Cartomancy 101.17 – Do This Or Do That?

hearts_king_specialSometimes a problem is more complex than ‘Should I make this change to my life or stay as I am?’ The classic situation is a choice between two apparently equally alluring options – job A or job B, man X or man Y. When an inquirer has this kind choice to make, I lay out two Cross spreads next to one another; the first five cards dealt from the deck form the first spread, the next five cards constitute the second spread. Here is an example of a choice between two jobs. The inquirer had been interviewed by two companies and both had offered him a position. This left him, he felt, with the dilemma of which would be the best career-path for him to take.

The spread for Company A contained these cards:

Position 1: 9 of Hearts. Position 2: 7 Clubs.

Position 3: 2 Spades. Position 4: 7 Diamonds

Position 5: 8 Spades

Although the 9 of Hearts tells of a wish or dream fulfilled, we should not give it undue emphasis. It falls in the first position, which relates to the way the inquirer sees the situation. If we want to know how matters will proceed, we must look to the cards in positions 3, 4 and 5. The 9 of Hearts in position 1 reveals only that the inquirer sees the job offer as an opportunity to succeed.

The card in position 2 gives us two key issues to contemplate. On the one hand the 7 of Clubs indicates a change in the inquirer’s business situation. This may be a promotion, but moving over to work for a new employer fits the bill also. On the other hand the card is associated with relationship problems in the work environment. The first of these meanings we can consider valid in the context of the reading as the interpretation fits the prospective outcome, assuming the inquirer accepts the job offer from Company A. To ascertain the validity of the second meaning we must examine the other cards in the spread.

With the 2 of Spades falling in position 3, we can see the likelihood of the inquirer struggling to find his feet in Company A. But also he will encounter scandal and gossip, which, linked back to the 7 of Clubs’ second meaning suggests trouble with a female co-worker of a highly disruptive nature.

What are we to make, then, of the 7 of Diamonds in position 4? It denotes disagreements or contentious issues in the workplace, but the interpretation from the list informs us that such disagreements are ‘generally expected to be resolved happily’. In this instance the happy resolution is to be considered cancelled. The 7 of Diamonds is preceded by the bothersome 2 of Spades and followed by the disturbing 8 of Spades. The effect is the same as would be the case if the 7 of Diamonds was sandwiched between two Spade cards in a storybook spread.

The 8 of Spades in position 5, indicating the final outcome, tells its own sad story. The card forecasts trouble and disappointment for the inquirer, a period during which plans go awry and allies let one down. Worst of all, the keyword ‘cancellations’ is applied to this card, suggesting that, in a worst-case scenario, the inquirer might not keep his job.

This is the layout covering the offer from Company B.

Position 1: 10 Hearts. Position 2: Ace Clubs.

Position 3: 6 Spades. Position 4: King Hearts.

Position 5: Ace Hearts.

This spread immediately looks more hopeful: it contains three Hearts and two Aces, with Aces, so long as they are not reversed, signifying attainment.

The 10 of Hearts falls in position 1 and has much the same meaning as that borne by the 9 of Hearts which occupies the same position in the previous spread. It too must be treated with caution for, unless its promises are backed up by other cards in the spread, they may never attain substance outside the inquirer’s mind.

The rest of the indications are good, however, starting with the Ace of Clubs in position 2. It signifies prosperity and unexpected gain. It also signifies good luck in the venture inquired about. The next card, the 6 of Spades, supports these meanings, for it denotes small improvements and developments in the inquirer’s life.

The card in the fourth position is the King of Hearts. When a court card is encountered, it almost invariably indicates a person who will advance the inquirer’s hopes or attempt to frustrate them, according to the nature of the card. Therefore, our inquirer is counseled to be on the lookout for a fair-haired man with an even-handed nature, temperamentally warm-hearted but with a strong sense of justice. This man will be in a superior position to inquirer in the company’s hierarchy, and he is destined to play the part of good friend or mentor to the inquirer.

The final card hardly requires interpreting. The Ace of Hearts represents things like romance and a love letter, but these meanings do not apply to this reading. In the context of business, the Ace of Hearts signifies happiness, usually deriving from the inquirer’s attainment of some significant career goal, a change for the better.

Of the two job offers, that from Company B is to be preferred. But not all two spread readings work out that way. I have on my records two instances where the implications of spread A and spread B were almost equal, with one or the other winning by no more than a whisker. In one case, the inquirer worked for the British National Health Service. She wanted to know if would be more advantageous for her to accept a promotion at the hospital for which she was working and where she had been happy for the past six years or whether it would be in her better interests to accept a post in a hospital in the next county. The spreads showed a slight inclination towards the latter option. But I privately wondered if it would make any significant difference in the long run which option she chose.

She decided to go to the other hospital on the grounds that it was better for her to have as wide an experience as possible of how the Health Service ran in different areas. She kept in touch with me and I learned that, three years after moving to the second hospital, a prized administrative position was advertised at the hospital where the inquirer used to work. She applied for the job and found her old colleagues welcoming her back with open arms. Now, she was a good worker, efficient, unflappable and thorough, so she would probably have gotten the promotion anyway. However, I happen to believe that her decision was the right one, for she did return with a broader experience in fields such as man-management and good practice, giving her a more rounded perspective.

