Cartomancy book collection
Divination,  Musings

Cartomancy or Playing Card Divination

Learning the Oldest Form of Card Divination

Cartomancy has turned out to be a lot of fun to learn! Playing cards do not have descriptive types of images like other card systems to clue you in to the meanings of the cards. I wanted a challenge, something to reengage my brain cells and senses.

Do note, this series is all my personal opinion and how I feel about the hundreds systems I went through. Yes, I went through hundreds of them when counting the ones online. Woof! What works for me, may not work for another. That is the beauty of card reading. You can use what works for you and how you feel about the system and its meanings. There is no set rule of only one “correct” way to read playing cards.

This is something I always wanted to learn since I was a teenager. Let us not go into how long ago that was! Anyway, when I was a teen, my friend’s step-mom, Gerry, was a psychic counselor, quietly on the psychic part, who used cartomancy during her sessions. I will note that my friend’s father was a hypnotist. I had some interesting friends, yes? I miss the rare time I got to sit and visit with Gerry. I am kicking myself I never asked her to teach me. The last time I saw her, it was for a reading after my great-aunt passed away, and the last time I spoke to her was for a reading over the phone in 2001 or 2002. I became so busy in my life and the changes I was dealing with, I did not keep up contact, even to say “Hello!” since then. Sadly, I found out that she passed away on Jan. 30, 2020.

I have been reading tarot since I was 16 after receiving a tarot deck from a woman who was to become my mother-in-law. Now, after many decades, I was ready for something more challenging that was geared for everyday life events. I started learning Lenormand and I am still learning and playing with it. It is nicely terse and well-suited for day-to-day reading. It is fun and I love the cards, but it is not quite a challenge to my senses and mind the way playing cards turned out to be. See – A Review of the Anna.K Lenormand Deck & Cartomancy Musings for my review of Anna.K’s Lenormand Deck.

For-what-it’s-worth: Any sort of card reading system, no matter if it is Lenormand, Tarot, oracle cards, and similar, are a form of cartomancy. From what I have seen, most call reading good ol’ playing cards cartomancy and call the others by the deck system’s name.

Without the fancy cards with images and the “scary” or “mysterious” names on the cards, those seeking guidance may think the card reader is not worth the price of a reading because the reader uses playing cards they probably got at the grocery store, or so I am told. That may be the reason few read playing cards because they read cards for a living? Or is it too hard for some to learn? Is it the connection of the terms “fortune telling” and “divination” to playing cards that stops one from learning? Or do other readers just find it very unappealing? I do not know those answers. One thing I do know, if it is the system you like, it is not wrong. A happy reader is a good reader.

I feel that cartomancy focuses on matters at hand and the possibilities of the outcome, similar to Lenormand, yet it has a larger vocabulary. I do not believe in fate, though I believe if one stays on one path, then things will go pretty much as shown in the cards if the path is not changed in some way. There is no deep psychoanalyzing that seems so common in tarot, though I am sure some readers may do so if they prefer. Personally, no thank you. Cartomancy focuses on everyday situations, from what I have learned so far. I like that. Call me a fortune teller. I will smile and laugh while thanking you. Some of my clothing is considered “Bohemian” anyway. laughing…

There is a large number of cartomancy systems, though you will find many similarities after reading through so many. There are remnants that are from the 1400’s, all the way to the present to check out. Woof! The very early ones sometimes get updated language through the centuries to “talk” to the current culture by new cartomancers. Most tended to learn from their mothers or grandmothers as the centuries passed. I found the older systems tended to go on… and on… and on… about marriage and money. I am guessing those who got their cards read seemed to be women looking for love, romance and someone with a lot of money, from reading through the oldest available system’s meanings. This is probably where that old line – “I see a tall, dark stranger coming into your life.” came from. If it is the Jack of Spades, the infamous bad boy, back away! laughing…

The stories of a grandmother, aunt or mother reading playing cards at the kitchen table the previous century, (bloody hell, I sound ancient!), are numerous. Sadly, many systems disappeared. Children and grandchildren had no interest in learning them from mom, grandma or an aunt. Losing a card reading system that a family member loved to do is sad to me. Personal family folklore is almost nonexistent it seems, too. Another sad loss. Funny, these same children seem to spend their days staring at a “magic black mirror”, aka cell phone, tablet, and laptop screens, and yet do not see the connection that I do.

