Exploring Cartomancy, 13Mar23

©2023 michael raven

I want to reiterate, I am no expert in cartomancy and have no intention of turning these posts in to research-quality posts, so I’m afraid if you are looking for references, you might be disappointed. After all, I am just exploring and having fun, not trying to write an authorative everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-but-were-afraid-to-ask post on the matter. This is just a little chat over a glass of something (water, in my case) like you might have with a group of friends at the bar and deciding that, instead of arguing politics, you’re going to listen to the idiot in the corner chat about “fun facts” that may or may not be actual facts about a subject that interests him.

That said, while there are a number of variations on the “meanings” behind playing cards, there are general trends and themes I have noticed or outright read about on one of the various sites out there. And, as I said previously, they tend to align with the core tarot themes (based on the Rider deck, anyway).

In fact, if you removed most of the major arcana (I-XXI) and skipped the knight card from each suits’ royalty, you can readily use a standard deck for the purposes of tarot readings.

If you noticed, I did not include the 0 card (occasionally unnumbered), The Fool, in those removed from a tarot deck to get to the playing card deck, as The Fool can be substituted not once, but twice, with the Joker card.

That leaves a good chunk of the minor arcana cards represented, and one trump card (or two, if you include both the colored and the monochrome Joker variants), which gives you 53 or 54 cards of the standard 72-card tarot deck.

How are suits compared to tarot? Well, this is one of the areas where there seems to be widespread agreement, although I’ve seen deviations in my reading (of course!).

The correspondences with the broadest agreements are:

Hearts = Cups

Spades = Swords

Diamonds = Pentacles/Stones

Clubs = Wands/Staves

As I said, there is no reason why you can’t use a standard deck of cards to cast a minor arcana tarot spread, even if the meanings do not cross from one set of interpretations to the other. If you feel you are being cheated by not having the major arcana (or the missing “knight”) as part of your reading, then it probably won’t be useful for you.

Wait, someone is asking, what does the Jack card represent? Again, there seems to be general agreement that the Page and Jack are interchangeable face cards. And, of course, the other face cards have direct correlations (Queen=Queen and King=King, however named). In general, in reviewing a few tarot definitions, it was my impression that the Page and Knight were two faces or stages of the same theme, although I’m sure purists will argue that they are no such thing. As I said, I’m certainly not trying to be an expert on the matter — I am trying to take a mantic tool and turn it into a writing tool. And, as such, the Page and the Knight symbolisms are close enough in my mind so that they can be combined for these purposes.

Why am I going to great lengths to talk about the similarities between cartomancy and tarot readings? Why don’t I just use the tarot deck to achieve my goal if there are so many similarities?

Well… Honestly?

First off, tarot decks are generally more money than a playing card deck. While I can easily afford them if I want to buy more, not everyone has the disposable income to get one. Secondly, I sometimes feel like the esoteric occult relationships tend to actually get in the way of a “clean” reading and add too much to the mix to use as a writing prompt. Nor does everyone wish to write about occult matters in their everyday writing.

So, I’m looking to find an inexpensive tool that is only lightly influenced by the mystic.

And, frankly, there seems to be little difference between the two tools. There is frequent enough agreement that the relationship is cooperative, rather than competitive.

Plus, I have an idea that I’m working on that makes memorization a minimalistic affair, so you don’t have to carry a book of meanings and interpretations with you in order to make sense of the tool.

Instead of 53 meanings to memorize, assuming my tool works as intended, the user would have 4 themes and 13 stages to mix and match, for a total of 18 concepts to build from (I didn’t mess up my math, the Joker has his own role).

I’m still deciding how best to approach this, and if I even have the stages thought out well enough, but I’ll get into the theme elements in the next few days.

As always, feel free to punch big-assed holes in my ideas. While I am not attempting to be an expert, I am not above have my thoughts and ideas challenged in a friendly way. Take a sip of whatever you’re drinking, recall that we all want to be friends when the group tab comes so no one is stuck with the tab or the tip, and say your piece…

Next time: Themes.

7 thoughts on “Exploring Cartomancy, 13Mar23

  1. I know NOTHING about cards as they were not permitted in our home when I was a kid (I think my Dad got a little overzealous, placing bets with cribbage, at one point) and – although I am very intuitive, spiritual and esoteric, I steer away from anything too ‘organized’. Nonetheless, your interpretation drew me in. I especially liked when you said: “I sometimes feel like the esoteric occult relationships tend to actually get in the way of a “clean” reading “. That intuitively sounds ‘right’ to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Digging into this idea of mine, I’ve discovered I don’t know nearly as much as I thought about playing cards. They actually have a fascinating history and there are phrases that some people use that I don’t think we realize came from playing cards. For instance, I didn’t realize “Suicide Kings” was a direct reference to two of the king cards in the standard deck; one appears to be ready to cut off his head with an axe, and the other with his sword.

      Now, as far as the esoterica of tarot, I think it has value as it helps ground the concepts in well-formed ideas — unfortunately, it serves more for gatekeeping than illumination, as most folks are unfamiliar with all of the imagery’s source and meaning, nor do many have the resources (or energy) to find reputable references to those archetypes required to understand them.

      There I go again, rambling on too long….

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying so. I’m always afraid when I go off on one of these tangents of mine that I am boring the hell out of people. What I find intriguing is often those same things that send people drooling and shuffling towards the exits.

      Thanks again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the feeling, which is why I am drawn to it. I feel a delighted kindred affection when someone starts explaining the details of a somewhat esoteric system or method. It’s comforting somehow, even if (maybe especially when) I am not particularly after the information. I just like knowing that others are out there, keeping detailed records of particular ways of doing particular things. There’s poetry in the act of taking such careful care. : )

        Liked by 1 person

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