The famous (or as some would have it, infamous) “Celtic Cross” (CC) tarot spread popularized by Arthur Edward Waite in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot in the early 1900s and updated by Eden Gray and others in the last half of the 20th century is a mainstay of the tarot reader’s art. In the past, it was often the very first spread a neophyte learned to use. While it has much to recommend it, from its potent situational focus to its intriguing (although often daunting) complexity, it can be difficult to wrap around a narrowly-framed question due to its strict “positional” nature; that is, the card in each of the ten spread positions has a unique role governed by the place it occupies, sharply defining but also limiting its range of interpretation.
I first learned the CC in 1972 from Eden Gray’s book, The Tarot Revealed. Although she departed in meaningful ways from Waite’s Catholic “Sign of the Cross” structure, I eventually realized that she didn’t go quite far enough to suit me. Over the decades I’ve played around with the position meanings and the narrative flow while consistently staying within Gray’s conceptual framework. It’s still the best one I’ve found, since it doesn’t cater to the modern penchant for overly “psychologizing” everything about the tarot. It still works very well for my purpose of finding situational awareness and developmental insights rather than psychological profiling within my readings.
I find it interesting that my customized version falls very close to the one writer Anthony Louis presented in his excellent 2014 book Tarot Beyond the Basics, although mine has been a work-in-progress since at least 1980.