Cartomancy 101.5 – Court Cards & Significators

Court Cards
The court card meanings I have supplied you with are traditional. The coloring assigned to individual cards – a medium-fair woman, a dark-haired youth, and so on – were useful once. When I started to learn how to read the cards, these descriptions helped distinguish one person in the inquirer’s life from another. This was in a Britain where almost everyone was Caucasian and few women dyed their hair. Things are different today. I would suggest you discard the parts of the descriptions relating to coloring and concentrate on the descriptions of personality and other indicators given. The Jack of Clubs, for instance, can indicate an admirer for a female inquirer. If upright, his intentions will be honorable but if reversed he may play the lady false. The King of Diamonds is a man of influence, which he may use to aid the inquirer’s interests should the card be upright or to block their progress should it be reversed.

Familiarize yourself with the temperaments or personality types associated with the suits as this will stand you in good stead when you come to interpreting the court cards in a reading.

Temperaments of the Suits
Hearts denote persons of affectionate disposition, home-loving and genial, fond of entertaining, given to hospitality, sympathetic, but sometimes weak and pliable.

Clubs denote persons of constancy, reliability, integrity. They are generally intellectual, or follow pursuits that are mental. Even when not an out-and-out intellectual, a Club person will be a good speaker, clever with words, often blessed with the power of persuasion.

Diamonds indicate persons bright and breezy in their approach to life, with buoyant, optimistic outlooks, but easily distracted. They incline to inconstancy, following one fad after another. They are hardly to be depended upon, yet are often inspiring to others.

Spades show persons with melancholy minds, reserved, introverted, self-contained. Some Spades subjects are quietly persevering; others are easily discouraged and give up on projects or ambitions at the first sign of serious opposition.

Interpreting the Court Cards
The courts can be interpreted in a variety of ways. On our list, the Queen of Spades has the meaning: “A very dark-haired woman. A widowed or divorced woman. An unscrupulous woman.” For reasons already discussed, we can set aside the first of these. In its place, we can rely on the Spades temperament as a basis for the Queen’s description. That would make her reserved, self-contained, possibly hard to fathom. The second meaning of the card makes the Queen a widow or divorcee. This may help identify her to the inquirer. Where the card is upright, the woman denoted by the Queen of Spades will further the inquirer’s aims or be supportive of them. The third meaning, “an unscrupulous woman”, may point to an individual who will damage the inquirer’s cause; as such she is not to be trusted. At times, the card-reader’s intuition will indicate when the third meaning comes into play. For those lacking in intuition, the best way of assessing the card is through the signification of other cards in its vicinity. Trapped between the 5 of Hearts (Jealousy) and the 2 of Clubs (Malicious gossip), we see the Queen of Spades functioning as a deceitful woman whose envy prompts her to spread untruths intended to harm the inquirer’s prospects.

Apply this principle to the interpretation of all court cards. As a further example, I will treat the Jack of Diamonds in the same manner as the Queen of Spades has been treated above. The card has three distinct meanings: “A medium-fair youth. A person who brings news, possibly negative, but if so of relatively minor importance. Alternatively, a jealous person who may be unreliable.” Which of these meaning should we choose when the card comes out in a reading? At times it can simply represent a person in a neutral sense. When this is the case, the cards around it will signify events happening to, or concerning, that person. We can ignore the “medium-fair” part of the description but the card will stand for a young person, a child or a teenager, who may be male or female. Sandwiched between the 8 and 7 of Hearts, the Jack of Diamonds might indicate that a young person with a Diamonds-type personality will be coming to stay with the inquirer. (8 Hearts: an unexpected visitor.) The young guest’s attitude toward the inquirer may fluctuate – 7 Hearts: someone with fickle affections. This may be due to any number of reasons, including, with an adolescent, hormonal changes.

(In practice, the cards would be read in order: 8 of Hearts, an unexpected visitor; Jack of Diamonds, the visitor will be a child or young adult who is naturally of a hopeful disposition but finds it hard to concentrate; 7 of Hearts, the visitor is likely to prove something of a handful. However, she (or he) is essentially good-natured (as the Jack has Heart cards either side of him) and so any playing-up will be due to outside factors, such as the young person finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings or being separated from their customary playmates/associates.)

Put the Jack of Diamonds between a reversed Ace of Clubs and the 3 of Diamonds and the cards tell another story entirely. Now the Jack is a messenger (see above) and he brings disturbing news. (Ace of Clubs reversed: unsettling communications.) His message may start, or exacerbate, a dispute or it may concern threatened legal proceedings. (3 Diamonds: contention, quarrels, and potential lawsuits.)