I just wanted to flag up the fact that a two spread reading doesn’t always give a clear cut answer. And sometimes less hangs in the balance than the inquirer imagines.

Cartomancy 101.16 – Making Decisions

The five card Cross spread is well-suited to questions involving decision making. The key to getting a clear answer is to ask a clear question. Take the example of Andrea (not her real name). She had long hankered after a certain type of job. It involved work in her area of expertize but of a more specialist kind than she was accustomed to handling. Andrea doubted whether she would even be considered for an interview and was agonizing over what she should do. The question, then, was: should she apply for this job or not? The cards that formed the spread were: –

Position 1: 9 Diamonds.  Position 2: 9 Spades.

Position 3: 4 Clubs reversed. Position 4: 8 Diamonds

Position 5: 10 Clubs

Note the presence of two cards from the suit of Diamonds and two from the suit of Clubs. They form a join majority of Diamonds and Clubs and describe the field of interest covered by the question, for the former touches on realized ambitions outside the sphere of home and family and the latter is associated with all types of advancement in a business setting.

The 9 of Diamonds in position one confirms that the question in revolves around the practical, mundane side of the inquirer’s life. Indeed, the card is wholly apposite as it denotes a new business opportunity. Its additional meanings – the possibility of travel or a change of residence and, from a psychological angle, an underlying restlessness disturbing the inquirer’s mind – we can put on the back burner while we examine the remaining cards in the reading.

Position two is held by the 9 of Spades. Although it is an unfortunate card, we must take into account the fact that if falls early on the reading and judge it in the light of what the cards in positions three, four and five have to say. As these are all positively oriented cards, the probability is that 9 of Spades refers to Andrea’s anxiety that she may not get as far as being offered an interview. In the context of the other omens in the spread, however, it is highly improbable that in this instance the 9 of Spades stands for ‘Bad luck in all things; destruction and the ruination of hopes.’

The 4 of Clubs occupies position three and when reversed it signifies success after setbacks. It is therefore a benign symbol and I advised Andrea (position three frequently refers to advice) to lay her fears aside and send off her application for this job.

A new job or at the very least a change to her job situation is promised by the 8 of Diamonds in position four, while the final card, the 10 of Clubs, forecasts success or good luck in business matters. One could predict that Andrea would either get the job she craved or that, in applying for that job, she would be giving Fate a nudge and by attracting the fickle goddess’s attention cause that august lady to smile upon her, realizing it was high time she splashed a drop or two of good luck in Andrea’s direction. My intuition told me she would secure her dream job, and so that is what I told her.

The first and last cards in the spread both reference travel. There can be times when a coincidence such as this means nothing. At other times it is most significant. Once again, my intuition said that the new job would involve a fair amount of travelling, and I shared that thought with Andrea too. She confirmed that, if she got the job, she would be visiting branches all over the country as a matter of course. If I had been in any doubt about Andrea securing the post, this information would have tipped the balance for me. As it was, my intuition had already spoken.

Two months later Andrea returned to tell me that she had got the job and had been working in her new position for a week, loving every minute. She thanked me for helping her to overcome her fears and make the decision to apply for the job. I, in turn, praised the cards and the versatile, no-nonsense five card Cross spread as an invaluable tool whenever choice lies at the heart of an inquirer’s question.

Cartomancy 101.15 – The Unrevealed Question

In my experience, a good many inquirers prefer not reveal the question they want the cards to answer. When that is the case, the Cross spread, consisting of five cards, can prove a useful tool.

I will describe one reading of this kind that I made to illustrate my point. The inquirer, whom I shall call Jeff, while admitting he had a problem, didn’t feel he could name his problem to me. Sometimes inquirers do this because they have a genuine phobia about revealing what is troubling them. Sometimes they see it as a test – If she can work out what my problem is, I might be willing to take notice of whatever else she says. It makes no odds to me what the motive is. Either way, I give it my best shot, and where I do get feedback (not all inquirers offer it), I’ve generally hit the bullseye, or somewhere very close to it. I advise you to adopt the same attitude.

Jeff, as I said, had a problem. And he wanted the cards to answer the question he had in his mind but couldn’t articulate. I used the Cross layout and the cards fell as follows:

cross 2 spreadPosition 1: 4 Diamonds.  Position 2: 7 Spades.

Position 3: 3 Hearts. Position 4: 2 Clubs reversed

Position 5: 2 Diamonds

On those occasions where the inquirer has chosen not to reveal their question to me, I look over the entire spread before speaking a word. This enables me to assess various possibilities and assemble a coherent scenario in my head. I went through this process with Jeff’s spread.

The card in position one indicates the way the inquirer sees his problem. Most often it will describe the form the problem takes – Hearts, love; Clubs, career; Diamonds, finances; Spades, misfortunes and hindrances. Jeff’s problem very likely concerns money as there is a Diamond card in first place. This interpretation   seemed even more probable to me because the suit of Diamonds predominates in the reading.

On the list, the meanings for the 7 of Spades, the card in position 2, are given as: ‘Loss of friendship or loss of a friend. An unexpected burden. A warning of losses and sorrow.’ I homed in on the two latter meanings. Jeff, I speculated in my head, had either suffered a financial loss recently or found himself saddled with an unexpected financial burden.

