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The Celtic Cross


The Celtic Cross is probably the oldest and most popular pattern for reading the tarot. It has survived so long because the layout of the cards is simple, but powerful. A strong energy has built up around this spread due to its use by so many people over the years. 

You can think of the Celtic Cross as divided into two sections: the Circle/Cross (six cards) on the left, and the Staff (four cards) on the right.  The Circle/Cross simulates the Celtic cross found throughout Ireland. This cross has a circle linking the four perpendicular spokes. The circle and cross symbolize the joining of spirit and matter and the unity of all events in time. 

The feminine energy of the circular section works in unison with the masculine energy of the Staff section. These two parts of the Celtic Cross mirror the dual nature of manifested reality - the polarities that abound in the human psyche. 

The Circle/Cross section is made up of two crosses - a central one (two cards) nested within a larger cross (six cards). The smaller cross represents the heart of the matter - what is most central to you at the time of the reading. It is the hub around which the wheel of your life is turning. 

The larger cross consists of two lines that overlay the minicross. The horizontal line (H) shows time moving from your past on the left into your future on the right. The vertical line (V) is your consciousness moving from your unconscious on the bottom to your conscious mind on the top. Together these six cards give you a snapshot of your inner and outer environment at the time of a reading. 

The cards of the Staff section comment on your life and lie outside of the immediate situation. Here, your Inner Guide helps you understand what is shown in the Circle/Cross section. You receive guidance about yourself and others, your life lessons and your future direction. 

There are a number of versions of the Celtic Cross. The differences are usually in cards 3-4-5-6. I use a circular placement to emphasize how the unconscious and the past (Cards 3 and 4) lead to the conscious and future (Cards 5 and 6). I have also added some meanings to Card 9. This position traditionally means "hopes and fears," but I also use it as a lesson or guidance card. It is always possible to adapt a spread to your own needs as long as you decide on any changes before you do a reading. 


Sp10.jpg (6238 bytes) 1. The heart of the Matter

This first card allows you to go beyond the client's question. It tells you what he is experiencing in regard to the question. The vibrations surrounding the condition are revealed in this first card. If a Court Card turns up here, it indicates that another person is involved in the client's query. 


Sp2.jpg (6237 bytes) 2. This is what crosses you for good or bad.

Whatever this card represents can be determined in the light of the remaining spread. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable depends upon the card itself and the client's question. For example, if the question has to do with the success of a new business enterprise, and the Ace of Wands turns up in this second placement, we can assume that it crosses the first card favorably. However, it is always better to scrutinize the entire spread carefully before offering an interpretation. 


Sp3.jpg (6334 bytes) 3. This is the basis of the situation.

This card reveals the real origin of the client's question. The written query usually does not indicate the whole situation, so you should pay special attention to this card. If, for example, a female client asks whether a certain man will contact her, you may find that the third card reveals a quarrel in the client's past or a long journey of separa tion. There could be many reasons for her question, and this card will tend to reveal them to you if you are perceptive and intuitive. The third card will help you considerably in your overall divination. 


Sp4.jpg (6275 bytes) 4. This is behind you, or in the process of leaving.

From this card you can see the immediate background of psychic vibrations experienced by the client. Depending on the client's at titude, the condition indicated may still be with him. If this condition is an undesirable one, a word of encouragement to the client may help to dispel the situation, for the fourth card indicates that it is in the process of leaving or clearing up. If the card is favorable, the remaining cards will indicate this 


Sp5.jpg (6309 bytes) 5. This is what crowns you and could come into being.

The fifth card relates to situations not yet materialized and so is extremely helpful in advising the client. With this card you can see a possibleÑand often probableÑcourse of future events. If you can tell that these possibilities would be harmful or undesirable to your client, you can advise him accordingly. Likewise, if the possibilities seem beneficial, you can gently encourage the growth of the seed contained in this card. 


Sp6.jpg (6246 bytes) 6. This is before you.

In the process of interpreting this card, you should consider the tenth and final card also. These two cards have a positive relation ship and are connected in the final interpretation: one leads to the other, and both deal with a future situation that is taking shape as a result of past and present circumstances. 


Sp7.jpg (6231 bytes) 7. This represents your own negative feelings.

I have known students to be very confused about this card. What happens if a positive, promising card turns up in this position? It simply means that the client has a negative attitude toward this situation and cannot appreciate or accept the beneficial circumstan ces indicated. You can be of great assistance to your client when reading this card; you can offer guidance and often relieve him of his anxieties regarding the situation, so that he can come to accept whatever benefits are in store. Also, together with the third card, this seventh card can help you to see deeply into the true emotions surrounding the client's original question. 


Sp8.jpg (6258 bytes) 8. This represents the feelings of others around you.

If the client has asked a question involving another person, this card will help you to see the other person's point of view. However, if the question relates only to the client's activities, the eighth card pro vides insight into how other people feel regarding the client and his situation. 


Sp9.jpg (6266 bytes) 9. This represents your own positive feelings.

Often a person thinks one thing, but through fear or inhibition says another. The ninth card will help you determine how the client really feels about the matter in question. If he is apprehensive, you can guide him toward the solution to his dilemma through the wisdom of the Tarot


Sp1.jpg (6242 bytes) 10. The outcome.

The tenth and final card indicates the outcome of the situation. Its interpretation depends upon the people and circumstances involved in the client's question and upon the nine preceding cards. All the other cards lead up to this card and must be read accordingly. You must first arrive at a conclusion, based on the totality of these factors and your own intuition, then you must decide what action to reccommend to your client, based on your thorough understanding of the spread in relation to the client's question.