Reading over and over in different sources, the Celtic Cross spread has to be by far the most popular one. I suppose we can blame Waite, but it’s quite accessible, for starters like me, to follow its line of thoughts and get quite clear answers.
I don’t understand those books that suggest starting with ‘less cards’ spreads to ‘simplify’ it. I find that more cards are easier because it’s as if you had more clues to solve a problem. Three-card spreads are better when you’re already acquainted with each card, I have found, and having ten helps me see the bigger picture better.
Still, it gets confusing when meanings change in every book of tarot you read… and card order… but mostly you get the same major vibes: there’s a situation and something blocking it and we’re looking to see deeper in that “block”.
This is my preferred setting, and I will tell you why in a second.
I see this spread as with two ‘crosses’, first the small one in cards 1 and 2; and then the bigger one made by 3, 4, 5 and 6, containing the first one within. When I draw a cross or plus sign, I always start from the top of the vertical line and then cross it out left to right. That is what feels right to me when using this spread as well.
Like axis on a graph, they represent extremes of the situation for me, and the initial couple of cards, a point ‘zero’ or medium in that. There are the first two cards: representing the Querent’s energy and state or signifier (1) and blocking energies of the situation (2).
The following cards making the second cross, go from what is consciously in their mind (3) to the subconscious mind (4) and then from the past (5) to the future (6), surrounding that present time in perfective harmony.
The staff by the crosses, growing strong from the seeds of one’s own self perceptions (7), taking in what others need to offer (8), making a first step forward (9) to finally reach a possible outcome (10).
This is what works for me. This is a great spread for open questions that Querents might want to have answered, like ‘How are things going to develop with this person I’m dating?’ or ‘What can be done to move forward at work?’. It works to give the perspective needed and is simple enough to follow, so in my case I recommend it as a starter spread.