Celtic Cross Unveiled: Explaining The Positions of the Most Famous Tarot Spread


The Celtic Cross spread stands as a timeless cornerstone in the realm of Tarot, revered for its intricate design and unparalleled ability to unravel the complexities of life’s tapestry. As one of the most renowned and versatile spreads in the tarot deck, its origins shrouded in mystery, yet its impact resonates across centuries of divinatory practice.

In the mystical realm of Tarot readings, the Celtic Cross reigns supreme, offering seekers a profound journey through the interconnected realms of past, present, and future, but also (sub)conscious impacts, querent’s attitudes and surroundings, his hopes and fears, as well as potential outcomes. Its ten-card layout serves as a portal, granting access to a comprehensive landscape of insights, unveiling hidden influences, and shedding light on the intricate threads weaving together the fabric of one’s destiny.

Join us as we embark on an exploration of this enigmatic spread, delving into its history, unraveling its significance, and uncovering the secrets it holds. Discover how this ancient arrangement of cards serves as a guiding compass, providing clarity and guidance through life’s labyrinthine paths.

The explanation of the Celtic Cross spread

The Celtic Cross is one of the most famous and widely used spreads in tarot readings, offering a comprehensive overview of a situation or a specific question. It consists of ten cards laid out in a specific pattern:

1st Position: The Central Issue of the Question

This card represents the present situation, and sometimes even the querent (the person asking the question). You can read about Significators here to have feel what Significator best suits you in a specific situation. Traditionally, the significator in a tarot spread represents the querent, but it doesn’t have to be limited to court cards. While court cards are often chosen to represent specific characteristics or traits of the person seeking the reading, any card from the deck can serve as a significator.

In the Celtic Cross tarot spread, the first card typically represents the current situation or the central issue the person seeking the reading is facing. It’s the focal point, providing context for the other cards drawn in the spread. This card can signify the present circumstances, the energies surrounding the individual, or the question they have in mind.

The interpretations of this card can vary based on its specific placement within the spread and the surrounding cards. For example, if it’s an Ace of Cups, it might symbolize new beginnings or emotional fulfillment. If it’s a card like the Tower, it could indicate unexpected change or upheaval in the person’s life.

The interpretation of this card depends on various factors, including the specific tarot deck used, the reader’s intuition, and the querent’s question or circumstances. It might indicate challenges, opportunities, emotions, or influences at play. For instance:

Major Arcana vs. Minor Arcana: A Major Arcana card in this position could suggest significant life lessons or powerful external forces shaping the situation. Minor Arcana cards might represent more day-to-day influences.
Reversed or Upright: Reversed cards might imply internal issues or blocked energy related to the situation, while upright cards often indicate a more direct or open expression of their energy.

2nd Position: The Crossing Card

The Crossing card in the Celtic Cross spread holds a pivotal role, serving as a focal point that highlights challenges, obstacles, or conflicting energies intersecting with the querent’s current situation. Placed over the first card – the central issue of the question, it symbolizes what’s directly affecting or hindering the individual at the present moment.

This card embodies the primary challenge or obstacle that the querent faces. Its position offers insights into what might be blocking progress or influencing the circumstances described by the initial card. The Crossing card can represent internal or external conflicts, contrasting energies, or hidden factors impacting the situation.

Interpreting the Crossing card involves examining its symbolism, imagery, and inherent meaning in conjunction with the First card. It prompts the reader to explore how this challenge or obstacle intersects with the querent’s life and how it might be approached or resolved.

This card often holds clues on how to navigate or overcome the challenge, providing valuable insights and guidance for the querent to address the issue at hand. Additionally, the Crossing card’s interaction with surrounding cards in the spread helps contextualize and understand its significance within the broader scope of the reading.

3rd Position: The Recent Past Card

This card is placed left to the First card card and sheds light on recent events or influences that have led to the current situation. It gives context to what has transpired and may still impact the present.

The Recent Past card provides a temporal context, shedding light on recent events or influences that have a direct connection to the present circumstances. It helps in understanding the chain of events that have led to the current situation. So, by knowing what has recently transpired, this card aids in understanding how past events or decisions might be impacting the current state of affairs. It links the past to the present, providing a more comprehensive view of the situation.

What’s interesting about the Recent past card is that it often highlights recurring patterns or themes in the individual’s life. It might indicate habits, behaviors, or situations that have recurred, impacting the current scenario. And then again, this card can signify experiences or lessons learned from recent events. It offers wisdom or insights gained from past situations, serving as guidance on how to approach the present circumstances.

