Learn how to read the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread with confidence
It might be the most popular Tarot spread, but the Celtic Cross is also one of the most difficult spreads to master.
Many Tarot beginners find themselves reading the Celtic Cross card-by-card, rather than discovering the meaningful connections between the Tarot cards.
And many Tarot readers get overwhelmed by the sheer number of, losing sight of the bigger picture and the deeper message contained within a Celtic Cross Tarot reading.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Once you know how and when to use this powerful Tarot spread, the Celtic Cross begins to come ‘alive’. You reveal the rich tapestry of insight that is woven into this popular spread. And you uncover the deeper truths about the challenges and issues you may be facing.
In this Biddy Tarot Podcast episode, I’ll show you how to nail the Celtic Cross every time.
Here's what I cover:
- When NOT to use the Celtic Cross
- The essentials of each position of the Celtic Cross
- The deeper connections and pairings within this 10-card spread
- How to use the Celtic Cross for personal exploration and insight
- How to simplify this often complicated Tarot spread
Plus, make sure you download the free PDF cheatsheet to guide you through the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread.
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Brigit: You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 14: How to Nail the Celtic Cross Every Time.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you will learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence.
And now, here is your host Brigit Esselmont.
Brigit: Hello and welcome!
It might be the most popular Tarot spread, but the Celtic Cross is also one of the most difficult spreads to master.
Many Tarot beginners find themselves reading the Celtic Cross card-by-card, rather than unpacking the important connections and pairings between the Tarot cards.
And many get overwhelmed by the sheer number of cards and their meanings, losing sight of the bigger picture and the personal message contained within a Celtic Cross Tarot reading.
But, of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Once you know how and when to use this powerful Tarot spread, the Celtic Cross begins to come alive. You start to see the rich tapestry of insight that is woven into this popular spread. And you appreciate the potential it has to uncover deeper truths about the challenges and issues you may be facing.
So in today's podcast episode, I’m going to show you how to nail the Celtic Cross every time.
I’ll guide you through the deeper connections with this 10-card spread, and I’ll show you also how to use the Celtic Cross for personal exploration and insight.
Now to help you with this, I’ve created a very special PDF download with the Celtic Cross. It’s kind of like a Celtic Cross cheat sheet, and you’re going to find that over at biddytarot.com/14 – just the number 1, 4.
So make sure you head on over to biddytarot.com/14 so that you can download the Celtic Cross cheat sheet straight away.
Let’s get straight into it.
So, what is the Celtic Cross Tarot spread?
The Celtic Cross Tarot spread was developed and published by Arthur Edward Waite, so many hundreds of years ago, when he was designing the Rider-Waite deck. So it’s got quite a historical background.
And, ultimately, it’s a 10 card Tarot spread that was designed to understand a situation.
And it talks about things like:
- The Past-Present-Future
- What’s happening in the Conscious Realm, and the Sub-Conscious Realm
- The Advice
- External Influences
- Hopes and fears
- The Outcome of a situation
So it’s a really good spread for really diving deep into a specific situation, and getting a sense of all the different surrounding energies within that situation.
The other thing to note is, there are multiple variations of the Celtic Cross Tarot spread. So whilst I have my version that I like to work with, and that I’ll be sharing with you today, there are others that you’re going to find around the place. I want you that nothing is really right or wrong, it’s really about finding the Celtic Cross spread that works for you.
So, for example, if you’re not really digging “hopes and fears”, then you might change that up for something else – obviously without losing the true essence of what the Celtic Cross is about.
But if you find a slightly different version out there that you resonate more with, please, please feel free to go with it.
Like I said in the introduction, there are times when it’s great to use the Celtic Cross, but there are also times when it’s not so great to use the Celtic Cross.
So, for example, if you’re just looking for a really simple answer, then don’t use this spread.
If you’ve got a yes or no question, then don’t use the spread.
It’s also not really very relevant for very specific questions. So if you wanted to know, like for example, should I stay in Melbourne, or should I move to Sydney – it’s not going to help with that kind of question because you’re better off, in that instance, with more of a sort of choice-based question – pros and cons, and so on.
It’s not so good for short readings. So if you’re doing say just a 10 minute reading, if you’re maybe at a party and you’ve only got five or 10 minutes, then you actually probably could do a Celtic Cross, but I just don’t think you’re going to be able to do it justice in such a short time.
I’m sure someone’s going to prove me wrong. That’s fine.
Predictive readings – not so great because it does focus a lot on the current situation versus what’s going to happen, or what might happen in the future.
And also the final thing is, I really suggest if you’re a total beginner with Tarot, then leave the Celtic Cross until you feel a little bit more confident; and instead, work with, say, the Three Card Tarot spreads. And if you want to find out more about the three card spreads that I really recommend and use in my practice, then make sure you listen to Episode 10, where I talk about my never-fail three card Tarot spreads.
