Celtic Cross Tarot Spread
Here is a basic guide to the Celtic Cross Tarot spread, which is the one most people first learn. This layout uses the same principles or assumptions that you will encounter in almost all layouts – the card position acts similarly to an astrological ‘house’, providing the context (past influences, foundations,future influences, etc.) in which the card energy will be read.
The card that one reads in that position will then act as the ‘planet’, shading the position according to the card’s symbolic meaning (sometimes, depending on the reading, one will also consider the effects of surrounding cards on each position).
Here are the basic positions of the Celtic Cross Tarot spread (based mostly on the version given in ‘The Pictorial Key to the Tarot’, by A. E. Waite)
Significator – (the card representing the querent or person asking the question – traditionally, one chooses an appropriate card from the pack before shuffling and dealing the other cards; however, a new tradition has begun of ‘allowing’ the deck to reveal the proper card by dealing this position ‘blind’ along with the other cards of the layout.)
1. Covering card – (the card representing ‘general’ influences or the ‘atmosphere’ affecting this question – note: lots of tarot-speak is vague)
2. Crossing card or the Cross – (the card representing obstacles or problems affecting this question – if the card is ‘positive’,then the problem may not be that great or perhaps the ‘problem’ will work to the querent’s benefit OR, maybe the ‘good’ stuff won’t be so good in this situation)
3. ‘That which is above’ or the Crown – (the card indicating either the highest hopes of the querent for this question or the best that can expected for him in the outcome – similar to the MC in astrology)
4. ‘That which is below’ – (the card indicating the ‘foundation’ or ‘nadir’ – similar to the IC in astrology, note that the relationship between the ‘Above’ and the ‘Below’ cards is this – the ‘Below’ is the birth point of the question and so represents aspects or events that have come into definite being and which, Waite says, the querent has made ‘his own’. In practice, the card often represents the TRUE point of the question, and the querent may not be consciously ‘owned up’ to it yet. Compare this then to the ‘Above’ card, which represents a point of fulfillment in the circle, and so, according to Waite, is not something that has been made ‘actual’. However, the querent may be very aware of what this card represents, since he supposedly will be trying to ‘actualize’ it).
Deal all cards face down (no, you don’t have to do this but it’s more fun to turn them up one at a time). Card 1 is placed on top of the significator. Card 2 is placed horizontally over card 1 (so it makes a cross over it).
Card 3 is placed directly above the ‘cross’. Card 4 is placed
directly below the ‘cross’.
Past & Future Influence Cards
At this point we need to decide where we will put the ‘past’ and ‘future’ influences cards. According to Waite, if you are using a Court or ‘picture’ card (King, Queen, Knight, Page) to represent the querent in the Significator position, then deal the ‘past’ card to the side AWAY FROM that which the ‘Sig’ is facing (i.e., if the ‘Sig’ appears to be looking to the left, deal the ‘past’ to the right). Then deal the ‘future’ influences card toward the direction the ‘Sig’ is facing. In Knight cards this directionality stuff is pretty easy. If you don’t want to mess with it then simply deal the past-future cards in the same places every time. Just remember which is which. I generally use Left = Past, Right = Future.
So, to continue;
5. That which is behind – (the card showing events affecting the question that the querent will know, i.e., the past).
6. That which is ahead – (the card showing events affecting the question that the querent will NOT know yet, i.e., the future – but NOT the final outcome).
Now you have the basic Keltic Cross – a circle about a cross. The last four cards of the layout are dealt in a vertical line from – 7 (on bottom) to 10 (on top) to the right of the Keltic Cross.
7. Personal Position – (the card representing the querent/different than the significator, this card shows the querent in action, for good or ill, in the question)
8. Environment – (the ‘other’ of the question, similar to the Personal card, but this represents the environment in which everything unfolds, so it is family, friends, work, etc.)
9. Psychological – (hopes and fears and dreams of the querent)
10. Future – (if what is shown in the other cards remains ‘true’, this is how the question will resolve)
Authors Details: ‘Celtic Cross Tarot Spread’ Jess Karlin