Moving to the next card, the 3 of Hearts, we may note that its meanings, according to the list, are: ‘Love and happiness when the entire spread is generally favorable. In a difficult spread, this card can indicate emotional problems and an inability to decide where to place one’s affections.’ However, we must adjust this delineation because the question is not about love or a relationship. Furthermore, we should take into account the opposing natures of Hearts and Diamonds. Hearts stand for a person’s domestic life, Diamonds for life outside the home, for the world of work and the earning of money. I imagined that Jeff’s financial problems, though they originated in ‘the world of work’, were having repercussions in his home life.

The 2 of Clubs falls in fourth place and is reversed. It indicates that for Jeff obstacles will be overcome, and his present disappointments put behind him. The advice the card are offering is: ‘Do not listen to tittle-tattle, for while the scuttlebutt may point in one direction, actual events will tend in another direction entirely.’

In fifth position lies the 2 of Diamonds, a portent of success. But since it is a card of low denomination it possibly points to a small success. Should we let that bother us? I would say: not in these circumstances. There are no cards in the reading higher than 7 and the problem itself is denoted by another card of low denomination, the 4 of Diamonds.

Having weighed up the pros and cons of the reading, I delivered my judgment of cards to Jeff. I began by stating that his problem appeared to revolve around money. Because the 4 of Diamonds represents monetary gain or an improvement in a person’s financial situation, I told Jeff that I could see he had been doing fairly well in that area, but that he had now hit an unexpected obstacle (7 Spades). I went on to say that the opportunity to earn some extra money would present itself. That was my interpretation of the 3 of Hearts (Hearts are associated with luck) followed by the 2 of Clubs (Clubs representing, as I said above, the world of work and the earning of money). The 2 of Clubs points to obstacles surmounted, but Clubs are cards of self-help, so Jeff will have to graft for the extra money. If he is willing to put in the effort, however, he can get himself out of the financial hole in which he now finds himself. I explained that he should not listen to rumors suggesting he wouldn’t be able to find more work, as those rumors were likely to be unsound.

Jeff then told me his story. He worked in the steel industry and had been receiving good pay with the opportunity to collect a sizeable bonus each month by working overtime. He had spent money assuming that his situation was fixed for the foreseeable future. A slump in the industry had ruined his plans. Overtime had been cancelled, leaving Jeff with a shortfall in his wage-packet and only just managing to keep up with his higher purchase agreements by drawing on the family’s meager savings. At the plant, there was talk of overtime being out of the question for another three months. Being a resourceful man, Jeff told me that, if the cards said there was money to be earned if he looked around for extra work, he would try for a part-time job that he could do in the hours he had previously allocated to overtime at the steel works. Although jobs in his area were scarce as hen’s teeth, Jeff went off feeling that, since the cards had promised it, he would find part-time work with little difficulty. In fact, once the initial three months period without overtime at the steel works was up, despite all the rumors to the contrary, overtime was reinstated. This happened a week or two after Jeff consulted me. Thus, his financial problems were solved at a stroke, and all in line with what the cards had predicted.

Cartomancy 101.14 – A Simple Positional Spread

positional spread is read by a method unlike that used to interpret the storybook spread. In a positional spread, one links a card’s meaning not to the card ahead of it but to the significance assigned to the position in which it is located. Below is the layout for a simple positional spread using five cards set out in the form of a cross.

equal armed cross spreadThe card falling in the first position (at the top of the cross) describes the way the inquirer sees the problem. The card in the second position (the bottom card in the diagram) reveals further details about the inquirer’s problem but from a more objective standpoint. The significance of these cards taken together generally sum up the degree of control the inquirer has over the situation in which she finds herself. Outside influences also need to be taken into account, naturally, and these are depicted by the card in position three. These outside influences may have a personal or impersonal source. A letter calling the inquirer to jury service comes from an impersonal source, as does a minor illness or a win on a lottery. The actions of someone known to the inquirer are often represented by a court card in this position, and the type of action by the suit of the card and whether it is upright or reversed.

Position four can relate to advice the cards want to offer the inquirer. At other times, the card in the fourth position describes a forthcoming event in much the same way that the card in position three does. The outcome – how things will turn out – is denoted by the card in position five, the central card in the diagram above. Occasionally – and particularly where the answer to the inquirer’s query is no – the card in the fourth position will deliver the bad news of the outcome and the card in position five will have something upbeat to add, along the lines of ‘better luck next time’ or ‘another, more attractive proposition lies ahead, so don’t feel too downcast that today’s answer was ‘no’.’

From my files, I’ve chosen a question pertaining to a new job the inquirer was hoping to attain within the organization for which she worked. She was an attractive, well-dressed woman in her early thirties. She told me that she worked in finance and was married. Having been with the company for five years, she felt ready for advancement and had applied for a position with more responsibility in-house. She had heard on the grapevine that this promotion was being hotly contested and this news had prompted her to come to me for a reading. What were her chances of securing the promotion?

She shuffled the deck; I cut it and dealt off the top five cards.

Position 1, 9 Diamonds. Position 2, Ace of Spades.
Position 3, Queen of Hearts reversedPosition 4, 8 Spades.
Position 5, 4 Hearts.

