I love the Celtic Cross spread for many reasons. The main one is that it is quick and easy to follow when you are looking for the answer to one question. It always seems to me it gets right to the point or heart of the problem.
There are as many different ways of reading a Celtic Cross spread as there are Tarot readers. But, the main thing to remember is that each card position has the same meaning to YOU every time you do a reading.
The card at the center of the Cross usually always signifies the problem, hope or concern. Sometimes people will want to focus on a certain aspect of their lives and that is where the focus will be in the reading. But there are other times when someone will just want a snapshot view of what is happening in their lives at the current time. The center card will determine what the rest of the reading is about.
The next card is placed across the first card. This card defines the obstacles, hurdles or influences that are keeping the client from achieving the hope or goal that is inherent in the first card.
The third card is placed directly below the other two. This card signifies the past and how it relates to the present situation. It is the foundation card that portrays the roots of the issue.
The fourth card is placed directly to the left of the center cards. This card represents what is happening in the present. It sheds light on the direction this situation is taking.
The fifth card is placed directly above the center cards. This card speaks about the near potential future. If the card representing the present keeps it's direction, this is the next step to be taken.
The sixth card is placed to the right of the center cards. This is the probable outcome of the inner part of the Celtic Cross reading. It is not, however, the final outcome. It represents the second step to be taken.
The next four cards are placed in row going from bottom to top to the right of the inner Celtic Cross. The seventh or bottom card represents how the client feels about his or herself concerning the situation. It is a picture of what the client sees when he or she thinks about who and what they are.
Card number eight, which is directly above card number seven, represents how others see him or her. This is oftentimes vastly different from how the client sees him or herself. It also represents influences other people may have on the situation.
I call card number nine, directly above card number eight, the change card. This card represents a very important change that can be made to directly change the probable outcome of the situation. Sometimes this card can be quite insightful and surprising!
And, the last card represents the probable outcome if certain changes aren't made.
Tarot, like anything else in this world does not have a set in stone answer or absolute outcome. Our lives ebb and flow just like the tides.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different ways to set up a Celtic Cross layout. Use the one that feels best for you. Just make sure that all your bases are covered and that the outline you are using makes sense and sticks somewhat to the original format.
I would suggest using just the Major Arcana cards for the first couple of Celtic Cross spreads that you practice. They are somewhat easier to read and it will help get you better acquainted with their personalities.