The Recent Past card often validates the person’s feelings or suspicions about how certain events have unfolded. It provides validation or clarity regarding what they might have already sensed about recent happenings. So, by understanding the recent past can also assist in making informed decisions for the future. If there were mistakes or challenges in the recent past, this knowledge can aid in making necessary adjustments or changes moving forward.

4th Position: Immediate Future

This card is placed to the right side of the First card and provides insight into what is likely to happen in the near future.

This card signifies events, energies, or influences that are about to unfold in the immediate future. It provides a sneak peek into what might transpire based on the present course of action or circumstances. But remember, this card focuses on the short-term outcomes or developments, usually within the coming days, weeks, or a few months and doesn’t predict the distant future but offers insights into the next steps or events in the foreseeable future.

Depending on the card drawn, it might indicate a continuation of the current path or suggest the need for a course correction. It serves as guidance on potential outcomes, allowing individuals to make adjustments if necessary. As such, the immediate future card helps in anticipating potential developments and allows individuals to mentally prepare for what’s coming, empowering them to approach situations with a clearer understanding. So, if the card reveals challenges or opportunities in the immediate future, it provides a chance to adapt strategies or actions accordingly. It offers foresight, empowering individuals to navigate upcoming situations more effectively.

5th Position: The Crowning Card

Positioned above the First card, this card represents aspirations, goals, or the best possible outcome. It indicates what the person hopes to achieve or the ideal result. Some readers also call this position the Higher Power Card because it represents influences from the spiritual or higher realms that could aid (your strengths) or hinder (your weaknesses) in the specific situation. This is the card that represents spiritual influences, unseen forces, or elements beyond the querent’s immediate control that might impact the situation being queried about.

This card often embodies energies from the divine, spiritual guidance, or cosmic influences that might be at play in the querent’s life. It suggests a connection to a higher purpose, fate, destiny, or a greater plan that could be influencing the circumstances.

To sum up, the Higher Power card often signifies divine guidance and as such suggests spiritual or divine intervention, indicating that there might be unseen forces at work guiding the situation. And some say that this card might indicate karmic patterns or the influence of past actions shaping the present circumstances. As such, it can point towards a larger plan or destiny unfolding, emphasizing that some events might be beyond human control.

6th Position: The Foundation Card

This card represents the root cause or the foundation of the situation and is as such meaningfully placed beneath the First card. It reveals underlying influences, past events, or factors contributing to the current circumstances.
The foundation card reveals the core reason or source of the situation. It could signify past events, experiences, or decisions that have shaped the present circumstances. Understanding this card helps in gaining clarity about what’s at the heart of the matter.

This card can also represent deep influence as it stands for the subconscious or hidden factors that might not be immediately apparent but play a crucial role in the situation. This card often delves into emotions, beliefs, or patterns that have a profound impact on the current state of affairs.

The Foundation card can also shed light on historical events or past experiences that continue to exert influence. It might highlight unresolved issues or past actions that are still affecting the present.

What’s interesting about the Foundation cardthat it can indicate (in)stability of the situation. This of course depends on the card drawn and a positive card could indicate a solid and stable foundation that supports the situation, or when the card is not that positive, it might suggest instability and vulnerabilities that need addressing. This card helps in assessing the solidity or fragility of the circumstances.

It is important to understand the Foundation card because it provides context for the rest of the reading. It helps in linking the past to the present and gives depth to the subsequent cards, aiding in a comprehensive interpretation of the overall situation. Sometimes, the Foundation card offers guidance on how to address the issue by identifying its root cause. It can point towards necessary actions or changes needed to resolve the situation positively.

7th Position: The Self-Perception Card

The seventh position in the Celtic Cross spread is positioned the bottom of the column that is formed on the right side of the initial cross. The Self-Perception card in the Celtic Cross spread illuminates how the individual views themselves in relation to the current situation or question. Positioned within the spread, it offers insights into the person’s attitudes, beliefs, and feelings regarding their role or identity in the circumstances.

This card reflects the individual’s self-awareness and perception of themselves within the context of the situation. It reveals their conscious or subconscious beliefs about their role, capabilities, or how they fit into the scenario. The seventh position in the Celtic Cross also might indicate how they see themselves as a participant, influencer, or bystander in the situation. As such, the Self-Perception card often sheds light on the person’s emotional state or mindset regarding the situation. It can show their confidence, doubts, fears, or hopes about their involvement or impact on the circumstances. This card can highlight the person’s awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, or areas they need to work on and offer insights into their self-assessment within the context of the situation.

