The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread Indicators of Success

Indicators of Success are tarot reading methods & techniques that help you obtain secondary information from your reading. They include: the elements, numerology, the card ratio, court cards & tarot card reversals.

We looked at the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread in detail in the previous post The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread – Looking Deeper. In this last lesson, Part Four of the Tarot Elements tutorial series, I’m going to show you some other systems and tarot techniques that will enrich your reading style; which in turn will give your client’s more information and make you look and feel like a Celtic Cross Tarot Spread pro. In fact, applying the following techniques to any of your favourite Tarot card readings will enrich them, empower your client and increase your confidence as a tarot reader.

The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread – Indicators of Success

So what else can we do for our client? Is there any more information to be gleaned from these ten tarot cards? You bet! I’m going to introduce to you now two extra ways of finding out more information from these same ten cards. The first is called the card ratio, and the second is elemental influences, and we will see how, through the card ratio and the use of the elements, we can dig deeper into the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread and put the finishing touches to your readings.

The Card Ratio

The card ratio simply looks at how many of each type of card is present: how many major arcana, how many minors, court cards, aces, reversals and the numerology of the cards; even the ratio of elements will paint a clearer picture for us.

  • A majority of Major Arcana cards indicates that the client has little influence over the matter at hand. Some would call this fate, while that’s debatable, experience has shown that there will be little the client can do to remedy the situation so easily.
  • A majority of Minor Arcana cards indicates that the client is pretty much in control of the situation; or has more options available to them than they originally thought or realised.
  • A lot of Court Cards suggest that many people will have a hand in current events, for good or bad. This can simply mean that there is a lot of support available, or too many cooks spoiling the broth.
  • Two or more Aces indicate that great potential exists for the client to move things forward, and should be taken as a good sign for future improvements.
  • A lot of reversed cards could indicate blockages or obstacles in the way, preventing your client from successfully moving forward. It’s a worthwhile exercise to note the amount of reversals, as a high number of them could indicate the problem being more difficult than the client anticipated – the Tarot using the reversals to emphasize this.
  • Two or more of a specific number, or indeed obvious number patterns can provide further information; a significant amount of higher numbered cards for example, can show that events in the client’s life are coming to a close

Elemental Influences

A majority of any one of the elements indicates the following:

  • Fire – Wands – A lot of energy, action or passion. Negatively, this can be seen as rash or impetuous behaviour.
  • Water – Cups – Show a very emotional situation, can be love and protection, but negatively can also show how decisions or ideas can be clouded.
  • Air – Swords – Communication, quarrels, decisions and decisiveness; too many Swords and things can be very unsettled.
  • Earth – Pentacles – Show a stable, grounded situation, one that is settled; alternatively, too many can show stagnation and inaction.

“You can learn more about the raw elements and how they translate into the minor arcana suits and the aces in The Four Elements and the Tarot Aces.

One often overlooked aspect of Elemental Influences is the missing element. Simply put, this means that whatever element is missing or is in a low ratio to the others, shows what attribute is missing from the client’s situation.

For example, if there were little or no Swords (Air), we would say that very little thought has gone into the decision making process; or that the client, or someone around them is acting irrationally or illogically, communication would also be a problem area.

Conversely, a lack of Cups (Water) and we can be looking at a cold situation, one devoid of emotion; one where logic perhaps has won the day.

A lack of Wands (Fire) can show lethargy and inaction; or a lack of energy required to see the client through. Certainly a lack of will or apathy will be strongly suggested.

And finally, a lack of Pentacles (Earth) can show an unstable situation, one that is ‘pie in the sky’ or perhaps is showing something that is still being worked out and hasn’t actually taken form yet.

Timing in the Cards

In terms of timing and the outcome cards, for a loose indicator of time, use the attributes of the elements as opposed to the more detailed and time specific astrological decanates system. You only need to remember the following:

  • Wands and Swords (Fire and Air) are active and so indicate that things will move quickly.
  • Cups and Pentacles (Water and Earth) are passive and so indicate very little movement or slow action.

