How To Use The Celtic Cross Spread For Greater Clarity
I steered clear of the Celtic Cross spread for a long time when I was first learning tarot. Even though it’s an iconic tarot spread, I was reluctant to give it a try myself because it was intimidating. The spread involves ten cards, and some of the prompts weren’t as straightforward as more modern spreads I had become accustomed to.
When I finally decided to give it a try, I didn’t quite know how to make sense of all the cards and understand how they fit together. But something about this spread resonated with me, so I kept at it.
After about a year of doing this spread on the first day of each month, I can tell you it’s my absolute favorite spread to use. It gives you incredibly insightful answers by exploring both external and internal factors for decision-making and guidance. Plus, it’s actually not that complicated. I believe if you approach the Celtic Cross Spread with curiosity and playfulness, you can benefit from the answers it can deliver no matter how many years (or days) you’ve been practicing tarot.
When To Use The Celtic Cross Spread
In my opinion, this is not the spread to do every morning, or whenever you have some downtime. The Celtic Cross Spread is more of a “main event”. It’s a perfect spread to combine with a moon celebration, a sabbat, or a personal holiday such as your birthday or anniversary.
You should also refrain from doing this spread when you’re feeling highly emotional. If you’d like some guidance while you’re going through a rough patch, consider doing this spread the next day, or have a trusted friend interpret the spread with you. Another option could be to meditate for twenty minutes (or more if necessary) to bring you to a more neutral state before drawing the cards.
That being said, It’s always ok to perform this spread if you feel called to do it. Just take the guidance you receive with the knowledge that you were feeling a bit raw at the time.
The Layout Of The Cards
The Celtic Cross Spread has ten specific positions for each card. Each card is set down in a specific order.
Some tarot readers place each card face up as they lay out the cards. Other readers place them face down and flip each card over as they interpret it.
I tend to choose the latter method. I find it gives me the experience of turning the pages of a book. Each card reveals another part of the story.
Neither way is better than the other, and I recommend you try both methods and see which one feels best to you.
The Guidance Of The Celtic Cross Spread
You can certainly set an intention before you draw the cards for this spread, but by doing that you run the risk of blocking the messages that you really need to receive right now. Many times, you’ll be able to see what issue or area of your life the cards are referring to from the cards themselves rather than the intention you set beforehand.
For example, I could set an intention by saying, “I receive guidance regarding my job search.”
For other tarot spreads, this could be an excellent intention. For the Celtic Cross Spread, however, this intention could be too limiting.
Consider trying a less specific intention such as “I receive guidance on the most pressing area of my life,” or “I receive the guidance I need to hear right now”. Because the Celtic Cross Spread covers so many different aspects of a situation, keeping your intention vague can keep you open surprise messages about your life and your subconscious feelings.
Interpreting The Cards
If you’ve seen the Celtic Cross Spread performed by other readers or have stumbled across information about this spread online, you might have noticed different variations of this tarot spread. It’s up to you which one you choose to use in your practice. The one I’ll walk you through here is one I use.
If you’re reading tarot for yourself you may find it helpful to keep a journal nearby to jot down the first thoughts that flicker through your mind. If you need further guidance, feel free to look up the traditional tarot card meanings in a book or online.
Card One: What you are experiencing right now
This card can convey the mood of your current situation, how you feel about something, or how someone is treating you right now. If you have no clue what this card could be referring to in regards to your present-day situation, be patient. The other cards in the spread will likely shed more light on the meaning of this card, or perhaps this card is pointing to something that will come into play in the very near future.
Card Two: The thing that is getting in your way
This card is typically placed horizontally across Card One. This card will give you insight into who or what is currently blocking you from moving forward. If this card is one of the more “positive” cards in the deck, keep in mind that this card isn’t telling you that there’s nothing getting in your way right now. It’s still trying to bring your awareness to a specific issue that needs to be addressed in your life. Stay open to messages from your intuition or spirit guides for more insight. Maybe you’re not moving forward because you’re too comfortable in your current situation. It could be anything!
