My favourite tarot spread isn’t the Celtic cross, or any of the long, rambling creations I’m always coming up with. It’s a quick, dirty, two-card spread that takes just a minute or two to do, and provides loads of insight and clarity.
I call it the Two-Card Cross.
It’s perfect for moments when you feel stuck and you don’t know why, or you want to get to the heart of an issue, or you want advice for your next step forwards.
Shuffle your cards, keeping your question in mind if you have one, or clearing your mind completely. When you’re ready, lay the first card. Then lay a second card across it, like this:
1. Situation / 2. Challenge
Just as in the Celtic cross, the first card represents the heart of your question — the situation itself, and the second card represents something that is ‘crossing’ you — a challenge you’re facing or a weight you’re carrying, or something else that is impacting on your situation and needs to be considered before a solution can be found.
The day I sat down to write this post, I felt weirdly anxious. I couldn’t sit still, my stomach was in knots and I could feel myself acting weird with people. I asked my cards WTF was up with me.
I got the Mother (aka Queen) of Wands, crossed by the Six of Cups. So my situation was represented by a confident, high-achieving, self-possessed creative person — a card I happen to really respect and love, and a card I often want to channel. My crossing card, the ‘challenge,’ was represented by the Six of Cups. Looking at those deep, colourful roots, it seemed to suggest a need to go back to basics. What did the cards tell me together? That I had put a lot of pressure on myself today. I looked at my to-do list: a long list of creative, exciting tasks that I couldn’t get done in a whole week, let alone a day. Perhaps I was expecting too much of myself today. The Six of Cups suggests simplicity. Finding joy in the little things. A more childlike view of creativity. I don’t have to be the Queen of Wands every day.
These two cards can be read in so many different ways. By subtly altering the position names, you can produce very different readings. Try adapting your spread using any of the following:
1. Aim / 2. Blockage
Here, the first card represents the desired outcome, the thing you want to achieve. The second is the thing that is preventing this from happening.
1. Blockage / 2. Solution
The first card is the problem faced by the querent. The second represents a way forwards, an approach which can help to address the blockage or solve the problem.
1. Querent / 2. Adversary
Here, the first card represents the person asking the question, and the second is a person — or the actions of a person — who is holding them back.
1. Ideal / 2. Settling for
The first card is what you really want, whereas the second represents the situation as is, what you are ‘settling for.’ Why might this be?
1. Situation / 2. Extra info
The first card represents you or your situation, right now. The second card offers you a little extra info into what’s going on.
The two-card cross is really useful for practicing interpreting cards in pairs. Rather than simply laying the cards side-by-side, there is the added information provided by the fact that one card is crossing the other. This could mean all kinds of things!
It’s also a very handy starting point for building your own spreads — many of my bigger spreads build off these two crossing cards. If you feel so inclined, pull a third card after you’ve read the two, asking a further question as you do.
And if you’re super into this spread, you’ll enjoy The Heart of the Tarot by Signe E. Echols, Robert Mueller and Sandra A. Thomson, a book entirely dedicated to this little spread and filled with ideas for interpreting cards in pairs.
First published on Autostraddle.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.