As I read various sites, forums and blogs, I noticed there are readers who want a tight structure that goes with their belief system(s). Some cannot make any sense of a system or learn without those structures, from what I read. Some wanted a logistical method of learning and reading. Some just wanted meanings to memorize and be done with it.

Current Cartomancy book collection

I had one old paperback book on hand, bought 13 books, 4 e-books, and looked at hundreds of websites, reading through them all.

As I read through, I found I was getting fixated on the card’s number meanings with some of the systems. That is something I did not wish to do. It can alter the flexibility of a card’s meaning, according to placement and neighboring cards if focused on except to fine-tune the card’s possible meaning.

You can match the number-meaning to the suit-meaning and go from there. The possible problem with that form is those who give meanings to the numbers use different numerology meanings. New agers, various types of religions, tarotists, astrologers, and, of course numerologists, all have slightly different meanings for Ace through 10, though Aces tend to be somewhat similar. blink… blink…

The face, court or royal cards, cards 11 through 13, come with slightly different views as to their meanings and traits. Some apply the tarot’s meanings to the face cards. Some readers still use the hair and eye color possibilities as a description of whom the card is representing. I find that very limiting. One’s general traits emotionally and/or in manner, their personality or character traits, would be closer to pointing out that person has appeared in a spread. They would be more recognizable to the seeker, too, then “describing” them by their hair and eye color. I can assure you there is no designation for purple, green and other hair colors one sees today. I will not go into contact lens colors. They ain’t listed as options. laughing…

Then there is the meanings of the suits. That is pretty similar these days, though different readers can add lot to a suit’s meanings. And boy, do I mean a lot. Some had a page or two for one card! A couple of authors had a card’s meaning, then astrological meanings, then psychological meaning and… Woof! On top of all of the meanings, they added reversed meanings! They are not necessary. I feel the same for tarot, though many want 72 more meanings using reversals in tarot. So if you love reversals, there are systems that add 52 more meanings, and some even add a joker or both!

Which is “right”? Does it matter? You can change a system to what you personally find is the correct meanings for yourself – what sings for you personally. The readings will work well if you stay consistent with the base of what you use. Some of the books out there do not mention the number meanings at all! Being fixated on one factor, a rule or layer, of a card’s meaning if it was part of the system or not, became briefly obsessive for me. I finally took a deep breath and let it go. If a system sang for me, the odds the number rule, if any, would be good for me too. It turns out in the end, I was right.

Another problem for me that did not sit well, in 98% of the systems I went through was that one-quarter of the deck, Diamonds, is geared to money and finances primarily, and another, Clubs, to work, business, and they added MORE money meanings. It felt “off”. Why was half of the deck’s suits focused primarily on money- getting, wanting, and losing it? It did not make any sense to me. It feels unbalanced. We as Beings have a lot more to us in our daily lives than the quest for dealing with finances and money. Personally, I would be bored to tears if that was my only focus in life.

Musings of Why I Am Brushing the Dust Off My Memory Functions

So… Why would anyone want to memorize anything today or learn something new the “hard” way? These days, everything seems to be on a device you can access with a touch. How many phones numbers do you know by heart? Or are they all on your speed-dial and you have no clue what the numbers are? We used to know at least 30 phone numbers by heart “back in the day”. Many do not know their own phone number! Why yes, I sometimes have to think a moment before giving my phone number verbally to someone. I do not like the lapse I sometimes get.

Our brains need exercise to be healthy. Staring at phones, tablets and computers is being found to adversely stunt our memory functions. Instead of learning and remembering, people look at a screen. What if your device breaks? Then what? And what if your backup device turns out to be fried? How many people write things down with pen or pencil on paper? You know, just in case?

Find something you find interesting and challenging to learn and stretch your brain’s muscles. What it does for you in other areas of your life can be wonderful! Whatever you chose to learn, have fun with it. There are no tests or deadlines to meet. No one is going to grade you on it. You will be amazed how much learning something new helps you day-to-day. For starters, I found it cut down on my sticky note consumption. laughing…

And that is that. For now. Oh yes, more to come soon on the system I ended up learning and enjoying. Loves and hugs…

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