Card Three: What happened before
This card is placed to the left of Card One. This card can be interpreted in two ways. It can show you what energy, actions, person, or situation has brought you to the place you are right now. It’s basically a snapshot of your past. This card may also show you what energy you’ve just stepped out of or released.
Card Four: What you’re about to experience
This card is placed on the right of Card One. It hints at what you are likely to experience in the future regarding your current obstacle. If this card turns out to be one of the more “negative” cards in the tarot deck, don’t freak out. You are being shown this card right now for your greatest good. Trust that the message it delivers is meant to give you guidance, not to cause you stress or worry. Also, keep in mind, this card is just the next likely outcome should you stay on your current path. Any action you take now can help you avoid this possible future. As you look at this card, ask your intuition or spirit guides, “How is this card meant to help me move forward?”
Card Five: What you think you want
This card is placed above Card One. It will point to one of your main goals or desires. This could be what you hope to achieve or experience after you move past your current obstacle, or it could be a bigger, more long term goal. If this card is one of the “negative” cards, this could be showing you an emotional wound that you desire to heal, or it could illuminate your current mindset. Maybe you don’t believe you’ll get the thing you want. If that’s the case, thank the card for bringing that to your attention, and work on looking at your goal from a higher perspective.
Card Six: What you actually want
This card will give you a peek at the thoughts, beliefs, energies, or past experiences that are buried in your subconscious. This could show you the real motivation behind your goal or desire. It could also show what you hope you experience once you’ve achieved your goal. This card is more about your deepest thoughts and energies rather than your external circumstances. It’s really important to stay open to your intuition, higher power or spirit guides as you look at this card. This message can be both surprising and helpful for understanding yourself.
Card Seven: What you should do
Place this card on the far right side of your space towards the bottom. (You’ll be placing three more cards above it.) This card is all about guidance. It is showing you what you’ll need to know to take a step in the right direction. If the card is more “negative”, the message can be a gentle warning. Maybe it’s telling you to move cautiously. Or urging you to stop worrying about the details. The advice you receive from this card can really be anything, but it will always be guidance that points you to your highest good.
Card Eight: What other factors are at play
Place this card above Card Seven. This card will show you who or what in your life can help you move towards your goal or overcome your obstacle. It can also point out an aspect of your life that is out of your control. This is something that can either directly help or delay your path towards your goal. This card usually refers to something outside of yourself.
Card Nine: What you’re afraid of
This card goes above Card Eight. This card shows you your deepest worries around your particular life situation. If the card is more “negative” this could be showing you what the worst case scenario might be. If the card is positive, this could be showing you what you’re afraid you’ll never get. Whatever message you receive, take some time to journal about your fear. Look at it head on and see if it’s really something you need to be afraid of, or if you can release it. Sometimes this card can help you know what “safety nets” to put in place so you no longer have to worry about this.
Card Ten: What awaits you at the end of this path
Place this card above Card Nine. This card is basically what you can expect to experience if you continue on the path you are on right now. If this card is one of the more “negative” cards, take a look at your current plans and see if you need to make any changes.
Bonus Card: What I can do to change this outcome
If you’re not happy with the outcome, feel free to draw one more card. This card will tell you what you need to change, either energetically or by adjusting your actions to bring about a more desirable result.
The Guidance Of Tarot Cards
Witches hold a great deal of power. You can think of your tarot deck as a tool or an ally, but don’t give your power away to your tarot cards. They might tell you things you don’t want to hear, but remember you can ALWAYS change direction. Trust that every answer you receive is for your highest good, and allow all the messages of the cards to pass through the filter of your intuition. If you do that, you’ll always get the answers you need.
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by Julie Hopkins
Julie Hopkins is a writer, yoga teacher, and founder of Power Within, a whimsical online space created to help others improve their lives with magic. She’s from Chicago, but spends most of her time traveling to cool places.
Julie discovered the world of magic after she got tired of reading personal development books and hearing the same ideas over and over. Looking for a new way to grow, Julie started experimenting with tarot cards and felt an immediate connection to her intuition in a way she’d never experienced before. After that, she began studying magic in all its forms, never looking back. When she’s not writing about witchy things, you can find Julie making candles, daydreaming, and playing with other people’s dogs and babies.