How to read the Tarot Celtic Cross layout. Part 1/2

Today’s lengthy tutorial post is for those you who are learning the Tarot Celtic Cross layout. The laying of the 10 cards varies a little from cards 3 – 6 depending on which book you have read. The meanings of those positions haven’t changed even though they are placed a little differently. Also, card 7 and card 9 can differ. 

I learned the method I am using in today’s post back in the 1970’s. It may have been from Eden Gray’s pocketbook since it was one of a few books available on the market. I’m pretty sure I learned Waite’s method prior to that because I obtained my first Tarot deck (in New York) before Gray’s book was even published. I know many Tarot readers read the same way as I do but there is a good percentage that use the alternate methods.

Also, for years I used a Significator card to represent the person. Then I started to omit this step because I felt it was important to see which position the Significator card would fall in if indeed it showed up. 

Background: This is a relationship for a middle aged woman 50+. She wants to know the future of her relationship especially over the next year (8-12 months). There isn’t anything specially wrong in her relationship but something is missing or so she claims.  She wants advice from the Tarot about her involvement (7+ years) current partner (man). Katherine is seeking guidance about potential developments within the relationship with Michael.


I noticed Katherine shuffled the cards very slowly. She paused a few time before continuing her shuffle. I felt she deeply wanted another level of understanding of her relationship with Michael.  As you may know, that is exactly what you receive from the Tarot cards. 

The layout has a predominance of Cups. Next, are the Pentacles followed by a couple of Major Arcana cards. There is only one Sword. The lack of Wands suggests to me the lack of action/motion within the relationship. The fire sparks are on simmer.

I did question her about that and she agreed that things in the relationship were mundane in her view.

Card 1: 7 of cups. This is what covers you.

What is the energy around the shuffle/question? The card falling in the 1st spot certainly reflects her view of the relationship. She has many things on her mind. She is not actively making a decisions with respect to her relationship. Katherine could be daydreaming of something which is within her reach but she will not obtain it by being dormant.

I asked her if this makes sense and she nodded in agreement. 

Card 2: 8 of pentacles. This is what crosses you as an obstacle or blessing.

Keeping in mind the question what does this card reveal? Will the card’s energy be in your favour or will it address some obstacles or challenges? Looks like the message of this card is all about work. Katherine needs to apply some much needed energy into the relationship. This card is about learning through practice. Yes, it is a pentacle but the question is really not about money.  Maybe Katherine needs to find a hobby. Ideally, Michael should be part of some project with her so they can create together. The crossing card doesn’t pose any significant challenges. But, it will if Katherine doesn’t do something…anything.

I questioned her about this and she stated Michael complained that they don’t do anything fun together.

➡ We have covered only two cards so far and the Tarot has been spot on. This is always a good feeling for the Tarot reader because it verifies the cards will indeed provide the guidance requested by the client. Let’s suppose none of it made sense to the person getting the reading. There are many reasons for that.

  • The client is in a confused state partially due to the fact he/she is nervous.
  • The client has their head in the sand about their question or problem. 
  • The client asked a surface question but meant to ask what was really on their mind.
  • The client is in an altered state of mind. 
  • The Tarot is revealing another significant situation which needs to be addressed.

Somehow it’s always the fault of the Tarot reader if the cards don’t make sense to the client.  🙂 The odd time it might be but most readers do not perform readings if they feel off that day. 

Card 3: King of pentacles. This is the foundation or root of the situation/question.

This card reveals information on why the question was asked or what lead up to the desire to get the reading. In this card are many clues about the recent past. This is an important position of the Celtic Cross layout. Here lies the influence which is instrumental in the over all reading. The King of Pentacles represents Michael. He is very much on top of his finances. He has a mature outlook on life. He’s a meat and potatoes type of guy. Katherine confirmed that Michael was constantly talking about financial security. He was also a solid and trustworthy man.

