The Celtic Cross with example spreads

The Celtic Cross is a universally accepted Tarot card spread used to give an in-depth reading. As with all things Tarot, there are set positions but their interpretations vary amongst readers. I have illustrated below through pictures the Celtic Spread I was taught and use as second nature.  However, if you decide to move on from the original Rider-Waite (Waite-Smith) deck onto a contemporary version there is usually a free Guidebook which may suggest a different interpretations for the Celtic Cross. 

Throughout history, despite many differences the layout has remained constant.  We have the cross itself on the left with the column to the right, they are the female and male.  If you place them together you have a complete Celtic cross. 

The system for interpreting the cards is an aspect of how we are initially taught to read the spread with what feels right. My method is not necessarily the ‘right’ one for others but it’s the ‘right’ one for me, and this is the one I share with you in the images below.  

However, in the interests of completion, I thought you might also be interested in the popular position interpretations from the original Rider-Waite (Waite-Smith) taken from his book The Pictorial Key to The Tarot, published in 1910.  His method is called the ‘Ancient Celtic Method of Divination’ with the following positions:

  1. That covers him 
  2. What crosses him 
  3. What crowns him 
  4. What is beneath him
  5. What is behind him
  6. What is before him (future)
  7. Himself
  8. His House
  9. His hopes or fears
  10. What will come

As a small caution, whichever method you use will become second nature and it’s difficult to change once it’s established. Maybe like learning to drive again?! I failed to change when a colleague suggested that I try Waite’s format. So, I suggest that initially you pick from these two styles and stick with it. You can always create your very own spread at a later date if you wish to change it at all. 


Some readers lay a signficator  (person who is having the reading) under number 1 (selected from the Court cards) but I don’t because they are sat in front of me, so we’re good!

  1. The key to the reading.  What’s at the heart of the matter?
  2. What obstacles are in the way?
  3. What is at the root of their reading, what is hidden in the depths? 
  4. Recent past.  What’s led them to question what’s going on?
  5. Now.  What’s happening now or during next 3 months
  6. Future.  From 3 months to 6 months time.
  7. Influence/ Environment.  This is what they are surrounded by or within.
  8. Their self perception.  How they view themselves as a person.
  9. Wishes/Fears.  What is it that they want?  Or even fear?  It’s something they feel is out of their control.
  10. The final outcome.  

The Celtic Cross is a powerful and informative spread.  It never fails to amaze either myself or clients!  I hope that you enjoy working with it.  Below are two examples that I share from live readings so that you can gain a better understanding.

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