The spread is composed of two Hearts, two Spades and one Diamond. No suit predominates . . . but there is a lack, a missing element, and it is a significant one. There are no Club cards in the layout. The cartomancer can take this as a hint that matters to do with business are probably not well-starred for the inquirer at this time. The positive trend currently running in her life concerns the affections and the home (two Heart cards). There is also a negative trend associated with obstacles, setbacks and disappointed hopes (two Spade cards). This negative trend, in combination with the absence of any Club card, alerted me to the fact that the message in the cards was unlikely to be as cheery as the inquirer hoped.

In position one, we find the 9 of Diamonds. It represents new opportunities in business, and also a restless state of mind. (The card can show travel, too, but as this meaning is not backed by other factors in the reading, I discounted it.) The card in position one tells us what the inquirer thinks or feels about the problem inquired about. It can be extremely useful when the inquirer is reluctant to say what the problem is. Then, the 10 of Hearts falling in position one reveals that her concern is love, the 7 of Diamonds trouble with money, the Ace of Spades some specific misfortune.

When we already know the inquirer’s question, however, the card in the first position will usually simply confirm what we have been told. That’s what happens here. The inquirer wants to learn about the promotion she has applied for and is ready for change in the context of her professional life. We should read no more into the combination of card and position than that. The next four cards could be Spades or Diamonds in reverse, so we should make no predictions based on the significance of the card in position one until all elements in the spread have been considered.

The Ace of Spades, denoting misfortune and possibly an unhappy ending, lies in position two. It already begins to look as though the inquirer will not get her promotion, and with a reversed court card and another Spade to follow, I could be fairly certain by this point in the reading that her hopes were going to be dashed. Position two sheds light on the externals of the situation: not what the inquirer hopes will happen, but, often, the harsh realities in play. In terms of trends, this isn’t the moment for the inquirer to shine or to stand out in any favorable sense.

A fly in the ointment appears to be a female co-worker. The Queen of Hearts is in position three and she is reversed. In all probability this woman is big-hearted, dependable, sympathetic and genial, but for some reason she is not well-disposed towards the inquirer. The card being reversed also indicates that this woman represents a barrier to the inquirer’s hopes of promotion. When we discussed the spread later, the inquirer told me that I had described her boss, confiding that they had never got on from the minute they started working together. A recommendation from one’s superior was a vital element of the promotional process, and the inquirer felt that she would be given a less than glowing report by the woman she called Godzilla.

Of the various meanings assigned the 8 of Spades, the card in position four, I selected ‘disappointments’ and ‘plans not working out’ as the most appropriate to the scenario I was reviewing. The inquirer would naturally be disappointed when her plan to move ahead fell through.

The final card, in position five, is the 4 of Hearts, which can mean a change of home or changes in business. For the purposes of this reading the latter meaning is the most apposite. Because the card is upright I could predict a change for the better. I floated the idea that the inquirer might consider taking a position with another company. I was prompted to veer in this direction because another meaning for the preceding card, the 8 of Spades, is ‘trouble ahead’, suggesting that matters are likely to worsen for her at her present place of work. The inquirer agreed, saying that she had a premonition that her ‘good years’ with that company were over and that if she stayed she would enter a trough. She had applied for the vacant post because she felt the time was right for her to spread her wings and because she had ‘had a ball’, as she put it, during the five years she had worked for her present employers. If she didn’t get the promotion, she informed me in businesslike tones, she would apply for a job with a rival company. As I never saw her again, I can’t tell you how things turned out.


While the delineations above are not formed in the way they are for a storybook spread, there is an aspect of the storybook method that applies to positional readings. Its separate sections – the subjective and objective views of the problem, the outside influence, the advice and the outcome – do usually link together to form a narrative. When you first work with this spread, you may feel that you end up holding five disparate pieces of information that don’t easily arrange themselves into a rational storyline. If so, do your best to weld them into a unit, or if that is beyond your powers, into two or three units. Then wait for events to bring coherence to what at first felt like a jumble of unrelated data. Facility comes with practice, and without practice you won’t improve your cartomantic skills.

Cartomancy 101.13 – Contra-Indications in a Story

joker_museumInterpreting a run of cards all predicting good (or ill) fortune is hardly taxing. It is the mixture of significances, where blithely beneficent and darkly threatening omens alternate, that test the cartomancer’s powers. To illustrate the way such alternations may be approached, I have invented a spread out of my imagination that is full of contradictory implications. I have assembled the cards into a format one hardly ever sees in practice, where the meanings alternate throughout, a card of positive signification followed by one of negative signification, another that is positive, another negative and so on to the end. This gives me the opportunity to demonstrate the technique of interpreting contra-indications from several angles.

I am using the seven card storybook spread and I have invented an inquirer and assigned to her a question. As it is a question cartomancers are asked over and over again, study of this spread will be advantageous to students from that standpoint too. The preamble behind us, let us begin.

A female inquirer has met someone she describes as ‘the man of her dreams’. The relationship is in its early stages and the inquirer wants to know if matters will proceed along the lines she hopes they will. We will imagine that her spread reads thus:-

2 Hearts, Jack Diamonds, 7 Clubs, 5 Hearts, 10 Clubs, 7 Spades, 8 Diamonds

The 2 of Hearts right at the beginning of the spread describes the relationship as it stands at the time of the reading. It symbolizes success in love but, as it is a card of low number, it most often signifies small success.

