Playing Cards

Playing cards probably came to Europe in the fourteenth century from the Middle East. There are plenty of references to playing cards from 1377 onwards. Tentative connections have been made with very early cards found in China from the tenth century. It is thought that European playing cards are based on Mamluk playing cards. These Islamic playing cards do not have pictures, instead there is an elaborate suit sign with a title: Malik (King), Na'ib (Viceroy) dan Na'ib Thani (Second Viceroy). The suits are Cups, Polo Sticks, Swords and Coins.

Telling fortunes using playing cards is well known as being used by the Gypsies. But wherever cards are played, they are used for divination purposes also.

Playing cards vary from country to country according to the number of cards included in each deck, the suits used and which court cards appear. Decks may also come with 2 or more jokers. Usually the jokers are not included in divination but some readers choose to use them and give them Joker the meaning of the Tarot Fool (New developments, fresh starts, taking a risk).

However, the Joker is not actually a descendant of the Tarot Fool. Instead, it was an American invention in the 1860's for the game of Juker (now known as Euchre) where it was used as the "Best Bower". By the 1880's the Juker had become the Joker and had started appearing in decks all around the world.



Card Decks Around the World

Deck Suits Court Cards No. of cards
Standard English/French
Divinatory Meanings
Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades

France: Cœurs, Carreaux, Trèfles, Piques
Italy: Cuori, Quadri, Fiori, Picche
Spain: Corazones, Diamantes, Tréboles, Picas
Germany: Herz, Karo, Kreuz, Pik

Jack, Queen, King

French: Valet, Dame, Roi
Italy: Fante, Regina, Re
Spanish: Jota, Reina, Rey
German:Bube, Dame, König

English Variants
(36 Cards: Ace and 7-10 plus 2/3/4/6 Hearts plus Face Cards)
(32 Cards: Ace and 7-10 plus Face Cards)
Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades
Variant: Hearts, Squares, Clovers and Pikes
Jack, Queen, King 36/32
Southern Italy
Carte italiane

(40 Cards: Ace-7 plus Face Cards)
Cups, Coins, Staves and Swords
Italian: Coppe, Denari, Bastoni, Spade
Page, Knight, King
Italian: Re, Cavallo, Fante
Baraja española

(48 Cards Ace-9, 10, 11, 12)
(40 Cards Ace-7, 10, 11, 12)
Divinatory Meanings
Cups, Coins, Staves and Swords
Spanish: Copas, Oros, Bastos, Espadas
10 (Sota), 11 (Caballo), 12 (Rey) 48/40
Eastern Germany
Deutsches Blatt

(36 Cards: Ace (Daus) and 6-10 plus Face Cards)
Hearts, Bells, Acorns and Leaves
German: Herz, Schellen, Eichel, Gras/Laub/Blatt/Grün
Under, Over, King
German: Unter (Bauer), Ober (Dame), König
Switzerland (German-speaking)
Schweizer Blatt

(36 Cards: Ace & 6-10 plus Face Cards)
Roses, Bells, Acorns and Shields
German: Rosen, Schellen, Eichel, Schilten
Underm, Over, King
German: Unter, Ober, König
Central & Eastern Europe
Mitteleuropäisches Blatt
Doppeldeutsches Blatt

(32 Cards: Ace (Daus) and 7-10 plus Face Cards)
(36 Cards: Ace (Daus) and 6-10 plus Face Cards)
Hearts, Bells, Acorns and Leaves
German: Herz, Schellen, Eichel, Grün
Croatian: Crvena, Bundeva, Žir, Zelena
Under, Over, King
German: Unter, Ober, König
Croatian: Unter/Dečko, Iber/Kraljica, Kralj

All these decks have been used for fortune telling purposes over the years. The meanings can vary drastically from one area to another. Unlike the often standardised meanings of the popular Tarot decks (usually based on the Rider-Waite deck), regular playing card meanings still come from a long oral tradition.

The following table shows how the meaning of the 7 Hearts may differ between traditions and authors...

