The Celtic Cross and the “Penultimate” Timing Method

As any tarot reader knows, the venerable Celtic Cross (CC) layout includes two “future” positions: the “Near Future” that is the last card in the “cross” section and the “End of the Matter” (or long-range “Outcome”) card at the top of the “staff” section. Although the general timing assumptions for these forecasts are built into the spread, I’ve always operated under the premise (reinforced by numerous forum conversations) that the “Near Future” would make its appearance within one to four weeks of the draw, and the “Outcome” would follow within one to three months of the completion of the reading, which is the normal limit of reliability for a CC prediction. For me the “Near Future” represents a precursor to (or stage-setter for) the “last word” on the matter, and can be looked to as a prompt or “way-shower” for what is to come and how it might be approached; the three cards between the two serve as “way-points” along the path that can facilitate any needed mid-course correction. (I noticed while reading Tarot Beyond the Basics that Anthony Louis adds the fifth card of the “cross” – which he and I both call the “Present” although I think I beat him to it by a couple of decades – to the “precursor” outlook.)

In my recent post on the “Penultimate Timing Method,” I noted that the “Near Future” card of the CC presages the arrival of the augury presented in the last card of the spread. While it doesn’t perform the same role as the “penultimate” card in a line spread, I think I’m going to apply the table developed for that method to the “Near Future” position to determine whether the onset of the short-term result will occur early or late in the time period. This amounts to a refinement that won’t make a huge amount of difference unless the querent is hoping for quick reversal of any unfortunate condition shown in the rest of the “cross” cards. On the other hand, if the divinatory nature of the card indicates difficulty, any acceleration might imply things getting worse more rapidly than originally supposed. Either way this adjustment represents a “fine-tuning” of the testimony.

The same could be done for the “End of the Matter” card, although it is likely to have less urgency about it. In either case, the timing cue provided would be secondary to the usual interpretation of the card in that position; it would just speak more precisely to the “when” consideration. More often than I care to admit, though, I will forget to do this when I’m in the middle of a reading.

Here is a simple example. The 4 of Swords in the “Near Future” position indicates that the short-term outcome will manifest “Sooner Rather Than Later;” with a nominal one-to-four-week “settling time” for this position, that would mean closure within slightly less than two weeks; in more conventional terms, the suit of Swords would place it in the same ballpark. The Prince of Cups (RWS Knight) in the “End of the Matter” position carries a “Fairly Soon” connotation; this long-range prediction normally arrives within one-to-three months, so this card pushes it toward the shorter span, perhaps six weeks out, with the suit of Cups suggesting slippage to a slightly longer target date. These distinctions would only matter if the querent is planning something specific around the projected time of the events.

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