Celtic Cross In Depth

Celtic-Cross-Tarot-Reading

A Note: This spread and the Tarot itself are being explored here primarily in a psycho-spiritual capacity, not in a standard divinatory capacity which means that the insights given here are not so much concerned with the fortunes or misfortunes of the individual and their outcomes but with the inner workings of life and mind as they are playing out within the individual and their surrounding experience. What is important in such an approach is the meaning and the personal opportunities for inner growth afforded by the circumstances as depicted by the Tarot. The Tarot examples in this article are imagined based upon Tarot Marseille or any deck wherein the Minor Arcana are not represented as scenes, unless otherwise stated.

1. the heart of the matter at hand, the essence of the circumstances

This card opens the door to what is occurring for the querent and while it may refer to very concrete and observable events it defines the essence of their life circumstances right now and if a particular question was asked then it reveals the essence of the question, the true nature of what is happening. For example if The Emperor came up then it could imply that the person is dealing with their internal-external kingdom and how to manage it, how best to wield the power they have; if reversed it may mean a misuse of power is occurring or a lackluster and lackadaisical attitude is prevailing that is causing their world to crumble and so on. If the three of wands appeared then it may indicate the nature of their circumstances boils down to spontaneity, risk taking, exploring creative potentials in a simple manner. 

The suit of the card denotes the general theme of what is occurring: material concerns (pentacles), feelings & desires (cups), will/individualism (wands), or mental/conceptual (swords). Additionally every Tarot practitioner ought to know the finer intricacies of the four suits and the four elements. The four elements only loosely correspond to the four suits, meaning the association is useful only to the extent that it adds interpretative depth but it is questionable to demand that the four suits of the tarot conform to the nature of the four classical elements. The traditional associations are:

  • pentacles = earth
  • cups = water
  • wands = fire
  • swords = air

Some of the subtle aspects of the four suits are:

  • pentacles = practicality, durability, stability, dependability, labours, survival, physical health, lands and property (both moveable and immovable), business etc.
  • cups = rejuvenation, regeneration, healing, rest, psychic phenomenon, mystical experiences, love (immature/hormonal, longing, universal/compassionate), artistry, grief & sadness, receptivity, sattvoguna
  • wands = will & power, magic, manipulation, growth, vitality and vital energies, sexual potency and capacity, sexual urges, desires associated with conquest and personal achievement, individualism, movement, battles, creativity, rajoguna
  • swords = focus, intuition, control, ideology, wisdom, meditation, transmutation, refinement, discovery, mental processes, ideology, objectivity, coldness, aloofness, suffering and anxiety, schisms, destruction, tamoguna

*some of these ideas may overlap or be applicable to more than one suit

If the first card is a Major Arcanum it sets an intense tone for the rest of the spread and implies that something a bit more intense or even profound is at work in the person’s life and query than a fleeting issue or change. Major Arcana evoke themes of integrity, growth, crisis, power, major questions about life and ones place in it and so on. In fact any position (in any type of spread) that features a Major Arcanum automatically becomes more important and a kind of nexus of power. Thus even if the rest of the spread does not contain any Major Arcanum, there is likely something more substantial contained within the heart of the question (this first position in the spread), even if on the surface level it appears not to be the case.

If this card is a court card then it generally means some specific person is very important in the scheme of things. This card should be taken both as a person and as a psychological message, for the important people in our lives always reflect something within ourselves:

    • a king may denote a need to learn responsibility and using one’s powers wisely and justly, to attend to one’s career or public life;
    • a queen suggests organization and management of resources, nurturing, a need for receptivity or being too open, and deals with the private sphere;
    • a knight suggests movement, discovery, exploration, and self initiated or self directed change in life, a battle;
    • a page evokes playfulness and youthful activities, study and learning, carelessness and innocence.

