When you think of card divination, tarot and oracle cards are the first thing that may come to your mind. However, using playing cards for divination, is known as cartomancy.
Yes, the same cards you used to play fish as a child, poker, blackjack, and solitaire, can be used to predict the future.
So now, let's dive into everything you need to know about this old but widespread form of divination. In this article, you will learn about cartomancy history, cartomancy card meanings, and some common cartomancy spreads you can explore.
Table of Contents
- Cartomancy Definition
- The Difference Between Cartomancy Tarot and Playing Cards
- Cartomancy Card Meanings
- The Hearts Suit
- The Clubs Suit
- The Spades Suit
- The Diamonds Suit
- What Are Some Cartomancy Spreads?
- One-Card Cartomancy Spread
- Two-Card Cartomancy Spread
- Three-Card Cartomancy Spread
- Five-Card Cartomancy Spread
- How To Select a Cartomancy Spread
- The Takeaways of Cartomancy Cards
What is cartomancy?
In simple words, cartomancy is divination using cards.
However, when you think of the term, you don't necessarily associate it with tarot or using oracle cards even though it technically is considered cartomancy. Cartomancy with playing cards is the definition of it that people associate it with, which is why when a psychic offers cartomancy as part of their services, they don't make it clear that they use playing cards. And if a psychic also uses tarot for divination, they will offer tarot as a separate service.
Cartomancy has been used among fortune tellers since the mid-14th century, and royals in European courts enjoyed it. However, it became a widespread practice in the 19th century. Like each card in the tarot or Lenormand decks, there are cartomancy card meanings for each playing card. It works because if you want a cartomancy reading, you ask the question you want the cards to reveal.
Shuffle the cards the same way you shuffle tarot cards; use your intuition while pulling the cards, then place them into a spread. More will be written about cartomancy spreads later in the article. Now, let's talk about the similarities and differences between playing card cartomancy and tarot.
The Difference Between Cartomancy Tarot and Playing Cards
Cartomancy tarot and playing cards have some similarities and differences. In 16th century Italy, traditional playing cards transitioned to tarot, which were not used for divination, as they were only used for games until the 18th century. Now, let’s review the differences between both decks.
Firstly, a tarot deck has 78 cards, and 22 of those cards are part of the Major Arcana, representing life's significant changes and transitions. The 56 cards are part of the Minor Arcana, which has four suits. In each suit, there are numbered cards from ace to ten, and the last four cards in the suit are court cards: Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings.
Regarding a playing card deck, there are 52 cards with four suits and court cards in each suit, but there are three instead of four. You have the Jacks, similar to the Knights, Queens, and Kings. There is no Major Arcana in a deck of playing cards, except the Joker, which is identical to the Fool, as that represents the unexpected. Let's review the playing card suits and compare them to the Minor Arcana suits in the tarot.
Cartomancy Card Meanings
As you already know, the playing card deck has four suits: hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds.
If you compare them to the Minor Arcana suits in the tarot, hearts are like the Cups, clubs are like the Wands, spades are like the Swords, and diamonds are like the Pentacles.
However, the meaning of the cards in the playing deck are not always identical to the Minor Arcana cards in the tarot.
Some are similar, such as the Two of Hearts having a similar meaning to the Two of Cups, but the Three of Hearts is different from the Three of Cups, for example. Let's go over the cards' meanings, so here is your cartomancy cheat sheet, and let's start with the hearts suit.
The Hearts Suit
The hearts suit represents emotions, home, family, and anything close to your heart, as it is similar to the Minor Arcana Cups suit in the tarot as it is associated with water. Water is the element associated with this suit. Let's go over the meanings of the cards in the hearts suit.
Ace of Hearts — This card represents an upcoming relationship, marriage, or other good news announced to you or someone close to you.
Two of Hearts — This union card can symbolize family time or marriage.
Three of Hearts — In contrast to the Three of Cups in the Tarot, which is about finding emotional enjoyment out of friendships, this card represents indecision or indecision in a relationship.
Four of Hearts — A reminder that you are in a stable and secure marriage or relationship. The card can represent milestone celebrations.
Five of Hearts — Divorce or changes in your home are examples of significant changes. Changing homes is another option represented by this card.
Six of Hearts — This card gives you a message to remind you that working with others who help you reach your goals is what you need to do.