Alright, beautiful. So, on the flip side, when is it an appropriate time to use the Celtic Cross spread?
Well, one, it’s a great spread to really empower yourself with a deeper understanding of a situation or an issue.
It’s also really helpful for when you want to explore a key area of focus, so, for example, you want some insight into your career in general; or your relationships; or what might be coming up over the next 12 months and so on.
And, in a similar vein, questions such as: What do I need to know about…..?
What do I need to know about my relationship?
Because it really does give you that rich insight into the current situation.
And you might be thinking, ‘Well, okay, surely I know what’s happening right now. What I really want to know is what’s going to happen.’
Or maybe it’s our clients who are sort of pushing us to find that out.
But I find that understanding our current situation, and bringing more conscious awareness to it, enables us to create the kinds of outcomes that we really want in the future. So in that way I think it’s a very powerful spread.
Now, the Celtic Cross itself, I’m going to walk you through – step-by-step – each card. And if you want to see a picture of this spread, then – it’s very hard for me to sort of teleport that through the podcast, so what I’ve done is created that PDF download for you, which you’ll find over at biddytarot.com/14 – that’s 1, 4 – and you can download it there, and access it straight away.
Alright, so let’s begin with each of the cards.
Card 1: The Present
Card Number 1 is the Present – and it really represents like the here and now for you. If it’s a Major Arcana card then it’s about those big life themes that you’re experiencing.
If it’s a Minor Arcana card it’s probably more about a situation that you’re dealing with.
And if it’s a Court Card, then it’s often related to the personality within you that’s really coming to the fore, in regards to this situation.
So, let’s say if you were asking about a relationship and you had the Knight of Cups, then it’s really about you expressing yourself as a more emotional, perhaps poetic, being, and so on.
So that’s the Present.
Card 2: The Challenge
Then what crosses over that card, is card 2, which is the Challenge – it’s kind of like the problem. What is really getting in the way here?
And, again, if it’s a Major Arcana card, it might relate to a major Life Lesson that needs to be learned or experienced. Maybe it’s creating some grief right now, but it’s kind of like this big theme that you need to get your head around.
If it’s a Minor Arcana card, it might be more about a situation that is causing a problem.
And if it’s a Court Card it might be a specific person that’s getting in your way; or it could also be an aspect of your personality that is hindering you versus helping you.
Card 3: The Past
Then in the third position we have the Past – so this is what sits on the left-hand side of the Present card.
The Past obviously is about what has happened in the near past, but I think what’s really interesting about this one is to look at what has led to the here-and-now. Not so much a stand-alone Past, but what has got us to the Present as it is now?
Card 4: The Future
And likewise, we have the Future card – card Number 4 – and it’s not so much like big future, the next six to 12 months kind of thing, it’s more about what’s next. And if you imagine that Past-Present-Future as if it were three pages in a story book, think about how things are evolving from one step to the other.
And, in fact, this presents our first real connection in the Celtic Cross. And that is that Past-Present-Future line – because in itself, that’s a reading. When we covered our three card readings, one of the most popular ones is the Past-Present-Future.
What you’ll actually find with a Celtic Cross is that it’s almost like a series of little mini-readings, all within one bigger reading. So if you break it down into those smaller three card, or even two card readings, it becomes a lot easier to understand that’s for sure!
See even having the Present, and then the crossing the Challenge card, that in itself is a two card reading. So, you in this present time, and what’s getting in your way. Very simple.
Card 5: The Conscious Realm
Okay, so let’s move on now to card Number 5 which sits above the Present card. And I see this as the Conscious Realm, or: What’s top of mind for you?
What’s the thing that’s happening around you in that more external world?
And, you know, it it’s like a Major Arcana card, it might be about a phase or a theme that you’re experiencing sort of outside of you.
If it’s a Minor Arcana card, it’s a situation or a specific event that might be happening.
And, again, if it’s a Court Card it might be an aspect of your personality that’s coming out as you interact with others.
So you think about it as: What’s happening outside of me and my space?
Card 6: The Subs-Conscious Realm
Whereas when we step into the Sub-conscious Realm, and what’s lying beneath, as card Number 6 that’s a lot more about: What’s really going on inside of me?
What are my thoughts, and what are my feelings?
What might I be keeping hidden from other people?
And even: What might I not be aware of, that is clearly influencing me?
I often think the Moon card speaks to those hidden influences that we may not be consciously aware of, but we know that there’s something like pulling us.
Again, it’s just like the moon cycles – we know that the actual moon in the sky can have very strong pulls and effects on us. Even though we can’t quite put our finger on it, often times – you know, it’s like you’re feeling a little bit stir-crazy and then you look up in the sky, “Ah, full moon! Well yeah, okay, of course!”