This logic can be applied to any position in a spread these cards appear. Furthermore if the card clearly represents a person’s spouse or the person they are dating, or any external person (a boss, an adversary, a friend, a co-worker etc.) then the psychological dimensions of the card are more subtle yet still present. In such cases the psychological essence of the court card is being triggered by another person in the life of the querent. Pages are to be regarded as being capable of representing either gender (male-female) depending upon the context and are generally androgynous. For example if a queen appears in the heart of the matter position then it may well refer to the querent’s mother. Assuming this is the case then the theme of nurturing and feeling nourished in life may be the true essence of what is going on, rather than the literal mother alone.

As stated under card 0 (see addendum), one may use a significator card (one of the court cards) over which this first card is laid atop. If the significator card is in harmony or disharmony with the first card then a good deal of information is provided. An interesting situation arises if the significator is a queen or king and card 1 is The Empress or Emperor respectively, for then one is definitely challenged to expand their capacities, redefine what it means to have and wield power and so on. Additionally consider the knights relative to The Chariot and the pages relative to The Magician.

2. that which crosses one’s path

This card may help or hinder the first card. Positionally it is entirely neutral, meaning its true purpose is only understood through its relationship to the first card. Rarely is a tarot reading sought because everything is going swimmingly for a person. In fact the opposite is generally the case and as a result the crossing card often shows an obstacle or a disruption that needs to be overcome and assimilated so that the heart of the matter card’s agenda may proceed. However we must be careful to never assume that position 2 is just an annoying obstacle in the path . Cards 2 & 1 form the core structure of the cross and therefore card 2 is, in many respects, just as important as card 1 and it is by their relationship and an understanding of it that the rest of the spread can be properly understood.

Take an example in which card 1 is Arcanum II (High Priestess) and so the heart of the matter may be about the person listening to their inner voice, becoming introspective, absorbing and living certain teachings or philosophies. Now the card crossing ought to tell us about something that needs to be done in order to facilitate this. Card 2 may be an obstacle or it may be a demand to pay attention to something or finish some task. If card 2 is the ace of wands then the person is being called to take more initiative or heed any intuitive promptings or creative urges that may appear from seemingly nowhere. If card 2 is Arcanum V (The Hierophant) then the the agenda of card 1 (Arcanum II) may be being interfered with by the traditions of the querent, or their dogma, or their dependence upon a teaching or teacher or very alternatively they may need to commit themselves to deeper study of ancient doctrines in order to clear the way for introspection. 

We can in fact join cards 1 & 2 together and take them as jointly explaining the heart of the matter. For example say card 1 is the ten of cups while card 2 is the three of swords. Combining their testimony we might say this reading is about anxiety over attaining complete and enduring fulfillment.

Whatever the case may be one can only know which of the possibilities is most correct by following their intuition as a reader rather than relying on bland and fixed interpretations given in booklets. Some people prefer to go one card at a time while others (usually myself) prefer to put all 10 cards out at once and get a sense of the situation from considering the entirety of the spread. One has to decide what works for themselves. 

Another way to get insights into whether these two cards are in great conflict or are more amenable to one another is to consider their compatibility. For Major Arcana cards this compatibility is little more difficult to determine but a basic starting point can be to consider the agendas of each card. For example The Chariot may have a similar agenda to The Magician, in some cases he may pair well with The Emperor or Empress but is unlikely to pair well with The High Priestess, The Hanged Man, Justice or The Hermit. There are exceptions to every rule of course. Convergence of agenda is always a sign of ease as in a case wherein the first two cards might be The Tower and Judgement (violent upheaval) or The Devil and The Moon (deception). 