The third possible meaning the Jack of Diamonds can bear is: “a jealous person who may be unreliable.” This aspect would be accentuated were the Jack to stand between the 8 of Clubs and the 8 of Spades. The former underlines the “jealousy” aspect while also encompassing “opposition” and “disappointment”. That is to say: the Jack’s jealousy prompts him to oppose the inquirer’s aims in some way. This leads to disappointment for the inquirer. All of which is backed up by the testimony of the 8 of Spades, forecasting trouble and disappointment, plans going awry and being let down by a supposèd friend. (Note the recurring themes. Where two cards agree, as they do here on “jealousy”, the likelihood of this meaning being relevant is increased.)

Keep these illustrations in mind when we come to try our hands at reading an actual spread.

The Significator
In the parlance of cartomancy, the card that stands for the inquirer is called the Significator. A male inquirer will be represented by a King, a female inquirer by a Queen. Adolescents and the very young are indicated by one or other of the Jacks.

Choose as significator the card that best describes the person wanting to have their cards read. If the inquirer is a genial woman with an attractive personality who is fond of socializing, her significator will be the Queen of Hearts. In which case her spouse or partner will be represented by the King of Hearts no matter what his personality-type is. The King of Diamonds appearing in this lady’s spread denotes a man other than her husband/partner. The same for the other two Kings.

By the same token, a male inquirer who is reliable and something of an intellectual will take the King of Clubs as his significator. His wife/fiancée/whatever will be represented by the Queen of Clubs, again no matter what type of personality the lady actually possesses. Should the Queen of Spades be part of this man’s reading, the card denotes a woman who is not his wife or partner. The implied connection does not have to be romantic, of course. The Queen of Spades could stand for a business associate. Everything depends on the question asked and the tone of the other cards making up the reading. Thus when the Queen of Spades stands between the 3 and 5 of Clubs, a clear scenario emerges. This Queen is likely to be a firm friend (5 of Clubs); the more so because the cards either side of her are from the suit of Clubs. There is no more reliable or honest individual than the Club person. The card on the Queen’s other flank is the 3 of Clubs whose meanings are wholly positive, even when the card is reversed. The picture we are presented with is of an amiable, reliable woman who may help with business dealings (being as the 3 of Clubs is associated with “a favorable long-term proposition” or “a second chance” where financial matters are concerned).

General Suit Significance
Before we make a start on some actual readings, it is worth bearing the following in mind. A preponderance of one particular suit in a spread carries a message of its own. Diamonds accelerate the fulfillment of events signified in the reading. Spades invariably delay it. Clubs, with their special reference to ability and merit, intimate that the fulfillment of events signified in the reading is dependent on the inquirer’s innate talents and the extent to which they are directed by will-power. Hearts are associated with affection and favor. When this suit is in the majority, events are most often fulfilled due to the inquirer receiving assistance from those who love them – friends and family – or from a superior or person of influence who has taken a shine to them.

In an earlier post, it was stated that the suit of Clubs signified success with money or in business. This is not at odds with what is written above because success of that sort will be rooted in competence, proficiency and merit. A preponderance of Clubs in a spread points to one who ‘makes their own luck’. A preponderance of Hearts indicates the person to whom luck happens, sometimes providentially but usually through the medium of other people.

Cartomancy 101.4 – Suit of Spades


Ace of Spades: Misfortune. The card is sometimes associated with death or, more often, a difficult ending. Reversed: Serious misfortune, loss of something or someone dear to the inquirer.

King of Spades: A very dark-haired man. An ambitious man, perhaps self-serving. Reversed: He is the inquirer’s enemy or rival.

Queen of Spades: A very dark-haired woman. A widowed or divorced woman. An unscrupulous woman. Reversed: Plots and scandal.

Jack of Spades: A very dark-haired youth. A spiteful and prying young person, who only pretends to be a friend.

10 of Spades: Misfortune and worry. Unwelcome news. Reversed: Sickness, mourning.

9 of Spades: Bad luck in all things. Destruction, ruined hopes; death. Depression and low energy. Extreme anxiety. The same when reversed.

8 of Spades: Trouble and disappointment ahead. Plans go awry. Friends let you down. Cancellations. Reversed: A still more serious state of affairs – deceit, plots, even immorality.

7 of Spades: Loss of friendship or loss of a friend. An unexpected burden. A warning of losses and sorrow. Reversed: Accident or upset.

