Here’s a very simple two-card tarot spread that takes just a minute or two to read, providing a helpful dose of clarity.
The Two-Card Cross handy in 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. It’s also a lovely ‘overview’ spread, for those times you want a wee snapshot of where you’re at – and because it’s so small, it folds perfectly into a daily tarot ritual.
It’s a very flexible spread – the two card positions can be adapted to suit all kinds of questions/needs. I’m going to demonstrate the Two-Card Cross using one set of positions (1. Situation, 2. Challenge), but further down the page you’ll find a list of alternative positions, so please try this with whichever best meets your own needs.
The Two-Card Cross
If you’re familiar with the traditional Celtic Cross tarot spread, you’ll recognise the layout – this spread is essentially the central two ‘crossing’ cards.
Shuffle your cards, closing your eyes and keeping your question in mind if you have one. Take a few slow, deep breaths as you do son.
When you’re ready, lay the first card. Then lay a second card sideways 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 attention before you can move towards a solution.
I’m currently working on a long-term project which is nearing its end. Suddenly, I find myself totally stuck with the final stages of the project – I find myself avoiding the work, and unable to sit down and focus on the steps I need to take to wrap things up. It’s frustrating! So I used this spread to ask the cards to help me understand the issue.
My cards were 1) the Queen of Wands, crossed by 2) the Nine of Wands.
1. Situation: The Queen of Wands. This is a reassuring card – it reminds me of the validity of my project. This is an act of self-expression for me, a creative endeavour and something I feel passionately about, even if I’m not feeling that passion right now. I had been wondering if perhaps I needed to let go of this project entirely – but the Queen of Wands shows me that it’s worth it, that it’s something I believe in and really do want to do. There’s a really helpful message about the importance of self-belief here, and that gives my confidence a little boost.
2. Challenge: The Nine of Wands. It has been a long journey and a lot of work (I love the way eight wands are already woven together by the red threads on this card.) The bone indicates structure – something I’m really lacking at the moment – and this is my ‘challenge’. It suggests to me that to work through the tiring later stages of a project, structural foundations need to be in place. A regular work routine, for example, and a sense of rootedness in the work.
Reading the cards together: I feel it’s time to reconnect with the why of this project, and use this to create a foundation for the remaining work. Like the Queen of Wands, my work needs to be rooted in desire and deep-held belief (and self-belief). And like any project, the Nine of Wands reminds me that any project has its moments of fatigue, and challenges me to come back to the foundations of my project (the passionate why of the Queen) and put a gentle work structure in place to support me in completing it.
As I said, these two cards can be read in so many different ways. By subtly altering the position names, you can shift the perspective of the reading, adapting it to different needs.
Try this spread using any of the following positions (or make up your own):
1. Aim / 2. Blockage
Here, the first card represents the desired outcome, the thing you want to achieve. The second is a thing that is preventing this from happening.
1. Blockage / 2. Solution
The first card is the problem faced by you/the querent. The second represents a way forwards, an approach which can help to address the blockage or solve the problem.
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.
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 or somehow ‘getting in the way’.
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’d like to go further with this little spread, check out 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.