The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread – Positions Interpretations and Meanings
by Violet Aura
The Celtic Cross spread used for tarot and oracle card readings is probably one of the most well-known. The origin of its use for cartomancy is as much a mystery as what it was originally designated to represent.
As a spread used in tarot card readings, the position of the cards and what each position represents is interpreted differently from reader to reader. Many questions come up about the layout in particular. One question often asked of many beginners is; how exactly do the position of the cards make a pattern of a Celtic cross?
Left: A Celtic Cross symbol with Celtic-style knot-work embellishment.
Historically, this image to the left is a Celtic Cross and is the symbol for which the tarot card layout is based.
There are four extensions off of a center point usually enclosed by a circle. The symbol is Pagan in origin. In this image; decorated with Celtic-style knots.
On the right, the image is a Christian styled cross with Celtic-knot design. The image is a cross, and it has Celtic artwork on it. It is not however a traditional Celtic cross, but a variation of it that has come to be thought of as one.
The symbol came to be known as the high cross and was introduced during the era when Pagan customs were adopted into Christian ritual. The two belief systems shared their conventions during a period where conversion was necessary to maintain peace and order between ancient empires.
The version of the Celtic Cross spread I use for tarot card readings is based on the historic original Celtic Cross and the cultural artwork which layers continuous intersection of pathways. I have also have a preference to lay the cards in relation to the significance of their corresponding metaphysical number.
The image is best viewed full sized, and is yours to download for reference if you choose. Click to enlarge.
The center point card can be used to identify the person being read as the significator. It is otherwise known as the card representing what is now in the present. It is referred to as card 1, also called, “You.” The number one is related to self, solitary, and The God within [you].
Card 2 is crossed over the first card. This card represents what crosses you, for better or for worse. A problem, situation, challenge or influence that either helps or hinders.
The number two represents duality. Self that is apart from balance, needing balance, or needing to come together.
Cards 3, 4, 5 and 6 are the cards laid differently for most every reader and each position is often interpreted differently as well.
For myself, I regard the number 3 as magical. I place this card above cards 1 and 2 at the top of the cross in progress; above ‘you’. Three is the dwelling place of mind, body, and spirit working together in union and in alignment. This card is regarded as what crowns you. It is the card of the Heavens. The rising sun, clouds, stars, rainbows and dreams reside here. It is a position held to show the best that comes from you while being at your best. It shows what can be perceived as the best outcome your mind sees and hopes for.
The number 4 represents balance. Similarly; the legs of the table we display our possessions on. Four seasons, four elements, four directions and four states of mind. It is this number that represents foundation. As it were, card 4 is placed below you. In this position it reflects the subconscious, the issue being read about, cause of a situation, the foundation or the feet of our bountiful table.
Numeral 5 represents many cycles, pathways, crossroads, and in essence, many directions. It is simply referred to as “The Past.” In the Celtic Cross spread, card 5 reflects on what has brought you here, what has built you, what the situation or issue has built up to, what backs you, or what is behind you. The card is placed left of the center card.
Card 6 represents the future, what is to come, or what is before you. The number six is associated with charity and chance, what is given so that we may receive. It is a card of energetic reciprocation. To give is to gain, creating harmonious balance within and without. The card is placed to the right of center and holds the energies of karma, ‘so shall it be’ and ‘amen’.
Cards 7 through 10 are laid down to the right side of the cross and represent cosmic connection. The series of cards goes from bottom to top.
The position of card 7 represents the current position of the querent in regards to the question. The number seven is mystical, representing inner life and mind. It represents the whole of the whole, and in the position of this spread is very likely to represent how the querent is probably feeling, acting, and doing — all at once.
Card 8 is placed above card 7. The number 8 is a symbol of spiritual prosperity brought to earth. It is thought to be the card of outside influence. Who or what is supporting and encouraging you? How do people outside of the situation see it? It also represents what the mind has manifested, and what thoughts or feelings preoccupy you. It is a card that touches both realms of earth and sky, noting to you that what influence(s) may be there to cause break through, or break down.
The ninth position represents hopes and fears, what you allow to flow, and what you resist. It takes the position of showing worthy cause, worthy result and perhaps showing it is time to move onto other things. Card 9 is placed directly above card 8.
Position 10 is often used to reveal an outcome. It is commonly referred to as showing the final outcome. However, if it were really that simple, we could pull a single card asking the question and make it much easier than reading an entire layout. The number ten is a card that might express overwhelm, overabundance or overflowing. It is in the position that speaks of you getting from point A to point B and now it is time to make this your new point A and go forward to your next order of business on that path.
In the chart you will notice two triangles, one facing up and one facing down. The triangle facing down is at the top of the spread. It connects three cards to be observed in a focus. Cards 3, 6, and 10 are the focus cards. Looking at them tells a story of the positive light and possibilities to keep awareness on. The downward triangle represents energies channeling to the ground, making their way to be manifested.
The triangle facing up connects cards 4, 6 and 8. In terms of your physical realm being in tune with a cosmic connection, these three cards represent the channel of receiving. Your wishes from up above (cards 3, 6, 10) have been requested to make their way to you. Is your receiving channel open? The focus cards 4, 6, and 8 (especially 4 and 8) should all be taken into account and personal responsibility taken to make any necessary changes or shifts happen in order to properly ground and manifest what you ask. Of course, if all of the cards are in harmony, then you have hit the jackpot! But somewhere in there you probably knew it before the reading ever started!
The layout of the Celtic Cross part of the layout (1-6) continues to cross and cross.
Although this is my preferred version of it, I do want to mention just in case, that no way of doing it is wrong. It is up to the reader to be in tune with how the positions and their meanings interpret best for them and then lay the cards out in the fashion that feels best.
For me it has been very worthwhile to go forward with understanding how to resonate with the messages that this spread lays out. No matter which way it is done, a Celtic Cross spread allows the reader to really be open to intuitively understanding the story that has been presented, and that is what makes this spread so enjoyable for many.
Blessings and gratitude,