What is Cartomancy
Cartomancy is the act of divining using cards. Divining
means to find out by inspiration, intuition or magic; to foresee.
Divination is most often practiced as a means of foretelling the
future, however, many people who practice divination using cards or
other tools find it a helpful tool for exploring the present and the
past as well.
What are the origins of cartomancy?
history is cartomancy is shrouded in mystery. We do know that playing
cards have been around at least 600 years and it is believed that paper
cards originate in China since they developed the first known paper
currency which resembled playing cards. It is believed that the
tradition of playing cards traveled from Western Asia to Egypt, then to
North Africa. From there, they finally surfaced in Europe. One theory
of the history states that the Arabs and Moors introduced the cards to
the Spaniards in 1379. In Spain, people called the cards naibi, which
means "to foretell." Whether they originated as tools for playing games
or for divination purposes cannot be sure, however, cards were
definitely being used for predictive purposes by the sixteenth
century. By the eighteenth century, cartomancers - as fortune tellers
were frequently called - were all the rage. The Emperor Napoleon is
said to have consulted the cards on a regular basis.
Playing cards and tarot cards
people are not aware that the 52-card playing deck that can be found in
almost every home is almost identical to the tarot deck, although
research has not yet proven which came first. The traditional tarot
deck contains a total of 78 cards. Twenty-two cards form the Major
Arcana and 56 cards form the Minor Arcana, from which the regular
playing deck is derived. Instead of three face cards, the tarot deck
has four face cards, called court cards. They are Page, Knight, Queen
and King. The Minor Arcana consists of four suits: Wands (Clubs);
Cups (Hearts); Swords (Spades); and Pentacles (Diamonds).
My approach to cartomancy
tarot, cartomancy using playing cards is typically used as a purely
predictive tool. The meanings given to the cards are generally simpler
and of the fortune-telling variety. Alternatively, the tarot is often
used as a tool for self-discovery and meditation and the card symbolism
and meanings are explored in great depth. Since I came to use playing
cards for divination after reading tarot cards for several years, my
card interpretations are probably more detailed than many. They are
based on my observations from studying tarot and numerology.
created this website to share my ideas and offer a more robust variety
of information on playing card cartomancy than I have been able to find
on the Internet. I hope you enjoy it!
The Four Suits
| || |
| || || |
reflect the drive, energy and ambition you put forward to reach your
goals. They can reflect struggle and weariness or determination and a
fighting spirit. Clubs often relate to business endeavors, career or
work issues and any area where you may face obstacles and learn to
assert yourself. Clubs reflect your desire to get moving, take action,
defeat the enemy, and achieve victory. Too much club energy may mean
that you are moving too fast, taking on too many responsibilities and
expending too much energy.
| || |
| || |
| || || |
reflect your emotional state, the status of your relationships, and
your ideals and wishes. They depict your feelings and concerns about
others and may show love, happiness, estrangement or boredom. Hearts
most often relate to partnership or group concerns. They may reveal
opportunities to identify and pursue your secret desire and
opportunities to celebrate your thankfulness and success. Hearts
reflect your desire to share and cooperate, resolve interpersonal
conflicts, and find what truly makes you happy. Too much heart energy
may mean that you have your head in the clouds and are living in a
fantasy world. It can also suggest that you are too emotionally
vulnerable to the desires of others.
| || |
| || |
| || || |
reflect areas where you are experiencing blockage, conflict and a need
for change and elimination. These cards are often seen in a negative
light, but their purpose is to let you know when it's time to move on,
give up a bad habit, or release a destructive or unhealthy pattern in
your life. Spades often relate to problems and conflicts as well as
illness or health-related difficulties. However, these cards hold the
power of transformation as well. Spades reflect your inability to let
go, to see clearly, to share and cooperate with others, or to act in a
direct manner. Too much spade energy suggests that you are in denial
about some issue and refusing to make necessary changes in your life.
