Spread to Practice: Secrets of the Celtic Cross

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This week’s book review was Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin’s book Secrets of the Celtic Cross, which outlines different techniques with which to read the Celtic Cross spread.

In my review, I shared the first 10 of 23 methods to go over this spread. In this post, I’ll demonstrate how these techniques work.

For this sample reading, I used Brooke, who has had a very difficult past: she was homeless as a teenager, and found herself in a cult with her girlfriend, which got her hooked on drugs. After going to rehab, she discovered all the members of the cult had been arrested and she had nowhere to go.

Several years later she bumped into her ex-girlfriend who was in the cult with her, and is struggling to know what to do.

Please note: Brooke is a charater from my novel, which is already writen and in the process of publication. I haven’t changed any details to fit this reading. I didn’t feel it fitting to share someone’s personal reading, so I thought I’d throw down the cards for my character, and this fit perfectly.

The Spread

Her spread is as follows, with the positions supplied by the authors of Secrets of the Celtic Cross:

  1. Present situation – King of Wands reversed
  2. Challenge – Queen of Wands reversed
  3. Foundation/Resources – Page of Swords reversed
  4. Past – Page of Cups reversed
  5. Aim – 9 of Swords
  6. Future – 2 of Cups
  7. Self in this journey – Hanged Man
  8. How others see Brooke in this journey – 9 of Cups
  9. Attention – King of Pentacles reversed
  10. Outcome – the Emperor

The Tarot deck used for this reading is the Neo Tarot by Jerico Mandybur.


The first thing I notes is that there are a lot of court cards and they are all upside down. However, I also know that Brooke is a little bit of a loner, and so while I would generally interpret this as the people around her, something tells me these characteristics are all facets of Brooke.

Step 1: Look at the Outcome through the Lens of the Present

According to the Secrets of the Celtic Cross (SCC from here), the first step we should do is look at the Outcome and apply it to the present situation.

Brooke’s Outcome is the Emperor, and her Present situation is the King of Wands reversed. I immediately see that she’s lacking stability, and that it’s putting her on edge, creating a tyrannical and moody person. However, I also see that in order to gain that stability, she’s going to have to acknowledge the cause of her moodiness, which is the feeling of vulnerability and directionlessness.

I tell her, ‘You’re fighting and being controlling of your situation. You just want stability. You’re in the process of trying to stand on your own two feet, but resting the system that knocked you down—that broke up your Family, as you’ve referred to them—and yet also resent the system that is trying to help you get back on your feet.’

I can also see that her resentment is what’s causing her challenge, which is the Queen of Wands reversed: stubbornness. I tell her so and she smirked.

Step 2: Finding the Flow and Setting the Tone

I then look at her Past and Present situations to see the flow and tone. Both put her at somewhat of a standstill given that both cards are reversed. This tells met hat the Page of Cups is keeping the King of Wands from righting himself.

‘Your past relationship put you in this position, even if we are going back twelve years,’ I tell her. ‘But you’re still holding onto it, or rather, it’s holding on to you. If you keep on with this standstill, you won’t be ready for what’s to come.’
‘What’s to come?’ she asked.
‘The 2 of Cups,’ I said, pointing to her Future Card. ‘This is a card of harmony, unity, and partnership.’ I tell her that the 2 of Cups is built when one persona has enough love of self that they can recognize in and share it with another person. I asked her how she embrace it when it shows up if she’s still stuck in the past.

We moved on.

Step 3: Resources Always Meet the Challenge

The next step is to look at how the resources and the challenge essentially can harmonize. I interpreted this a little differently than what I think the authors suggested. I saw this as how the Foundation causes the Challenge, but how the Challenge likewise has the potential to transition the Foundation into a Resource.

In Brooke’s reading, she has the Page of Swords reversed—which doesn’t surprise me. She’s a smart-ass and tells it like it is. But she’s been knocked down a few times, in part because she lets her mouth run, but also in part because of the situation she wound up in after she got out of rehab. She lost her confidence, and became very aware of what people were saying, or at least, thought she was aware. This somewhat killed her confidence. In an effort to at least put a show of rebuilding it, she put on the airs of not giving a damn what people think, which used to be her attitude naturally. However, this time she’s ‘faking it till she makes it.’

She is so determined to stick to this that she’s become more and more stubborn about getting her own way, living and being her own way. While this is a fault, it can likewise be an asset. It can stop her in some situations, but in others, it can help her rise to be her true self, to turn the Page of Swords right-side up again.

Step 4: The Future Comes to Those who Make it

This step requires the reader to look at the future card show how it can pull the Querent through their Aim and to the Outcome. This was a little complicated and confusing when I first read it, but as soon as I put it into a real reading, it made sense.

Brooke’s Future position yields the 2 of Cups, and her Aim is the 9 of Swords—to process and rest after everything she’s been through. Her Outcome is the Emperor, stability and structure.

I realized that the energetic Force that’s coming her way is the 2 of Cups, that is, her bumping into her ex-girlfriend. This would put her in a position where she could gain some peace and closure if needed of her relationship—if that’s what she wanted, and through that peace she could process the past. By processing everything she would be able to move on and find stability.

