Interpreting A Celtic Cross Tarot Spread
This article describes a method for Interpreting A Celtic Cross Tarot Spread which is close to my personal method, using a client question to outline the process I go through. You are encouraged to find what works best for you but hopefully this information can at least provide some guidelines and inspiration. My YouTube video can be viewed by clicking on the image below :
Question from Louise : I’ve had a few setbacks recently, so can you shed some light on where my life is right now and where my future is heading ?
1. The First Card
This is where the energy first comes into the spread identifying what is happening to the Louise at the present time and the core of her situation It is important to keep referring back to this central card which the spread revolves around.
10 of Swords (Ruin) = Perhaps Louise is concealing how difficult things have been. There has been some trauma which has had a major impact on her life that she has yet to resolve mentally and emotionally and this is impacting on her life in the present moment.
2. The Last Card
The last card is where the energy of the spread concludes and so a quick overview of this card will alert the reader as to whether there is a harmonious or difficult conclusion to the spread and perhaps if any extra cards are needed or the deep card looked at for clarification.
3 of Swords (Sorrow) = The future may reflect that this period of her life might become quite entrenched leaving her with lots of sadness if it is not resolved. So as this is somewhat of a difficult card im conscious that ill have to draw more cards and pay attention to how she might avoid this happening by paying close attention to the rest of the spread.
3. Any particular Cards that Stand Out
The Empress : A card of love, support,being in harmony with her environment. This stood out for me as it is a very positive card in a key position of an otherwise difficult spread and will be of importance moving forward with a positive outcome.
4. Overall Essence of the Spread
Each card has a particular vibrational energy or “essence” to it and once the cards have been laid out we can get an overall vibe of the spread as a whole. Are there any particular troublesome cards ? Are the cards mainly bright or dark in energy or mixed ?
Looking at Louise’s spread in total it seems quite a bright spread at first with the exception of the 5 of disks and the 3 of swords and so on colour alone we would expect quite a straightforward reading apart for the cards mentioned, however initial looks can be deceiving.
5. Looking Closer at the Frequency & Distribution of Card Types
Once I have had a cursory look at the cards through the first three steps its time to look closer at the distribution and frequency of card types themselves when Interpreting A Celtic Cross Tarot Spread.
(a) Major Arcana
How many of the cards are from the Major Arcana ? Major Arcana represent significant life events and karmic ties and so these are big lessons. These cards may indicate lessons that cannot be avoided there are always better ways of handling difficult tasks.
Card 8 : The Empress = a positive card as mentioned above
(b) Minor Arcana
The Minor Arcana represents life events which are more connected to do with our everyday living, patterns and behaviour and are less significant that major arcana events. Usually the client is more in control of these situations. The numbers of the cards themselves are important as aces, twos and threes represent beginnings of things, whereas higher numbers can represent development, conflict , completion or over indulgence in the element.
Card 1 : 10 of Swords (Ruin)
Card 5 : 5 of Disks (Worry)
Card 10 : 3 of Swords (Sorry)
All of these point to difficult life circumstances.
(c) Court Cards
These are complex as they can either represent actual people or facets of the querents personality.
The spread has 4 court cards which is a high percentage for a spread (40%) and so this makes the spread a more difficult one to interpret. Perhaps there are many people influencing the querents life at the present time? We have :
Card 3 : Prince of Cups
Card 4 : Princess of Wands
Card 7 : Prince of Wands
Card 9 : Princess of Cups
In summary :
Only 1 major arcana card, the Empress which is a very supporting card to counter the difficult minor arcana.
6. Card Relationships within the Celtic Cross
(i) Cards 1 and 2 (Present Situation and Restricting or Supporting factors)
Card 1: Present Situation = represents what is happening to the Louise at the present time and the core of what the situation revolves around. This is our point of most power as it is happening NOW so important that we relate other cards back to this.
Major life event in which she has suffered trauma and there has been a very difficult time in her life. It could mean the loss of a job or relationship but the swords represents thoughts and so she might have given in to negative thought patterns or not acted or given her best and so there have been harmful consequences.What we think today we create tomorrow so this card focusses back on the clients self-image, confidence and attitude.
Card 2: Conflicting Factors = represents the immediate challenge or problem facing the Louise. This is the one thing that, if resolved, would make the situation much easier.
Look at how they relate. Does card 2 help or hinder card 1 ?
Crossing this card confirms that Louise is perhaps struggling to open up to new opportunities that come her way. The card is reminding her that there are still many things to work towards that will bring its own reward but at the moment she is stopping herself from making the most of life by her overall attitude.
(ii) Vertical Row (Cards 5 , 1, 3)
Card 5: Conscious Goals/Aspirations = reflects what the querent hopes to achieve with respect to the future. It is what the Louise is working towards consciously as she attempts to resolve the issue. This is where she is consciously directing her energy.
Card 1: Present Situation = represents what is happening to the querent at the present time and the core of what the situation revolves around. This is her point of most power as it is happening NOW.
