The Reverse Celtic Cross
Last night I dreamed that I was at a tarot conference, surrounded by all the world’s brightest tarot luminaries, and I was demonstrating a reading with the Celtic Cross.
Unfortunately for the dream version of myself, I’d also forgotten the positions of the spread. That’s the equivalent, in tarot, of forgetting that 2+2=4. The Celtic Cross is one of the first spreads every tarot reader learns. It’s also one of my favorite layouts.
What could I do? Everyone in the dream was watching me: Mary Greer, Lon Milo DuQuette, Sylvester Stallone, and Brigitte Nielsen. So I did what I always do in my anxiety dreams — and in real life.
I faked it.
But here’s the interesting thing: the spread I did in the dream might actually work.
I laid out a reverse Celtic Cross, with a focus on the past, designed to explore old issues (and old dreams) in depth. In this version, there’s room to delve deeply into the foundation of a situation — with far less emphasis on the future than the Celtic Cross normally provides.
The Reverse Celtic Cross: click this diagram for a larger view.
Here’s how it would work:
- The heart of the traditional Celtic Cross remains unchanged, starting with the significator. This card represents the subject of the reading — whether that’s a person, question, or specific concern.
- The covering card represents the situation at hand, and the energy surrounding the issue.
- The crossing card represents new energy that’s affecting the situation.
- The foundation card represents the origin of the issue.
- The recent past card describes the last six months to a year.
- Now here’s where the spread moves into reverse. Normally, the row of cards that appears on the left-hand side of this illustration would go on the right, and they’d depict issues of the present moment and the current course of action. In the reverse Celtic Cross, however, the four cards in the left-hand column depict issues and memories of the distant past — from childhood, young adulthood, or even a past life. In this case, the card in position 6 would depict an old self-image.
- Ditto for the card of public image, which would describe the viewpoint of family and friends from long ago.
- This card represents the hopes and fears of long ago.
- This card symbolizes the last six months to a year — which will probably reveal the outcome of those hopes and fears.
- And now we move back into the present, as we would with a standard Celtic Cross. The card in this position represents one’s highest goals and ideals — for now.
- The most likely outcome of the current path is summarized in a single card. In theory, I suppose you could repeat the column from the left, and lay cards for current self-image, public image, hopes and fears, and final outcome … but that would turn this spread into a very elaborate Celtic Cross, wouldn’t it? (Update: Kika Mae on Facebook just suggested calling that sort of spread an “Infinity Celtic Cross.” Intriguing!)
What do you think? Isn’t it an odd version of a familiar spread?
If you try it, let me know how it works for you.