The Amazing Math of the Celtic Cross!

The Fool Tarot CardSo you’re getting a Tarot reading and you look over the cards and mumble to yourself “I’ve had this spread before!” Well, not likely.

Actually there’s a huge possibility that no one in the world has ever had exactly that spread. Why is that? it turns out there are a lot of different Tarot Card Celtic Cross spreads. Let’s see if we can figure out how many there are (don’t worry, this will be easy).

The Tarot Deck has 78 different cards in it. And the Celtic Cross Spread uses ten cards. But — and this is important — the position of each card is significant.

So unlike, say, a poker hand where you have four aces and a king of diamonds, the order that the cards appear makes spreads with the same ten cards different.

A spread with the Fool Card in the first position is much different than a spread with the Fool Card in the second position — or the third position and so on. So even in a three card spread, there are 456 thousand possible spreads. With the Celtic Cross, with it’s ten possible card positions, the number of spreads gets big.

How big? Really big. I mean astronomically big. So let’s calculate how many possible spreads there are. The math is simple. We just multiply.

As I mentioned, there are 78 different cards in a Tarot Deck. So to fill up that first position in the Celtic Cross Spread we have 78 different cards that can appear — already 78 different possible spreads.

Now, since we deal one card into the first position we have 77 cards left to choose from to fill the second position. To figure out how many spreads are possible with two cards, we multiply these two numbers together:

78 x 77 = 6006

So far so good. So remember that 3 card spread? 456 thousand possibilities? On the third position we have 76 cards to choose from (we’ve used two) so the possibilities in a 3 card spread are:

78 x 77 x 76 = 456,456

So how about the Celtic Cross Spread with it’s TEN POSSIBLE POSITIONS? For each position we have one less card to use and we multiply it times the previous total. So with ten cards the math looks like this:

78 x 77 x 76 x 75 x 74 x 73 x 72 x 71 x 70 x 69 = ????

Like I mentioned this is a BIG number. Real big. Are you ready? Here it is:


That’s the number of different Celtic Cross Spreads that are possible. So how big is it? Well, if there are seven billion people in the world right now every one of them would have to deal 714,285,714 Tarot Spreads each to go through all the possibilities (which would take each person about 40,000 years!)

Or suppose you started dealing Celtic Cross Tarot Spreads right after the big bang occurred (about 13.8 billion years ago). If it takes 30 minutes to deal and evaluate each spread and you dealt one spread every half hour from then until now, right at this moment you would only have dealt one ten-thousandth of the possible spreads! Oh well, 9,999 big bangs to go…

What does this all mean? Each ten card Celtic Cross Spread is a unique gift that may never been seen in the universe again. So treat it as the unique message it is: an amazing slice of the laws of probability that will only come around once in eternity.

A unique spread that is yours and yours alone.

So enjoy!

Phillip Guillaume