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 Self position

The card in the “near future” position is the last one that surrounds the mini-cross. The next four cards that follow are laid vertically to the right of the cross formation.  You’ll lay them out starting at the bottom and forming a pillar, one on top of the other.

Today we’re covering the first card in that pillar – the “self” position.  The “self” card represents the querent or person who is getting the reading.  It can indicate how they are approaching the situation, what their attitude might be, as well as any actions they may or may not be taking that may affect the outcome.

When I’m reading someone else, this card is very important because it gives me a clue as to whether or not the querent is proactive and empowered – or resistant and getting in their own way.

Using our sample reading from the previous lesson, let’s add some cards and see how this card may impact the reading:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - the self position example 1

When you look at the previous cards, we can see that the querent has gone through a life altering event, perhaps a divorce.  Let’s go with that interpretation.  As we can see the cards in the possible outcome and near future positions are looking positive. If the Magician lands in the self position, this would tell me that the querent is standing in her power, ready to manifest her life on her terms.  She’s taking charge and making magic happening!  She’s in her element.  Now pay attention to this: the Magician’s arm is raised with a wand and if you look up to the near future position, we see the Ace of Wands, which says an opportunity is on the horizon. It’s almost as if the Magician is grabbing that wand!  A sign that when opportunity knocks, she’s going to go for it.  BAM!

Let’s try another card and see how that energy changes. How about the Nine of Wands:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - The self position - example 2

Instead of the determined vibe of the Magician, this card shows fear.  The querent may be timid, still healing from the divorce.  Even though the wound is bandaged, the psychic wound is still present. Lessons of the past may be carried forward and although the future is shaping up to be positive, the querent is still protecting her tender heart and having trouble trusting in what’s being offered.  This would alert me that although her future is bright, she’s still got healing work to do.

Let’s do one more!  How about a Court card?

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - The Self Position - Example 3

Courts can describe the person but also the energy that they are manifesting at this time.  For example, if our querent was a woman, the Queen of Pentacles could be describing her as a down-to-earth and successful woman.  It would also tell me that she was taking a practical approach to matters at the time of the reading.  She’s taking care of business! But if the querent was a man, the same qualities would be present: nurturing, earthy, and successful.  Never get hung up on gender – remember, we all can carry a male or female shield!

Mini tips:


Before you start interpreting all the other cards, look here.  It is going to alert you to the querent’s mindset.  If the card shows a negative mindset even though all the other cards are positive, this might show you someone who is unable to see the good around them.  I have a client, who has a perfectly fine life, but seems to always get a negative card here.  And guess what?  She’s a bitter woman who never believes anything good is happening in her life.  It’s almost as if she wants to see doom and gloom.  The cards or me can point out all the good but she never hears it or sees it.

If you are reading for yourself, this card can be revealing!  You might be surprised to see what you’re carrying into a situation!

Once all the cards are laid out, it’s interesting to see if the querent’s attitude impacts the outcome.  Come back to this card after interpreting the outcome to see what the querent might need to change if the outcome isn’t what they want.


Grab your tarot journal and your favorite deck.  Lay out the cards up to this point.  What does this card tell you about your self or the querent?  What attitude are you seeing here and what are your thoughts about how this might impact the future?

I also recommend going through the whole deck this way, testing out each card in this position like I did with the three examples above.  How might a different card in the self position affect the reading? Is it positive or negative?  What might you learn about the querent if you’re reading for someone else – or about your self if you’re doing a self read? Journal it.



© 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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