“Destiny plays its cards in a way that no one can comprehend.”
– Anurag Shourie
Rather than being cast like dice, cards are purposefully shuffled with the question in mind, then drawn to determine an insightful answer. For card divination (also called Cartomancy), most people get a tarot deck or regular playing cards, but other options exist. Business cards, greeting cards, flash cards, or hand-drawn symbolic cards are functional media for the creative-minded modern Witch or Pagan.
Card Divination: 13 is the Magic Number
Tarot cards and playing cards already have some interpretive values ascribed to them by tradition. If you make other card sets, however, create at least thirteen cards so that the responses can somehow touch on the diversity of human experience. You’ll also need to predetermine each card’s meaning (both upright and reversed), as you did with the personally devised casting systems. Make note of those in your Book of Shadows for future reference.
The number of cards drawn out of a set for a reading varies from system to system, so it’s really up to you. You can draw one for a yes or no answer, but for a little more insight draw at least three cards:
Card One: represents the past or underlying influences.
Card Two: symbolizes present factors in the question
Card Three: the final card signifying the future or next actions.
If you decide to draw more cards, consider some traditional tarot or rune layouts for the designated meaning of each.
Playing Cards, The Suits, and The Elements
Playing cards are the modern relative of Tarot decks in a simplified form. Having 40 instead of 72 cards (without face cards), the four major suits correspond to the four main symbols in Tarot:
Hearts: Cups/Shells/Chalice representing love, relationships, emotions, the Water Element.
Spades: Swords/Arrows illustrating conflict, struggle, power, knowledge, the Air Element.
Diamonds: Coins/Pentacles/Disks symbolizing money-related matters, self-images, tenacity, security, the Earth Element.
Clubs:Rods/Wands/Batons reflecting concrete matters like business, creative energy, manifestation, the Fire Element.
If you are buying a playing card deck specifically for divination, get one that has a definite right-side up when you look at it (in other words you can tell when the picture on the card upside down). This increases the potential interpretive values from 40 to 80 outcomes. Next, take out all the face cards and joker. This leaves you with Ace through Ten in each suit.
Shuffle the deck while thinking intently about your question, draw three cards, then interpret them according to the following generalized list (or one of your own devising). This list gives the upright meaning first and reversed meaning second.
Cartomancy and the Suit of Hearts (Cups)
Upright: Success despite difficulties.
Reversed: Success, but only after a long, diligent struggle.
Upright: Reason for hope.
Reversed: Relying on the wrong person.
Upright: Fondness returned.
Reversed: Unrequited love.
Upright: Harmonious relationship.
Reversed: Unexpected turn for the worse.
Upright: Good counsel from a friend.
Reversed: Listen to your heart instead of others’ opinions.
Upright: A move or personal transition; stay put-stop.
Reversed: Looking elsewhere for what you already have.
Upright: Problems erupt.
Reversed: Difficulty leads to arguments and separation.
Upright: Abundance, often financial.
Reversed: Monetary improvements that need to be handled, prudently.
Upright: Good news.
Reversed: Mixed or enigmatic news.
Cartomancy and the Suit of Spades (Swords)
Upright: A saddening announcement.
Reversed: Bad news of a personal nature.
Upright: Terrible situations.
Reversed: Death or an unhappy ending.
Upright: Don’t move forward with plans right now.
Reversed: The destruction of efforts or plans.
Upright: Small miscommunications.
Reversed: Misunderstanding leads to disagreement.
Upright: A turnaround of some kind.
Reversed: Things will go downhill.
Upright: Troubled times, but family or friends help.
Reversed: Close acquaintances jump ship when trouble arises.
Upright: A partnership’s showing signs of trouble.
Upright: Feeling unhappy or unfulfilled.
Reversed: Neglect causes a separation.
Upright: Lies and underhandedness.
Reversed: Betrayal by a trusted friend or companion.
Upright: Diversion from a conflict.
Reversed: Pleasure that results in trouble or an argument.
Cartomancy and the Suit of Diamonds (Coins)
Upright: A new home or apartment.
Reversed: Look closely before making a contractual commitment.
Upright: Postponement of plans by choice.
Reversed: Things that you cannot control cause delays.
Upright: Improved finances help a relationship.
Reversed: A relationship whose focus is wrong (as in money).
Upright: Spend a little money to get away from it all.
Reversed: Be prudent in your travels or use of vacation time.
Reversed: Improvements, but ones that take a lot of hard work to achieve.
Upright: A business prospect solidifies.
Reversed: Be wary before accepting a forthcoming proposal (read the fine print).
Upright: A raise or promotion.
Reversed: Carefully consider this opportunity, it may not be as good as it looks.
Upright: Legal costs.
Reversed: An unscrupulous legal arrangement.
Upright: A partnership blossoms potentially into love.
Reversed: Watch any dealings with companions closely, they may have hidden motives.
Upright: Financial news.
Reversed: Bad financial news arrives.
Cartomancy and the Suit of Clubs (Rods)
Upright: Success, especially financial.