Seven of Hearts — This card warns that your partner is unreliable and will disappoint you if you rely on them.
Eight of Hearts — This card conveys that a business or romantic connection may be made at an upcoming event.
Nine of Hearts — This card gives you a powerful message that states that there seems to be a desire to have a child together in your relationship. Thus, if you are considering having a baby, this card confirms it (so to speak).
Ten of Hearts — Weddings and family reunions are on the horizon, so there may be news regarding them when this card comes up.
Jack of Hearts — As long as it is displayed next to the Queen of Hearts, this card represents your best friend or partner.
Queen of Hearts — This card represents a woman, whether pregnant, in a romantic relationship, or enjoying a fantasy.
King of Hearts — This card represents a romantic, loving father with great influence.
Now that you know about the hearts suit, let's examine the clubs suit in this cartomancy cheat sheet.
The Clubs Suit
The clubs suit in cartomancy is like the Wand suit in the Minor Arcana of the tarot. It symbolizes passion, creativity, and inspiration and is associated with the fire element. Based on a cartomancy reading, this suit contains the most positive cards. Let's review them now!
Ace of Clubs — This card tells you to be curious and reminds you that having a curious mind will help you expand your knowledge and horizons.
Two of Clubs — An important card reminding you of the importance of communication. To avoid hostile encounters and confrontations, you must communicate effectively.
Three of Clubs — This card encourages you to fine-tune your creativity because creativity expands your horizons.
Four of Clubs — When this card comes up, it tells you to be aware that an exciting adventure is happening, so be prepared to leave your comfort zone and embrace what is yet to come.
Five of Clubs — This card sends a message that if you want to expand your horizons, you will want to learn a new hobby or sport.
Six of Clubs — This card reminds you to trust your intuition and not question it.
Seven of Clubs — If you are having a problem with your family or relationship, this card tells you that it is because you are feeling trapped somehow, which is the root of the issue.
Eight of Clubs — Here is one of the few cards that sends you a warning. It is warning you that a significant romantic, familial, or friendship-based relationship may explode due to confusion.
Nine of Clubs — If you think you have completed something, you are correct if this card emerges in a cartomancy reading. It marks the end of a phase or a project you have worked on.
Ten of Clubs — Are you thinking of traveling? If so, when this card comes up, it sends you a message that a trip is on the horizon.
Jack of Clubs — This card represents an honest and reliable friend.
Queen of Clubs — This card depicts a charismatic, independent, honest woman.
King of Clubs — This card represents an honest, loyal, and generous man.
In the cartomancy cheat sheet, let's discuss the spades suit now that you know about the club suit.
The Spades Suit
Similarly to the Swords suit in tarot, the spades suit represents the air element in cartomancy. As a result, the cards in this suit represent your struggles and challenges in life.
Ace of Spades — In a reading, receiving this card signifies a time of significant change. There is an end and a beginning to everything.
Two of Spades — This card warns you that an important decision or situation will threaten a loved one's relationship.
Three of Spades — This card signifies heartbreak and tears, just as the Three of Swords in the tarot does.
Four of Spades — As a symbol of stability, this card represents the end of troubling times during troubling times.
Five of Spades — This card represents a significant life change that will likely cause grief. It reminds you that life changes happen. Examples are you having to leave a job or relationship behind or moving far away from a a familiar environment if other opportunities require you to do that.
Six of Spades — According to the card, an adverse event may adversely affect your finances, career, or general health. There may be a burnout factor at play.
Seven of Spades — The card reminds you that getting into petty arguments with those you care about is not a good idea. Arguments or disagreements can lead to the loss of friendships or relationships.
Eight of Spades — Seeing this card means you will face a crossroads where you must make a challenging decision. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Nine of Spades — A substantial loss will occur due to this card. Whenever you lose someone or something meaningful in your life, you will never forget it. It can also mean a loss of a dream.
Ten of Spades — This card warns you that some bad news may overwhelm you with sadness and worry.
Jack of Spades — This card represents someone toxic in your life and holding you back.
Queen of Spades — An unpleasant, manipulative, and malicious woman is depicted in this card.
King of Spades — You may experience a disruption in your relationship if you see this card.
Thus, if you have a lot of spades in your reading, you will struggle. Last but not least, let's take a look at diamonds when you are learning about cartomancy card meanings.
