Celtic Cross Spread
About the Celtic Cross
This spread appears to have arisen as a modification of spreads in the form of a cross used in Continental Europe.
Possibly the first published reference to this spread was in 1910 in the book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite. (See Part III, Section 7 of that book: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination.)
There are various versions of the Celtic Cross, yet each follow the pattern shown to the right, whether or not they also include additional cards.
The order in which the cards are dealt also tends to vary with users, and the letters presented are for reference rather then an indication as to ordered pattern.
General positional meanings
Heart of the Matter, Present Environment (Outer), Present Environment (Inner), Primary Factor
Obstacles, Opposing Factor, Factor for Change, Secondary Factor, Reinforcing Factor
Root Cause, Unconscious Influence, Deeper Meaning, Unknown Factor
Past, Receding Influence, Resolved Factor, Quality to Let Go
Attitudes and Beliefs, Conscious Influence, Goal or Purpose, Alternate Future
Future, Approaching Influence, Unresolved Factor, Quality to Embrace
You as You Are, You as You Could Be, You as You Present Yourself, You as You See Yourself
Outside Environment, Another's Point of View, Another's Expectations, You as Others See You
Guidance, Key Factor, Hopes and Fears, Overlooked Factor
Outcome (Overall), Outcome (Inner State), Outcome (Actions), Outcome (Effects)
There is a wide diversity among Tarot readers as to the placement of Positions C, D, E, and F. For example, a common variation is to define them as follows:
C: Immediate Future
D: Root or unconscious cause
E: Recent Past
F: Attitudes, Conscious Influences, or Goals
(This is basically a quarter turn clockwise of the definitions as given above.)
In Waite's description of this spread (as referenced above) the placement of the Past and Future cards depends upon the direction that the figure depicted on the Significator card faces. The Past card will be on the left, for example, if the Significator faces right. (Presumably if the reader is not using a significator, then the direction that the figure on the first card (Card A) is facing will serve this purpose.) Also, as Waite notes, "If the Significator ... cannot be said to face either way, the Diviner must decide before beginning the operation which side he will take it as facing."