In the case of the four suits one can consider the number of the cards in terms of odd numbered cards having the same basic agenda and so too with even numbered cards. We can take it a step further and consider the elements and how they pair with one another:

  • fire + water are inimical to one another (wands & cups)
  • earth + air are inimical to one another (pentacle & swords)
  • fire + air are friendly to one another (wands & swords)
  • water + earth are friendly to one another (cups & pentacles)
  • fire + earth are neutral to one another (wands & pentacles)
  • water + air are neutral to one another (cups & swords)

The masculine suits (swords and wands) tend towards movement into the future, dynamism, extroversion and exerting some force or will onto life. The feminine suits (cups and pentacles) are receptive, tending towards stability, movement into (or based around) the past and continuity. Wands emphasize the powers of the individual while Cups call for surrender to higher powers. Pentacles are practically oriented and define things based upon utility while Swords are hyper focused with regard to more arcane goals and dimensions that emphasize human excellence and the heights of innovation. Exploring how the suits relate to one another (both elementally and non-elementally) provides one a valuable tool for interpretation (especially for decks wherein the suit cards bear no scenic illustrations). As with much that is explored here these ideas are relevant to much more than positions 1 & 2 for all cards in a spread are related to one another, especially those right next to one another!

A further refinement is to see which card is winning over the other based upon the number. Thus if a 6 is drawn first and a 7 crosses it then card 2 is dominating because it is the higher number. However this general rule is subject to being broken depending upon the context and the images on the cards. If card 2 is exceedingly positive while the card 1 was exceedingly negative then card 2 may be interfering with something ill in a positive manner, so again the context needs to be understood. Aces are also generally very powerful even if they are the lowest number and so are also not always subject to this general rule. For Major Arcana it is wise to avoid utilizing this technique for, even though these cards are numbered 0-21, they are very non-linear in their makeup. Generally speaking the Major Arcana are always more powerful than any Minor Arcanum (court cards and the 10 cards of each suit).

In the case of court cards the power hierarchy is generally (from greatest to least): King, Queen, Knight, Page. However Jodorowsky offers a slightly different hierarchy based in a numerological and cyclical understanding of Tarot symbolism and I personally prefer this arrangement myself: Knight, King, Queen, Page (to understand this see his book Way of The  Tarot). However each deck seems to imply its own natural systematization and therefore it is best to consider the deck to see what works best. It would not surprise me if there are certain decks wherein the symbolism makes the kings and queens of equal strength.

Card 2 forms a sort of bridge between cards 4 and 6, and the same can be said for card 1 relative to cards 3 and 5 (positionally speaking the odd pairs with the odd and even with the even as in: 3-1-5 and 4-2-6). This is often a tertiary consideration rather than a primary one. It can be very useful for digging a bit deeper. In a sense card 1 is born out of the relationships between cards 3 & 5 while card 2 is attempting to create momentum from card 4 (the pull of the past) into card 6 (the pull of the future). Card 2 is revealing how the past is transitioning into the future. Alternatively one can see it as an event or state of being that is linking these two pulls (past & future) in the perpetual present. With card 1 it could be said that the emergence of what it refers to somehow links together or is born from card 3 (the unknown influences) and card 5 (the known influences). These cards also refer to the unconscious motivation in the matter (card 3) and the consciously known motivations aka longterm goals and ambitions (card 5). Thus card 1 blends them together or is an attempt to blend them together.

Finally if position 2 is a Major Arcanum then that which crosses one’s path invoking change is some deity, hand of fate or call to destiny etc. (not that this is necessarily something to tell a client but it aids in your understanding and thus your delivery of the information).

3. that which influences from the depths (unconscious influences)

This is one of the more important cards in the spread as it is symbolic of a strong hidden influence on the matter as a whole emanating from something buried deep in ones being, be it the deepest desire, the darkest secret, a repressed urge, even a wonderful but deeply private experience or insight. It is often fruitful to immediately relate it to card 1, 2, or both, and in this respect it can symbolize the root or origin of the entire question or matter at hand. If, for example, card 1 were the five of pentacles and card 3 were Arcanum XIII (aka Death), then obviously the person’s impoverished state (or fear of poverty) is directly related to a fear of death, letting go and radical change. If the situation were reversed then it may mean the person is being forced to change due to trying circumstances and a lack of security in worldly matters or an unconscious belief that stability of any kind is impossible. (If the three of cups (as card 2) were crossing Death then it may mean that a desire for enjoyment or an emotionally immature state is interfering with this change). Card 3 is polarized by card 5, the apparent or known influence (see below).