The second card in the line points to a disruption of the status quo. The Jack of Diamonds has two possible meanings. It can represent a jealous young man who is not to be relied on, or it can indicate the bearer of distressing or discouraging news, though the news is unlikely to affect the inquirer’s situation significantly. It is up to the cartomancer to decide which of these alternatives pertains for any given reading. Let us assume that, for this spread, the cartomancer reads the Jack as the significator of a man whom the inquirer will find unreliable, and whose motivation is jealousy. A thumbnail sketch of the young man’s personality – a Diamonds-type – may allow the inquirer to identify him among her acquaintances.

Card number three is the 7 of Clubs, and according to the list of meanings, it is associated with some material success in business, possibly a raise or promotion. When the question is specifically about romance, one must adjust the given meaning so as to have it apply to matters of the heart. In this instance, then, the 7 of Clubs will forecast a much anticipated change taking place in the relationship. In other words the relationship will deepen.

The 7 of Clubs also speaks of problems initiated by a member of the opposite sex. Falling next to the Jack of Diamonds, it reinforces the Jack’s message that a young man from among the inquirer’s circle of friends will attempt to cause trouble for the lovebirds.

Nor does the step-change indicated by the 7 of Clubs (which probably coincides with the couple deciding to start dating seriously) see the inquirer onto a straight and obstacle-free path. The 5 of Hearts, the next card in the reading, stands not only for the kind of jealousy that is animating the Jack of Diamonds but also for a frosty and inharmonious atmosphere within which the inquirer will be forced to function.

Thankfully, this condition is short-lived. The next card is the 10 of Clubs, representing a much brighter phase in the inquirer’s life. We must modify the meaning of this card as we did that of the 7 of Clubs. On the list of meanings, the card is said to indicate success in business or good luck with money, but nothing is said about romance. Basically, the 10 of Clubs signifies success and/or good luck whatever type of question is asked. As we are dealing with a love query, the card represents success in a relationship, with the promise of a touch of good luck also.

Sadly, there is a downside. The 7 of Spades tells of the loss of a friendship. The young man denoted by the Jack of Diamonds, his nose well and truly out of joint, will decamp in search of fresh fields and pastures new.

The 8 of Diamonds is the last card in the lineup. Once again, we must adjust the meaning as given on the list. There it is said to signify a new job or a change of employment. In terms of romance, it can signify that momentous change from the single state to that of marital harmony, a fitting note on which to end the reading.

Essentially, we have been reading a story with two threads to it. The main thread told of the growing affection between the inquirer and the gentleman she is inquiring about. The subsidiary thread concerned a disaffected young man with a Diamonds-type personality who tried to stir up trouble for the couple, particularly for the inquirer. His machinations come to nothing and the lovers marry or start co-habiting. Out of the apparent jumble of meanings, the spread, when correctly interpreted, makes perfect sense.

Cartomancy 101.12 – Simple Storybook Spread

Shuffle and cut the cards. Deal off the top seven cards in a line from left to right as shown in the illustration.
story book spreadThis is a ‘storybook spread’. In this type of spread, the cards are read one at a time in the order in which they were laid down. Each card represents an event, and these events are assumed to occur in time in the order in which they appear in the spread. Be aware, however, that any two cards can combine so as to describe a single incident. For a woman hoping for news from her boyfriend, currently overseas, the Ace of Hearts next to any King will indicate that she may expect a loving letter from the gentleman. Whereas the Ace of Clubs reversed beside the 3 of Diamonds predicts the receipt of documents of a legal nature that will cause the inquirer some anxiety. It could be an official letter about unpaid parking tickets or, at the other end of the scale, it could be a letter from a legal representative threatening to sue for libel depending on the inquirer’s situation at the time of the reading, their standing in the community and other variables.

There is a skill to linking the seven cards together to produce a coherent story, and some readers are more adept at it than others. I will demonstrate the method by taking the first seven cards from the pack I have beside me. Before I do so I must think of a question. If one lays the cards out first, one might be tempted to frame the question to fit the implications one recognizes as being described in the cards the spread is composed of. I imagined a young man about to take on work in a distant town. He hopes to marry and wonders whether his lady-love will be willing to join him or whether her own career prospects will incline her to stay put. These are the cards I laid out.

10 Hearts, 9 Diamonds, Jack Spades, 3 Spades, 6 Clubs reversed, 7 Hearts, 8 Spades

As sometimes happens, the spread answers the inquirer’s question . . . but not in a way he was expecting.

Spades being in the majority flags up a warning. In relation to matters covered by the question asked, the inquirer is likely to suffer loss, worry, and a severance more permanent than the brief separation between himself and his girlfriend that he had in mind when he came for a reading. There might also be the possibility of some underhand dealing if the cards in the spread tend in that direction – which sadly in this case they do.

The first card, the 10 of Hearts, is a symbol of romance and deep emotion. Bear in mind, however, that it is the leading card in the spread. As such it tells us the starting position – and that only. Other cards in the reading will reveal whether or not the course of this young man’s love will run smoothly.

The first and second cards sum up between them what we have already been told by the inquirer. The 9 of Diamonds speaks of a business opportunity involving relocation. The 10 of Hearts stands for the woman he must leave behind. So far so true. But what is to come?

