The Celtic Cross method of reading tarot cards is probably the most common one in use today. It was popularized by A. E. Waite in his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, which was published in 1911. There are many variations on this spread, but the one presented here is based on the description provided by Waite, updated to be more readable to a modern audience.
This tarot card spread is best used when you want to answer a specific question. First select a card to represent the person or issue you are asking about. This card is called the Significator (note: our free online tarot card reading application unfortunately does not allow you to select a Significator; instead we allow you to phrase your question directly.)
Note about shuffling
Although you may choose to allow reversal of the cards while performing this type of reading in person, if you select this layout for an online reading on this site, reversals will not be permitted.
When asking about a person
Waite recommends that when asking about a person generally, a court card should be chosen which best represents the sex, age, description, and personality of the individual, as follows:
Court Cards by Age Group
- A female under 40 years of age.
- A male over 40 years of age.
- A female over 40 years of age.
- A male under 40 years of age.
Suits as Physical Descriptions
- Blonde or auburn hair, fair complexion, blue eyes.
- Light brown or ash blonde hair, light complexion, grey or blue eyes.
- Dark brown hair, medium complexion, hazel or grey eyes.
- Very dark or black hair, dark complexion, dark eyes.
Suits as Personality Descriptions
When asking about an issue
Waite recommends that when asking about a particular question, the Significator should be selected from the trumps or numerals.
Celtic Cross LayoutPlace the Significator card on the table face up.
- Shuffle and cut the rest of the deck three times without looking at the cards.
- Turn up the first card, and place it directly over the Significator, saying, "This covers you." This is the atmosphere surrounding the Significator.
- Turn up the second card, lay it across the first and say, "This crosses you." This represents the obstacles for the Significator.
- Turn up the third card, place it above the Significator saying, "This crowns you." This is the ideal, the best outcome.
- Turn up the fourth card, place it below the Significator, and say, "This is beneath you." This is the foundation upon which the matter is based.
- Turn up the fifth card, place it on the left side (Waite has you switch the direction based on the direction of the figure in the Significator card, but that confuses me, so I figure we read from left to right.), saying, "This is behind you." It is that which has just past or is passing behind.
- Turn up the sixth card, place it on the right side, and say, "This is before you." It shows what is coming up in the immediate future.
- The cards should now be laid out in the form of a cross, with the Significator at the center, covered by the first card.
- The next four will be placed in a vertical line, from bottom to top, to the right side of the cross.
- With the seventh card, say "This is your self". This is the querent's attitude or position about the situation.
- With the eighth, say "This is your house". It is the environment with which the querent is surrounded; friends, family, etc.
- With the ninth card, say "These are your hopes and fears."
- With the tenth card, say "This is what will come." This is the most important card in the reading, and the others serve to explain its meaning.