A Major Arcanum in this position points to a very strong compulsion of destiny/fate at work behind the scenes. A Minor Arcanum suggests generally a pattern of behavior, state of mind, or some specific incident from the past. If it is a court card it means the influence of a particular person from the past is making itself strongly felt, or that a past or unconscious identity is strongly at work (an unconscious identity is one that emerges in certain situations wherein the person becomes one of their parents in the way they show up, an abuser, someone they idolize and emulate, or even perhaps a spirit or a former lifetime). For example the page could suggest a person’s child, or it could suggest the person’s childhood generally or with regard to feeling youthful and optimistic and adventurous.

In some cases this card may not be speaking of the deep past at all, for it could suggest that some dimly sensed or seemingly mysterious desire or state of mind has emerged for the person and powerfully impacted their world. Only the context of the entire spread will make such subtleties clear.

4. that which influences from behind (the recent past reverberating into the present)

Things that have transpired recently have a definite impact upon our present state of mind, for better or worse. A wonderful love affair leaves us with an elevated feeling and excitement which can last for years to come, while a bitter argument can cast us into a pit of anxiety and dread despite it having occurred even long ago. Rarely does this card refer to things having transpired years ago, but there is no reason it could not for the heart and mind pay no heed to the pillars of time the way the body does. It all depends upon how the past is exerting an immediate (and noticeable to the querent) effect upon the present. This card shows the ripples of a prior experience that is still strongly felt now in relation to the matter under investigation.

In a sense it could be considered the root of card 2, just as card 3 is the root of card 1; this is a loose association at best but may open doors for picking up on subtleties. In this regard it can be combined with the testimony of card 3 just as cards 1 & 2 may also be combined into a single testimony. The same can be the case for cards 5 & 6, cards 7 & 8 and cards 9 & 10. 

5. that which influences from above (conscious influence related to goals and actions)

Just as the deep past or unconscious sphere creates a well of energy which feeds our current circumstances, so too do our thoughts about the future, our aspirations, longterm goals and dreams of a better or worse tomorrow constitute a rip tide of consciousness drawing us swiftly into the seas of tomorrow.

This is the card of the longterm future, specifically our thoughts about that future and how we approach it. If this is a very negative card it tends to show that a person has a very pessimistic view of the future and specifically how the circumstances described by the entire spread influence this view of the future. A more positive card shows the opposite. However either type of card can still show something of what the person desires as an outcome to be attained in the distant future beyond demarcations of positive and negative.

On a subtle level this card hints at the types of actions that life, fate or destiny, are demanding of the person. For example: once the eight of swords in the Marseille deck resided here and it was clear that the person had reached the pinnacle of what their meditation practice could really offer them (as 8s deal with perfection and the culmination of activities)Perhaps it was time to find something new or their goals and ambitions were all deeply influenced by this meditation practice for better or worse. Either way an honest exploration of this area, should the person have been willing or capable, may have afforded them with new and transformative insights about their life.

This is also a card that suggests a consciously perceived or known influence by the querent upon the matter at hand. It is what they consciously understand with regard to what is unfolding or what they “think” may be the cause of their problems. Card 3 will always show a more accurate cause, for the branches of the tree always have their origin in its roots, yet card 5 provides important clues that innately reflect card 3. A common example might be a king card in position 5 suggesting an authority figure having some definite effect upon the circumstances the person finds themselves in, and it may mean the querent believes this person to be the chief cause of their dilemma. If card 3 is The Sun reversed, then the deeper cause here is clearly a sense of stunted growth or an inhibited freedom, an innate distrust or dislike of power or an inability to cultivate friendships. In such a case the king in position 5 is merely a surface level or contributing cause of the situation.

