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omens and superstitions, marriage happiness, deck of playing cards, divination system

A Quick Guide to Reading Ordinary Playing Cards

Author: Cheryl Lynne Bradley

© Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2001-2, cannot be reproduced without author's consent.

Divining from regular playing cards is an old practice and I am sure many of us
know at least one fortune-telling game done with this tool. Reading regular
cards is called cartomancy or metasymbology. Playing cards have been called "The
Devil's Picture Book" and have a few superstitions associated with them. Miners
and fishermen viewed it as bad luck to have a deck with them while working or on
a voyage. Thieves will rarely steal a deck as they have a belief that this will
turn luck against them . Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great
king from history: Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts
-Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.

Other omens and superstitions about playing cards involve their use in
gambling. It is generally believed that you will never get a good hand if you
are dealt the four of clubs. "The Dead Man's Hand", Aces over eights, that Wild
Bill Hickock was holding when he was killed, is considered very unlucky. The
nine of diamonds is sometimes referred to as "The Curse of Scotland" as it was
used to give instructions for the beginning of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. On
a cheerier note, we have to remember the old saying "unlucky at cards, lucky in

Gong Hee Fot Choy, "Greeting of Riches," is a divination system utilizing
regular playing cards which Margarete Ward, a mystic and world traveler,
introduced in her 1935 book. It draws heavily on Chinese and Eastern mysticism
for its wisdom. This system uses a board, a book and 32 cards. Jokers, 2's, 3's,
4's, 5's and 6's were discarded and only 7's through to the Ace were utilized.
The board and book are divided into 32 houses. Each card has a different meaning
depending upon which house it lands, and are detailed in the book. There are
1,024 combinations. The Houses are Compasses, Marriage, Happiness, Enjoyment,
Messages, Relatives, Health, Money, Seasons, Friends, Gifts, Moons, Sun, Luck,
Wishes, Success, Surprises, Popularity, Abode, Journey, Papers, Vocation,
Letters, Trouble, Disappointments, Death, Undertaking, Achievement, Inheritance,
Callers, Gratitude and Inquiries. The hearts represent love and friendship;
anything of a personal nature. The diamonds represent fortune and riches; papers
of any kind. The clubs represent luck wisdom and business. The spades represent
the unpleasant things of life.

Tarot reading layouts readily adapt over to regular card reading as do
divinatory meanings. Hearts equate to Cups, Diamonds to Coins, Spades to Swords
and Clubs to Wands. To proceed with a reading, shuffle and cut in your usual
method, and deal out the layout of your choice or try the following reading.

Relationship Potential Reading

A fun reading to ascertain the future of
potential suitors involves separating the Kings or the Queens from the deck. You
then proceed to lay these Trump cards out side by side in this order: Hearts,
Clubs, Diamonds and Spades. Assign a name of someone you are involved with or
interested in to each card, you can choose Unknown for one of them. Shuffle the
cards and ask a question. ie: Who do I have the best chance of having a
successful relationship?; Who will I marry?; Who will I date next?; Who will
call me first?.

Deal out the remaining cards face up, laying them out one at a time on or
below one of the Trumps, proceeding across all four and returning to the
beginning if required. Your question is answered when you deal a matching suit
on one of the Kings or Queens. Ask another question and start laying down cards
from the beginning of the row again, stopping again when a suit matches a trump.
After all of the cards have been dealt, pick up each stack and count the number
of cards of each suit. Hearts denote love, clubs indicate level of happiness,
diamonds predict money and spades augur sex. The more you have of one suit
indicates the predominant influence or potential asset of that relationship.
Look up the meanings of the cards on the reference chart for a deeper

Hearts (Cups):

Ace: love, friendship, the home and distinct happiness

King: fair haired man, affectionate, generous, impetuous, honest man, hasty
in decisions, not to be relied upon for advice
Queen: fair haired woman,
trustworthy, faithful loving woman, gentle & pleasing
Jack: fair haired
young person, good friend, a close (or long lost) friend
10: good fortune,
happiness, good news, happiness in family
9: the 'wish card', dreams and
desires will come true
8: invitations, but also partings, parties or
7: someone is unreliable, broken promises by friends
unexpected good fortune, generosity, imposed upon by untrustworthy people
jealousy, inability to make a decision
4: changes, travel or postponements,
marriage delayed, bachelor or spinster
3: be cautious an impulsive decision
threatens good ones
2: success by careful thought, friendship

Spades (Swords):

Ace: conflicts, a difficult love affair, misfortune,
bad news, tidings of death
King: dark haired man, ambitious, usually
successful, his ambition overrides everything else
Queen: dark haired woman,
seductive or unscrupulous, treachery, betrayal, malice, widow
Jack: dark
haired young man, well meaning but lazy person, hindrance in all work
worry, grief, imprisonment, negation of all good
9: bad luck, can mean delays
or quarrels, all kinds of unhappiness in all things
8: disappointments and
opposition, be cautious, friends might turn out to be rivals
7: a warning
against loss of friendship, quarrels with friends, bad things
6: an
improvement in the person's life, use perseverance to make your plans work
anxiety, setbacks, interferences, success in business, harmony in partners
jealousy, business troubles, sickness, minor misfortunes delay project
partings due to faithlessness, lourney, bad things in love or marriage
scandal, gossip, danger of deceit, change, removal, loss of home, division

Diamonds (Coins):

Ace: money, a ring, important message, or a valuable
King: fair haired man, stubborn and powerful, vengeful, dangerous when
Queen: fair haired woman, flirt, sophisticated, witty, interferes in
other's affairs
Jack: a relative, someone not really reliable, selfish or
jealous, bad news
10: journey, changes usually bringing wealth, money as
objective, maybe not result
9: opportunities and surprises, usually
financial, taste for adventure, travel, changes
8: late marriage or new
relationship, unexpected money, a journey
7: a gift, lies, rumours, unlucky
gambler, criticism
6: a reconciliation, warning against a second marriage,
early marriage; early end.
5: successful meetings, especially business,
unexpected news; may be business success
4: an inheritance, changes for the
better, unhappiness from bad friends, betrayal
3: legal or domestic battles,
quarrels, domestic disagreements
2: a great love affair increases in
importance, opposed by friends

Clubs (Wands):

Ace: harmony, property, achievements, love, peace of
mind, professional success
King: dark haired man, honest, open, generous and
Queen: dark haired woman, strong, helpful, attractive, nice woman,
inclined to be temperamental
Jack: a reliable friend, sincere but
10: unexpected money, good luck or a gift, unexpected good fortune
with bad loss
9: a new romance, disputes with friends, bad quarrels
opposition, chance of recklessness, someone will use money not his own
prosperity, chance of romantic interference, good fortune, beware of opposite
6: business success, profitable business in partnership
5: help from a
friend or spouse, marriage with a wealthy woman
4: bad change of fortune,
failure of project due to friends
3: good marriage or partnership, long
engagement, and then a fast wedding
2: disappointment and opposition from
friends or associates

In Closing...

Have a little fun with this, it is a very enjoyable method of divination and
accessible to everyone. Someone who has trouble managing the size of the Tarot
cards in shuffling and dealing or if you have problems with your hands, might
find these easier to work with.


Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions
by Phillippa Waring
Souvenir Press Ltd.
ISBN 0 285 63396

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