Step 5: Yourself and Others

This step looks at how the Querent views themselves in this reading and process, and how Others view them in this process.

For Brooke’s Self card, she got the Hanged Man.

‘Do you feel that you’ve sacrificed anything?’ I asked.
‘F***ing everything,’ she said. ‘Literally everything to try and just keep my head down, keep my nose clean, and just get through this.’
‘What’s “this”?’ I asked.
‘All the stuff with the Family, rehab, just getting by.’
‘Even though all that was 12 years ago?’ I asked.
She paused before slowly nodding her head in consideration. ‘I guess when you put it that way, I’ve been trying to just get through things for way too long.’

We moved on to the Others card, which was the 9 of Cups. ‘Other people seem to think you’re living it up,’ I said.

She laughed.

‘What’s up?’ I asked.
‘Andrea told me the other day she thought I was really living life, and I thought she was nuts.’ It should be noted that Andrea is the ex. ‘She lives in some mansion with her boss and I work part time at K-Mart.’

I reminded her that it’s all a matter of perspective, and that’s the importance of these two cards. By seeing how other people see her, she is able to calibrate how she’s actually doing outside her own perspective. While the perspective of others isn’t necessarily accurate, it can act as a means to find an average at times.

Step 6: Where Your Attention Goes is Here

The next step is to look at the Attention placement, which in Brooke’s reading is the Knight of Pentacles reversed.

This position can show what’s directing energy away from the aim, or can show what’s even blocking the progress of the Querent.

In this instance, the Knight of Pentacles reversed indicated that Brooke was hung up on what she doesn’t have. ‘You don’t know where to go. You feel stuck and because of this, you’re distracted from the work you need to do to shake free your past.’

As the authors suggest in SCC, I moved the card to the side and said, ‘Let’s just get rid of this. Now look.’ I pointed out that the card was very orange, which contrasted to every single other card in the reading, which were all compiled or purple, greens and pinks. Each card had one of these colors on them, taking up the majority of the space. The Knight of Pentacles didn’t, and thus, even visually, disrupted the flow of the spread. ‘Remove the block, and see how everything else is connected and has the potential to flow.’

Step 7: The Past is Behind You

At the start of this step, the authors of SCC say that the past is just the story that we tell ourselves. Thus, because it’s a story, we have the power to change it.

To do this, we look at the Present situation and the Challenge through the lens of the past, then look at the Aim, and then the Outcome.

‘Your past put you in the position of resentment and stubbornness,’ I told Brooke. ‘However, your Aim is to process your past and let it go, and you can’t do that if you keep letting your past affect your present. You can’t keep resenting and resisting those who are trying to help you. If you want to find stability and heal from all of this, then you need to relinquish the hold your past has on you.’

I then move on to look at how she can let go of her past and get to her Aim.

Step 8: Finding the First Step

It should be noted, that I switched this step and the next step. What the authors suggest comes next is the Positive Outcome Frame, but it seemed more organic to me to look at the steps to get to the Aim before looking at what might be blocking success.

In finding the next step for the Querent to take, Katz and Goodwin suggest looking at the Aim card, and walking backward a step from that card. In this case, Brooke’s Aim is the 9 of Swords. Thus, her next step is the 8 of Swords. They authors suggest going back until a suitable step is found, however, the 8 of Swords works perfectly.

‘The first step you need to take,’ I told Brooke, ‘is acknowledging that you are the only one who is holding yourself back.’ I rummaged through the cards and found the 8 of Swords for a visual, and showed her how the figure was tied up with her own hair, and it was her own hair that blindfolded her. ‘She can easily get out of this situation, but she doesn’t believe she can. It’s her own mind that’s keeping her stuck there. If she put her focus to moving forward then she would be able to do so.’

This seemed to make sense to Brooke, so we moved on.

Step 9: Positive Outcome Frame

This step looks at what happens after the outcome/Aim is achieved. The idea here is that it helps the Querent address and blocks they might have about succeeding, while (though the authors don’t specifically say this) giving the Querent a chance to visualize what success in their matter will look like.

‘What happens once you get on your feet and stabilize?’ I asked Brooke. ‘What does this grounded creative and passionate King of Wands look like after having had the time to process and right himself? What can he do?’
‘Stand up.’ I did say she was a smart-ass.
‘What does that mean to you?’
‘I don’t know. Live?’
‘Alright. What does loving look like to you?’
She thought about this for a moment. ‘I don’t know. I’ve never really got past the idea of just surviving.’

I shuffle the cards and have her draw from them once they’re spread across the table. She draws the Fool.

‘The Fool is what it looks like,’ I said.
‘What does that mean?’
‘It means that living looks like whatever you want it to. How does that make you feel?’
She smiled. ‘I’ve never had that option before.’

Step 10: The Anchor Card

I began to wrap the reading up at this point as time was starting to run low. The author suggest that the reader anchor a card into the reading, something that the Querent will take away with them. As I was summarizing the reading, I found myself repeating the word ‘processing’, though I also found that Brooke’s eyes darted to the Emperor. She wanted that stability.

I used both cards as an anchor, to really drive home that she has to do the work to process her past if she wants to gain stability.

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