Strategies for Reading the Celtic Cross

photoThe Celtic Cross (CC) is certainly one of the most ubiquitous of tarot spreads. Almost every deck made contains in its LWB a diagram and instructions for the execution of the CC, with only a few newer decks trying to strike away from that tendency by including other spreads. The CC, while perhaps cliché at this point, is still an incredibly useful tool. I used to feel cookie-cutter and boring for using this spread to the degree that I do, but I have found that its reliability and accuracy are just too good to pass up.



Here are 5 Strategies that I use when reading the CC that you might want to try for yourself.

1.) Do things one at a time first, then string them together.

Whenever we read we are playing the role of story teller. The first thing we need to be aware of then is who our individual characters are, what the general plot points are, and how the situation begins and ends. The Celtic Cross is very effective in spelling all this out for us automatically. Your querent is represented predominantly by the central cross of the first two cards and the perspective card (#7). Try to understand what each card in your spread represents by itself first, and then draw patterns using the tips below.

2.) Consider patterns using Resonance. Look for connections.

No living thing is separate from another. Tarot, being a reflection of both the individual and the world, both of which are interconnected living things, must also be inclusive. Feel out which cards “resonate” with each other by grouping them in categories. These can be decided upon intuitively or more academically. I prefer a combination of both.

3.) Evaluate the overall energy of the reading. 

You can do this just by looking at the colors. Allow your eyes to take in the entire reading, and listen to what you feel in response. Whether the cards are mostly bright, gloomy, or a mix of both, use this observation to get an intuitive “gist” of what’s going on. This way you can be more prepared to suggest ways to bring more positive energy into the reading, and also to locate where the bad energy is and what to do with it.

4.) Use the Tree of Life and astrology for guidance. 

Even if Kabbalah or occultism isn’t your thing, I highly recommend learning about these in some degree, as they can greatly inform your reading style. Knowing the elements that make up a given card allow you to make connections and patterns between it and other cards in your spread. This is what I call “resonance.” For instance, if you have IX The Hermit in your reading and you want to know whether or not it represents taking care of oneself or isolation, you could look for other cards that may share the energy of the Hermit – either other earth cards, other cards associated with Virgo, or Mercury, or you may even consider any 2’s or 6’s you have your reading to be connected with him (as the path of the Hermit connects Chokhmah and Tiphareth). It all depends on what your intuition gives you and points you towards. A connection could be strong enough to permeate a reading, or weak enough to only give you a brief whispering of information. Either way, you can use these hints as you feel fit to give a more holistic and penetrating reading.

Knowing your esoteric background also helps you deal more effectively with querents who may not understand why something is the way you say it is. If you can say to them something like, “It’s because you have a lot of Mars in your reading,” or, “Kabbalistically, these two cards are connected,” your querent will trust you more, and also be able to better absorb the real meat of what you’re saying.

5.) Look for pictures created by your groupings. 

Sometimes if there are a lot of connections and relationships I’ve discovered in a reading, I can start to look at it like a Rorschach test. For instance, you may notice that the querent’s fire cards are seemingly crossing and interfering with a perfectly straight line of water cards. Seeing this, you might say that the person’s work is disrupting their social life, or is possibly even shaking up a happy relationship. It all depends on context, but with this method you can let your mind wander and discover things about the querent’s situation that you might not have gotten just by looking at the cards as isolated “islands.”


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