6 of Spades: Small changes and improvements. Reversed: Bigger changes, significant improvements.

5 of Spades: Reverses and anxieties, but eventual success. Reversed: Eventual success is not guaranteed.

4 of Spades: Illness. Business or money worries. Broken promises. Reversed: A turn of events for the better.

3 of Spades: Severance or separation in love or marriage. Sometimes indicates a third person intruding on a relationship. Reversed: Confusion; a confused situation or confusion of mind.

2 of Spades: Separation, scandal, gossip and deceit. Difficult changes. Reversed: An uncongenial atmosphere.

Cartomancy 101.3 – Suit of Diamonds


Ace of Diamonds: Change; a message, often about money, and usually good news. Reversed: Unless between very unfortunate cards, the meaning remains the same.

King of Diamonds: A medium-fair man. A man of authority, status, or influence. Reversed: He is no friend to the inquirer.

Queen of Diamonds: A medium-fair woman. She is enterprising and vivacious. Reversed: She is flirtatious.

Jack of Diamonds: A medium-fair youth. A person who brings news, possibly negative, but if so of relatively minor importance. Alternatively, a jealous person who may be unreliable.

10 of Diamonds: A change in financial status, often for the better. Reversed: A journey.

9 of Diamonds: New business opportunities. Travel; restlessness; a change of residence. Reversed: Troubled journeys, delays.

8 of Diamonds: New job or change in job situation. Reversed: Spite, rebuff, insult.

7 of Diamonds: An argument concerning finances, or on the job. Generally expected to be resolved happily. Reversed: Financial worries.

6 of Diamonds: Relationship problems, arguments. Separation.

5 of Diamonds: Happiness and success. A change for the better. A birth or good news concerning a child. A good time to start new projects. Reversed: Profligacy, extravagance.

4 of Diamonds: An inheritance. Improvements in finances. Reversed: Socializing, happiness.

3 of Diamonds: Disputes, quarrels, and potential lawsuits.

2 of Diamonds: A happy card of good fortune in both love and business. Reversed: A surprise that may be welcomed or not according to the tenor of other cards in the vicinity.

Cartomancy 101.1 – Suit of Hearts

We must next look at the meanings of the individual cards. In coming posts I will set out the meanings of all 52 cards for use in divination.

These will be the meanings I use myself. I claim no primacy for them. There are umpteen sets of meanings in existence, a good many of them available through the Internet. As far as I can tell, one set of meanings is as good as any other. The point for beginners to grasp is this. Choose one set of meanings and stick to it. Do not chop and change as by doing so you risk confusing yourself. Do not bother your head about which set of meanings is right or will give more accurate results than the others. No ‘right’ set of meanings exist. If you have any talent for cartomancy, you will gain solid results even if you are using a list of meanings that has been put together in a ham-fisted way. The magic ingredient lies within you; it is not in the cards. They only act as a catalyst for your own inborn talent to divine future trends.


Ace of Hearts: The home, a love letter. Love and happiness. This card is a particularly favorable one, indicating the passing of troubles or problems. Reversed: A change of residence.

King of Hearts: A fair-haired man with a good nature. A just man, noted for his fair play and generosity. Reversed: He is fickle.

Queen of Hearts: A fair-haired woman with a good nature. A kindly, trustworthy, affectionate woman. Reversed: She is revengeful.

Jack of Hearts: A fair-haired youth. A close friend. Often points to a younger admirer.

10 of Hearts: Great affection; success. This is an important card that suggests good fortune after difficulty. Reversed: A birth or a change of direction that will ultimately benefit the inquirer.

9 of Hearts: A wish or dream fulfilled. Look to the card immediately preceding this one to determine what it is the inquirer desires. Success. Reversed: Success is to be expected but it is likely to be delayed.

8 of Hearts: An unexpected gift or visit (or you yourself receive visitors to your home); an invitation to a party or function.

7 of Hearts: Someone whose interest in you is unreliable; someone with fickle affections for you. This card can indicate lovesickness. In certain combinations, the card may signify a small success.

6 of Hearts: Unexpected good luck. Someone takes care of you, or takes warm interest in you.

5 of Hearts: Jealousy; some ill-will from people around you.

4 of Hearts: Travel; change of home or in business. Reversed: Discontent – a desire for change that cannot at this time be realized.

3 of Hearts: 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.

2 of Hearts: Success and prosperity. Success in love or in business. An engagement or partnership. Reversed: Opposition. Either opposition to success in business or to a burgeoning relationship.

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.