It’s important to note that the Self-Perception card might not always align with the objective reality of the situation, because it represents the individual’s subjective view, which might differ from how others perceive them or the actual events unfolding.

Whatever the card on this position, the positive understanding one’s self-perception allows for reflection and potential empowerment. It can encourage individuals to align their self-perception with their goals or to work on aspects that might be hindering their progress.

8th Position: The External Influences Card

This card is placed in the column to the right, above the 7th card. The External Influences Card signifies external forces or people impacting the situation. It could represent friends, family, events, or energies outside the person’s control affecting the matter.

This card signifies influences that are beyond the querent’s immediate sphere—people, events, or situations that are affecting the matter at hand. It could represent friends, family, societal norms, or larger forces at play.

This card offers insights into how others or external factors are impacting the situation. This could include opinions, pressures, or actions from people or entities not directly involved in the reading.

What’s interesting about this position is that it may reveal hidden or subconscious influences that the querent might not be fully aware of but are nevertheless shaping the circumstances. This card can also validate the querent’s suspicions about external influences or bring to light factors they might not have considered. This card can create awareness of the impact of external elements on the situation.

This card encourages the querent to consider the perspectives and actions of others in relation to their situation. Understanding external influences helps in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics at play and can prompt the querent to adapt their approach or strategies to navigate the influences that are beyond their direct control.

9th Position: The Hopes and Fears Card

This card is perhaps one of the trickiest to interpret because it represents the person’s hopes, fears, or expectations related to the situation. It highlights what they desire or worry about regarding the outcome. The Hopes and Fears card often indicates a duality of emotions. It shows that the querent might have mixed feelings or conflicting desires about the situation, wishing for one outcome while fearing another. Therefore, sometimes, this card reveals inner conflicts or hesitations within the querent’s mind. It could indicate doubts or uncertainties that they are grappling with regarding the choices or potential outcomes. The card might uncover both the conscious and subconscious desires of the querent. It could reveal deeper longings or fears that the querent might not be fully aware of on a conscious level.

Positioned to the side of the cross above the 8th card, the Hopes and Fears Card highlights the conflicting or complementary feelings the querent has about the outcome. When the card is about the hopes, it signifies the querent’s aspirations, desires, and optimistic expectations related to the situation. It embodies what the querent wishes for or the ideal outcome they are hoping to achieve. However, when the cards represents fears, this aspect of the card reflects the anxieties, concerns, or reservations the querent has about the situation. It embodies what the querent is afraid might happen or the outcomes they wish to avoid.

Understanding the hopes and fears can shed light on how the querent might be shaping their actions or decisions based on these emotions. It affects their approach to the situation and the choices they make.

10th Position: The Outcome or Final Result

In the Celtic Cross spread, the 10th position signifies the outcome or the probable culmination of the situation based on the energies, influences, and actions outlined in the previous cards. This Outcome card offers insights into the likely result or conclusion of the matter being explored.

The Outcome card represents the potential resolution or final result based on the current trajectory of events and energies. It’s important to note that outcomes in tarot are not set in stone but rather offer a glimpse of what might manifest if things continue as they are.

This card could also signify the culmination or final manifestation of the energies, influences, and actions outlined in the previous cards. It sums up the overall trajectory of the situation and could as such serve as guidance or a warning about the potential consequences of the current path. If the outcome appears unfavorable, it can prompt the querent to reconsider their actions or decisions.

Depending on the card drawn, the Outcome Card can signify closure, resolution, or the continuation of the situation. It offers a sense of closure if the situation has been challenging or provides assurance if things are progressing positively. And the Outcome card can help the querent understand how their present actions or decisions might lead to specific results. It enables them to adapt their approach or make changes if they wish to alter the predicted outcome. Therefore, a positive Outcome card can instill hope and confidence, while a challenging one might prompt the querent to prepare for potential challenges or make necessary adjustments.

What Are The Possible Combinations of the Positions in The Celtic Cross Spread?

In the Celtic Cross spread, each position represents a specific aspect of the situation, and the combination of these positions creates unique interpretations. While there are numerous possible combinations, here’s a brief overview of some key interactions between positions that often yield meaningful insights.

These combinations provide a nuanced understanding of the challenges, influences, perspectives, and potential outcomes within the context of the querent’s question or situation, without directly involving the First card – the central issue of the reading.