At this point, I asked Katherine if they possibly had financial difficulties. She responded that she did not work and was dependent on him for financial support. This made sense to me so I suggested that I did see her learning a skill whereby she could bring in additional money into the household (8 of Pentacle). Also, I suggested that perhaps the reading wasn’t totally about her relationship with Michael. She wanted to know why I said that. I responded by saying that perhaps she needed to do something that would make her feel better about herself. That could change her current view (concern) of which way the relationship is headed. Katherine confessed she was looking outside of herself for happiness which put an indirect strain on Michael. 

➡ We are getting to the nuts and bolts of the Tarot’s guidance. Sure, I pieced all this together but that’s my role as a consultant. Plus, the client is interacting on the information I provide. This is a great help.

Card 4: 6 of pentacles. This is in the process of leaving but the influence could still be active.

Within this card you can establish what influence is just about to end. Mind you, it could still be in an active state. If it is a negative influence reassure your client it is nearing completion. If it is a positive influence the remainder of the cards will reveal which direction lies ahead. The feeling I get from this card is that Katherine was on the receiving end of Michael’s generosity. Nothing wrong with that but it was controlled. The 6 of Pentacles is a card of charity and providing for the needy. This influence is passing, though, and it will be interesting to see what may happen.

I explained this card to Katherine and she said, “How true”.  I could see the concern on her face so I reassured her nothing ‘bad’ will happy as I pointed to the last card 10 of Cups. I continued with the comment that the final outcome is very good so let’s see what else the cards are saying. 

Card 5: CHARIOT. This is what crowns you and is the potential future. 

This is one of those positions of the Celtic Cross that can differ in meaning. Here lies an opportunity for the client. This is a potential influence that could come. It’s up to the client to grab it if it is desirable or at least consider it. If the card is not so ‘good’ it would be a warning to the client that he/she needs to make some changes to prevent the influence from materializing. It is vital that you study the next card as well to gain further information as to the nature of its influence. I read card 6 first to myself because its suggest meaning is for what the client will most likely experience. Card 5 is an option which will materialize on the experience of card 6.  This Major Arcana’s influence is about self-discipline. It shows that Katherine will be determined to empower herself. She will be self-directed unlike the 7 of Cups (card 1). This is encouraging advice.  The Chariot could also be a vehicle. There you have it. The Tarot’s guidance for Katherine is to regain her own power as an individual.

I mentioned all the positive influences I saw within this card.  She replied, “I hope so”. 

Card 6: 4 of cups. This is before you or the influence/situation you are about to experience.

I put a time frame on this position because more times than not I get asked ‘when’. I gauge the time frame according to Card 4. If what I said about Card 4 lasted 4-6 weeks then Card 6 will be within 3 months. If Card 4 was a longer process (6+ months) then I apply that to Card 6 as well. Whatever card falls here will ultimately lead to the outcome of the reading. 

Let me explain a little further. If Card 6 leads to a nasty or unwanted outcome in Card 10 look to Card 5 for the optional future direction. Never leave your client unsettled. Of course, some things are out of our control and it is Karmic in nature but the majority is within our own co-creation. The 4 of Cups is clearly revealing that Katherine will need a lot of encouragement to maintain her relationship. She needs to work on herself (Chariot, 8 of Pentacle). Perhaps her life is complacent and she doesn’t want to empower herself. We’ve yet to study what Michael thinks about the relationship (Card 8- Swords). Looking at the last card 10 of Cups, if she continues as she is it will lead to happiness and domestic security. The outcome card is such good energy that why wouldn’t you want to achieve that.

It looks like Katherine won’t do anything about her current situation. Does Katherine even care enough about the future of this relationship to actually make some minor changes instead of just thinking about them.  

As some of you know, the number 10 is a transitional energy. The emotional completion of the Cups suit occurred within the 9. It won’t get any better but maybe she doesn’t want to take this relationship to another level although she thinks about it (Card 7 Page of Cups). 

So, how did I handle this information? I explained to Katherine that some habits take a long time to change. I mentioned that all will be good in the grand scheme of things (10 of Cups). I told her that not much will change over the next year insofar as her relationship with Michael. She said, “Ya, I figured as much”.  I also knew I would be sharing with her what was on Michael’s mind (Card 8). She might be surprised and this could propel her into action. 

➡  Due to the length of today’s post I will continue in part 2. Excuse any typos.

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