Cartomancy is divination using a deck of cards for seeking guidance about the past, present, or future. Playing cards were once used as a form of divination, and some use these cards in modern times as well. The first report of using cards for divination was in Europe in the 1300’s by the gypsies.
There are literally hundreds of oracle decks on the market, including Tarot cards. Themes range from angels, gemstones, faeries, goddesses, mythology, sacred geometry, Native American, baseball, cats, and more.
There are many ways to learn card meanings. Some people go "by the book", memorizing correlations. Others read more intuitively, getting a feel for card images, symbols, and concepts and drawing from those impressions.
Both Oracle cards and the Tarot can give you important clues in a reading. In fact, you can weave your impressions together to tell a story—allowing intuitive flow to connect the cards to the situation that is being asked about.
Here are some things to look for and consider when reading cards:
- People - Are there any people on the card? What do their presence—or absence—indicate to you? What direction are they facing? What about facial expression? Body language? How are they dressed? Is their something unexpected or unusual about their appearance? Do they remind you of anyone you know?
- Numerology - Numbers have meanings, and depending on the numerological tradition you're using, you can interpet cards in light of the numbers. For example, 1 usually indicates beginnings, 2 indicates decisions, 3 indicates reproduction, and so on.
- Words - When a deck creator names a card, they do so for a reason. What does the name speak to you? How would you interpret a card called The Devil? What if it were re-named Bondage? Are there any key words or phrases on the card? How do they relate to the images? Do they remind you of situations from your life or parts of a conversation you've heard?
- Color - What are the predominant colors of the Minor Suits in your deck? What color clothing are the people of the Majors and Court cards wearing? What about the colors of symbols, surroundings, or landscape? There are various systems of color symbolism and these add yet another layer to interpeting cards. For example, purple can represent royalty or divinity. Red often indicates fiery passion or anger. Green often indicates abundance and healing.
- Objects and Animals – Notice any objects on the card. Are jars or cups upright or overturned? Are swords piercing a heart? What kind of objects are the people holding or using? How many are there? What animals are on the card? What do those animals speak to you? How are these animals used in literature and mythology? How are individuals on the card interacting with the animals?
- Symbols – Esoteric symbolism can often be found in oracle decks, especially the Tarot. Do you notice any unusual shapes or emblems? What about crests or seals? You can research various astrological, Qabalistic, elemental, and other esoteric symbolism to add depth to your card interpretations.
Content copyright © Janet Boyer. All rights reserved.This content was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.