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Reading Ordinary Playing Cards
Divination and Fortune telling with regular playing cards
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2009

Divining from regular playing cards is an old practice and I am sure many of us know at least one fortune-telling game done with this tool. Reading regular cards is called cartomancy or metasymbology. Playing cards have been called "The Devil's Picture Book" and have a few superstitions associated with them. Miners and fishermen viewed it as bad luck to have a deck with them while working or on a voyage. Thieves will rarely steal a deck as they have a belief that this will turn luck against them . Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts -Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.

Other omens and superstitions about playing cards involve their use in gambling. It is generally believed that you will never get a good hand if you are dealt the four of clubs. "The Dead Man's Hand", Aces over eights, that Wild Bill Hickock was holding when he was killed, is considered very unlucky. The nine of diamonds is sometimes referred to as "The Curse of Scotland" as it was used to give instructions for the beginning of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. On a cheerier note, we have to remember the old saying "unlucky at cards, lucky in love."

Gong Hee Fot Choy, "Greeting of Riches," is a divination system utilizing regular playing cards which Margarete Ward, a mystic and world traveler, introduced in her 1935 book. It draws heavily on Chinese and Eastern mysticism for its wisdom. This system uses a board, a book and 32 cards. Jokers, 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's and 6's were discarded and only 7's through to the Ace were utilized. The board and book are divided into 32 houses. Each card has a different meaning depending upon which house it lands, and are detailed in the book. There are 1,024 combinations. The Houses are Compasses, Marriage, Happiness, Enjoyment, Messages, Relatives, Health, Money, Seasons, Friends, Gifts, Moons, Sun, Luck, Wishes, Success, Surprises, Popularity, Abode, Journey, Papers, Vocation, Letters, Trouble, Disappointments, Death, Undertaking, Achievement, Inheritance, Callers, Gratitude and Inquiries. The hearts represent love and friendship; anything of a personal nature. The diamonds represent fortune and riches; papers of any kind. The clubs represent luck wisdom and business. The spades represent the unpleasant things of life.

Tarot reading layouts readily adapt over to regular card reading as do divinatory meanings. Hearts equate to Cups, Diamonds to Coins, Spades to Swords and Clubs to Wands. To proceed with a reading, shuffle and cut in your usual method, and deal out the layout of your choice or try the following reading.

Relationship Potential Reading

A fun reading to ascertain the future of potential suitors involves separating the Kings or the Queens from the deck. You then proceed to lay these Trump cards out side by side in this order: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades. Assign a name of someone you are involved with or interested in to each card, you can choose Unknown for one of them. Shuffle the cards and ask a question. ie: Who do I have the best chance of having a successful relationship?; Who will I marry?; Who will I date next?; Who will call me first?.

Deal out the remaining cards face up, laying them out one at a time on or below one of the Trumps, proceeding across all four and returning to the beginning if required. Your question is answered when you deal a matching suit on one of the Kings or Queens. Ask another question and start laying down cards from the beginning of the row again, stopping again when a suit matches a trump. After all of the cards have been dealt, pick up each stack and count the number of cards of each suit. Hearts denote love, clubs indicate level of happiness, diamonds predict money and spades augur sex. The more you have of one suit indicates the predominant influence or potential asset of that relationship. Look up the meanings of the cards on the reference chart for a deeper enhancement.

Hearts (Cups):

Card Suits - Hearts
Card Suits - Hearts
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Ace: love, friendship, the home and distinct happiness
King: fair haired man, affectionate, generous, impetuous, honest man, hasty in decisions, not to be relied upon for advice
Queen: fair haired woman, trustworthy, faithful loving woman, gentle & pleasing
Jack: fair haired young person, good friend, a close (or long lost) friend
10: good fortune, happiness, good news, happiness in family
9: the 'wish card', dreams and desires will come true
8: invitations, but also partings, parties or celebrations
7: someone is unreliable, broken promises by friends
6: unexpected good fortune, generosity, imposed upon by untrustworthy people
5: jealousy, inability to make a decision
4: changes, travel or postponements, marriage delayed, bachelor or spinster
3: be cautious an impulsive decision threatens good ones
2: success by careful thought, friendship

Spades (Swords):

Card Suits - Spades
Card Suits - Spades
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Ace: conflicts, a difficult love affair, misfortune, bad news, tidings of death
King: dark haired man, ambitious, usually successful, his ambition overrides everything else
Queen: dark haired woman, seductive or unscrupulous, treachery, betrayal, malice, widow
Jack: dark haired young man, well meaning but lazy person, hindrance in all work
10: worry, grief, imprisonment, negation of all good
9: bad luck, can mean delays or quarrels, all kinds of unhappiness in all things
8: disappointments and opposition, be cautious, friends might turn out to be rivals
7: a warning against loss of friendship, quarrels with friends, bad things
6: an improvement in the person's life, use perseverance to make your plans work
5: anxiety, setbacks, interferences, success in business, harmony in partners
4: jealousy, business troubles, sickness, minor misfortunes delay project
3: partings due to faithlessness, journey, bad things in love or marriage
2: scandal, gossip, danger of deceit, change, removal, loss of home, division

Diamonds (Coins):

Card Suits - Diamonds
Card Suits - Diamonds
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Ace: money, a ring, important message, or a valuable gift
King: fair haired man, stubborn and powerful, vengeful, dangerous when crossed.
Queen: fair haired woman, flirt, sophisticated, witty, interferes in other's affairs
Jack: a relative, someone not really reliable, selfish or jealous, bad news
10: journey, changes usually bringing wealth, money as objective, maybe not result
9: opportunities and surprises, usually financial, taste for adventure, travel, changes
8: late marriage or new relationship, unexpected money, a journey
7: a gift, lies, rumours, unlucky gambler, criticism
6: a reconciliation, warning against a second marriage, early marriage; early end.
5: successful meetings, especially business, unexpected news; may be business success
4: an inheritance, changes for the better, unhappiness from bad friends, betrayal
3: legal or domestic battles, quarrels, domestic disagreements
2: a great love affair increases in importance, opposed by friends

Clubs (Wands):

Card Suits - Clubs
Card Suits - Clubs
Buy this Art Print at - $11.89 Cdn

Ace: harmony, property, achievements, love, peace of mind, professional success
King: dark haired man, honest, open, generous and faithful
Queen: dark haired woman, strong, helpful, attractive, nice woman, inclined to be temperamental
Jack: a reliable friend, sincere but impatient
10: unexpected money, good luck or a gift, unexpected good fortune with bad loss
9: a new romance, disputes with friends, bad quarrels
8: opposition, chance of recklessness, someone will use money not his own
7: prosperity, chance of romantic interference, good fortune, beware of opposite sex
6: business success, profitable business in partnership
5: help from a friend or spouse, marriage with a wealthy woman
4: bad change of fortune, failure of project due to friends
3: good marriage or partnership, long engagement, and then a fast wedding
2: disappointment and opposition from friends or associates

In Closing...

Have a little fun with this, it is a very enjoyable method of divination and accessible to everyone. Someone who has trouble managing the size of the Tarot cards in shuffling and dealing or if you have problems with your hands, might find these easier to work with.


Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions
by Phillippa Waring 1976
Souvenir Press Ltd.
ISBN 0 285 63396

More Reading Ordinary Cards

Another Method for Reading Ordinary Playing Cards

Simple Method for Reading Ordinary Cards

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This page was created October 27, 2001 and updated on 2013-06-09