Cartomancy - Fortune Telling Using Playing Cards

Category: Tools for Divination Hits: 35660


Cartomancy is the act of divining using cards. Divining means to find out by inspiration, intuition or magic; to foresee. Cartomancy is a divination tool where by playing cards are used, and is similar to a Tarot reading.

Learn the past, present and future with a regular deck of playing cards. No tricks, no special talent, no psychic ability. It is not magic either. If you can read this you can learn cartomancy with a regular deck of cards. All you need is some basic knowledge. It's easy, so keep reading.

By using a regular 52 card deck of playing cards you can tell your fortune and see what lies before you.

A Little Background on Cartomancy

Long before people used cards to play games, they were used to foretell the future. In fact, playing cards were invented for divination purposes.

The Gypsies are probably the most well know people that have in the past used cartomancy for fortune telling. But history goes beyond. The deck of cards has been around for about 600 years as far as we can tell. The thought is that the cards may have originated in China. China's currency greatly resembled the deck of playing cards and its believed that China was the first to develop paper currency. The tradition of playing cards went from Western Asia to Egypt, then to North Africa. From there, Europe. Theory has it that the Arabs and Moors introduced the cards to the Spaniards in 1379. In Spain the people called the cards Naibi, which means "to foretell." The question remains, were the cards made for game play or as tools for divination? We do know that by the sixteenth century cards were used for the means of fortune telling. By the eighteenth century, cartomancy was a hit. Even the Emperor Napoleon was said to have "consulted" the cards on a regular basis. Cartomancy, a strange word that can do so much.

Tips for Reading Cards

Look at Predominant Suit

If the reading does not require a Significator card, make a mental note of the Significator card which would represent the Questioner. If that card shows up in the reading, it takes on special significance.

If the Joker was not intended to be included in the deck, but shows up in a reading, do not replace it, but read the card as a special message to the Questioner. The Joker usually means that there is a surprise in store for the Questioner. A situation which was thought to be stable, may suddenly become unstable.

If timing is involved, read the cards as follows:


e.g. - Ace of diamonds would be the first week of the Spring Equinox

Stages Method:


The Meaning of the Cards

Significators: (The card that represents the person the reading is about)

  1. King of Diamonds - fair or grey-haired man over 40
  2. Queen of Diamonds - fair or grey haired woman over 40
  3. King of Hearts - fair-haired young man
  4. Queen of Hearts - fair-haired young woman
  5. King of Spades - dark-haired man over 40
  6. Queen of Spades - dark-haired woman over 40
  7. King of Clubs - dark-haired young man
  8. Queen of Clubs - dark-haired young woman

When choosing a card to represent the Questioner, you can use these guidelines to assist you. Above all, use your own intuition to make the decision.


Hair and Eye Color

Zodiac Sign

Personality Factors

red heart Hearts:


diamond Diamonds:

diamond Clubs:

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 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).


The Spreads

Use just One Card for a quick answer to your question. All you need to do is concentrate on your question while shuffling the deck and pick out a single card. This will give you the overall impression about your question. You may draw one more card if necessary to clarify the first card. (I personally usually draw the second card).

This method is also suitable for finding out about how your day is going to go. An example of this would be, if you draw a Spade card this indicates problems and difficulties will be important to you. Hearts would be that issues to do with emotions and the home are going to be important for the day. Diamonds would be, issues to do with hard work and affairs outside the home will be important. Drawing a club would be, issues to do with business and money will be important. 

If you want an quick answer/overview to a single question or issue, use the Three Card Spread.Start by shuffling the deck, always concentrating on you question. Lay the cards out in a row from left to right. 

1   2   3

The fist card represent the past. The second, the present and the third card, the future.

The Nine Card Spread is a more in-depth reading of the Three Card Spread. Start by laying the cards out in three rows across and 3 down.

1     2     3
4     5     6
7     8     9

Magic Square
A Significator Card is chosen to represent the Questioner, and is placed to one side while Questioner shuffles the remainder of the deck. When shuffled, the Reader takes four cards from the top of the deck and places them in the order shown. The fifth card is the Significator Card chosen for the Questioner. The remaining cards are taken from the top of the deck. This spread is good for a psychic or psychological reading.

1     2     3
4     5     6
7     8     9

Horseshoe of Fate(7 cards)
A good spread for answering questions of great concern, or questions involving life changes, such as career changes, moving house, getting married.

No Significator card is selected. Deck is shuffled and spread out face down in a fan shape. Questioner selects seven cards from the spread and hands them to the Reader. The cards are spread face up in the order that they were selected.

1           7
  2       6
    3   5

The Horseshoe Spread (21 cards)
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.(Like above spread.) Count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, then start the 8th card on top of the one card and go around again. The 15 card should be placed in sequence on the first and 8th cards and so forth. 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 (21 cards)
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.

Pyramid Spread
A good general reading. No Significator card is selected. Deck is shuffled and spread out face down in a fan shape. Selects ten cards from the spread. Place the cards face up in the order that they were selected I a pyramid shape. 

   3 2
  4 5 6
7 8 9 10

Celestial Circle
This spread is done only one time a year.

No Significator card is selected. Deck is shuffled and spread out face down in a fan shape. Select thirteen cards from the spread. Place them face up in the order that they were selected like that of a clock. Example, first card would be 1 o-clock, second card 2 o-clock, and so on. Place card 13 in the center. 

The cards are read as months of the year. The first card is the current month, even if it is last day of the month. Each card is a subsequent month.

Card number 13 is the overall forecast for the year. The card is read by suit alone.

How to interpert and read court cards

There are a number of intricate innuendos when reading face cards in time you will learn these. The direction in which the face cards are turned, mean a great deal. If the face card is turned left it indicates that this person is turned “towards you”, as you are always on the left of the spread in a reading, Literally he/she is “looking right at you, he is focused on the relationship shared with you, to your needs and very receptive in sharing the relationship with you and moving into the future with you. When the card is turned towards the right it means the person is turned “away from you” therefore this individuals focus is elsewhere. They are not focused or that much interested in the relationship share with you, or unreceptive to moving forward with you in the future.

The direction they are turned also indicates how they perceive their emotional views on life at this present moment, and that a lot of their perceptions are based on what they have learnt from past experiences. Generally the past is always to the left of us.
The individuals facing right derive their present emotions perceptions on life by concentrating on the future. Generally the future is to the right of us.

Interesting to note that the 3 spade courts and the Jack of clubs are the only 4 court cards that look toward the future, therefore indicating that they maybe the only 4 who’s mind focuses elsewhere and not necessarily on you. Another note, if there is no court card present in the trio, then the message is all about you and your actions, thoughts or feelings.


A few guidelines to consider when interpreting a spread

The reader is always thought of as being on the left of the spread. You experience the cards from left to right; think of yourself as being on the receiving end of each spread.

Follow a 1+1+1=____ equation; build up the meanings by feeling each card from left to right. Suppose two of the cards give “pain” and “loss.”

If they appear in front of a face card, these are felt by yourself in the future. If they appear behind a face card, they belong to the individual represented by the face card. If there is no face card, all three meanings would belong to you. A spread of all face cards means a message involving social life or interactions; for work, this could be networking.

If a face card is “bearing,” for example, a negative card, it means to be cautious because that person has the potential to be untrue to you. I’m not sure what she means by bearing but I assume the card following (to the right of) the court card.


Sources: HereHereHere

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