tarot card readings

Explaining the Celtic Cross Tarot spread


The Celtic Cross is the most commonly used tarot spread for a wide range of readings. Although the standard format doesn’t vary, like all tarot interpretations it is entirely up to the reader to form their own unique method of unravelling the meanings behind the individual cards. However, for the purposes of explaining this effective and powerful spread, we will take a look at the standard interpretation of the Celtic Cross and the individual meanings behind the positions of the 10 cards used. The Celtic Cross can be created using the entire deck, or with just the primary cards from the Major Arcana.

The Significator

While this single card is not technically part of the Celtic Cross, many readers find it a useful starting point from which to interpret the principle 10 cards of the Cross. Many believe that it helps to signify the fundamental purpose of the reading, revealing the questioner’s true purpose, their situation and their anticipated goals. This isn’t ‘cheating’ – it’s another form of clarifying the reading so that an accurate portrayal of the questioner can be formed.

The Heart of the Cross

In the centre of the Celtic Cross, cards 1 and 2 represent the very heart of the matter – the question itself and internal and external forces that may be blocking the questioner from finding their own solutions. Card 2 is laid horizontally across the central card, and the two cards are read together, giving the reader an overall view of the question and opposing forces.

To the right of the central cross is card 3. This signifies past influences and can indicate obstacles that the questioner has overcome in their life, influential people that have had a significant effect on their path or even challenges that have yet to be resolved.

Below the central cross is card 4, signifying present influences. This card often has a direct bearing on the primary question and can often reveal the underlying choices that can influence the final outcome.

To the left of the central cross is card 5, representing future influences. This is the point at which the reader’s skill in interpreting the deeper meaning of each card comes into play. This card gives the questioner indicators as to how to make the right decisions to take control of the situation and shape their own immediate destiny.

Above the central cross is card 6, which can be interpreted as representing cosmic influences surrounding the questioner. These influences need to be factored into the overall reading to get a sense of context within the larger scheme of life. Decisions made now may have a ripple effect that can impact on other areas of the questioner’s life, so guidance from the cosmos has an important part to play in the final outcome.

The staff of the Cross

To the right of the main body of the Celtic Cross stands the staff, made up of cards 7 to 10. The bottom card (card 7) represents the questioner and can tell the reader more about the person asking the question. Card 8, directly above the questioner’s card, represents environmental factors – what is happening in the world surrounding the questioner. Conflicts, emotional challenges and even work challenges can all be seen in this card. Card 9 represents the inner emotions of the questioner – what they are truly feeling regardless of the ‘public’ face they may be putting on. 

Finally, card 10 represents the final outcome, depending on how the questioner responds to the guidance and messages given to them by the other cards. While the final result is never set in stone, it draws together all the influences surrounding the questioner to give them a greater understanding of what steps need to be taken to produce the result they desire.

The Celtic Cross is a powerful and easy to understand spread that draws on all aspects of tarot card reading. Inverted cards and the Significator can all play a part in the reading, but how they are interpreted depends purely on the skills and technique used by the reader. The advice given during a Celtic Cross reading should never be regarded as absolute, but rather a ‘roadmap’ that can guide the questioner onto the right path, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

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