A false friend is revealed by the presence of the Jack of Spades, a young man who is not all he seems. His card falls next to another Spade card, the 3, denoting estrangement and a third party entering the picture, disrupting a relationship. This third party is described by the cards as having a predominantly Spade-type personality – reserved, self-contained and radiating energy, though his normal demeanor is one of measured, deliberate movement. (This is the Spade temperament with a dash of Diamond-nature, as the Jack has a Diamond card on one side, a Spade on the other. The Spade influence is the strongest because the Jack itself is from the suit of Spades.) Our description may enable the inquirer to identify the person represented by the Jack of Spades.

We should not be tempted to interpret the 6 of Clubs reversed as material ambitions quashed. The cards on either side obviously refer to the inquirer’s relationship with his girlfriend and so the 6 should be accepted as part of that scenario. It is the inquirer’s romantic aspirations that will be cast into the dust. The 7 of Hearts coming next tells of fickle affections – his lady-love will find consolation elsewhere while the inquirer is away attempting to lay a solid foundation for his career hopes. It is an old story, oft repeated, and neatly summed up in the meanings associated with the 8 of Spades: troubles, hopes disappointed, plans unraveling and friends who can’t be trusted.

Although I prefer not to end readings on a negative note, sometimes that isn’t possible where the answer to a question is an out and out ‘no’. Should an inquirer ask if she will be given a certain promotion, one possible answer to her question is ‘no’, plain and simple. As the focus of her attention is on the promotion, being told that she is about to inherit a sizeable amount of money or that the man of her dreams is about to walk into her life is unlikely to be seen as an acceptable consolation prize. Nevertheless, one should try to conclude on an upbeat note where possible. In a situation like that found in the example spread, the reader can draw a further card to take the story another step forward. I reached for my deck and dealt off one more card: the Ace of Hearts. The inquirer will find love and happiness once the incident with his current girlfriend has passed. We can leave him with that hopeful thought, at least.

As with the previous spread we studied, the middle card, the 3 of Spades, is crucial to the narrative the cards are spelling out, and the final card gives an overview of the whole story. With the seven card spread that pattern doesn’t always occur, but it occurs often enough, so keep an eye out for it.

There are two cards in the reading that can carry cheerier interpretations than those I’ve allowed them. I’ll explain the reasons for my decision to take the bleaker view of these cards. The 10 of Hearts is strongly beneficent. It stands for success in a general sense as well as love and ‘good fortune after difficulty’. Might this card’s influence not countermand that of the baleful omens in the spread, you might ask. No, it does not. The card’s perspective is backward looking; it relates to the past not the future. We might, therefore, use it to look at the inquirer’s past, in this instance his past before he entered the room seeking a card reading. The 10 of Hearts tells us that, at the present time, he is experiencing good fortune in love, though previously he has had only limited success with women.

Another card that can take on an upbeat significance in certain circumstances is the 7 of Hearts. The list tells us that it can sometimes indicate some small success or other. But it is not capable of doing that here, where it is trapped between the negatively oriented reversed 6 of Clubs and the 8 of Spades. As always in cartomancy, context is everything.

Cartomancy 101.11 – Summary

Let us make a tally of what has been learned so far.

spades_kingYou have learned the meanings of the fifty-two individual playing cards and how to shuffle and cut the deck. You also know what to do if two cards are dealt off together. You are aware that there are basically two kinds of spread, which I have called positional spreads and storybook spreads. You know what a significator is and how to choose one, and if you have studied the post on court cards you should have a good understanding of how those cards are to be interpreted. The subject of reversed cards has been reviewed. You have learned one particular spread, which you may have noticed contains elements of both the positional and storybook types of spread. And I hope you have experimented with this spread for yourself as well as extracting teaching from the expositions I have made of a short series of example readings.

With all this under your belt, you are ready to move on and learn a storybook spread. And this we will do once the holiday period is over. My other blog, on the Tarot, will continue for another week before taking a holiday break.

Cartomancy 101.7 – More on the Simple Spread

The simple spread we learnt in the last post can be used to answer questions such as: ‘In what direction is my love affair going?’, ‘What are my career prospects?’ or ‘What can I expect of the holiday in Sweden I’ve booked for myself?’

Here is an example of the spread used in this way. It comes from the notebook of a student of cartomancy, male, heterosexual. You need to know these facts as, had the inquirer been female or homosexual, the reading might well have suggested a romance rather than, as was the case, a friendship. From the account below, you will learn that the fourth card and the final card can each have an additional meaning. Recourse to these additional meanings can deepen your reading. The example demonstrates very well ways in which this can be done. Note it well.

One question I asked using this spread concerned attendance at a party. I had an uneasy feeling but was unsure whether this was due to a genuine intuition or a false one. The cards fell like this:-

5 Clubs       2 Hearts, Jack Clubs, 6 Diamonds, 5 Diamonds, Queen Hearts

No suit predominates but there are no Spade cards in the spread to darken its prevailing mood. Moreover, there are no reversals either. Taking account of all these factors, I felt that the party would, on the whole, be a pleasant experience for me.