The Diamonds Suit
In playing cards cartomancy, the diamond suit represents money and possessions, just as the Pentacles suit represents earthly possessions in tarot, as it ties to the earth element. You can find out about your finances and money with diamond cards.
Ace of Diamonds — This card conveys messages about money, business, and love in a cartomancy reading.
Two of Diamonds — You will be happy to see this card. This is because it signifies that you will soon receive good news about your finances or investments.
Three of Diamonds — This card gives you a message of caution when making financial decisions. Making the wrong financial decisions may lead to disputes and even legal proceedings.
Four of Diamonds — Financial stability can only be maintained through responsible behavior; this card reminds you to do just that.
Five of Diamonds — This card says there will be changes regarding your finances. A new job or loss of employment can affect your finances positively or negatively.
Six of Diamonds — If you are not adequately creating a budget, this card reminds you to do that. Managing your debts, investments, and finances requires a budget.
Seven of Diamonds — You must care for your investments if this card emerges in a cartomancy reading, especially when financial problems arise.
Eight of Diamonds — You may be getting a windfall if this card shows up. It also reminds you to save that sudden flow of money instead of spending all of it at once. You will need it for a rainy day.
Nine of Diamonds — There may be a sign of significant expenses or a large bill on the horizon if you get this card in a reading. You will be overwhelmed when you see it, but you will manage it better than you think.
Ten of Diamonds — There is positive news that comes with this card as it tells you you are likely to succeed financially soon.
Jack of Diamonds — Beware of bad news regarding your finances or property if this card emerges. Do what you can to protect it, if you can.
Queen of Diamonds — A gossipy lady who enjoys having a good time is depicted on this card.
King of Diamonds — A successful and influential businessman in your life is represented by this card.
Now that you know cartomancy card meanings, let's go over some ideas for cartomancy spreads.
What Are Some Cartomancy Spreads?
The concept of cartomancy is now clear to you. There are some similarities between Tarot cards and Minor Arcana cards but also some differences. You can use one-card pulls if you prefer want a quick answer to something. You can also do a 21-card spread if you need an answer to a complex issue. The three and nine-spread cards are most common. And, there are different numbers of spreads that you can try. Let's go over a few.
One-Card Cartomancy Spread
When there is one card involved, it is more of a pull. You only need to pull one card if you want a quick answer. It is helpful if you are looking for a quick yes or no answer or a quick reading. How do you determine if the card tells you yes or no? You can develop criteria for that, such as the red cards indicating yes and the black cards showing no.
That means any cards in the heart or diamond suits can determine "yes," whereas those in the spades or clubs suit can determine "no." You can also develop a numbered system where the even cards indicate "yes," and the odd numbers indicate "no.". For example, pulling the Nine of Spades after asking your question is a "no."
And if you ask a question and pull one card that answers "no," you may want to look into it further. You can do a more in-depth cartomancy card or tarot reading to explore it. Now, let's talk about a two-card cartomancy spread.
Two-Card Cartomancy Spread
If you have two options and want to decide on what to do, then doing a two-card cartomancy spread is ideal. Both cards will represent both options, so card one will represent option A, and the other will represent option B. You can determine what option to choose based on the cartomancy card meanings.
It can be used for decisions you need to make that are not life-altering, such as where you want to go to eat for dinner. For example, you can use the two-card spread if you are unsure whether to have Chinese or Italian cuisine. It is like flipping a coin. If you pull the Three of Spades, that means you will go for Chinese food but if you pull the Four of Hearts, you will go to an Italian restauant. If you get two negative cards, you may want to try another cuisine, or you can try again.
The two-card spread can also help you gain perspective when comparing two aspects of any situation, such as positives vs. negatives, or comparing your past to your present or future. Now, let's go over the three-card cartomancy spread.
Three-Card Cartomancy Spread
Past, present, and future can all be represented by a three-card spread. Card one represents the past, card two represents the present, and card three represents the future.
Face cards represent individuals, numbers represent events, and suits represent areas of life.
So, let’s do a sample spread of past, present, and future. Say the querent is a female who wants to know what her love life looks like over the next year. The one-time card is the Three of Hearts, the present card is the Ace of Spades, and the future card is the King of Clubs.