Card 3 : Unconscious Patterns/Influences = represents those thoughts or feelings that she may not be aware of that are influencing the present situation. This card may bring a surprise message to the querent, particularly if they are not particularly intuitive. Things that are happening behind the scenes. Can also represent unconscious wants and desires.
- How are the conscious (card 5) and subconscious (card 3) motivators are affecting the present situation.
Card 5 : 8 of Wands (Swiftness) = indicates that she wishes to blow away the cobwebs and create something new and successful in her life. She needs to create something worthwhile. Spiritually this is like an awakening to break out of old patterns and ways of thinking for a new perspective. The energy of this card is very positive for Louise.
Card 3 : Prince of Cups = represents the client as it is in the subconscious motivator position. The Prince of Cups is all about sensitivity and emotional rapport but often hides this and can also be quite volatile underneath. Also a tendency to be self obsessed. Louise can sometimes get wrapped up her own world and not share enough of herself emotionally. It hints at the client needing to be more open and then her life will prosper more (Gain 9 of Disks). Louise has a lot to share but self obsession and a tendency to hide her emotions hinders this and yet she has all the skills for great empathy with others.
In summary, the 8 of Wands is a positive energy that will help break Louise out of the pain from the 10 of swords and the difficulties of the Prince of Cups.
(iii) Horizontal Row (Cards 4 ,1 ,6)
Card 4: The Past = events from the querents past that are influencing the current situation.
Card 6: The Future = represents what is likely to occur within the next few weeks or even months. This is not the final outcome, simply the next step on her journey. The future is changeable even with the major arcana as we can change our attitude to the situation.
- How the past and present are affecting the future ?
Card 4 (the recent past) : Princess of Wands = Indicates a head on approach to life, confronting and overcoming fears. Having a full immersion in life sometimes without considering all the consequences of her actions which have at times bordered on recklessness.
Card 6 (the immediate future) :5 of Disks (Worry) = It is important to see how much influence the client can have over the future as outcomes with the minor arcana are more easily altered than with major cards.
The worry card leads to anxiety over the future. This card in position 6 could well be related to her first card and its after effects. As a difficult card we now have an opportunity to see ahead what will result if she stays on her present course and so she must change the energies that are causing her stress at present. With Mercury bogged down in heavy Taurus in this card there is a problem of communication (with others or with herself) to accomplish the things she wants. This communication issue also links in to what we said when discussing cards 1 ,2 and 3
Louise’s usual zest for life and fearlessness (Princess of Wands) has been lost due to traumatic events which have left her with anxiety about the future(Worry).
(iv) Cards 5 and 6 (Hopes, Goals and Near future)
- How is the near future related to our hopes, aspirations and goals ?
We have anxieties about the future and we will have to overcome doubts and negativity about ourselves in order to succeed.
(v) Cards 3 ,4 and 5 (Past, Present, Future)
- How the past and subconscious feelings have shaped our current goals
Cards 4 (past ) and how it relates to the present situation.
Do cards 3 and 5 support or conflict each other, our subconscious and conscious motivators respectively ?
(vi) Cards 7 and 8 ( Our Internal and External Worlds)
Card 7: Your Approach = how you see yourself in the current situation. Need to assess this as it has a bearing on the situation in hand.
Card 8: External influences= This card highlights the people, energies or events which may affect the outcome of the question. The external energies surrounding you right now
Card 7: Your Approach = how you see yourself in the current situation. Need to assess this as it has a bearing on the situation in hand.
The Prince of Wands is a very encouraging card and this brings to the surface your true colours which are positive, energetic and outgoing with a good moral balance. It represents someone with a warm disposition and sense of humour. This is related to the Princess of Wands only he has more stability. Looking at these cards together they seem to indicate that in the past (Princess of Wands) we have been a bit too reckless and strayed from our usual balance.
Card 8: External influences= This card highlights the people, energies or events which may affect the outcome of the question. The external energies surrounding you right now.
The Empress was the standout card for me in an otherwise difficult spread. She is to do with fertility, nurturing, love and nourishing. She is very much in tune with her surroundings and so is in harmony with that which is around her. She also expresses unconditional love.
These two cards put together provide strong resources for the client to tap into during these difficult times. They show that fundamental the client has lots of energy and creativity (Prince of Wands) but at this time it has been lost a little bit and so they must make sure whats happening around them in their life is supporting and nourishing their needs (Empress). So the advice is to lose any people or situations that are not serving your highest good so that you can rediscover yourself.
(vii) Cards 5 and 10 (Hopes, Goals and Final Outcome)
Card 10: Projected Outcome = representative of where the situation is headed and assumes the outcome is based on the querent continuing their current course of action. If this card is not a desirable outcome, it is within the free will of the querent to make the necessary changes to their situation and further card can also be drawn to clarify how to resolve any difficult endings to the spread.