For those of you interested in learning more about the astrological decanates and other detailed methods of timing, I wrote a thorough and detailed post about the Golden Dawn’s astrological system which includes the planets, zodiac signs, pages/princesses, aces, court cards, thematic timing and the traditional system using days, weeks and the seasons. See Timing Events Using Tarot and Astrology, be sure to bookmark it.

Applying the Card Ratio

The card ratio for this reading is as follows:

  • Major Arcana – 2
  • Minor Arcana – 7
  • Court Cards – 0
  • Aces – 1
  • Reversals – 1
  • Numerology – three 7’s
  • Fire – 2
  • Water – 3
  • Air – 2
  • Earth – 3

A quick scan of the information above tells us that the client has a lot of influence on the outcome, their decisions have directly contributed to their present situation; and while ordinarily, the situation will remain under their control, we cannot ignore that outcome card – Death. The new business project is likely to fail despite their best efforts.

We naturally have to ask how that can be when the card ratio has shown us that the client seems to be in the driving seat. Quite simply because of the decisions they made, cause and effect. We can actually name the Seven of Cups as the point where it went wrong; the client simply chose the wrong option out of all that were available. Of course coupled with the spanner in the works, the Seven of Disks, and our client seems to be fighting a losing battle.

No-one else was involved in their decision making process (no court cards) and there was little outside influence (only 2 Major Arcana). Elementally the cards are balanced and so despite a sterling effort and commitment from our client, it just wasn’t the right call; and is one that they can do very little about, if anything. Interestingly, two of the three outcome cards are Earth (the negative outcome cards too), indicating non-action, or very little movement, further confirming the likelihood of failure for this particular endeavour. The ratio of the elements in terms of their attributes – active vs. passive is 4-6 respectively; further confirming that the business isn’t likely to go anywhere long term. Indeed, will it even get off the ground? Realism indeed.


There is one further thing to examine in this summary, and that is the Numerology. Earlier we noted that there are three 7’s in this spread; and following the card ratio, we know they have significance. I don’t buy into the Golden Dawn’s advisory of multiple numbers signifying exact events; in this case, the three 7’s treaties and contracts (which actually could be taken as a good or bad omen for our client, this being a reading based on business).

I do accept numerology though and without a tarot spin being placed on the number 7, universally it’s seen as very spiritual. So how do we translate that for our client when we have three of them in this spread? My own interpretation would be to advise the querent that the timing would be wrong for a business venture; that on a personal level, there is a transformation ahead (Death) which will guide them to a more spiritual path (the three 7’s); and while this reading promises no guarantee of a career or business ahead in that direction; for purely personal and spiritual reasons alone, it’s a direction that the tarot is strongly indicating they pursue.

Final Notes

There are times when the client pushes for more, and so it’s not unusual to draw some extra cards for further insight into the client’s future or situation; and I suggest if you are going to do this, then use the three cards that naturally come out next, maintaining the sequence. The best way to read these three cards is with elemental dignities. For those of you unfamiliar with this system, please refer to my Elemental Dignities tutorials where you can learn about how to apply them to your own readings. Though not essential to this tutorial series on the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread, they enrich any reading and are well worth the short time and effort it takes to begin to understand them, their uses and benefits.

So, in answer to critics of the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread, I believe its merits have been shown here. While it does have some limitations, it’s still an excellent tarot spread for answering specific questions, especially when you bring in other systems and methods of reading and analysing the cards. A great level of understanding can be achieved examining the client’s life, or query in this way. I think that has been shown despite the fact that we didn’t explore the meanings of the cards so much. As I said in the second post, Positions and Their Meanings, examining these cards in great depth wasn’t the purpose of this tutorial series; they were given as a means to highlight where and how to gain extra information during a tarot reading.

It would be an excellent exercise for you to use the same cards as practice, so you can build on what I have begun here; or indeed, to read them completely fresh and then compare our differences. Either way it provides a great opportunity for you to practice these techniques in this spread, not forgetting that they are fully transferable to other types of spreads as the techniques stay with you, not the spread.

As a side note, you can apply the Card Ratio at the beginning or end of the reading. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way. Checking at the beginning can help you quickly assess the situation; but if you’re one to hit the ground running, you may leave your assessment until the end to confirm your interpretation, or enrich it.

