Sometimes called the Celtic Cross, here we use the less common name for the spread, Sword and Shield. In this context the right vertical pillar represents the sword, and the diamond shape formed by the left pattern represents the shield.
One of the most widely known and used spreads, the Sword and Shield is a very useful general purpose spread. It’s better suited for situations than it is for analyzing people themselves. The complex Sephiroth spread is better at analyzing personalities.
- The first card in the spread represents the querent – either you or someone you’re reading about. If it is a card with a person on it, one should consider the figure to be one and the same with a querent. If there is no figure or that doesn’t make any sense, it could represent the thoughts dominating the querent.
- The crossing card. The represents the dilemma, person, or situation facing the querent – the person holding the shield and sword. If it’s an enemy this should be fairly clear. If using reversals it’s important to remember that the card is normally read as being about go either way. You can certainly interpret it with reversals but there is a reason why it is laid sideways. It represents the changeability of fate.
- This position represents the past. This card can have a strong effect on the other cards, so even if there are difficulties if this card is auspicious it slants the reading towards a more manageable scenario. If it’s an unlucky card one should take this into account and advise corrections based on past behaviors that aren’t working for the querent. In the context of the Shield, it represents that path which the querent is already in the habit of following. One should consider if they wish to repeat the past or not.
- The malleable future. It is the right hand path, the more difficult path often, requiring the use of the Sword. Although sometimes it will proclaim the querent should keep to “steady as she goes” if the past and future cards are dramatically different, changes should be considered.
- The path we are on, and the enviromental factors we can’t see. The querent could be about to trip on a banana peel or they might have solid footing. Whatever it is will affect the situation in front of the querent.
- Above we have the higher will and unseen forces of the superconscious. There are other wills at play in the world and some of them are helpful, others are adversarial. This card will reveal what is acting over the situation. Changing this requires higher powers as well, but this will mean something different to everyone.
- The hilt of the sword is the querent’s handle on all of the other aspects of this pillar.
- The left side of the sword represents one’s external enviroment, things that have nothing to do with the querent or the situation but which can change everything about the outcome. It can also hold secrets about hidden paths and ways of doing things the querent hasn’t looked at yet, especially if the outcome is poor.
- The right side of the sword represents the ideas, thoughts and plans of the querent which are being used in that given moment. If the outcome is poor, consider this card carefully.
- The point of the card, the essence of the element of Air and Jen. This card is the most important card in the spread, if it’s a good outcome card, such as the Hierophant or the Emperor, even if all of the other cards are horrible the final outcome will be a positive one.
As always consider coincidental pairings, strong elemental showings, such as an unusual multitude of Pentacles, or many ATU, or many male or female figures. In meditation one may visualize oneself as a figure carrying a sword and shield on a kind of road, on their mission. Pay attention to what kind of enviroment populates as well as the details on both pieces of equipment, as well as the appearance of the object or lifeform in front of you.