Table of Contents

    Cartomancy - An Ultimate Novice's Guide

    Tarot cards, dowsing tool, incense and crystals on a wooden board

    What is cartomancy? 

    Cartomancy is a method of divining the future by using a standard playing card deck.

    A practitioner of this method of divination is known as a cartomancer. Playing cards originated about 600 years ago, but whether playing cards were designed for games of chance and skill or to divine the future is unknown.

    Cards were developed all over the globe for this explicit purpose of discerning the future. By the 1700s cartomancy was a widespread practice, and urban legend has it that Napoleon would regularly seek the counsel of a cartomancer.

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    Difference Between Cartomancy & Tarot Card Reading? 

    Although both are methods of predicting future events and both use a deck of cards that’s where the similarities end. Both styles of foreseeing the future are also reliant on the reader's ability to interpret the cards, rather than the cards themselves. Cartomancy can be thought of as a more generic form of tarot card reading because we feel as though cartomancy is better at giving the timing of events; whereas, tarot card reading gives much more information about love and relationships.

    Cartomancy Deck 

    Cartomancy uses a standard poker deck, sometimes with jokers, but tarot card decks not only use more cards, but the cards are slightly larger than tarot cards. Cards used for cartomancy run ace to 10, in one of four suits hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Kings denote males, queens are females, and jacks are youthful individuals of either gender.

    Tarot Card Deck 

    Tarot card decks are different in a lot of aspects. The suits also changed names: clubs are wands, diamonds are pentacles, hearts are cups, and spades are swords. Each suit's face cards are known as court cards, the jack represents only masculine energies, and knights, a new addition, represent active male energies. All cards previously listed make up the minor arcanas, and the major arcanas are an additional 21 cards, which do not correspond to any suit.

    How to Prepare for a Reading 

    Before beginning a reading, there are several points to note. The first is caring for your cartomancy deck; we recommend keeping the cards in either a cloth pouch or wrapping it in a cloth made of natural fiber and keeping this deck in a wooden box. If you are tired or in a bad mood, or if the client is in a bad mood, consider doing the reading at another time.

    Energy is a significant influencer on cartomancy, and by bringing in negative feelings to the reading, it could affect the results of the reading. Worse yet, it can imbue the deck with lingering negative energy. Because cartomancy requires tapping into cosmic forces, our recommendation is to use a simple request to the universe, for wisdom protection and guidance. Lastly the use of a crystal to help protect yourself and the deck from negative energy. A popular option used by many cartomancer readers is a small natural quartz crystal. These crystals, although small, will shield the deck and the reader from negative energies.

    How to Read Cartomancy Cards

    The Four Suits

    As previously mentioned there are four suits, hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs, and each suit represents a particular domain. Hearts not only express love, but they also represent passionate pursuits, happiness, and relationships with other people. Diamonds represent information about money, fortune, work, or marriage. Spades are at times troublesome because they represent issues, secrets, and bad luck. Clubs are representative of the questioner's wellbeing, and finances.

    Below is a list of a few meaning we have associated with each card. It is worth noting that different cartomancers have had varying experiences with some cards, and the interpretation may be slightly different between two readers, reading the same spread. Some cards can also have the same meaning; this serves as a way of amplifying the message the universe is trying to communicate with the questioner. Even if there is a contradiction say the two of hearts, which represents fortunes in love and success and a three of spades, which represents issues with a partner, the three of spades exerts a stronger influence on the reading.


    • The Ace: Friendship, new relationships, and happiness
    • The Two: Fortune in love, success, and prosperity
    • The Three: Be cautious about what you are saying and to whom
    • The Four: Represent change and travel, possibly taking the next step in the relationship
    • The Five: Jealousy and deceit surround the questioner
    • The Six: A pleasant surprise will occur soon
    • The Seven: Someone close to you will break a promise
    • The Eight: Invitation or a surprise visit
    • The Nine: Serves as “the wish” card any wish may come true
    • The Ten: Good fortune is around the corner
    • The Jack: Can represent a blonde younger person or information about a close friend
    • The Queen: Represents a good-natured blonde woman
    • The King: Represents a blonde man or gentle, good advice giving male


    • The Ace: A gift of jewelry, or news about money
    • The Two: Disagreements in business or people not approving of a current relationship
    • The Three: Legal issues and family issues
    • The Four: Improvement in financial position and inheritance
    • The Five: Happiness at home and successful business ventures
    • The Six: Issues in a second marriage should one exist
    • The Seven: Problems at work
    • The Eight: Marriage later in life, traveling in the winter
    • The Nine: Restless of changes and a new business opportunity may arise
    • The Ten: Positive change and good luck are ahead of you
    • The Jack: Can represent a family member, a light blonde youth, or a dishonest person
    • The Queen: A fair-haired woman, a flirty person, or someone who enjoys partying and gossiping
    • The King: A fair-haired man who is stubborn and holds a position of authority


    • The Ace: Insight, understanding, and change
    • The Two: Though choices, deceit and communication issues
    • The Three: Issues with a romantic partner
    • The Four: Broken promises and illness
    • The Five: Indicates anger and loss
    • The Six: Small victories, and turning a new leaf
    • The Seven: Loss of a friend and unexpected burdens
    • The Eight: Know as a card of disappointment, illness, and a loss of social balance
    • The Nine: Bad luck in all aspects of life
    • The Ten: Unwelcome news, and imprisonment
    • The Jack: Dark haired youth who is means well but is unreliable and immature
    • The Queen: A dark-haired woman or a widow
    • The King: A dark-haired man who is ambitious and an authoritative presence


    • The Ace: Represents happiness, wealth, and the potential for a new business opportunity
    • The Two: Represents individuals who oppose you or deceive you
    • The Three: Money coming from a wealthy partner’s family
    • The Four: Change for the worse, betrayal from a trusted friend
    • The Five: Success in current marriage, and assistance from friends
    • The Six: Financial support obtained  
    • The Seven: Success that may be undermined by people of the opposite gender
    • The Eight: Trouble in business ventures, personal relationships, and love
    • The Nine: A warning against stubbornness
    • The Ten: Good fortune or money from an unexpected source
    • The Jack: A dark-haired and young person who is reliable to a fault
    • The Queen: A dark-haired woman who is charming and confident
    • The King: A dark-haired man who is honest and affectionate

    The Three Card Spread 

    Cartomancy spreads are different ways to display cards drawn from a deck, to divine the future. We will use the three-card spread as an example because it’s a simple spread to get cartomancers accustomed to cartomancy. Shuffle the deck and place three cards face up going from left to right. The card on the left represents the past, the card in the center represents the present, and the card on the right represents the future.

    Cartomancy for Free

    Getting a free fortune-telling service is a tricky business but some professional providers will offer Cartomancy for free as a way of getting you to sign-up for a more extensive reading.

    My Conclusion

    Divination is such a vast field that comes in so many forms. We do tend to romanticize certain few rituals, but they aren't our only options. They may even lead to stereotypes often connected with divination.

    We see so many fortune tellers out there focusing on Tarot only. It seems as if the mystical ritual of Tarot removes the focus of what matters - energy. That's unfortunate, as there are many other more accessible forms, which originate from ancient times.

    Cartomancy is one of these commonly disregarded, yet so powerful, techniques. You can tell someone's future with a regular deck of cards and without any elaborate rituals. 

    If you're seeking insight into your past, future, or answers to questions tormenting you in the present, try cartomancy. You could ask your card reader to use a deck of standard playing cards. You'll be surprised at the results.