Taking the cards one by one, they can read as follows:-

The meaning given to the 5 of Clubs is ‘A new friend or a successful marriage; alternatively, help from friends.’ Whichever card falls in the first place tends to denote the querent. We must, therefore, interpret this card in relation to the way I was feeling when I asked the question. I was unsure how well the party would go from a personal perspective. The 5 of Clubs indicates a friendly atmosphere and suggests that, if I did start to feel uncomfortable in the course of the evening, someone would intervene amiably and smooth things over. In addition, if other cards in the reading agree, I could make a new friend.

The 2 of Hearts has the significance: ‘Success and prosperity. Success in love or in business.’ Obviously, neither of these options apply in this instance, as the question is not about business or romance. In such a case, it is wise to fall back on the general meaning of the suit. Hearts signify, among other things, sociability and conviviality, all of which bodes well for a party atmosphere. Thus I assumed that, by and large, the evening would go off well.

The Jack of Clubs represents ‘a reliable friend or an admirer.’ The latter meaning does not apply in my case but I did make a new friend at this party (as hinted at also by the 5 of Clubs – see above).

The 6 of Diamonds falls at the heart of the subgroup of five cards, in position number four. The card in this position can indicate an anomaly, or some issue that needs to be cleared up before an equitable solution can be found to some problem or other. The meaning associated with the 6 of Diamonds is: ‘Relationship problems, arguments. Separation.’ A quarrel did break out at the party but it was quickly and deftly smoothed over by the hostess – as predicted by the remaining two cards.

The 5 of Diamonds denotes: ‘Happiness and success. A change for the better. A birth or good news concerning a child. A good time to start new projects.’ Most of these meanings do not apply. The one that does is: ‘A change for the better.’ A truce was arranged and happiness and amiability reigned at the party once more.

The Queen of Hearts is ‘a woman with a good nature; a kindly, trustworthy, affectionate female.’ This card represents the hostess, who was charming and urbane, and who separated the quarrelers, indicating firmly that she would not have her party disrupted.

We could also read the Queen of Hearts as a comment on the reading as a whole. As a Hearts card she is a good omen for a party going off well, with much good feeling or contentment and jolly socializing. Which, the single disturbance excepted, it did.

Cartomancy 101.6 – A Simple Spread

A hundred years ago, most spreads used by card fortune-tellers involved either complicated layouts or a large number of cards. For beginners, however, a simple spread is best to practice on. The illustration below is of just such a spread.

simple spread 1
Laying the Spread

Shuffle and cut the deck. Then deal off cards one at time, laying them out from left to right. Place the first card in the position marked 1 in the illustration. Leave a gap and then lay the next five cards in positions 2 to 6.

This is a general spread. It can be used to answer the basic question, “What can the cards tell me of my future?” It can be used equally well to answer more specific questions such as, “What do the cards have to say about my career prospects?” For now we will use it to answer the first type of question – “What of my future in general?”

Interpreting the Spread
Let us imagine that the inquirer is an unattached young woman. She asks for a reading of her future prospects and after the cards have been shuffled, cut and laid out, the spread contains the following cards.

Jack Clubs – 10 Hearts, 9 Hearts, 5 Spades, 4 Clubs, 8 Diamonds

The first card stands separate from the rest because it tends to represent the inquirer’s thoughts or feelings at the time of the reading. A court card will tell us something about the inquirer’s personality. It is no matter in this case that the card is a Jack and the inquirer female; the card will still indicate her personality. It may represent only her personality at this time in her life; she may as a rule be reserved, shy and not notably sociable (a Swords-type temperament), but for the time-being, the Clubs’ side of her nature will be very much to the fore. For the purposes of this example, I will assume that she is naturally of a Clubs’ disposition. She is therefore described as reliable, good with words and in possession of an inquiring mind.

Immediately after the Jack of Clubs comes the 10 of Hearts, signifying great affection. This is followed by the 9 of Hearts, often described as the Wish Card. Since it is next to the 10 of Hearts, we may assume that the inquirer’s wish concerns romance. There may have been a failed love affair in the not too distant past, because the 10 of Hearts can also intimate previous problems. Look back at the list of meanings and you will find the 10 of Hearts having as one of its significances “good fortune after difficulty”.

The 5 of Spades speaks of reversals and anxiety but also of eventual success for the affair. This prediction is echoed by the final two cards. The 4 of Clubs points to a setback while the 8 of Diamonds promises an upturn in the inquirer’s fortunes. In order to find out what form the setback will take, it is possible to draw another card from the pack and lay it on the 4 of Clubs. The card can be drawn from anywhere in the deck or dealt off from the top of the pack. Place the extra card on top of the card whose meaning it is going to clarify so that the suit sign and card number of the original card remain visible, in much the way cards are laid on top of one another in the course of a game of patience (solitaire, for American readers).

We will imagine that the card drawn is the 5 of Hearts. This indicates that the inquirer will encounter opposition to her new liaison from within her circle of friends. The opposition may well be the result of jealousy, as that is also one of the meanings of the 5 of Hearts. Fortunately, the 8 of Diamonds forecasts a change for the better, so that either the jealousy will die away or her friends will come round to her way of thinking and recognize the match as a good one for her.


