Cartomancy (Playing Cards): Card Meanings & Combinations
Did you know you can use a deck of playing cards in the same way you use Tarot cards? Here’s a guide to cartomancy: divination with 52 cards.
If you don’t have a Tarot deck on hand, one way to get around that is to use a regular playing card deck. This is called cartomancy. And while the practice is very similar to Tarot, here we’ll cover what makes it different.
What Is Cartomancy?
Cartomancy is really just divination with the regular 52-card playing deck.
Maisy Bristol from Tarot By Maisy explains that people are more apt to have their cards read if it’s from a familiar source—such as the playing cards we use for all sorts of childhood games, like “Go Fish.”
“Skeptics are more likely to give cartomancy a shot over a Tarot reading—even though the concept is the same,” she says.
Cartomancy vs. Tarot
Playing cards have a very similar structure to a Tarot card deck. They have four suits, a court-card system, and a numbered system that spans from Ace to 10.
The major difference is that Tarot has the Major Arcana section—which is 22 extra cards. Additionally, it also has a gendered “Jack” for each suit—represented by the Knight and Page. So, instead of 52 cards, a Tarot deck ends up with 78 cards.
When it comes to reading cartomancy vs. reading Tarot, this is mostly similar as well. According to Bristol, you can read playing cards in just the same way as you might read Tarot cards. But there is a catch. “Both methods work,” she says. “But Tarot allows you to take a situation further in-depth whereas cartomancy gives very cut-and-dry answers.”
- Clubs (Wands in Tarot) represent dreams, goals, future opportunities or visions
- Hearts (Cups in Tarot) represent emotions, connections, home, family, and relationships
- Spades (Swords in Tarot) represent challenges, actions needed, and obstacles
- Diamonds (Pentacles in Tarot) represent money, finances, and career
Bristol gave us a list of card meanings for the entire 52-card deck:
Ace of Clubs: new endeavors and opportunities, learnings
2 of Clubs: getting on the same page, confrontation, dissonance
3 of Clubs: charged creativity or mental blockages
4 of Clubs: finding work-life balance, stable mind
5 of Clubs: difference in opinions, time for a change
6 of Clubs: receiving inspiration, receiving a growth opportunity
7 of Clubs: uninspired, feeling trapped, afraid of the unknown
8 of Clubs: feeling lack of self-worth in ideas or dreams
9 of Clubs: an idea is almost complete
10 of Clubs: manifesting dreams, feeling fulfilled
Jack of Clubs: a young visionary
Queen of Clubs: a woman who believes in herself
King of Clubs: a man who has inspiring ideas
Ace of Hearts: new relationship, marriage, or union
2 of Hearts: finding balance with partnership, spending quality time together
3 of Hearts: challenges in relationships, being a third wheel, indecision
4 of Hearts: stability, marriage, feeling secure in partnership or at home
5 of Hearts: sudden changes such as moving, breakups, or divorce
6 of Hearts: finding closure, peace, harmony with loved ones
7 of Hearts: finding out “the real” side to someone
8 of Hearts: a time to reconnect to old family or friends
9 of Hearts: feeling really good in your love life, wanting “more”
10 of Hearts: an exciting new step, feeling emotionally fulfilled
Jack of Hearts: a young person who expresses their feelings fearlessly
Queen of Hearts: a woman who loves boldly
King of Hearts: a man with an open heart ready for commitment
Ace of Spades: making moves, embracing change, making things happen
2 of Spades: conflict, divisive issues between you and another
3 of Spades: the aftermath of a divisive encounter, backstabbing
4 of Spades: finding peace in doing nothing, waiting before acting
5 of Spades: letting go, detoxing, moving on
6 of Spades: accepting fate, accepting change
7 of Spades: disagreements, challenges, unforeseen obstacles
8 of Spades: needing to decide your own fate really quickly
9 of Spades: overwhelm, dealing with loss, worry, grief
10 of Spades: too much pressure, responsibility, or worry
Jack of Spades: a young person who isn’t afraid to do the “right thing”
Queen of Spades: cold, aloof woman who does things for the interest of others
King of Spades: an authoritative man who plays by the rules and attempts to be fair
Ace of Diamonds: new house, investment, or job opportunity
2 of Diamonds: finances improve, needing balance in finances
3 of Diamonds: projects, working together, uncertainty about how to spend or save
4 of Diamonds: foundation in money, investing, saving, being overly frugal
5 of Diamonds: spending quickly, financial changes
6 of Diamonds: taking responsibility for financial decisions
7 of Diamonds: deception around contracts, investments, or what you’ll get out of spending
8 of Diamonds: an unexpected downturn in money
9 of Diamonds: reality check in finances, time to stop spending
10 of Diamonds: financial and material success, everything you’ve ever wanted
Jack of Diamonds: a young, immature person who spends everything they have
Queen of Diamonds: a mature and beautiful woman who knows her worth
King of Diamonds: a lavish or powerful businessman who enjoys the finer things
How to Read: Card Combinations
- Past, present, future
- Me, them, relationship
- My light side, my dark side, how to balance
- Mental connection, physical connection, emotional connection
Wheel of Fortune
This is one of the most popular methods to read cartomancy. The reader will remove cards at random and assign meaning to them based on the order they were chosen.
What does cartomancer mean?
A cartomancer is someone who reads playing cards as a divination tool.
Do playing cards have meaning?
“Anything we assign meaning to will, inevitably, ‘have meaning,’” says Bristol.
How many cards are there in a Tarot deck?
There are 78 cards in a Tarot deck.
What does the “joker” mean?
Bristol says the Joker can be used as a signifier. “Place the Joker card at the top of the spread. Use him to channel the person that you’re trying to read for—whether that be a friend, a lover, or yourself.”