In a very general manner it indicates the longterm future based upon what is happening now (and of course this means one assumes that nothing changes and the person follows verbatim what is outlined in the spread). This longterm future is not the same as the final outcome (card 10) for the final outcome is specifically related to the conclusion of the entire affair represented in the spread as a whole as it polarizes card 1 (in an alpha-omega manner). Card 6, is in contrast, the immediate or short term future or more immediate goals and circumstances the person will have to deal with soon. 

Finally it is often useful to think of this card as a symbol of the individual’s will power, and thus their capacity to alter their circumstances, displayed by the rest of the spread. If this is the case for card 5 then card 3 is symbolic of passivity and what one is receiving, how they are being influenced by forces seemingly beyond their control or choosing, and we have a solar-lunar contrast at work.

In contrast to the symbolism alluded to about card 3 being the roots of the tree, card 5 may well be thought of as the branches and card 1 as the fruit. Therefore card 3 can reveal something about what a person is telling themselves about their reality, card 5 shows the actions being taken as a result of these stories and card 1 is the ultimate result that the person is dealing with now. For example a person tells themselves they are unworthy of love (three of cups reversed; card 3) so they find individuals who are cold and abusive (knight of swords reversed; card 5) and the result is that their world is crumbling (The Tower; card 1) (or alternatively they are now beginning to arise out of this cycle in which case card 1 could be Strength either reversed or with a somewhat inhibiting card 2 crossing it).

6. that which influences from the future (what is drawing you forth; the short term trajectory)

The future impacts the present just as much as the past, and this is the card of the near future, meaning the most likely place the current trajectory will take you or the forces pulling you towards a certain situation. In some instances it may be the only thing keeping one afloat as in situations wherein the only thing creating movement for someone is an upcoming job or the continued care of a pet. If it is a challenging card it may mean the person is on the verge of having to confront something seemingly difficult or uncomfortable or that they are attempting to avoid something (as in the case of a reversal here) (of course the so called challenging cards generally offer the most opportunity for internal growth).

It is the immediate future they are manifesting based upon their thoughts, actions and previous states. Whatever it suggests is directly related to cards 1 & 2, and thus it is not to be regarded as a future state divorced from what is happening now. It has to be seen in light of the path outlined by cards 1,2 & 4. It in fact polarizes card 4 and just as card 1 can be viewed as arising out of the relationship between cards 3 and 5, so too the 2nd position can be considered as the child of cards 4 and 6 — the pull of the past and the pull of the future creating a tension that manifests as card 2. In this sense the initial cross (cards 1 & 2) constitute a situation born out of the tensions created by the relationship of the unconscious and the conscious (cards 3 & 5) and that of the past and a future (cards 4 & 6). In reality the only difference in these four positions lies in their respective intensities, meaning that both cards 3 & 4 refer to the past and the unconscious motivations while cards 5 & 6 relate to the future and the conscious motives involved here. Remember that these are subtleties that my not always be useful to think about in the context of the reading and they ought to be employed only when they seem helpful.

Card 6 is also generally that which the person is reaching towards as a way of dealing with the matter at hand (cards 1 & 2). Again it polarizes card 4 and so these two cards ought to be examined as a pair to see where the person is coming from and where they are going. This means that a lot depends upon card 2 because it acts as a bridge between cards 4 and 6. So the person has to deal with what card 2 signifies because it is metaphorically appearing in their path, be it a bridge over water or a large wall that creates the illusion of impenetrability. Thus in order to deal with card 2 the person engages in whatever is symbolized by card 6 and card 2 itself is bursting forth from card 4. Action A (card 4) is giving rise to such and such circumstances (card 2) and necessitates an outcome or action (card 6) (4 thesis, 2 antithesis, 6 synthesis)

7. the state of the querent, strengths and/or weaknesses, determination

Some people regard this as the card of advice, which is appropriate because the state you find yourself in also has bearing upon what you can do to change the situation for the better. This card is, in a sense, the culmination of the preceding 6 cards and basically describes the person’s state of being (mentally, emotionally, physically) due to everything that is transpiring and coming forth!