But we’re not necessarily consciously aware of it straight away.
Okay, so that’s card Number 6.
Now, let’s have another quick look to see another three card reading that’s appearing, and that is that line from top to bottom of: Conscious Realm-Present-Sub-conscious Realm.
That’s kind of like you in the middle, and how are you expressing yourself, or being represented in the external world, and then how are you representing yourself or expressing in the more internal world – which can be very interesting in itself.
Right, so we’ve covered our first six cards, and that’s really what represents the cross piece of it.
Then we have another four cards that line up on the right-hand side.
Now I know again you’re probably thinking: Oh my goodness, it’s hard to sort of keep track of words.
So that’s why I did create the Celtic Cross cheat sheet for you. So again, make sure that you get that over at biddytarot.com/14 – and you’ll be able to download it from there.
Card 7: Advice
Okay, so card Number 7 is Advice.
It’s kind of like the recommended action, or how to approach the situation.
Pretty straight forward.
Card 8: External Influences
Card Number 8 is the External Influences, and this is what’s going on around me that maybe somewhat out of reach, but is still impacting me.
Often it can be a sign of the actions of other people. It could be the sign of other situations that are impacting you.
So, for example, if this was a Court Card then that could be a sign that a specific person is having an influence on your situation.
Let’s see – I’m just going to pull out some random cards so we’ve got a point of reference.
Let’s say our Celtic Cross was about career, and for the External Influence we draw the Justice card – I’ve just pulled this out of my deck. External Influences – this could be a sign that other people are making decisions, because actually, if you think about it, in the Justice system it’s the Judge who makes the decision. And, after everything is said and done, he or she has that final say. So the External Influence here might be that you’re feeling as if someone else has the final decision. Sometimes that can feel good, because it can feel like it’s a fair decision; but maybe, on the hand, it might actually feel bad because I want to be the one making decisions.
I often think of, say in a career reading, if you’re getting the Justice card here, that might be a sign that maybe they’re making cuts at the company, and instead of you deciding whether you’re going to continue your job, they’re making that decision.
Or even you deciding what job you’re going to do in that company, and they’re telling you which job it’s going to be. I’ve certainly been in that place before! And that’s why I no longer work in the corporate world.
Okay, so that’s our External Influences.
Card 9: Hopes and Fears
The Ninth card is Hopes and Fears.
Now this is often where people get a little bit – where they stumble – because it’s like: Well is it a hope, or is it a fear?
Come on, which one is it?
I actually like to see this more as intentions. You know: What are true intentions as you’re looking at this situation?
The Hopes and Fears can tell you a lot about the light and shade, and what’s really going on.
So let’s get some examples. We’ll stick with the career reading, and let’s see – if we drew – and maybe it was that you’re making a career transition and you’re a little bit unsure about whether now is the right time, or if you should even be doing it.
So let’s say you drew – The Chariot – Hopes and Fears.
Well I think this is where you could actually explore the light and shade of this.
So in terms of Hopes, you hope that you’ve got that sort of inner strength and will power to make the change, and to drive those different forces in the direction that you want.
But perhaps the Fear is that maybe you don’t actually have that will power.
So you might be struggling around this concept of your own will power, and your own strength, when it comes to making difficult and challenging decisions.
Let’s get another example – the World reversed.
So that might be a Hope or a Fear – probably more so a Fear because it’s in the reverse position – that Fear that somethings not quite complete yet.
And if you were thinking about making a career transition and you had the World reversed here, it might be a sign that you think: Oh my goodness, maybe I’m one step away from the ultimate achievement in this current career path, and if I was to make the change now I might miss out on that achievement.
You see how that might work?
Card 10: The Final Outcome
Alright, so card Number 10 is the Final Outcome.
This is another one that trips people up a little bit because we have the Future as card Number 4, yet we have the Outcome as card Number 10, and often people ask, “What is the difference?”
Remember, the Future is kind of like the next step – the thing that happens after the now; whereas the Outcome is much bigger than that. It’s taking into account the whole situation, and after everything has been said-and-done: What is the likely outcome here?
So it’s kind of got that bigger reaching – further reaching – energy around it.
It’s also a sign of the outcome if the current path is followed. So if you keep on the path that you’re on right now, this is where you’re going to end up.
And so if that Outcome card is positive – awesome, keep doing what you’re doing.
If it’s negative, or not desirable, then you may need to make some changes. And that’s when coming back to, say, card Number 7, the Advice card, will be really helpful to see: What’s my recommended course of action in order to manifest a true Outcome that I would really like?
So if the Outcome card is a Major Arcana card, it might be a new life lesson that’s starting to emerge for you.