| || |
| || || || |
reflect your sense of financial and emotional security and issues
concerning structure and stability. They can show how much you have,
don't have and how much you want. Diamonds reveal what brings you
comfort and satisfaction and they usually relate to concerns about
money, possessions, home and family. Diamonds reflect your desire to
acquire things, to increase your financial status, and to feel
satisfied with your progress and station in life. Too much diamond
energy suggests rigidity, hoarding and possessiveness. It can show you
are unwilling to change or have a deep-seated fear of losing some form
is an integral part of cartomancy. Below is an outline of numerical
meanings of the pip cards, those numbered one to ten. To find detailed
card descriptions, click on the appropriate number.
new beginnings, ambitions, fresh opportunities, and planting new seeds
which may have long-range developments. Aces signify the right time to
begin a new venture or they can reflect a deeply held desire. They
show that it is a time of leadership, independent thought, and progress.
partnership issues, cooperation, receptivity and the need to make a
choice or decision. Twos often herald a time of waiting and being
passive and a need to cultivate patience. Twos often relate to the
characteristics of sensitivity, gentleness, and shyness.
growth, creativity and expansion. Threes signal a time where
self-expression and self-promotion are likely and there is a
possibility of recognition and expression through the written or spoken
word. Three represents groups and shared interests so it also reflects
increased social activity.
stability, order and structure. Fours suggest a time to lay
foundations for future success. They may also reflect a period of
restriction and burdens where you feel you are faced with important
decisions. Fours relate to self-discipline, hard work and maintaining
the status quo.
a desire for freedom and independence that makes you go against the
status quo. Fives can signal a time of nervous energy, challenges and
conflicts with others, and adventure and impulsive actions. Fives also
suggest travel and expansion as well as fluctuations in many areas of
a transition from the past to the future. Sixes also relate to
responsibilities to others, and duty to home and family. It is a
number that is associated with peace and harmony and its vibration
tends to settle any past debts.
a need for introspection, independent self-discovery and inner growth.
Sevens reflect taking an original approach to learning, meditation,
retreat, and reevaluation. Sevens often signal a time of slow growth
and may also suggest an attitude of defiance.
power, leadership, money and career issues. Eights relate to the focus
and control necessary to direct your energy toward achieving your
goals. They show movement and changing direction. This number
signifies advancement in the external world, property issues and
completion, self-fulfillment, and preparation to let go and move to a
new level of experience. Nines suggest a time of attainment and
clearing the decks to make way for new opportunities. It also
symbolizes compassion, selflessness and charity.
the end of a cycle and starting over on a new level of experience which
can mean a new marriage, house or a promotion. Tens also reflect
having too much of something and the stress and preoccupation that
The face cards
are Jacks, Queens and Kings. These cards usually represent people
surrounding or influencing your question. In most playing card decks,
the face cards actually face to the right or to the left. This
directional clue can help you to determine the personality or concerns
of the person represented by the card.
Here's an example
where the King of Hearts is facing the 2 of Spades: This may signify
that a man surrounding the questioner (perhaps the questioner's
husband, father or someone having an emotional connection to the
questioner) is feeling indecisive and doubtful. Or, as a significator,
it may reflect a male questioner with concerns about love who is not
seeing things clearly or is indecisive in a relationship.
For detailed card descriptions for each suit, click on the highlighted title.
youth and youthful attitudes. They can represent people of either sex
that are younger or less experienced than the questioner. Jacks also
relate to issues of movement and change. Like children, they are
restless and have a need to travel and explore. They are gaining
experience and maturity and cannot be counted on to commit to anything
or anyone but themselves. They tend to browse through life, stay
neutral and seem unable to make decisions. Yet there is a stubbornness
and tenacity about them. Jacks can also represent thoughts when they
are in readings with Queens and Kings of the same suit.
women and issues of nurturing or cultivating traits and projects.
Queens often represent the growth stage of any project or goal and
relate to helpful people that can assist the questioner. Queens react
to external impulses. They judge them and based on that judgement,
either cherish or reject them. They are therefore good arbitrators and
mediators. Queens also represent nurturing our inner qualities of
introspection and intuition.
men and issues of authority and control. Kings also stand for the
endpoint of a project or goal, and reveal successful endeavors. Kings
are often considered aggressive-natured and outgoing, but unlike the
Jacks, they have matured and have gained ample experience along the
way. Kings tend to display little emotion and view life from a
particularly practical standpoint, regardless of thie suit.
is the pattern in which the cards are laid out. Spreads can help you
to gain a general picture of someone's life or they may focus on a
particular problem or question.