A Major Arcanum in this position tends to suggest great power and facility to deal with whatever is ailing the person, but this is also relative to any other Major Arcanum that may have appeared earlier. Furthermore it may mean the individual is being swept up in forces they have no control over and no fundamental say in, and this is especially the case if it is any of the cards dealing with momentum and change (Arcana 0, 7, 10, 13, 16), universal/cosmic processes (Arcana 15—21, 8 (Justice)), or stasis (9, 12, 15, 21). 

A Minor Arcanum reveals a sense of what advantages or disadvantages a person has based upon how they see themselves or how they are seeing the situation in relationship to themselves. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck the seven of wands depicts an individual defending themselves against an attack of 6 wands (themselves holding the 7th) and so this would be an obvious case of the querent feeling like they were under attack but perhaps having a good ability to defend themselves. The seven of wands in the Marseille deck could illustrate that the querent possesses a very strong will arising out of a sense of destiny and is very determined to achieve their goals.

A Court Card suggests that the querent is functioning in a social role or is heavily influenced by a particular person such that their own state of individuality has been temporarily eclipsed. If the card naturally aligns with the querent (to be judged in light of cards 0 and 1) then it is generally a sign of personal empowerment, unless it is reversed or if it is inimical or out of line with the rest of the spread. For example if card 1 is The Chariot and card 7 is the king of pentacles then the querent may be having a very difficult time giving up their seat of power due to conservatism or overburdening themselves and so on. On the other hand a knight here would be much more in line with the agenda of The Chariot. 

8. the surrounding environment (people, places, things, but usually the nature of where one finds themselves)

This card directly impacts the card below and vice versa. It is the externalized result or portion of the energies at work in the original 6 cards drawn, as opposed to card 7 which is the internalized outcome. This card often includes within its symbolism the manner in which others are impacting the querent’s life, the more so if it is a court card, yet it also indicates the resources (or lack thereof) the querent has access to due to others, their living or work environment, their spiritual or religious environment, their friend circle and so on.

If this card is a Major Arcanum then it means very powerful forces are present in one’s surrounding environment and one is going to need to pay close attention to their external circumstances (this is in contrast to a Major Arcanum in position 7 which is internal). If position 7 and 8 are both Major Arcanum then one must carefully examine their relationship to see if they are compatible or to see which one is stronger than the other (this can be determined via number but it is better determined intuitively — for example in the Marseille tarot The Empress stares off into space, while The Emperor stares directly at her when placed to the right in the order of cards, which suggests that she has power over him despite her being a lower number). Generally speaking Major Arcana are the strongest, followed by court cards (which have their own gradations as described above) with the remaining cards being the weakest of the three groupings. In the case of the Minor Arcana it is generally a reliable method to see the one with the higher number as being the stronger but with the exception of the aces generally being the strongest of all. 

Always compare card 8 to card 7 and analyze their relationship in terms of basic compatibility factors (compatible elements/suits, odd-even, court card compatibility, etc.). The stronger of the two cards, when they are not compatible, tells us which of the inner reality or the external reality is likely to prevail with regard to the matter inquired about. If they are compatible then the stronger card lets us know where the stronger energies impacting the situation are hailing from (inside or outside). Basically we are comparing the person’s self image or perception of their environment to the environment itself and often how others perceive the person or how the environment they dwell in is actually impacting them rather than how they think it is impacting them.

