card Celtic Cross spread.
A list of the cards used in the above example
- The present: 8 of Wands reversed
- The present: 10 of Disks
- The card above will provide clues to the distant future: Wheel of Fortune
- The card below will provide clues to the distant past: The Magician reversed
- The card to the left will provide clues on the recent past: The High Priestess reversed
- The card to the right will provide clues to the immediate future: The Fool reversed
- The bottom card provides clues to the client’s influence: Temperance
- The next card provides clues to the environmental influences (that means anything outside of the client’s control): Ace of Wands reversed
- The next card can be read as a potential outcome card and provides clues as to the influence of change: Queen of Disks reversed
- The last card is traditionally seen as the outcome card. This card should be used as a way to validate your ‘narrative’ or story. Think of it like any historical event; there is never a complete outcome. There are always consequences: 9 of Cups reversed
The client did not wish to ask a question.
3 upright cards, 7 reversed cards. 4 Fire, 2 Water, 2 Air (or Spirit?), 2 Earth. This suggests activity that goes nowhere.
Reversed Tarot Cards
It’s also helpful to look at the reversals as one group and the uprights as another. The reversals (High Priestess in the past position being the initial start of this cycle) are what’s happening in her life, whereas the uprights are what’s causing tension. Her influence to change her life is limited.
The Ratio Between Elements, Picture, Court And Pip Cards
Apart from the Ace, the numbers start at 8, 9 and 10, suggesting the culmination of past efforts (the Minors often indicating individual effort).
5 Major Cards and 1 Court Card.
The abundance of Major’s in the spread tells me that the client’s ability to make dramatic changes is subject to powerful forces outside of her control. The lack of other characters tells me that this is about her against the world. A maverick perhaps.
The Air cards (Fool and Magus) suggest the Element Spirit. This tells me there is no real conflict; perhaps continuing down this path is the one of least resistant for her.
The Story Or Narrative
The Priestess in the past position suggests a strong focus on the physical (money, sex and so on). This links to the 9 of Cups. Enjoyable but empty. Empty because (Art) she’s unfulfilled.
It’s clear that her plans are going nowhere (8 of Wands, Fool, Ace of Wands, Magus). The feeling is likened to hard work, inspiration and yet the money doesn’t reflect. What does she have within her environment that is the supportive element (10 of Disks)? Although, traditionally we’d be looking at the 9 of Disks (a gain in money and finances) to suggest support, the 10 explores the concept of inheritance and family. The question (only within our own minds at this point) must be, what does she have that she can rely upon…that also causes a degree of discomfort (the cross position)?
It’s probably her family (10 of Disks association with family). Also her plans have to do with career development, possibly self-employment (Magus).
The majority of Majors tells me that her circumstances play a large role in dictating what opportunities are available. The Art card tells me that her approach is balanced; her optimism is what gets her through, possibly even an inspiration to others. Does travel play on her mind?
I think that because her circumstances change (Fortune Card), people (her family- 10 of Disks) and career related opportunities, that this approach is a good one.
However, her influence is small.
The Fool and Ace (opportunities, probably unexpected) are what’s hoped for. Looks like they’ve never really happened for her, and are unlikely to in the near future. I get the impression that she works hard (8 of Wands), but nothing changes. The overall effect though (9 of Cups) is that a certain inner satisfaction is what counts for her.
The Magus (usually associated with self-employment) suggests that she is looking to build her own business.
The combination of the Fortune Card and the 10 of Disks might also suggest that people within her immediate family have:- some left, some new additions. This would probably play out (10’s being associated with family but the disk is focusing in on the financial element of the family) as a financial drain. One leaves but one gained.
To summarise so far:
A woman, self employed who works hard isn’t enjoying the expected financial rewards that her enterprise should bring. Her plans (8 of Wands) don’t seem to arrive at that expected place and the financial support (10 of Disks) allows her to continue. This support will cause a degree of tension.
Her approach is balanced (no advice needed on a change of attitude) and the inner satisfaction of the work is a reward in itself.
The opportunities that her business should be providing have not happened, and although things will continue to change (Fortune) the overall effect for the client is: no change.
The Fool also suggests the need for more adventure and surprises in her life. I suspect that she believes that career success will bring this.
Overall, (Fool, Ace, Fortune) the potential for things to change is implied, but unlikely in the next 6 months. With her balanced approach to life, when circumstances change, then success. This isn’t guaranteed unfortunately. Potential is simply potential. With her environment exercising so much control over her options, if this changed then success.
Feedback from the client:
My family although supportive are also a cause for concern and Douglas was so right about the changing dynamics – my son recently joined the Army and I also gained a teenage lodger! Although I didn’t ask a question, Douglas picked up on the factors in my life that are the most dominating. My business, though not dying, isn’t doing so well and I am struggling to maintain the balance. I have also been looking at some other options but have been undecided about what to do. I can see now that I must reassess my whole situation. I can continue on this current path and hope that things will change, or I can stop sitting on the fence and make a decision one way or another. After my reading with Douglas I know that I do have many options, it’s down to me to step outside my comfort zone.
Practice The Celtic Cross
The way I think you’ll get the most out of your practice sessions is to spend the majority of time dealing out the Three Card spread we looked at in the last post. This will provide you with the firm foundations to tackle the Celtic Cross spread with ease. I would still practice the Celtic Cross spread but at this stage it is important to be comfortable with all the techniques we have covered in this Tutorial Series. The Three Card spread will help bring all these different methods together.
There is also a new tutorial series that has just started at Tarot Elements – How To Read The Celtic Cross Spread. This series is designed to teach you how to read the Celtic Cross like a pro.
The next post will look at the most important aspect of giving a reading.
This post is part of the Beginners Tutorial Series