Fool’s Journey: The Two-Card Cross is the Most Useful Tarot Spread of All

Header by Rory Midhani

Header by Rory Midhani

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

Cards are from The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

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

With this version, 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.


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Beth Maiden is a tarot reader and writer based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. She has two cats, a hot builder girlfriend, far too many tarot decks and not enough coffee cups. She's really into bread, the colour red, camping and brand new notebooks. She'd love to cut your hair, read your cards or hang out with you on her blog, Little Red Tarot!

Beth has written 111 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. I have a question! How do you tell if the crossing card, the sideways one, is right side up or not? Which direction do you look at it from?

    I’ve also heard of, I think, a 3 card spread where the 1st two are like this one, and represent a relationship, I think, and the 3rd card is what you’ll take away from it?

    Also the Wild Unknown deck is soooo gorgeous. But I rarely read tarot, so there’s no reason for me to get it hehe

  2. Question for you, Beth: I’ve thought of drawing my own deck of tarot cards, for drawing practice and also so that I don’t have to buy one haha. Should I save up and buy one, though, for my first deck?

  3. I was wondering if the book you recommended has ideas for more two-card positions or just focuses on situation/challenge. I don’t feel like I need another book on card meanings, but would like more ideas on different approaches to small readings. Thank you! 🙂

    • Hey Lindsay! The book focuses on situation/challenge and possible ways of interpreting combinations of cards in those positions, though if I remember right it does explore the purpose and benefits of shorter readings.

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