Breaking Down the Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is one of the most famous tarot spreads.  Many readers use it…yet many more are intimidated by it.

The Celtic Cross can give a wealth of information about a particular situation but it also lends well to general outlooks or closing spreads, which is why I think it’s particularly brilliant.

This series is intended to help take the fear out of it – and help you discover tips ‘n tweaks so that you can get the hang of it once and for all.  Stay tuned as I continue to add tutorials to this series once a month.

The Threes

The key to mastering the Celtic Cross is to look at all the patterns present in the spread. In last month’s post, we covered Scan and Count – the first thing you do when you lay out the cards. This involves looking at the cards and noting where the majorities lie. The majorities give clues as to the overall theme of the reading.

The next step is to break the spread down into groups. This will help you to construct the story the cards are trying to tell. In this month’s lesson, we’re looking at what I call “The Threes”, mini-readings within the Celtic Cross consisting of three cards each. (Next month, we’ll cover The Fours).

Here are the Threes that I pay attention to:

Past, Recent Past, Present – this combo illustrates how we got to where we are.

Present, Obstacle, Querent – these three show where we stand at this moment in time.

Querent, Environment, Hopes and Fears – these three cards give a clear idea of not only our mindset but the things that might be influencing our thoughts/actions.

What crowns you, Near Future, Likely Outcome – these three cards neatly sum up the likely future based on where we are currently headed.

The Past, Near Future, Likely Outcome – I LOVE this diagonal connection! It shows where we’re coming from, the next step and where we might end up if we take that step.

Neato, right?

Let’s use our sample spread to examine The Threes in this reading. We’ve decided that our querent is ready to move on after her divorce – and wants to know what’s in store for love


Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - The outcome position

Past, Recent Past, Present – The Tower, Three of Swords reversed, Two of Swords: our querent has gone through a tumultuous upheaval in her life – and she’s been slowly working on healing from that. She’s currently at a standstill because the work is not finished. She got to her current state by going through a major shift – in some way, it’s been an initiation.

Present, Obstacle, Querent –  Two of Swords, Strength, The Magician: the querent is struggling to get back on her feet. She’s finding her power. At this moment in time, she’s just beginning to come into her own again.

Querent, Environment, Hopes and Fears – The Magician, Seven of Swords, Ten of Swords: the querent may be stepping into her power but she might still have some fears that need to be addressed. The Seven of Swords is critical here – she’s had some disappointments and perhaps now has a hard time trusting new romantic options…or her self. The Ten of Swords shows the fear of being hurt or disappointed again. Which tells me that although she’s coming into her power, there is still work to do around trusting.

What crowns you, Near Future, Likely Outcome – The Sun, Ace of Wands, The Lovers: nevertheless, she’s going to be entering the dating pool and perhaps focusing on having some much needed fun. Even though the previous cards show fear, this combo tells me that she will work to overcome her fears and enjoy the journey. That attitude will allow her to meet someone new in a joyful way – and the opportunity for love will arise from that open attitude and willingness to take a playful, joyful approach to love.

The Past, Near Future, Likely Outcome – The Tower, The Ace of Wands, The Lovers: she’s coming from upheaval and uncertainty, taking a brave new step to begin again, and that act of courage will lead to a new relationship.



Your turn!

Once again, grab your tarot journal and your favorite deck.

Lay out a Celtic Cross then start looking for The Threes. How do these mini-readings help to illustrate what’s going on? Journal your findings.

Next month, we’re covering the next pattern: The Fours. Until then, keep shuffling!



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2017

deck featured in the header image is the fabulous Fountain Tarot ; other cards are from the Rider Waite deck.

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