The two-card cross: A super useful, super short tarot spread

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:

crossing-cards

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.

Example:

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.

Photo 10-06-2015 15 05 13

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.

Cards shown are from the Hidden Light Tarot by Oli Starfrosting and the Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans.

First published on Autostraddle.

4 comments

  1. RenD says:

    This spread is life!!! This is just what I needed, used this the past three days and everything is falling into place so easily, interpretations are so natural, I love this!!! Thank you so much for sharing this, it is my new go to spread for myself!

  2. Jey says:

    This is a great way to look at the two cards in a different perspective instead of side by side. For me, side by side two card spreads naturally make me want to merge the individual meanings, but this method adds a nice spin to it.

  3. alexis says:

    Hi Beth, thank you for this post. I’m going to print this page out and cannot wait to try.

    I was hoping you could tell us about the first image… beautiful cards and would love to know if the deck they come from is available.

    Thank you!

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