Comparison of 7 Hearts

Source Meaning
Traditional English (52 cards) False hopes and broken promises, an unreliable person.
Traditional English (32 cards) Contentment. (Reversed: Boredom).
Traditional French (52 cards) Close lady friend.
Traditional Italian (48 cards) Jealousy from a lady.
Traditional Spanish (40 cards) Joy. Happy events. Things work out well despite bad beginnings. Things work out after being at a standstill.
Richard Webster Card of disagreement, lover's quarrel. Temporary altercation between two people.
Sophia Reunites people from the past. Joy, spontaneity and romance.
Regina Russell A pleasant surprise. A repeated occurrence. Peace.
Joan Moore Romantic dreams come true; wisdom and inner peace follows.
Marthy Jones Difference of opinion between sweethearts. Gullibility.
Nerys Dee The card of emotional fulfillment. Emotional energy.
Francis Bevan A successful new idea, a period of 7.
Hazel Whitaker (32 cards) A fickle admirer.
Sasha Fenton Unfaithful or unreliable person. News.
King Midas cards Arguments with people close to you. Avoid hasty words.
Celestine Keep plans flexible: you could be let down at the last moment. Romance is well-starred.
Robert Camp Spiritual love, letting go of personal attachments.
Chita St. Lawrence Jealousy, envy.
Leeann Richards A deep and often disconcerting level of intimacy and communication.
Patricia Telesco Good relationships. Peace with self.
Ana Cortez The power of love, forgiveness, sickness, surgery.
Gillian Kemp Your wishes for romantic love are fulfilled on the 7th of a month, in 7 weeks or in July. Positive card. Triumph over adversity.
Mlle Lenormand (36 cards) Issues of health, energy levels
Camille Le Normand The thoughts. A weapon. A jewel. (Reversed: A package. Desire.)
Waite (32 cards)
Marriage, if the Querent is a lady, and the issue will be daughters only; if a man, it is destined that he will make a rich and happy marriage.




Playing Card Meanings

If you need a quick answer to your question, you simply need to draw one card. A single card can give an overall impression about your problem. If necessary, you can draw an additional card to clarify the first card.

In addition, this method is suitable for finding out how your day is going to go. For example, drawing a Hearts card means that issues to do with emotions and the home are going to be important that day, drawing a Diamonds card means that issues to do with hard work and affairs outside the home will be important, drawing a Clubs card means that issues to do with business and money will important, and drawing a Spades card indicates problems and difficulties will be important.

Naturally of course, spreads which include more cards give a a far more detailed reading.

The Spreads

Three Card Spread: This spread gives a quick answer/overview to a single question/issue. Lay out three cards in a row from left to right.

                                          1    2    3

The cards represent past (card 1), present (card 2) and future (card 3).

This spread can also be extended to a Nine Card Spread using three cards for the past (top row), three cards for the present (middle row) and three cards for the future (bottom row).

                                          1    2    3

                                          4    5    6

                                          7    8    9

The Horseshoe Spread: This spread gives a more general overview of your life and uses 21 cards. Lay down seven groups of three cards in the shape of a horseshoe or arch. Each group covers a category.
The seven categories are:
1 The past situation.
2 The present situation.
3 Developments in the near future.
4 What you don't expect.
5 People around you.
6 Obstacles and opposition.
7 The outcome.

The Gypsy Spread: From left to right, lay three rows of seven cards. The top row of seven cards represents the past. The middle row the present and the bottom row of seven cards the future. This 21 card spread demands great skill and is not to be attempted until you are very confident with the meanings of the cards and combining them into a meaningful narrative.

The Meanings of the Cards

The Meanings of Hearts

Ace: The home, love, friendship, joy the start of a romance. A love letter.
Two: Success and prosperity. An engagement or partnership.
Three: You need to be cautious. Don't say something you'll regret.
Four: A change, a journey or a move of house/business. A late marriage.
Five: Jealous people around you. Take your time to make any decisions.

Six: Unexpected good luck. Someone helping you out.
Seven: An unfaithful or unreliable person. Broken promises.
Eight: Visits and visitors. Invitations out or attending a party.
Nine: The wish card. Dreams come true. 
Ten: Good luck and happiness.
Jack: A close friend or a good-natured, fair-haired youth.
Queen: A kindly fair-haired woman.
King: A good-natured, fair-haired man. Good advice.

The Meanings of Hearts

Ace: A ring or present of jewellery. News about money. A letter.
Two: A love affair attracting disapproval from others. A business partnership.
Three: Legal problems, domestic arguments. A legal letter.
Four: An inheritance. Improvements in finances.
Five: Success in business. Happy family.
Six: Problems in a second marriage.
Seven: Surprise news or a gift. Problems and losses at work.
Eight: A marriage and travel late in life. Financial ups and downs.
Nine: Surprise with money. New business opportunities. Restlessness.
Ten: Money and travel highlighted. Fortunate changes.
Jack: A relative. A very fair-haired youth. Watch out for dishonesty or unreliability.
Queen: A woman who loves to party and to gossip. A flirt. A very fair-haired woman.
King: A stubborn and influential man. A very fair-haired man.

