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 Hopes and Fears position

We’re continuing our work on the pillar to the right of the cross formation. In the previous lesson, we looked at the environment position.

Our next card goes right above that card. This is the third one from the bottom of the pillar and it symbolizes the hopes and fears of the querent.

This card will show attitudes that might be affecting the querent’s future. Now remember – the first card in the pillar shows the querent but this card shows the inner workings, the stuff that may not be on the surface but can affect the outcome nonetheless.

For example, if we see a positive card here, there is reason to believe that the querent can overcome any difficulties present. A negative card can symbolize deep seated fears that might affect the outcome, even if the outcome looks good. Your mindset – what you want or what you dread – is important to understand, especially if you are seeking empowerment through the tarot. If we see a negative belief system operating, then that could be something to work on.  Remember: you always have the possibility of changing your outcome and often change is an inside job.

Let’s look at a few examples with the spread that we’ve been working on thus far.

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - Hopes and Fears position

In the previous lessons we decided that the querent is moving on after a divorce. Here, we can see she’s moved on and is creating a new life for herself. It hasn’t been easy but she’s managing well. The Six of Cups in the Hopes and Fears position symbolizes a desire to recapture something from her past. Perhaps part of her might be remembering the good old days with her ex. She might even wish for a healing or a chance to start over. The other thing that this card can indicate is that she wants to be romanced – and she wants to feel safe at the same time.

Let’s try a different card. How about the Star:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - Hopes and Fears position - example two

The Star is one of the classic wish cards – and a sign that she’s feeling healthy and positive. Whenever I see one of the wish cards here (The Star, Nine of Cups, Seven of Cups), I always see it as a good omen. It says she’s clear on what she wants and the Universe can work with her.

How about a reversal? Remember, a reversal can show blocked energy:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - Hopes and Fears position - example three

Here, the reversed Three of Wands could indicate that she has some fear about moving forward. She might be afraid of not finding the right partner. Perhaps she assumes that there are no good fish in that sea. A part of her is holding back, afraid of the risks involved. The energy here becomes mixed: she’s standing in her power but feeling cautious nonetheless. We might also assume with that Seven of Swords in her environment that perhaps she’s met a few duds and it has reinforced old fears or created a few new ones.

Let’s put a Court Card here:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - Hopes and Fears position - example four

A Court Card can indicate that she may have a particular type of person that she’s hoping for. The stable King of Pentacles could indicate that she’s hoping to meet someone who is mature, grounded, and financially secure. If that card were reversed, it might indicate that she was worried about meeting someone just like her ex – or perhaps she may have fears about broke-ass men coming into her life.

What about a totally fearful card? Let’s look at this example:

Breaking Down the Celtic Cross - Hopes and Fears position - example five

The Ten of Swords would show a fear of getting hurt or betrayed. If her past relationship involved dishonesty or cheating, she may be scared of this happening again. This could symbolize some major trust issues, which could make it hard for her to enter any relationship with an open mind, even a good one.

Mini tips:

A fearful card here could indicate a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if every single card in the spread is good, a difficult card here indicates that the querent has some work to do around their mindset if they wish to obtain the outcome.

A positive card in this position could also indicate a self-fulfilling prophecy – the kind where you can overcome even the harshest circumstances.

Combine the “Self” position with this card to get a full idea of how the querent is operating and viewing their situation. If both cards are negative, it’s a sign that the querent has a lot of work to do on themselves. Both positive? They’re in the perfect position to materialize their goals.


Grab your tarot journal and your favorite deck.  Lay out the cards up to this point.  What might you learn about your inner hopes or fears? If reading for someone else, what might you glean? Be sure to look at the Self position and the Hopes and Fears position together. In fact, take them out of the spread and do a mini-reading on you, or if reading for another person, the querent.

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 hopes and fears position affect the reading? Is it positive or negative?  What might you learn about the querent’s inner workings if you’re reading for someone else – or about yours if you’re doing a self read? Journal it.



© 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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