The past in the Three of Hearts indicates that the querent’s previous relationship ended because she and her partner did not know where the relationship would go, so they decided to end it. With the Ace of Spades being present, she is in a transition period where her old relationship ended, but she is ready to start a new one.
The good news is the future indicates the King of Clubs, as that will represent her future partner, which is a sign he will be loyal, generous, and honest. You can look into this further by doing a nine-card spread where three cards represent the past, three cards represent the present, and three cards represent the future. Let’s talk about the last spread, the five-card cartomancy spread.
Five-Card Cartomancy Spread
The five-card cartomancy spread helps you gain profound insight into your situation, and the way to do it is to place the cards in a clockwise circular motion. You put the first card at the top, the second on the lower right, the third at the bottom, the fourth on the left, above the third, but below the first. Then, you place the fifth card in the middle. So, you read the first four cards in clockwise order, representing the progression of your situation, and the fifth card shows as the final outcome.
For example, if you are ready to start dating after a bad breakup you had last year, but you are considering joining dating apps to start again, you may want to see where that heads. The cards you pull are Eight of Clubs, Seven of Hearts, Two of Clubs, and Four of Spades for the first four cards. Your climax card is Three of Spades.
The breakup happened suddenly due to a blow-up, which was based on a misunderstanding (Eight of Clubs), and the more you thought about it, the more you were better off without your partner because they had proven unreliable (Seven of Hearts). You later realized that you and your ex did not communicate effectively, a lesson you must learn for the future (Two of Clubs).
You enjoyed having stability by not going back into the dating scene so quickly (Four of Spades). However, because the climax or the outcome card is Three of Spades, using dating apps will only lead to disappointment and heartbreak. So you can look into other ways to enter the dating scene, such as hiring a matchmaker or attending singles events. You can do readings to gain clarity on that. However, there you go. Those are the main cartomancy card spreads you can practice! How do you know to select a cartomancy spread?
How To Select a Cartomancy Spread
When selecting the right cartomancy spread, you will want to do it based on how much information you wish to receive from the cards and how long you want the reading to be. The more cards involved in a reading, the more insight you will receive. For example, you can use three cards if you do a quick past, present, and future spread. However, if you want to have an in-depth one, you will want to use more for the past, present, and future.
If you choose to have seven cards for the past, seven for the present, and seven for the future, then you would have a 21-card past, present, and future reading, which will provide you with a lot of insight, but it will take a lot more time to read.
However, only do that if you have a complex situation to gain insight into as a simple query does not mean you should use too many cards. That can be overwhelming. If you have a simple query that does not need a lot of insight, then a short three-card spread is all you need to gain the insight you need.
Use your intuition if you are unsure of how many cards you need. If your intuition tells you that you only need to do a three-card reading for your situation, then go with it. Then, you go to a quiet area where you can lay out the cards. Take your deck of cards and start shuffling while thinking about your query so the cards pick up the energy. Then, when your intuition tells you to stop shuffling, stop and place the cards face down. Then, when you are ready to do the reading, put the other cards aside, pull the cards face up, and begin your reading.
The Takeaways of Cartomancy Cards
If you want to learn cartomancy with playing cards, you have this cartomancy guide to help you get started, as it states the definition and history and compares the art of cartomancy to tarot. A playing card deck has similarities and differences to a tarot deck. A playing card deck has 52 cards, whereas a tarot deck has 78 cards, and except for the Joker in the playing deck, which is similar to the Fool of the Major Arcana. Otherwise, there is no Major Arcana in the deck of playing cards.
You have four suits in both decks, three court cards in each suit in the playing card deck, and four in the tarot deck in each Minor Arcana suit. There are no Pages in the playing deck or anything equivalent to them, but there are Jacks, which are like the Knights in the tarot decks, but there are Queens and Kings in both.
Regarding the four suits in the playing card deck, you have the hearts, which are equivalent to the Cups in the tarot deck; you have the spades, which are identical to the Swords suit; you have the clubs, which are like the Wands, and you have the diamonds which is like the Pentacles. Cartomancy card meanings are not necessarily the same as tarot card meanings for "matching" cards, but some are similar. If you want to learn this form of divination, try some spreads, or if you're going to get a free cartomancy reading to familiarize yourself with the craft, do a Google search on how to get one, as some sites may offer them to you.