Q. What was the first spread you learned?
Like many before me, the first spread I learned was the Celtic Cross. Even now, it’s still my ‘go to’ spread. It gives a very good overview of the situation and invites the reader in to ever deepening layers of meaning.
However, I’m struggling to remember how I learned about the Celtic Cross. I have a vague memory of someone showing me how to lay out the cards but I cannot to this day remember who that person was. Unfortunately I have a terrible memory and much of my past is a mystery to me. That said, if someone tells me a dream, it’ll stick forever and I can still remember tarot readings from years ago – go figure!
So, somehow I learned the Celtic Cross. I lay the cards out in the following order :-
2. Crossing card – the obstacle to overcome
3. Above – conscious motivation
4. Below – unconscious motivation
5. The past
6. The near future
7. How you see yourself or the situation – attitude
8. How others see you (I also see this as advice from spirit)
9. Hopes and fears
10. The outcome according to the current pattern.
One of the things about this spread is that there are a whole host of opinions on what is the ‘correct’ order to deal the cards. One of the most common formats is to lay the first 6 cards out in the following sequence :-
2. Crossing card
6. The near future
The cards of the staff are laid out the same as the previous version.
This format makes a lot of sense if you lay out the cards of the Major Arcana into these positions leaving the Fool aside and beginning with the Magician in Position 1. In this pattern then, the Empress becomes the base, the land upon which we lay, the Emperor is ‘form’, that which has already been established in the past and the Hierophant is above: the conscious spiritual laws and rules we have assimilated so far. Whilst I like this second version, the first is as familiar to me as breathing and it is the instinctive way I lay out this spread.
The Celtic Cross spread itself is based on complex symbolism. The first 6 cards create a Wheel of Life – feminine energy. Cards 7 to 10 are the Staff of Life – masculine energy. The Wheel shows the complexities of the conscious and unconscious, internal obstacles to overcome (the crossing card), where we have come from (experience) and where we are going to (conscious choice).
With the Lovers as a natural card to relate to Position 6, we can see that it is our choices that create the future. Perhaps it could also be said that life lived at its fullest potential is a path of love. It is often the search for love and the inner desire nature (the Lovers) that leads us away from the safety of home (the womb/wheel of the Celtic Cross) to a new journey where we begin to forge our own path. One interesting exercise is to compare the meanings of the natural Major Arcana cards to each other to gain a better understanding of each position and how each position relates to another.
Whilst the Celtic Cross is a positional spread with each position having a fixed meaning, I still look at the spread as a whole. I take into account how many of each suit are present, are any missing? I compare Majors to Minors. I notice numbers and sequences of numbers and whether characters on one card seem to be interacting with or ignoring cards nearby.
Over time, the original Celtic Cross I learned has morphed into something of my own making with extra cards added but I shall cover this in one of the later questions of the 30 Day Tarot Challenge.