The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread

The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread: Cutting To The Chase takes the guesswork and interpretations out of reading the cards, and simplifies it down to practical meanings. Just open the book, find the card position, and read the meaning.

By Shannon MacLeod · Book - 208 pages · Published by Schiffer Books

Review by Thomas Freese

The Celtic Cross is an accessible reference for beginners or anyone who would like to tease out tarot interpretations based on cards, upright or reversed, and within the ten positions of the Celtic Cross spread. In this way, it is similar to the Tarot Decoder. There are three spreads suggested, and a brief forward and one page on how to use the book, with the bulk of the text providing the meanings of each of the 78 tarot cards as they might appear within the Celtic Cross.

Each card meaning is briefly noted, followed by interpretations for upright and for reversals over the ten positions. I found the meanings often similar to those found in the Tarot Decoder; yet there are some distinct variations that are unique. Simple pen and ink drawings accompany the text and the style of writing is informal. One example, for the Six of Wands, reversed, 3rd position, states: “Don’t let stubborn pride prevent you from admitting you are wrong. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes—even you.”

This interpretive tour through the tarot on the Celtic Cross spread begins with meanings for the Major Arcana, followed by the Minor Arcana and finishing up with the Court cards. There are a few good reasons to add The Celtic Cross to your tarot reference library. It adds an alternate voice to the understanding of each single card; have a good read through all the interpretations for any one card which would help you get a feel for how that card morphs in nuanced meanings within the Celtic Cross.

In addition, if you feel stymied with a repetition of a vexing card meaning—something you may not accept as given in other books—have a look at The Celtic Cross and you may find a more gentle or appropriate interpretation. It is a lovely new resource to enjoy for those who often cast the 10 card Celtic Cross.

Thomas’s first tarot deck in 1979 was a Christmas gift from his mother. Thomas is an experienced tarot and palm reader. He also reads from objects and photos. In addition he has authored 10 books on metaphysical topics and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.

Review by Monica

Over-arching the endless permutations and possibilities of Tarot spreads, the enduring Celtic Cross is certainly not a recommended spread to be tackled by beginners in Tarot – 10 cards can certainly be an overload of symbolism and information. It’s a spread that requires time, perception and a strong ability to draw the pattern(s) that emerge from what I consider to be a fairly complex tarot spread. Nonetheless, The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread makes journeying through this spread a less daunting experience – one has a reference guide to lean on for support when a possible meaning might elude the reader. The book is a succinct insight for tarot enthusiasts and practitioners of the timeless Celtic Cross tarot spread. The author herself advocates, in her foreword, the book for those who are interested in learning the Tarot “but don’t have the time / patience / desire to do all the studying and memorization required.”

The book starts with a description of the 10 card Celtic Cross, detailing each card position. It also includes a three card Past – Present – Future spread, and a one card spread, noting their relative positions in the Celtic Cross spread (for example, the one card spread correlates with Position 10 in the Celtic Cross, the Outcome).

Following from this, each of the 78 Tarot cards are assigned an interpretation for each of the 10 spread positions – this includes both upright and reversed positions. For example, the Six of Pentacles in Position 4 – The Past:

Upright: You’ve been shown kindness and compassion. Remember how it made you feel? You can give that feeling to someone in need.

Reversed: You’ve been kept down, your submission demanded by circumstance. Never forget how it feels to be backed into a corner.

One concern I have with this approach is the reductionist methodology that can easily detract from a reader’s intuition or gut feeling. Further, the interpretation of cards in a large spread such as the Celtic Cross flows and intertwines with the surrounding cards – no card can be interpreted exclusively alone. I also have doubts that the succint descriptions given can be an accurate, or true reflection, of what is really going on with a particular card, in each and every instance. This is especially valid for Major Arcana cards, which capture profound lessons and tribulations for a querent. To give another example, for the Tower in Position 6 – The Future we have:

Upright: You’re headed down a dead-end street. There’s bigger and badder than you lurking in the shadows, so lose the “I’m the best thing since sliced bread” attitude.

Reversed: Get ready to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start once the dust settles. It will be a little inconvenient, maybe even uncomfortable at first, but still doable.

Clearly these are not the only meanings for the Tower card when it shows up in the Future position. It can mean anything from the earth shattering “falling in love” (if the spread concerns a relationship and other surrounding cards are favourable) to having a “break-through” business decision and many other meanings. Major Arcana cards are particularly tricky because the life lessons they deal us cannot, and should not, be reduced to a simplistic formula.

That being said, I acknowledge the author’s attempt to offer a supportive and instructive guide for those new to Tarot or new to the Celtic Cross spread. The book also makes the Celtic Cross less intimidating for the aspiring reader and helps to extract the gist of card meanings through various positions.

Monica is a Tarot reader based in the tropical haven of Whitsundays, Australia. She practices the oracular craft of Tarot and offers personal readings through her consultancy, Whitsunday Oracle.

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