Tarot Reading Check

Not sure about a tarot reading you’ve done? Do some of the cards look out of place, or not make sense to you? Sometimes we are too close to a situation to see clearly..

Let me go over your reading with you and see what else we can pull from the spread. If looks like you’ve got it nailed, I’ll show you some other reading techniques that you can apply to your future tarot readings. £20 for 30 minutes over Skype or Zoom, or via email through a number of emails to allow for interaction, language differences & keeping a record of new information.

Similar Posts:

9 thoughts on “The Celtic Cross Tarot Spread Indicators of Success”

  1. This has been so helpful, thank you for all your work in this regard!
    I have often wondered why there are so many variations to the CC; which one would be the most effective and why. But wondering is about as far as I got… I’ve never been confident enough as a reader to change my layout. Your article on the CC has forced a much-needed analysis of this spread and one that just makes sense on every level.
    Thank you for a fresh new look (at least for me) at what is really happening inside the Celtic Cross!

    • Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for such a lovely comment. I think what’s important when we look at established spreads is how we can perhaps modernise them, or make them our own. New systems have been introduced since the Celtic Cross originated, and I feel it works well along side pretty much all of them. Trying these out is a matter of preference, but is also hugely beneficial to the reader to find what works best for them – this is one way to widen your skillset and also personalise this, or any other spread, making it your own – but more importantly, making you comfortable with it as a Tarot reader.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

  2. Catherine,
    Thank you for this great series in the Celtic Cross Spread. I am just starting to learn the Tarot using Josephine Ellershaw’s beginners book. She acknowledges the use of the Celtic Cross Spread quite a bit. I have copied the series & will continue to reread it to add to my learning of reading this spread.

    • Hi Margaret – thank you for a great compliment! I’m glad you enjoyed the Celtic Cross Series. This spread can offer so much, to the beginner and seasoned pro alike. The trick really is to just get in there, deal some cards and see what they say! And I literally mean “let the cards speak to you”. Do your best to not open the book and check the meanings. Let your imagination run riot and your intuition speak to you – you might be surprised by what you say. As lovely as Josephine’s book is, the definitions in there aren’t yours, and as a fledgling Tarot reader, you need to build your own Tarot vocabulary. The definitions that stick in your mind the easiest are the ones that come to you via your intuition, often lightning bolts, often a quiet inner voice you doubt. Trust the process and do you best to relax and have fun – this should be enjoyable. Keeping a journal helps too, it’s great fun to look back and see how far you’ve come and also remember readings you did – you won’t be able to stop yourself reinterpreting them!
      I’d love to hear how you progress, hope you stay in touch :)

  3. hi there,
    I enjoyed reading the entire list.. What I would like to ask, is … Whenever I lay out the cards for the CC I always end up with a court card, this throws me, therefore, what can I do to finalise things.. Thanks.
    Perhaps you might email me, I would be grateful.. Have a smashing day.
    luv diane x

    • Hi Diane – thank you for your comment. Court Cards in any position can cause any of us to have to really think hard about their meaning. The many layers and possibilities within the Court Cards themselves is the root of the problem. Not confined to just represent people, they can represent, psychological processes, outside events and of course encounters with people. Each of the sixteen Court Cards are associated with particular careers too – it’s easy to see how confusing it can become.
      The key to working out which of those applies lies with the question. You don’t say what your question is, but if you asked about meeting someone in your life, you could say the Court Card that fell into the Outcome Position represents them. If you asked about a particular thing you needed to do, then a Court Card would suggest a number of other options. Perhaps the Tarot is telling you to take on the qualities of a particular Court Card?
      I will email you Diane, and see if we can unravel your issue together :)