The Meanings of Clubs

Ace: Wealth, health, love and happiness. A letter concerning money.
Two: Gossip. Disappointments and opposition.
Three: Marriage to a wealthy partner. Money coming from the partner.
Four: Changes for the worse. Lies and betrayal.
Five: New friends and a successful marriage. Help from friends.
Six: Business success. Getting financial help.
Seven: Prosperity and success. Be careful of trouble coming from a person of the opposite sex.
Eight: Trouble in relationships, business and personal. Jealousy and greed.
Nine: Achievements. A new lover or admirer. Don't be stubborn.
Ten: Unexpected money coming in. Good luck. Travel abroad.
Jack: A reliable friend. A dark-haired youth.
Queen: An attractive, self-confident woman. A dark-haired woman.
King: An honest, generous and affectionate man. A dark-haired man.

The Meanings of Spades

Ace: Emotional conflict, obsession, death. Things coming to a head.
Two: Separation, gossip and deceit. Difficult changes.
Three: Unfaithfulness and partings. Be wary in partnerships.
Four: Illness. Business and money worries. Broken promises.
Five: Happy home but interference from other people. Reversals and opposition but eventual success.
Six: Small improvements.
Seven: Loss of friendship or loss of a friend. An unexpected burden. A warning against losses and sorrow.
Eight: Trouble and disappointment. Plans go awry. Friends let you down. Cancellations.
Nine: Bad luck in all things. Depression and low energy. Destruction, deaths. Extreme anxiety.
Ten: Misfortune and worry. Imprisonment. Unwelcome news.
Jack: A well-meaning but immature and unreliable youth. A very dark-haired youth.
Queen: A widow. An unscrupulous woman. A very dark-haired woman.
King: An ambitious and authoritative man. A very dark-haired man.

Joker: (optional) New developments, fresh starts, taking a risk.

You can also experiment with adding your own meanings to the cards. This is perfectly acceptable. Experience will show you new meanings along the way. The key to successful divination is to believe in your own meanings and remain consistent.

Interpretations from Shuffling and Cutting

Who would have thought that a reading can begin from the cards even before that first card is laid out. Look carefully and note how the cards are shuffled and cut. Every person is different and has their own style, but this can even differ between readings. Thank you to Andreia "Shana" Gaita for sharing insights on shuffling and cutting which appear below.

  • When a person shuffles only the bare minimum number of times, this of course shows how eager they are to get straight to the point.
  • When cards one or a few cards fall out during shuffling, take note of what they are because they are important to the reading.
  • When a lot of cards fall out, the querent is either not used shuffling cards, or they are reluctant or ambivalent about the reading.
  • When a person cuts only the top few cards from the deck, or leaves a tiny little pile, then they are reluctant to do the reading. This shows they do not really want to reveal too much or find out the true answer.
  • When cards fall from the deck as a person cuts the cards, this also shows a certain ambivalence or reluctance about the reading.
  • Shy and impressionable people cut the deck with their face virtually inches from the cards. They also tend to take any interpretations extremely literally despite their avowed scepticism.
  • Troubled querents also cut the deck with their faces inches from the deck and may take some time to do it. I also find these people tend to cut the deck dead centre if they can manage it and are most concerned to be doing it "right". These people tend to demand exact predictions and interpretations but this is because they are so troubled by their question.
  • Complex people tend to cut into multiple piles. These people cannot decide if they want to take the cards seriously or not.
  • Querents who are confident of the answer they think they will receive cut with their arm fully extended, often with a smile on their face.
  • There are people who barely glance at the cards when cutting them and expect you to shuffle and replace the cards in one pile. These people do not expect anything from the cards and are majorly sceptical or simply do not really want a reading.

When querents sit right back in their chairs and cross their arms you know they are feeling defensive. When the cards get right to the heart of the issue, you notice them lean forward and the arms are uncrossed. This simple body language reveals so much, and can be useful when the querent is determined to say only the bare minimum.

The next time you do a reading for yourself, notice how you cut the cards. Often you can pick up from the cut if you are secretly reluctant to know the answer (usually because your intuition/subconscious already knows the answer won't be what you want to hear).

If you are interested in teaching yourself how to read the cards, I can recommend you taking a look at these excellent books:


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thanks for sharing the font is too small but


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