Below is a list of just a few
spreads you can use for doing readings. You can also create customized
spreads when you find that set spreads are too limiting to answer your
To see the spread layout and a sample reading using the spread, click on the highlighted title.
Chien De Pique
method is French, and focuses on four areas of the questioner's life,
with particular emphasis on their fate. Uses 12 - 16 cards.
The Romany Spread
gypsy favorite, this spread has been used for at least 200 years.
Choose this spread when you want to have a general look at the past,
present and future. It can also be used to answer a specific question,
revealing past influences, current circumstances and future potential.
Uses 21 cards.
The Destiny Square
spread places cards in a position which corresponds to the twelve
houses of the Zodiac. It helps to explore twelve different areas of
life, including career, home, and finances. Uses 13 cards.
spread is based on the layout of the destiny square but is performed
from a business perspective. It gives a snapshot of an organization
from the inside out. Uses 12 cards.
The Six-Card Linear Spread
is a short, basic spread that helps to answer specific questions. It
also reveals a primary challenge the questioner is encountering and the
strengths and skills needed to deal with it. A seventh card can be
selected as a timing card.
The Celtic Cross
is a popular tarot spread and it gives an excellent overview of the
questioner's situation. It also provides insight into the questioner's
past, and hopes and fears. It can be used for a general reading or for
a specific question. Uses 10 cards.
The Process-Direction Spread
spread is useful for receiving advice on the direction you should take
regarding your concern. Choose this spread when trying to answer
"should" questions, for example, "should I take the job out of state?"
Uses 9 cards.
this spread to help you answer questions regarding your relationship
with another person. Cards are chosen to represent both sides of the
partnership. Uses 10 cards.
are energy centers in your body. This spread examines how you are
using the energy of these centers and shows areas of potential
blockage. Uses 7 cards.
Choosing a Significator
Some readings require a significator. A significator
is a card that represents the questioner and usually the card chosen is
a face card. This card is usually chosen for one of two reasons:
Sometimes, the reader will give the questioner the significator card to
focus on during the shuffling process. This allows the questioner to
focus his or her thoughts so that the reader can concentrate on the
question being asked.
(2) Often, the significator is chosen and
then put back into the deck to shuffle. If it appears in the reading,
it suggests the questioner has a good deal of control over the issue at
question. It is also important to note where the significator comes up
in the reading for further clues to answering the questioner's concerns.
cards of the same suit in a reading indicate a close relationship. For
example, if the King of Spades appears in a reading for a questioner
whose significator is the Queen of Spades, you can assume he represents
her husband or an important man in her life. If the reading is about
career issues, this could be a colleague or boss. Suits also have an
opposite which reflect a negative affinity. Hearts oppose Diamonds and
Clubs oppose Spades. So, if the King of Clubs appears in a reading for
a woman symbolized by the Queen of Spades, this could represent a man
who will bring tension and difficulty for her.
are chosen to represent men, Queens for women and Jacks for young
people and children. But what suit should be used? There are many
systems for choosing a significator and you should come up with a
system that works for you. You can choose the suit based on the
questioner's concerns, or based on their Astrological sign, or their
personality type, or any other method you create. Below is an outline
of typical methods.
| || |
Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
| || |
lively, energetic, enthusiastic, leadership potential
warm, friendly, compassionate, creative, loving
powerful, intelligent, crafty, melancholy
methodical, materialistic, practical, down-to-earth
| || |
love, relationships, celebrations
decisions, deceit, worries, health problems
money, possessions, home and family, security
often wonder how a reader sees major life changes such as pregnancy or
divorce in a spread. No single card signifies an event of this
magnitude. It takes several cards combined in a spread to trigger the
possible interpretation of such events.
The following list shows
certain combinations that may be seen in readings. These combinations
do not typically signify predictive events but usually indicate issues
surrounding or influencing the question. For example, if you see a
combination for death, this may signify that someone related to the
questioner has recently passed. You should see at least three of the
cards shown in the combination before interpreting them as listed.
