When to Use the Celtic Cross Spread

When to use the celtic cross spread

The Celtic Cross Spread is an essential tool for many Tarot readers. But for a Tarot newbie it can be overwhelming. While it’s true that this in-depth ten card spread is basically the jackknife of Tarot spreads, there are certain questions the Celtic Cross is more appropriate for than others.

If you’re wondering when to use the Celtic Cross spread – the answer is for just about everything, even when you don’t have a specific question in mind. The Celtic Cross can be used for everything from manifesting your goals to gaining insight on romantic relationships to discovering your life path. 

While the Celtic Cross is referenced in any beginner Tarot resource worth reading – authors rarely delve into the question of when to use it. 

When it comes to reading Tarot – vague questions beget vague answers and using the right spread for the right question is a must.

Whether you’re an experienced professional in need of a refresher or a newbie who simply wants to learn more about when you should use the Celtic Cross – we’ve got you covered! 

In this article, I want to focus on when to use the Celtic Cross Spread. To get more details about the Celtic Cross Spread, read this article that discusses each position and its meanings.

Celtic Cross Spread: A Brief History 

The Celtic Cross is probably the most well-known of all Tarot Spreads. It is often used by professionals and novices alike due to its flexibility, adaptability, and ability to provide comprehensive answers to the seeker on almost any topic. 

The Celtic Cross is a 10-card Tarot spread made famous by Arthur Edward Waite – co-creator of 

the widely used Rider-Waite Tarot deck – in his seminal 1910 Tarot guide, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. 

While its true origins are murky – Waite claimed in his guide that the Celtic Cross is “a short process which has been used privately for many years past in England, Scotland, and Ireland.” He referred to it as an “Ancient Celtic Method of Divination”. 

Waite advised Tarot readers that the Celtic Cross was best suited for “obtaining an answer to a definite question,” but also said that it will “serve all purposes”. He then went into a fairly detailed guide of when and how to use the Celtic Cross.  

(The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is now in the public domain, and available for free online on any number of websites. Just Google it, and you can download your very own copy legally. It’s a true must-have for every Tarot enthusiast.)

As an example of when to use the Celtic Cross spread, Waite asked, “Will a lawsuit be necessary,” and suggested using the Major Arcana card of Justice as a significator card to represent the law. 

In Waite’s classic Celtic Cross spread the cards are laid out as shown in the illustration.

Many modern-day Tarot readers have adapted Waite’s version of the Celtic Cross to suit their purposes and you can too. 

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Celtic Cross Spread Could be Considered the Jack Knife of Tarot Spreads

The Celtic Cross can be used for just about any question under the sun – even if you don’t have a specific question in mind! (Although, like all things Tarot, the clearer your question is, the clearer the answer will be).  

The key to properly interpreting this spread – and knowing when to use it – is to remember that the cards reveal a narrative.

You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to interpret each card on its own, one at a time, so it’s really important to be familiar with the Tarot cards and their meanings before delving into the Celtic Cross. 

Check out these 2 articles that provide details about the meanings of the Major and Minor Arcana and some strategies to quickly learn how to read these cards:

Table of Contents

Questions about Relationships

Whether you want to know if that handsome hippy who DM’ed you on Instagram is a potential soulmate, whether or not your current relationship will work out, or even for insight into a business relationship or friendship – the Celtic Cross can shed light on the situation.

While every Tarot reader has their own code of ethics – it’s best to make these kinds of questions about you and what’s in your control (eg. “What will my love life look like over the next month?”) vs. how the other person feels about you (“Will Mo fall in love with me?”).

I’ve written a couple of articles related to Tarot and love:

General Tarot Forecasts 

Sometimes you don’t know what you want to know, and that’s OK. You can use the Celtic Cross for general readings – or Tarot forecasts – of what the near future holds. 

For example, you could ask what life will look like over the next six months. When you use the Celtic Cross for general reading – look to the Tarot suits to guide you on major focus areas.

For example, if pentacle cards dominate the reading, then your focus will be on money and material things. If there’s a mix of suits, look for what is missing to guide you. 

For example, if you don’t see many (or any) cups in your Celtic Cross it could mean that your love life will take a backseat in the near future.

If Major Arcana cards dominate the Celtic Cross spread – it means that you should pay attention as life-altering events will likely occur soon.

If it’s mostly Minor Arcana Tarot cards then it will probably be a fairly uneventful period. (Which isn’t a bad thing! Most of daily life is accurately represented by the Minors). 

Manifest Your Goals 

Did you know that you can use the Tarot to help you to manifest your goals and make your dreams a reality? With a few modifications, the Celtic Cross can even serve as a life path map. This is truly a unique way to use the Celtic Cross Spread that I haven’t seen anywhere else!

Choose the version you like best (or create your own). The only difference in the method is that you will intentionally choose each card to represent the position and lay it face up.

For example – if your goal is to build lasting wealth for generations to come – you may want to choose the ten of Pentacles for the outcome position to represent that.

It’s important to be deliberate and intentional about each card you choose. Once all the cards are laid out in the Celtic Cross and modified for manifestation – you’ll have a road map for achieving your dreams.

For more details about manifesting your desires, read these articles:

When Not to Use the Celtic Cross Spread

While the Celtic Cross is one of the most insightful spreads available to you – there are times when you should consider using another spread.

If You’re a Total Beginner 

If you’re new to the Tarot and still need to look up every card meaning then this ten-card spread can be overkill. You’ll be better off practicing with simple 1-3 card spreads until you know the cards so well that you don’t need keywords or anything to jog your memory.  

That said, you can still use it to practice by recording the cards and their meanings in a diary. As you gain more experience you can look back and see if your interpretations were right. 

When Anxious or depressed 

You definitely should not use the Celtic Cross spread when you’re feeling anxious, depressed, angry, or otherwise out of sorts. Actually, it’s best to avoid any divination tool when you’re feeling emotional as the cards will more than likely reflect your mood and fail to give you an accurate reading.

Do you want to see the Tower as the outcome in a relationship reading when you’re already in a funk? 

For times like this, you could cleanse your cards and your space.  Here are a few examples of when to use the Celtic Cross Spread. 

Doing some of these activities can help you to get centered and feel better.  Sometimes, just shuffling your cards, and looking and studying the cards can have a meditative effect.  Try it.

For Questions, You Don’t Want Answers to

As mentioned earlier, every Tarot reader has their own code of ethics and subject matters they will and won’t read on. For many, questions about health, life or death, pregnancy, and legal matters are big no-nos. 

While this is a no-judgment zone – if you do decide to read on taboo subjects or ask questions you don’t really want answers to – then prepare yourself mentally for the worst-case scenarios.

If you’re a professional, be very careful using the Celtic Cross – or any Tarot spread – for questions, your client may be better off not knowing answers to. 

Related to some of these questions, I’ve written a few articles for further review:

To Ask the Same Questions Again and Again

In general, the Celtic Cross spread is too much to use daily. It also doesn’t work if you keep asking the same question until you get the answer you want. It’s best to ask once and then let the situation unfold.

If it’s something long-term – you shouldn’t use the Celtic Cross on the same question more than once a month. 

Remember, we all have free will. While the Celtic Cross can be a valuable tool to help us gain insight into our lives – as long as we know when to use it – the cards that fall are not set in stone.

Like all spreads, the Celtic Cross tells us what may be, based on our current life path. If you change your situation, you can change the outcome and your fate.

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