The layout of this spread is straightforward enough. However, much can be learnt by its use concerning an inquirer’s future trends. Take note of the order of the cards and their relationships to one another. In the example reading above, the 9 of Hearts coming next to the 10 of Hearts revealed the nature of the inquirer’s wish. With time, the novice reader learns to pick up clues from the way the cards are disposed in a layout. But one cannot acquire this skill unless one practices the art of cartomancy assiduously, accepting that, as a beginner, one is bound to go wrong from time to time. Resolve not to be put off by your mistakes but to learn from them – for a lesson can always be extracted from any error.

The reading above focuses on one aspect of the inquirer’s life, but that is to be expected from a spread composed of relatively few cards. There are layouts that reveal the coming trends of several areas of interest – career, love, domestic arrangements, finances and so forth. We will learn those spreads once we have mastered the simpler kind.

Cartomancy 101.0 – Basics

If you intend to use playing cards for divination, the first thing you should do is indicate the cards’ upright positions. Most playing cards look the same whichever way up they are, even the court cards. This needs to be rectified. Using a pencil, make a mark – a cross or a ‘T’ – at the top of each card.

Next you should familiarize yourself with the meanings of the entire deck. These meanings will be given in future posts. For the present, note the broad significance of the suits.

Hearts,: Domestic Life – love, affection, friendship, marriage, the family, the home. Hearts also stand for ambitions successfully realized. The suit is considered lucky.

Clubs: Success – with money and in business. Clubs most often symbolize friendship but they can signify failure, betrayal, and financial worries if the cards surrounding them point in those directions.

Diamonds: Life outside the home – the practical, material side of life, especially that part concerning money. Diamonds also suggest that ambitions can only be realized and money made through hard work.

Spades: Misfortune – loss, suffering, enmity, treachery, failure, separation, illness. Despite their reputation for malevolence, Spades often signify warnings, and counsel caution rather than predicting actual dire events.

The first time you shuffle your deck all the cards will be the right way up. Shuffle in the normal way. (The method known as ‘the riverboat shuffle’ is not recommended.) Should any card fall out of the pack during the shuffle, pick it up and reunite it with its fellows. You may want to make a note of what that card is as it may have relevance to the reading.

Do not make a special effort to turn cards into reverse. One or two will become reversed in the course of the shuffle simply because of the way the pack is handled. Note that, if there are reversed cards in a reading, when the session is over, they should be set upright and returned to the deck along with the other cards from the layout.

Views are divided on what the person shuffling the cards should be thinking. A sizeable portion says that one ought to concentrate on the question one wants the cards to answer. Personally, I side with the Edwardian cartomancer Minetta, who, in her book Card Reading, informs her readers that the inquirer should shuffle

“not holding in mind any special wish or thought, but leaving all to chance, and so long as he desires the truth and nothing but the truth and is fearless of what may be his destiny, while determined to make the best of circumstances in which he may be placed, there is little doubt that he will get only what is true.”

When the person for whom you are making the reading, has finished shuffling, ask them to set the pack down and cut once. Restack the cards so that the pile that was previously on the bottom is now at the top.

We will learn another way to cut the cards later on, one that has the potential to enhance your interpretive skills. For the present, however, the simpler procedure will suffice.

With the cards shuffled and cut, you are ready to lay them out. The various patterns in which the cards can be laid out are called spreads or sometimes, for obvious reasons, layouts.

Types of Spread
There are basically two types of spread. I call them positional spreads and storybook spreads. The horoscope spread is a good example of a positional spread. The horoscope spread consists of twelve cards laid out in a circle (as near as one can manage). Each of the twelve places in the spread correspond to one of the twelve houses of a horoscope. If a card representing loss falls in the second ‘house’, which is the house of finances, then loss of money is indicated. Were it to fall in the eleventh position, the house of friendship, then loss of a friend is portended. By the same token, a card signifying success falling in the seventh position, corresponding to the seventh house of marriage, might foretell the happy conclusion to a love affair for the inquirer who was single. Should the inquirer be married, the forecast would be that the partnership would continue in a contented and harmonious state in the foreseeable future.

The result is obtained by combining the significance of the position in which a card falls with the meaning assigned to the card itself.

In a storybook spread, the cards are laid out in a line (sometimes more than one line). They are interpreted one after the other, just as we take one word after another when reading a book so as to make sense of the passage we are perusing. The idea is to make a story out of the cards in the spread. Suppose the first card is a king, the next a queen, the next a card signifying a removal and the fourth a card representing the home. The ‘story’ is that a man and woman (the king and queen), almost certainly partners, will be moving home.

Some individuals get better results with positional spreads, others with storybook spreads. Try your hand and both to discover which type you have an affinity with. Certain people are at home with either, and you may be one of those people. But you won’t know unless you experiment.

Reading the Cards
Having laid out your spread, you are ready to commence reading the cards. Is this a talent everyone possesses? Based on long years of experience, I would say that a small percentage of the population is not able to read the cards with any degree of success. These individuals, it seems to me, are out of sync with the cards and cartomancy simply won’t work in their hands. Most people, however, can read playing cards successfully on some level. Even when read mechanically, a book of instruction being referred to at every turn, the result can still be helpful as a general outline of future prospects. On the brighter side, many do amazingly well divining with playing cards. A select minority, such folk as possess the ability to blend technique with intuition, have it in them to become exceptional exponents of the art of cartomancy. Whatever your level of ability, you will discover valuable insights into the way life unfolds for human beings through close study of playing card divination.