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 Past position

At the bottom of the spread, directly under the mini cross, lies the “past” position.  This is very important because the past actions or circumstances hold clues as to how the current situation came to be.

This tells you where the querent is “coming from.”

For example, if this card was The Tower, it might indicate the querent has gone through a major upheaval while the Two of Wands would show a successful venture in the past.  A positive card would show a good foundation – and a negative card could symbolize a hardship in the past.

Let’s look at the two examples (Tower and Two of Wands) with a mini cross so you can see how they may alter the reading.

The Two of Swords crossed by Strength.  This might be interpreted as a person who is wresting with more than one option.  Perhaps they are unable to see which way to go because a challenge must be dealt with.

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - past position

If we put The Tower card in the past, this could suggest that the querent has gone through a tumultuous change and may be taking a time out to heal and consider their next move.  They may be trying to grasp what has happened – and may be just starting to get a handle on events.

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - past position example

Now with the Two of Wands in the same position, the reading takes on a different tone.  After a period of great success, the querent is taking time to explore other options.  They may be having a hard time deciding which way to go next.

Got it?  Remember: the past shows the foundation for the current issue.

Mini tips:

Pay attention to the past position and the likely outcome. Where is the querent coming from – and where are they going?

Look at the past position as well as position 7, which represents the querent.  How has the past shaped their current attitude?

If the past position is a negative card, what does the card in the obstacle position (what crosses you) tell you about the present?  Are the problems still there – or have they been handled?  If the past position is positive but the obstacle card is negative, this could be symbolic of a recent change or attitude that is creating a setback.

Start looking at how the past position is influencing the other cards in the spread.

I’ll leave you with these wise words from Confucius:

“Study the past if you would define the future.”


Get your tarot journal and your favorite deck.  Lay out a mini cross and a card in the past position.  How might this be influencing the mini cross?  Now – switch the past card with a new one.  Once again, contemplate what affect this card might have on the other two.  Do a few more.  Even better, go through the whole deck, putting down a different card in the past position but keeping that mini cross the same.  What new interpretations might you see unfolding?  Journal your face off.



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016

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

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