  4. Dear Catherine,
    I came across your site through a specific question about the celtic cross. I’ve been using it for years and learned its first-hand from a Spanish ‘witch’ I lived with for a few months in London, back in 1993. It’s the reading I have the most experience with and one that never dissappoints me, ie. that I have faith in.
    Last night I got a most fantastic reading, which I shall describe below, yet the true meaning of it, I realised, was clouded by my lack of insight into the CC. I realised there was something wrong with my interpretation, simply because of the nature of the question and the cards.
    Here is a brief outline of this fabulous reading (which I’m sure you’ll be able to agree on ;)):
    The question: where is my current path ie. relationship [with my fiancee] leading to?
    1. The Lovers
    2. The Wheel of Fortune
    3. Perfection
    4. Uselessness
    5. Courage
    6. Love
    7. Death
    8. The Moon
    9. The Father of Swords in the South (King of Swords, Ra)
    10. The Daughter of Wands in the East (Princess of Wands, Radha)
    At first, despite the perfection of each card, I could not make out the reading and always thought 6. was the past, 3. Incoming influences from the past 4. the future 5. incoming influences into the future. But that didn’t make any sense in this reading.
    Having read your articles on the CC now, so much has become clear about this reading. Esp. your two lines of the crosses (vertical and horizontal) explain so much and I realise thus that our relationship that has recently been ‘useless’ (no real direction, petty discussions etc.) shall transform through the Wheel of Fortune and also Death (as 7.) fairly soon into a long-standing (passive cups of the card love) and spiritual (two 7s) love.
    The other interesting aspect of this reading is the line of intention on the right. This indicates to me (through Death in 7.) that the change is one I desire and am facilitating or causing (or the perfection in 3. coming from me or both of us), that the moon shall accompany and help me (female, night, cycles, a card I identify myself with quite a lot), my hopes and fears being my fiancee (King of Swords) or rather a certain quality I hope changes in him, and Princess of Wands being the outcome (Radha, also a character I personally identify with, symbolising creativity, joy i.e. love of life).
    Funnilly, I then decided to pull a last additional card (I now know I can chose three) and expected something like a ‘warrior’. This, because the relationship (and cause for the question) is not an ‘ideal’ one in a certain way, but one I accept as my fate and thus a new, unknown mission (partner is a scorpio and I a double-aquarian). What I actually pulled, though, to my surprise and joy, was the Mother of Swords in the South (Queen of Swords)!! – symbolising motherhood and fertility. This, where the children are an issue for the future.
    I am amazed how the reading I did yesterday, became clear today after my reading your articles. There are definitely still other issues (like the elements) through which I could find out even more.
    In anycase I am extremely grateful to you and happy to find such clear, informative and trustworthy directions on how to read the CC. Initially I thought I’d find out more about the original CC meanings on positions, but for now I’ll stick to this one and (like the first comment above) am perfectly happy to adapt my interpretation. When you look beneath the surface, you can let your intuition, nature to speak for itself and learn from it.
    Best regards,

    • Hi Rebecca – I’m glad you got such a lot out of my Celtic Cross tutorial series. I agree you reading looks very encouraging and I would like to comment further, but I need to know what deck you are reading from. I’m presuming the cards in the positions you list are the following (but please excuse me repeating the Major & Courts):
      The Lovers
      The Wheel of Fortune
      Four of Wands
      Seven of Swords
      Seven of Wands
      Two of Cups
      The Moon
      King of Swords
      Princess (or Page) of Wands
      Once I know that I’ve got the right cards, we can look at it a little closer – though you seem to have your reading very well interpreted, not such an easy task when it’s our own love lives we’re examining.
      Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Tarot Elements – I look forward to chatting to you about your spread and the Celtic Cross Spread :)

    • Dear Catherine,
      thank you so much for your quick reply, I really appreciate you looking into this further and am really excited! I really learned so much today, simply through reading your website and this answered my questions perfectly. Like I say, I knew from my reading yesterday that I was interpreting the CC incorrectly and now I know why. The cards I use are the Haindl Tarot. I assume you’re acquainted with them as you mentioned one of Rachel Pollak’s books (I have the Haindl Tarot book by her) and am interested in getting the one you mention now. You’re correct with all your cards (you list above). What I’d also be interested in finding out, is which ‘version’ of the CC you use/describe on this site. And is it worth searching the web for the original, traditional placings of the Spread. Although I feel I can really put trust in your description.
      Looking forward to hearing from you and thanx so much for replying!! ;)))

Comments are closed.