9. hopes and fears concerning the essential matter at hand

One’s hope is also one’s fear and vice versa (in life a yes is often as scary as a no). Reversed cards tend to emphasize fear, whereas the opposite is the case for upright cards and hope, but often the image and essential nature of the card reveals if there is more hope or fear in general. However often the card below (8) and the card above (10) and the context created by the entire spread can help us more accurately determine which is being emphasized. For example is this card weaker than most others by virtue of cards 8 and 10 being more powerful and by the fact that many other cards are higher numbers, major arcana or court cards? If this is the case it can mean there is a lack of hope or that one’s fears are relatively weak in their influence. It is also permissible to see in this card position a general sense of hope/fear, gain/loss and so on rather than something specific. From this perspective the card defines what is shaping their hopes and fears much like we had already discussed in the previous two positions in terms of the individuals perception/strengths/attitude (card 7) and the activity of the environment (card 8). 

So the sense is “you are afraid or hopeful of X” but usually it is a bit of both. In contrast to card 5, which, when compared with card 9, may be considered our ultimate hope irregardless of what is happening in our life with the other cards, card 9 is specifically related to hopes and fears regarding or influencing the circumstances outlined in the spread as a whole, and again based primarily upon the initial testimony of cards 1 & 2, which are the center piece of the entire matter under investigation.

Another way to present this card to the querent is to describe it as how they think the situation will work out, whether good or ill. This is not often how it actually will work out and it is important to assess this. Both hope and fear are often a huge impediment because they are more directly based in subjective perception rather than what is real.

10. how everything comes together under one general outcome or essence

This is the card to immediately contrast with card 9 because it shows how things tend to work out rather than how we hope or fear they will work out. However, ardent hope or paralyzing fear can destroy an exceedingly negative or positive outcome. Therefore these cards must be carefully examined along the usual lines of analysis described above so that we can properly identify how determined is the type of outcome that this final card suggests.

On top of this it suggests the synthesis of everything that came before. Taking this card together with card 1 shows us the end and the beginning and constitutes a very powerful tool for assessing the essence of the entire situation. If these cards are in powerful harmony, then their synthesis may mitigate the other challenges outlined by the spread.

It is the sense of “all streams are converging here”.

It can be extremely useful to draw one or two more cards to place next to this one in order to get a sense of where this final outcome is taking a person. The same can be said for card 9 (where does one’s hope or fear take them?).

This card is spatially related to card 5. In such a context card 5 can be taken as one’s will power (what one is giving to life) and actions while card 10 suggests what that will power has to contend with. The reverse may be true as well. If card 5 is particularly negative while 10 is positive than card 5 may be interfering with card 10 which means the course the person has set for themself (long term future) is taking them in a questionable direction because it is not in alignment with the natural convergence of energetic streams. For example if card 5 were The Devil, while card 10 where a reversed king, this would indicate that card 5 is indeed blocking the naturally empowering state of card 10. In such a case it may be possible to find practical solutions that can help a person to course correct, although one has to be aware that sometimes what is shown needs to occur the way it is shown and the best the querent can do is to understand what is happening so they do not become a victim internally. 

If both these cards are exceedingly harmonious or exceedingly inharmonious then more confluence exists for the likely outcome and this means that one’s course and the natural destination are in concord for better or worse.

In many respects this can be the most difficult card to interpret because traditionally it implies a fixed outcome for the simple reason that people often do not course correct which means they do not make the internal changes necessary so that an alteration in the course that the river of life is taking them may spontaneously, of its own accord, occur. It is very important to ascertain, by speaking with the client, how this final outcome is already showing up in their lives rather than seeing it a future random event that is unavoidable. This opens the door for discovering ways to harmoniously alter this outcome. To do this we have to ascertain which of the preceding cards is the primary cause of a disharmonious outcome, which cards are supportive of a harmonious outcome and which cards contribute to harmony and disharmony. We touched upon this while discussing the relationship between cards 5 & 10 above but one of the secrets to interpreting any spread is to realize that no card stands alone and that in fact all cards are related to every other card. If card 10 is unsatisfactory then which card, or cards, are primarily responsible for leading one to that outcome? Which cards can support a shift in the outcome by either mitigating the evils of the other cards directly or by bringing forward supportive energies and changing the course indirectly? When the outcome is desirable and supportive to the querent which cards further that support and which cards threaten to overturn its agenda?

