History of the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread

Written by Amber


The history of the Celtic Cross Tarot spread suggests that this spread originated in Europe and is believed to be a modification of earlier spreads which were laid out in the form of a cross.

celtcross1Possibly the first published reference to this spread was in 1910 in the book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite, when he named the spread, “An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination,”  Waite also suggests that to his knowledge this spread has not been published in any other form before.

Waite makes a reference to the Celtic Cross and describes it as “a short process which has been used privately for many years past in England, Scotland, and Ireland.”

However, the origins of the classic Celtic Cross Tarot spread are still unknown. What is known about the history of the Celtic Cross Tarot spread is that the spread has stayed exactly the same since it first appeared in 1910.

We know that members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which Waite was a member, used the Celtic Cross spread. The Golden Dawn was magical, occult order based in Great Britain and active during the late 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century.

Another theory on the history of the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread suggests that Florence Farr was the first person to use this spread. However, although she used the spread her method of reading the Celtic Cross was different to how Waite describes it’s meanings. Her method was apparently based on a numerological and elemental approach.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sherri Goodwin says:

    Hi… I’m really confused because I have seen the Celtic Cross with #3 below the querent, #4 to the left, #5 above and #6 to the right. So, I’m thinking you are right here because of Waite’s discussion of the layout but I’m wondering why so many others use this other method. Any thoughts?

    1. tarotamber75 says:

      We all have different ways to interpret and read tarot, I use the old methods because they suit me and my readings x

    2. tarotamber75 says:

      I believe everyone finds their own way to interpret tarot, I choose the method here because I feel comfortable with this. Thanks

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