Cartomancy is defined as the practice of reading cards for divination purposes. Pretty much any kind of cards can be used. There is so many different divination decks that I really am at a loss for how to describe them all. I am, however, going to talk about the forms of Cartomancy that I am most familiar with. Today's discussion focuses on the use of a standard French deck of playing cards. This is the playing cards that you typically use for card games such as Crazy 8s and Poker.
In the picture above, I have more than just a winning hand in Five Card Stud. I have the most basic tool for cartomancy that you can find on the market. Most people assume that a pack of playing cards is only good for playing games. They are, however, an excellent tool for giving readings on a wide range of matters. The French deck of playing cards is derived from the Tarot. It is essentially the pip cards of a Tarot deck with the Fool added in. Most decks have two Jokers, which are usually used as wildcards in games. When reading with a playing card deck, however, you can choose to either discard one of the Jokers or use one for a generic placeholder for the card that describes the querent. In some decks, a male and a female Joker are presented. These make good placeholders for the querent's card.
Before I go too far, I should explain what the term querent means. Querent literally means 'questioner'. It is used to indicate for whom a reading is being done. The person who is providing the reading is referred to as either the 'reader' or the 'medium.' The term medium in the past was used as a general term for people who provide psychic services. Now, it refers more often to persons who provide psychic services that focus upon contact with the dead. That, however, is a topic for another day.
With playing cards, you can use any spread for Tarot except for the ones that use the Trump cards. The most common Tarot spread used is known as the Celtic Cross. The origins of the Celtic Cross are lost in antiquity. The thing that can be determined, however, is that it is not a spread derived from the British Celts in any fashion. It is most likely one that was developed by someone in the French or Italian region, where Tarot reading was most popular in continental Europe. I will cover the history of Tarot in the post I will have discussing Tarot specifically. The playing card deck that we have today is known as the French deck. It was developed by card players in France for games that they played. From what my research has shown me, it was developed in the 18th Century, not long after the Tarot deck was developed in the Italian peninsula.
The Celtic Cross is a good general purpose spread. It provides a fairly wide range of information in a rather concise format. It is a ten card spread. Some people choose to use an additional card for the querent, making it an eleven card spread. This additional card, however, is optional. Usually, it is picked from the court cards with the queens typically for women and the kings for men. The jacks are reserved for young people, regardless of gender. These, however, are not hard and fast rules for reading these cards.
[celtic cross pic]
The layout above is the Celtic cross. This layout consists of two major portions. The first is the cross which is on the left. The second is the staff, which is on the right. My numbering of cards begins with the vertical central card, then proceed to the card covering that. I then move to the left most card of the cross and go counter clockwise about it. The cross completed, I then number from the bottom of the staff to the top.
Position 1 - This is the card that represents the querent as they are at the time of the query. If a card has been picked out by the querent to represent themselves out of the court cards, it is placed beneath this card as an additional descriptor. The querent card may describe the querent's emotional, mental, or physical state at this time.
Position 2 - This card represents the present situation surrounding the querent. It is typically one that describes the situation with respect to the query made. It can, however, cover all aspects of the querent's present situation.
Position 3 - The deep past card often presents information about how the situation began. It also can describe past events anywhere between six months prior to years into the past. Sometimes, it will describe past life events.
Position 4 - This card describes the moderate deep past. It presents information between three to six months prior to the present day. It also presents information as to how the situation came to manifest.
Position 5 - The recent past card covers the time frame anywhere between the moments prior to the reading to three months in the past. It gives a picture of what occurred immediately prior to the present situation. It also can present information as to the most recent developments contributing to the present situation.
Position 6 - This card presents the information about the immediate future if nothing is changed. The time frame on this card, in my experience, varies between within a week of the reading to six months after the reading. It also can present the next stage of the situation's development.
Position 7 - This position is known as the Hopes and Fears. The card placed here presents information regarding the querent's hopes and fears surrounding the query.
Position 8 - Known as House and Home, this card shows the impact of the querent's environment upon future developments with respect to the query. This may include people that the querent presently is interacting with or will be in the future.
Position 9 - This card is known by some readers as the Hand of God. I refer to it as the Hand of Fate. This card will present information on what interaction the universe/fate/deity will have upon the situation in the future. This card can present some unexpected details that may seem strange. In my history of reading cards, this is the position that will present some of the weirdest things. But, I have had clients come back to me and tell me how the weirdness of that position manifested in a manner that made total sense in the future developments after their reading.
Position 10 - This card is the outcome of the reading. It gives the answer to the querent's query and what the long term future developments are. This card is not dependent upon what action the querent will or will not take. It simply shows the most likely future outcome given the present situation. This is often different from the card at position six because it includes future actions of the querent, where as position six only covers the immediate present's next development with out any change upon the querent's behalf.
Interpreting the meanings of the playing cards is the same as those of the pip cards from a Tarot deck. While the level of detail that you get out of the playing cards is not as high as you will from a Tarot deck, a pack of playing cards is a great beginner's tool. They're easily accessible, covers the cards you will see most in a Tarot reading, and the cost of purchase is incredibly low compared to that of a standard Tarot deck. I confess, I have something of a soft spot for reading with a pack of playing cards because this was where I was first introduced to cartomancy.