Crossing Card & Foundation: Focuses on the challenge or obstacle and its roots, revealing the underlying cause of the obstacle.

Recent Past & Crossing Card: Explores how recent events or influences are contributing to the current challenge or obstacle.

Above & Foundation: Reflects the desired outcome and its connection to the foundational aspects or root causes of the situation.

Immediate Future & Crossing Card: Indicates potential developments or challenges in the near future related to the current obstacle.

Self-Perception & Crossing Card: Reveals how the individual’s self-view might impact or relate to the challenge they’re facing.

External Influences & Crossing Card: Highlights external factors contributing to or exacerbating the current challenge or obstacle.

Hopes and Fears & Foundation: Explores the conflicting emotions or desires in relation to the root causes of the situation.

Outcome & Crossing Card: Offers insights into the potential resolution or culmination of the challenge based on the current obstacles and energies.

And here we can focus on the combinations which do take the Central Issue in focus:

the Central Issue & Crossing Card: Interaction between these cards highlights the central challenge or obstacle in the current situation.

Foundation & the Central Issue: Reveals the root cause or underlying influences shaping the current circumstances.

Recent Past & the Central Issue: Indicates how past events have led to the present situation.

Above & the Central Issue: Reflects the desired or ideal outcome and its relationship to the current situation.

Immediate Future & the Central Issue: Offers insights into what’s about to unfold in the near future based on the current situation.

Self-Perception & the Central Issue: Highlights how the individual perceives themselves within the context of the issue at hand.

External Influences & the Central Issue: Reveals outside factors impacting the person or situation.

Hopes and Fears & the Central Issue: Represents the querent’s conflicting emotions or desires in relation to the situation.

Outcome & the Central Issue: Shows the potential culmination or result based on the current energies and actions.

What Are The Origins Of The Celtic Cross Spread?

The Celtic Cross spread is probably one of the most used and most known Tarot spreads, but the exact origins and the creator of the Celtic Cross spread are not definitively documented. It’s believed to have emerged in the late 19th or early 20th century, likely in Europe, but the specific creator remains unknown.

Arthur Edward Waite, a prominent figure in the tarot community due to his involvement in creating the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, contributed significantly to the popularization of tarot and various spreads, but there’s no direct evidence linking him to the creation of the Celtic Cross spread.

This spread gained prominence and popularity over time due to its versatility and ability to provide a comprehensive reading, but its original creator remains a mystery within the evolution of tarot practices.

When Is Best To Use The Celtic Cross Spread?

The Celtic Cross spread is a versatile and widely used tarot spread, often employed for general readings or when a querent seeks comprehensive insight into a specific situation or question. It is important to put some thought into the formulation of the question you wish to ask – focus and meditation on the question does bring best results.

Experience has proved that the Celtic Cross spread is particularly useful when you’re searching for depth and detail in a specific matter. The spread itself contains 10 positions, therefore provides a detailed and nuanced understanding of various aspects of the querent’s life or a specific issue. As such, the Celtic Cross can explore complex situations, so when the question or situation is multi-layered, the Celtic Cross offers a comprehensive view by examining different influences and factors at play.

When you’re looking for guidance and insight on a particular matter, I always suggest Celtic Cross, because it covers past influences, present challenges, subconscious effects, your role, the effect of the environment, your hopes and fears, and potential outcomes. Because of its multi-layered approach, the Celtic Cross spread helps provide guidance and clarity on a wide range of concerns. So, for matters involving relationships, major life decisions, or significant changes, this spread can reveal underlying dynamics and potential outcomes – it really is a great approach to help you analyze relationships or major life changes. The Celtic Cross can also offer insights into both immediate and future events, making it helpful when time frames are of interest.

However, it’s essential to note that the Celtic Cross can be quite intricate and might not be the best choice for straightforward questions that require a quick yes/no answer. And to be honest, I always fringe when people ask me such questions and for those types of inquiries, simpler spreads or techniques might be more suitable.


The Celtic Cross tarot spread offers a comprehensive view of a situation, providing insights into various aspects like challenges, past influences, external forces, hopes, and likely outcomes. With ten cards representing different facets, it serves as a powerful tool for gaining clarity and understanding. Each card’s position offers a specific perspective, ultimately guiding the querent toward a deeper understanding of their circumstances and potential paths forward. The spread encourages reflection, adaptation, and informed decision-making, empowering individuals to navigate their challenges or inquiries with more awareness and insight.