In light of this card 10 facilitates the most important dimensions of the reading, that is, awareness of how things are transpiring and what can be done to support or course correct.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far I applaud you. Do not concern yourself with thinking too hard about everything said above or committing it too certainly to memory. The card images ultimately work in a way so as to transcend the apparent order and rigidity of the predefined meanings of the positions in the spread. Very often rational methodology depicted by The Emperor is eclipsed by the irrational (as in non-linear) powers of The Moon, and both of these cards relate to the fourth stage in a cycle of 7, so where a person had learned the rules based upon their relationship to the world (the first series of 7) they must eventually let them go because ultimately Divine order functions intuitively and non-linearly (the last series of 7). What this means is that very often it is good to read the Celtic Cross spread (and any spread) out of order and to not focus too much on either the positional meanings or the standard card meanings themselves. Let the images speak above all else, let the cards tell you their story, rather than the story you believe they ought to depict; see the Celtic Cross as a big collage of colors and characters so as to feel and perceive the essence of the situation. In this way you allow for the logical and intuitive dimensions to blend. Draw additional cards as needed to clarify a single card. If you are feeling bold, take the card that spoke to you most profoundly and make it card number 1 in a brand new Celtic Cross! Most importantly — have fun!

Addendum

0. the significator card

One may optionally utilize a court card (or any card, but the usual method is to select a court card) to symbolize the querent. If this is done one merely places it quasi behind card 1. This card may appear to have some overlap with card 7, which is also specifically reflective of the querent. Card 7 illustrates how a person is responding to the circumstances outlined by the rest of the spread, how they see themselves relative to what is transpiring and any strengths or weaknesses they have relevant to the circumstances. In contrast, card 0 (especially when limited to a court card) reveals the person’s general disposition in terms of life and character at this time and has nothing to do with how they are reacting or acting upon the circumstances. It is the predominant psychological or character qualities coming forth relative to everything that is transpiring. People’s dominant traits shift all of the time relative to their circumstances. No one is precisely the same in every situation simply because all situations require different capacities inherent in our makeup. This is easy to see in regards to how one behaves around close family, versus close friends, versus one’s work life or with one’s spouse etc. Simultaneously a significator card, when employed, is often a very accurate measure and descriptor of the person’s most predominant character and how they see themselves too.

To choose a court card significator you can either 1) take the person’s sun sign, moon sign or ascending sign (most people only know their sun sign so this would be the easiest way); 2) pick the court card intuitively based upon your feel of the client, their appearance and vibe as a whole; 3) take the deck and flip through it until you get to a court card and take that card (regardless of gender). My preferred method is the third way and it is possible to mix methods 2 and 3 so as to narrow things down. For example you may sense a kingly presence coming from the client and so you decide that the first King you come upon is to be the significator rather than any other court card. Experimentation is the best teacher in this case.

A note on the Major Arcana to remember: these cards can be utilized together without the rest of the Tarot deck and there are a few individuals that prefer to do this and it may be more appropriate for certain situations. The Major Arcana are capable of representing any dimension or aspect of being which means they can refer to physical, vital, mental, and spiritual processes as well as people, places, things and particular energies such as what are often called spirits, gods, demons and so on. They are not restricted to only symbolizing profound inner movements of life and consciousness and often times they do merely represent something or someone in a mundane manner. As with everything this can only be made clear by the context of the reading and, in contrast to what was just stated, if the capacity of the reader is there and the capacity of the querent to receive, then indeed the Arcana do also suggest powers of consciousness even when they mainly refer to a a person, place or thing.

AUM

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