Reversed: Be wary of perceived improvements; they won’t last.
Upright: A gift or offer of assistance.
Reversed: Accept this, knowing strings are attached.
Upright: Help from an acquaintance leads to prosperity.
Reversed: An offer that doesn’t produce what it promises.
Upright: Advancement (mental, spiritual, or financial).
Reversed: Fooling yourself into believing things are better.
Upright: Mastery of some type.
Reversed: Being a know-it-all instead of listening.
Upright: Mingling with others provides good ideas.
Reversed: Don’t listen too closely to well-intended advice without listening to your heart.
Upright: Disillusionment or dissatisfaction.
Reversed: Consider your own actions as they’re causing more of a problem.
Upright: Discord followed by resolution.
Reversed: Discord leading to separation.
Upright: Watch your purse strings and allocate time carefully.
Reversed: Don’t throw caution to the winds-stay focused.
Upright: Prosperity in business.
Reversed: Temporary business improvements followed by setbacks.
Say you asked about love prospects. The three cards that appeared, in order, were the ten of spades, eight of clubs, and eight of hearts, all Upright. This means you’ve been burned in past relationships. This negative experience is somehow affecting the way you act in present settings, especially with someone currently showing interest. If you let go of the past and open your eyes, you’ll see that a good opportunity is waiting from which a very satisfying relationship could develop.
Please note that other interpretations for playing cards exist in various books on divination and Cartomancy if you want to personalize or adapt this system further. Also, you could use the interpretive values for each card’s corresponding Tarot card instead, which would provide more detailed responses. Again, use your instincts to guide you in how best decipher and apply your readings.
Note: Some magical practitioners and readers include the Jack, King and Queen of each suit using their corresponding meanings in the Tarot, along with the Joker, which behaves like the Fool Tarot Card.
Making a Greeting Card Divination Set
Look at the cards one at a time. What words or phrases come immediately to mind with the imagery? Use these as a foundation for your interpretations. For example, bells might represent announcements or joyous occasions. Reversed they could symbolize plans that go awry. Other common imagery that appears on various greeting cards can potentially be interpreted as follows:
Upright: a new beginning or literal birth, Reversed: delays in getting something started.
Upright: a gift or another pleasant surprise.
Reversed: a surprise that turns out badly.
Upright: look beyond the surface to find your treasure.
Reversed: a proverbial Pandora’s box opening.
Upright: a young man who is helpful and kind.
Reversed: a young man with his own agenda.
Upright: cause for celebration.
Reversed: don’t get greedy or overconfident.
Upright: curiosity leads to further mystery.
Reversed: a setback, but one from which you recover.
Upright: your humor is an ally and a coping mechanism.
Reversed: don’t become the class clown.
Upright: faithfulness among friends and family.
Reversed: dishonesty or disloyalty.
Upright: follow your dreams wherever they lead.
Reversed: keep one foot in reality when making plans.
Upright: beauty and hope surround you.
Reversed: take care; things don’t “smell” right here.
Upright: rewards that come by your own handiwork.
Reversed: being undone through lack of effort.
Upright: a project comes to fruition.
Reversed: delays and entanglements.
Get Well: h3>
Upright: take a break before you get sick.
Reversed: unrecognized or untreated disease or illness.
Upright: a young woman who is helpful and kind.
Reversed: a young woman with her own agenda.
Upright: improved love prospects.
Reversed: deteriorating love prospects.
Upright: a new residence or job.
Reversed: -travel and the gipsy spirit.
Upright: progress is halted temporarily.
Reversed: a standstill over which you have no control.
Upright: a man who is helpful and kind.
Reversed: a man with his own agenda.
Upright: listen to your instincts and trust your heart.
Reversed: your intuition is faulty, get counsel.
Upright: cooling of emotions, not of your choosing
Reversed: distance yourself to get perspective
Upright: blessings, abundance, good prospects
Reversed: temper good news with prudence and wisdom
Upright: put down your roots to withstand the wind
Reversed: you’re on dubious ground; watch your step!
Upright: a woman who is helpful and kind
Reversed: a woman with her own agenda
Putting it to Work:
Write down each card in your personal set and the meanings you’ve given it in Upright and Reversed position in your Book of Shadows.
Shuffle and think about your question then draw out the cards. Returning to your earlier question about love say you pulled the woman (Reversed), sun, and heart (Reversed), in order. This might mean that in the past a particular woman negatively influenced the way you think about relationships. While right now things are going smoothly, love’s path will remain difficult in the future unless you shake off that influence.
Easy Divination with Cartomancy
Learning Cartomancy isn’t difficult. The most time-consuming part of the process comes when you are making your own or personalizing an existing system. Having said that most people find they get much better results this way.
One small word of advice. Don’t overthink the symbolic value for the cards you use. Intuition doesn’t require hours of study. Go with the first thing that comes to mind. Why? Because THAT interpretation is the one to which you respond most strongly.
– Good readings!
Adapted from “Wicca 2000 by Patricia Telesco,” All Rights Reserved.