- Near future and distant future comparison
A desire to create new things and move forward is again thwarted in the final outcome. Both of these cards are in the suit of swords which implies that our thoughts are not productive enough of the time for the 8 of wands to work out its energy in a positive way.
An extra card was drawn to clarify the outcome :
4 of swords : Truce
Not so much a resolution of internal conflict but coming to an understanding with yourself that you will not actively hold yourself back. We see that there is chaos in the background of this card which is shut out by the protection of the cross of swords. This card implies rest and recuperation from a difficult time so we can make stock of what has happened to us. It’s like taking a rain check from the events of our life so far . It is also a time for healing rifts either in family , friendships or relationships.
6. Guidance and Warning
Card 9: Guidance or warning = factors which may need special attention from the client when assessing future actions. In a way this is telling us something that we will need to know about the future.
The Princess of Cups is a very gentle, intuitive person, someone who is romantic and likes to be in harmony in their world. However she has a certain fragility when things get stressful. In position 9 she indicates a need for the client to follow her intuition more, listening to her inner voice and be open to love from others or a relationship. There are lots of conflicts in the clients thoughts (swords) which can sabotage things so this is a reminder to be in touch with feelings/emotions/the inner voice and also LOVE !
7. The Deep Card
The Deep card is the card at the bottom of the deck after dealing the cards off the top to make the celtic cross spread. It is those issues which are far reaching into the clients past which may help to understand the clients position in the present. I usually look at this if I feel the spread needs some further clarification. The card at the bottom of the deck for Louise was the Prince of Swords.
Prince of Swords = again conflict here as the Prince of Swords does not always put his energies into the most productive things. A warning for the client to use her resources wisely and have more thinking time for the consequences of her actions. He can also be someone emotionally cold and difficult to get to know, although highly, intelligent with a very active mind. In the deep card position this supports the fact that Louise is very much wrapped up in her own thoughts and perhaps need to be more in contact with the energies of the Empress and Princess of Cups. So for me it clarifies what the main spread is trying to say.
Take a step back now from spread and look for any repeating patterns , themes , elements and astrological influences.
8. The Elements within the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread
If an element is represented by only one card, this can be significant to the whole reading as it could represent factors that are not properly integrated into the situation for the querent, quite like the way astrology works with singular planets.
Details about the elements :
Fire = represents where the querent is putting their energy.
Water = feelings, emotions & subconscious things, relationships , love.
Air = the mind and separation . Other characteristics associated with this element are conflict, anxiety, constructive focus, mediation and communication
Earth = material things, work practises , practical outcomes. Practical sometimes to a fault, earth can be stubborn and dull, but also highly motivated, reliable, and supporting. Associated with grounding , work and economics.
Fire = 3 cards = Prince and Princess of Wands , 8 of Wands = Positive outgoing energy, creative, friendly, likes to achieve.
Water = 2 cards = Prince and Princess of Wands = can hide real feelings stopping full potential to Love
Air = 3 cards = 10 of Swords, 3 and 4 of Swords = Difficult, troublesome thoughts & coming to terms with them
Earth = 2 cards 5 and 9 of Disks = money,financial and lifestyle worries.
9. Astrological Relationships within the Celtic Cross Spread
Astrological relationships are important when Interpreting A Celtic Cross Tarot Spreadand they apply to the Rider Waite Deck in the same way as they do the Thoth Deck.
Ruin = Sun in Gemini
Gain = Venus in Virgo
Swiftness = Mercury in Sagittarius
Worry = Mercury in Taurus
Sorrow = Saturn in Libra
Truce = Jupiter in Libra
Empress = Venus
Patterns = only Mercury and Libra are repeated.
Mercury = the need to be clear about communication
Libra = finding balance in life.
Each of these cards can be studied astrologically in detail but this information is available on this website.
10. Summary of the Celtic Cross Spread for Louise
This final section will summarize Interpreting A Celtic Cross Tarot Spread for Louise :
- Her usual energy, positivity and outgoing nature(Prince of Wands) has suffered a setback (possibly Princess of Wands) which has had a big effect on her life (Ruin) and led to possible money worries or practical problems (Gain crossing)
- Her negative thought patterns (Ruin ,Worry), lack of communication and tendency to not express her feelings bring further difficulties and a tendency to become self-absorbed (Prince of Cups).
- Louise wants to move forward in the future with new projects and regain her enthusiasm for life (Swiftness).
- However there is a possibility of future anxiety (Worry) and so she must concentrate on not giving power to negative thoughts and feelings and trust in the process of life again and may need to take time out to process things (Truce) to prevent the problem becoming long term (Sorrow).
- It’s important for Louise to feel loved, supported and nurtured (Empress) throughout this time from those around her so she can move on to better things and use her creativity constructively in the future(8 of Wands).
- Finally she must learn to be more in touch with her softer more romantic side, protect her inner fragility (Princess of Wands) and not get too caught up in negative thoughts (Prince of Swords, Ruin, Sorrow).