Addictions - 7 of Hearts, 9 of Hearts, Jack of Hearts
Arguments/Fights - 3 of Spades, 5 of Spades, Jack of Spades, 5 of Clubs, 7 of Clubs
Birth/Pregnancy - Ace of Hearts, 3 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, 10 of Hearts
Death - Ace of Spades, 9 of Spades, 10 of Spades
Deceit - 7 of Spades, Jack of Spades, 7 of Hearts, Jack of Hearts
Divorce - Ace of Spades, 3 of Spades, 5 of Spades, 10 of Spades, 5 of Hearts
Health problems - 4 of Spades, 8 of Spades, 9 of Spades, 10 of Spades, 10 of Clubs
House or property issues - 4 of Clubs, 9 of Diamonds, 10 of Diamonds
Job Layoff or Quitting Job - 4 of Spades, 5 of Spades, 6 of Spades, 7 of Spades
Job Raise or Promotion - Ace of Diamonds, 3 of Diamonds, 8 of Diamonds, 6 of Clubs
Marriage - Ace of Hearts, 2 of Hearts, 3 of Hearts, 10 of Hearts
Monetary increase - Ace of Diamonds, 4 of Diamonds, 6 of Diamonds, 9 of Diamonds
Travel - 6 of Spades, 8 of Hearts, Jack of Clubs, 8 of Clubs
The Numerical Theme
Finding the reading's numerical theme
is one way to broaden your understanding of the questioner's concerns.
The numerical theme of a reading tends to reveal the questioner's
current state of mind or where their energies are directed with regard
to their question. It sometimes sheds light on readings where there is
internal conflict between the questioner's energy and his or her
external influences. For example, the questioner may be presented with
a new job opportunity but they may be in waiting mode, unable or
unwilling to act upon the opportunity.
Usually, the numerical
theme helps to explain why the questioner is asking the question. For
example, when a questioner is in a mode of reflection or contemplation,
their numerical theme is often a seven (introspection and wondering
about direction and progress). When they are concerned about security
and may be afraid to take on a new adventure their numerical theme is
often a four (holding onto what you have, maintaining the status quo).
When the questioner is ready to take action, they may receive a
numerical theme of five (adventure, freedom and travel) or ten
(starting over on a new level of experience).
To find the numerical theme for a reading, I add all the numbers in the spread using the following coding system:
Ace through 10 = 1 through 10
Jack = 11
Queen = 12
King = 13
I add all the numbers and arrive at a number which is reduced to a
single digit by adding the individual components of the number. If you
are familiar with numerology, this process should be familiar. Here's
an example. Let's say the numbers for your reading add up to 56. I
add 5 + 6 = 11. Then I add 1 + 1 = 2. Two is your numerical theme.
This may suggest that you are concerned about partnership issues,
cooperation and compatibility. It can also mean you are vacillating
and indecisive about some issue.
often want to know when an event will occur and I believe that this is
not something that cartomancy can reveal accurately like astrology.
However there are a few techniques that others have come up with that
can give timing estimates if you would like to include them in your
readings. Here are some of these techniques:
there are 52 cards and 52 weeks in a year, each card suit can be broken
down into the 13 weeks of each season. Clubs correspond to spring;
Hearts to summer; Diamonds to fall; and Spades to winter. On the Pips
and Face Cards pages, I have given the time periods for each card.
You can assign time periods to each face card according to their zodiac cycles:
King of Clubs - Leo
Queen of Clubs - Aries
Jack of Clubs - Sagittarius
King of Hearts - Scorpio
Queen of Hearts - Cancer
Jack of Hearts - Pisces
King of Spades - Aquarius
Queen of Spades - Libra
Jack of Spades - Gemini
King of Diamonds - Capricorn
Queen of Diamonds - Taurus
Jack of Diamonds - Virgo
you assign each ace to its appropriate season, you can go through the
shuffled deck until you come to an Ace. The Ace that appears reflects
the season during which the event will happen.
Twelve months spread
Using the Destiny Square spread,
you can find out what will happen during each month of the year.
Instead of using the spread for astrological houses, make each card
represent a month of the year. Look for clues in the cards that
suggest timing issues. For example, if the questioner is asking about
when he will get a raise and the Ace of Diamonds shows up in the month
of July, a raise may be forthcoming at that time.
There are many timing techniques out there. What is important is that you find a system or create one that works for you!