If it’s a Minor Arcana card, it might be sort of the next stage in the situation – the next thing that’s happening, beyond simply that next step that we see in the Future card. It’s like that big picture.
And finally, if it’s a Court Card, it again might be an aspect of your personality that starts to come to the fore – that’s more fully expressed – as the Outcome of the situation.
The Connections within the Celtic Cross
So, there you have it – those are the 10 positions of the Celtic Cross, and I’ve started to allude to some of the connections and I just want to re-inforce those because it’s the connections in the Celtic Cross that I think make it the most powerful.
One that I talked about was the Past-Present-Future connection and again, you can read this as if it were a stand-alone three card reading. And that will give you so much insight. And, ultimately, when you’re doing a Celtic Cross, you’re layering things up. So you might do it as if that was one three card reading, and then you might layering it up with another three card reading.
So, for example, I talked about the Conscious to the Sub-conscious.
I think what can also be really interesting here is looking for alignment between the Conscious to Sub-conscious. So we’re looking at the Conscious – imagine it as if it were a vertical line and I’m going from top down to bottom – so we’ve got the Conscious, you in the present, and then we’ve got Sub-conscious.
Now if you find a bit of a mismatch between how you are operating in that Conscious space, versus what’s happening on the Sub-conscious, then you need to do some re-aligning at that personal level.
So, what’s an example?
We’ve got our Chariot so let’s say in the Conscious you’re operating from the Chariot, but in the Sub-conscious you might have, let’s say, the Eight of Cups which is about kind of avoidance, and escapism. And yet in your external world you’re trying to be boisterous, and driven, and achievement oriented. And so you need to really look at: How do you bring alignment between what’s going on internally, and what’s going on externally?
Another interesting connection to look at in the Celtic Cross is what you can do to manifest what you really want given the current circumstances.
So you might look at the cards of:
- The Future – so what’s coming next,
- Advice – how to handle it,
- Your Hopes and Fears and what you intend – what you actually are thinking and feeling as you manifest your goals, and
- The Final Outcome – what you’ll actually attract or manifest in your life
That in itself, that could be a four card reading within this bigger 10 card reading.
Let’s see, another connection that you could do is around mindful action. And this is about: Where the focus goes, energy flows.
And you might be looking at:
- The Conscious Realm – where you focused,
- Your Sub-conscious Realm, and
- Your Hopes and Fears – so where you’re really directing your energy
So remember, that Sub-conscious card, plus the Hopes and Fears card, and bringing those together to understand where you’re really directing your energy, at that deeper level, and then what’s the Outcome?
What will you attract or manifest?
So we’re balancing the Conscious and the Sub-conscious, and seeing what will happen.
Those are the main connections that I wanted to draw out for you, but no doubt as you continue to play with the Celtic Cross, you’re going to start seeing your own connections in the cards as well. And I would love for you to come and share those different connections, or even experiment and play with the Past-Present-Future and see how that helps you understand the Celtic Cross.
Come on over to biddytarot.com/14 and you can leave your comments in the post, and let me know what’s come out for you as you’ve had a look at the Celtic Cross and you’re starting to get a lot more familiar with it.
So there you have it – that is my overview of the Celtic Cross, and I really hope that having walked through the Celtic Cross together and looked at those connections, you now feel a lot more confident to really understand and interpret the Celtic Cross.
Even if you are just beginning, you can break it down into those smaller readings, and you’ll probably find it’s much easier to read this larger spread now that you have a better context and insight into how it all works.
I really do hope that’s been helpful for you. I appreciate you so much, and I’m so very glad for your time and attention today in this podcast episode.
And of course if you're ready to take your Tarot readings to the next level and to tap into the divine guidance that is available to you, then I really do invite you to check out my signature program which is TF2: Read Tarot with Confidence.
It’s specifically designed for aspiring Tarot readers who want to reach their fullest potential as a Tarot reader. And using simple yet powerful techniques, just like what I showed you today, I’m going to show you how you can read Tarot in a way that creates change and transformation in your life, and others’.
And of course I’ll let you in on a few insider secrets from my 15+ years of experience as a professional Tarot reader online.
So if you want to find out more about the TF2 program, head on over to biddytarot.com/TF2
And if you’d like to enrol today, you’ll get instant access to the program so you can start learning straight away.
I really hope I’ll see you in the program. I know it has just worked absolute wonders for the folks who have been through the online training course. And it just absolutely touches my heart to see what people can do after having completed the program. They’ve gone on to read Tarot at parties; to start reading Tarot professionally; or even just to help their family and friends, and give them more insight into their life.
It’s just absolutely magical, and I really do hope that you’ll join us in that program.
Alright, I want to say thank you once more and I really look forward to being part of your Tarot journey.
Thank you and good-bye.