Playing Card Fortune Telling. How To Do Cartomancy.

Ian Parkin is the verified author of this post.

What is cartomancy?

  • The term used for playing card fortune telling is cartomancy. This differs from working with Tarot and Oracle cards in certain ways but there are similarities. So just grab the old playing card deck that you have laying around, follow these steps, and you will soon be telling fortunes like a gypsy.

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What is Cartomancy vs Tarot?

  • In the Tarot, you have TWO decks totaling 78 cards. The Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). In Cartomancy (Playing Card Fortune Telling) you have one deck that should be of 52 cards. If using Tarot for cartomancy you would simply put the major arcana cards away and then remove the KNIGHT cards in each of the four suits in the minor deck. That done you have the same as a regular playing card deck. 
Playing Card Fortune Telling Is Called Cartomancy

Older tarot card minors were originally like regular cards in that a ten of cups would simply display ten cups or chalices on the card. Other than having the knights the minor arcana in tarot decks were just the same as all the playing cards. That all changed with the Rider Waite deck, when full illustrations replaced the basic playing card format.

Nowadays most fully illustrated Tarot Decks are inspired by the original Rider Waite deck. If you wanted to learn the Tarot, starting with the Rider Waite will make it easier to later understand all other decks because you would have a good feel for the underlying imagery of later decks. (You will know where those pictures came from).

How does cartomancy work?

The traditional cartomancy meanings for playing card fortune telling are as follows.

The face cards are used to represent the people in our lives with the queens being women and the kings men, while jacks represent younger men. Spades include people with dark hair and dark eyes, clubs represent those with hazel eyes and brown hair. The face cards of hearts are people who have fairer complexions with green and auburn or darker blond hair. Diamond face cards are those with light brown, red or blond hair and blue eyes.

Each suit represents something different, just as they do with the corresponding tarot cards. Hearts have to do with affection, love the home and domestic life. It's a lucky suit that can represent success. Clubs also mean success, but in business ventures rather than at the home front. Of course, like any cards in the deck, they also have a reverse meaning based on the cards around them and the direction of the cards. Diamonds are life outside the home and may mean you'll realize money, but not by a lucky streak but hard work. Spades represent suffering, illness and misfortune. They are often warnings of upcoming events if changes aren't made.

The cartomancy deck's 52 cards are basically the Tarot's Minor Arcana minus the knights.

What does the joker card symbolize?

  • Some people include the jokers in their playing card fortune telling practice. The cartomancy joker is similar to the fool of the Tarot's major arcana and can symbolize being free to make your own choices and having the courage to take chances.

When using a deck of ordinary playing cards to divine the future, if you want reverse meanings, you must make sure you make a mark to notate which is the top. Since most playing cards look the same no matter which side is up it's the only way to get all the important information from each type of spread.

What is a cartomancy spread?

  • Most readers use one of two type of spreads. One is based on the position of the cards and is called a positional spread, while the other lays out the cards in a line and is read much like you'd read a story. It's easy to understand why it's called a storybook spread. Within these two basic methods, there are a variety of techniques. The horoscope spread, for instance, combines the basics of astrology with the basics of cartomancy, with 12 cards spread in a circle and each one corresponding with the astrological signs. People often find that one type of spread, storybook or positional, suits them best.

A Popular Playing Card Fortune Telling Layout

Celtic Cross Cartomancy SpreadCeltic Cross Spread For Playing Card Fortune Telling

The Celtic Cross Cartomancy Spread

1. Central card will represent your main issue

2. Horizontally crossing the vertical central card will represent your main challenge

3. Below (1) place your 3rd card which will represent what you should focus on as a solution

4. To the left of (1) place your 4th card which represents your past

5. Above (1) your fifth card represents your strengths

6. To the right of (1) your sixth card represents the near future

7. Below and to the right of (6) place 7th card to indicate a suggested way forward

8. Below and to the right of (6) and above (7) place 8th card which illuminates something you need to know

9. Above (8) your ninth card can indicate your hopes and/or fears

10. Above (9) your tenth card reveals your potential future.

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Can you do a tarot reading with playing cards?

To do a tarot reading using playing cards use the correspondences below:

  • Playing Cards | Minor Tarot
  • Hearts = Cups/Chalices
  • Spades = Swords
  • Diamonds = Pentacles/Coins
  • Clubs = Wands/Rods
  • Jacks = Pages
  • [None] = Knights
  • Queens = Queens
  • Kings = Kings
  • [None] = Major Arcana
  • Jokers = Major Arcana Fools

For instance, if you have a heart, it's similar to the meaning of cups or chalices. Spades represent swords, while diamonds are pentacles or coins. That leaves the clubs representing the wands or rods used in the Tarot deck. The face cards are the same as the Minor Arcana, with the Kings and Queens being the same as the king in the Tarot deck and the Jack representing the Page. There is no knight and the two jokers can relate to the Fool Tarot Card


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