Start small, have no fear. Continued from How to Read Cards II.
Before we start, a few notes on the previous post: You may also find the Question useful as a sort of silent mantra as you shuffle, go for it. Now, on the matter of who shuffles- you or the person you’re reading for- well obviously the Oracle shuffles best, let others handle your cards only if you feel like it. I sometimes do, especially when people ask to.
Well, now that you know the key is to have clear vision, let’s see what exactly you’ll be looking at.
A Tarot deck is made up of two parts, a series of 22 Trump cards, also called the Majors (spare me the Arcana/Secret mystery thing) and a set of 56 regular pip cards (four more cards than regular playing cards because of the Knights) referred to as the Minors. Everyone seems to adore interpreting the flashy cool Majors and feels intimidated by the simple Minors, especially when not illustrated a la Esoteric Tarot. Let’s slay a demon.
Place your beloved Marshmallow Marseille Tarot deck aside for now, and go get a regular pack of playing cards. That one in the drawer with the scenes of Italy, or the one your nephews play with. Take the Jokers out and let the games begin.
Credit: I am forever grateful to Dawn Jackson for the now legendary Hedgewytch method of folk cartomancy which was published online when Angelfire and Geocities were still a thing. My inkjet printed copy of that content is still in the witch drawer. I have since grown to understand why I found it useful then and can see the flaws and triumphs in the way it is presented. Even though it outlines a set of rules, I still find the root of it to be close to simple observation and ‘common sense’. It has helped me develop my own. I have taken what I find useful from it here and present it in my own manner. I also have Camelia Elias to thank for even further clarity in all matters cartomantic.
Have a good shuffle through the playing cards, what do you see? Red, black, numbers, a few letters and people. Say hi. The number pips may not look like much at first, two hearts and a diamond, great, give me back the lady with the Lion. But allow them to come alive, and you will see light brighter than the one in the Hermit’s lamp, more water than the naked Star lady or Temperance herself can manage, the High Priestess’s complete book collection, even the music of Judgement’s angel, a few more of the Devil’s imps and the lightning that strikes the Tower are all in there too.
What you’re looking at right now are fragments of a narrative. What I will attempt to show you is how to weave these small but mighty narrative elements together, let that Tower lightning strike and see the Queens fly out the Tower’s windows in free-fall or flying brooms.
♥️ ♦️ Observing the Suits ♣️ ♠️
Use your eyes first. Notice there are four suits, Hearts and Diamonds in red, Clubs and Spades in black. It’s not very hard to determine what these are, with plain Emoji logic you can deduce the red heart looks more pleasant than the dark pointy sword, unless you’re off to war with the aliens. Let’s move into the qualities of these small symbols in simple terms.
The Heart is inside the body, it pumps blood and keeps you warm. In Tarot (Italian playing cards) the hearts are the cups. With the heart you love, and feel all sort of fuzzy good feelings. With the cups you drink until you start spilling out emotion. Passion and courage are matters of the heart. Home is where the heart is they say, family, friends and I heart yous belong here. It beats, slow and rhythmically, until it beats a bit faster, but it doesn’t shine, or move around, and you can’t transact with it. You also can’t think with the heart.
Summer, water, love & emotion, warm, slow. Venus +. Pleasant.
That’s where Diamonds come in. The diamond is sharp, shiny and denotes value. It corresponds to the Coins in the Tarot, with diamonds you can make deals, build fortunes and fill treasure chests. An idea or thought is like a spark, it is hot. Inspiration, light, illumination, fire. It looks like a seed, an eye. You can hold a diamond in your hand and even fool people into thinking it is a star. The stars sparkle like diamonds, so does electricity and fireworks. They move faster than the hearts, money being transacted, emails being sent, electricity to the light bulb. But you can’t build with them, money and ideas are only the seeds for projects, you need work, collaboration and effort to realize passions and financial endeavors. You may hire with the diamonds, but the work will be done by your staff.
Spring, fire, money & mind, communication, hot, faster but erratic, so less slow. Venus- Mercury+. Pleasant but unstable.
The Clubs or wands/batons, are like sticks you can build with, collaborate and construct things. You can hold them in your hand and these extend out, they have distance. Make a fence or a house, whip a horse, exercise. It takes effort to cut down a tree, and turn it into bank notes. To chisel a diamond out of coal. But there is a goal. You go to work and put the effort in, you wouldn’t do it without a paycheck, unless you were doing it out passion with the hearts, or against your will under the spade. Clubs are fast, like leaves in the wind, a javelin flying out, buildings appearing overnight, a realization that you’ve been working 30 years for the same company, or a slap with the Zen stick. Notice they are not red, because unlike the warm and fuzzy feelings of hearts, or the shiny coins, they require effort, think spending of your coins or energy, these are less exciting than diamonds for sure, imagine getting paid with sticks or bricks.
Autumn, air, work & craft, cool, fast and swift. Mercury- Saturn+. Less pleasant.
Spades are the swords, sharp, painful, deadly. Go out with the Ace of Swords and you’re not looking to make friends, or money transactions. You cut, you bleed, and there is pain. With clubs you build and with swords you remove, get rid of things. If you’re surrounded by swords you’re in trouble. With swords you kill and bury. If the heart is the blood, the diamonds nerve, and the clubs muscle, the spades are the bones.
Winter, earth, troubles, limits, death & hardship, cold, fast but heavy. Saturn- Mars+. Unpleasant. Malefic.
Note: Witches and magic can be represented by Spades, magic is all about elimination. Cut the pain, kill the demon. Think high sorcery. Sweeter, cunning-folk type magic and spells can also be found in the Clubs, as craft and workings. Think plants and herbs. Astrologers are in the Diamonds, with the seeing stars, translating and communicating, as are cards and card readers.
Stories by the Fire. Red to Black. Diamonds are the shiniest red, spades the darkest black. So the diamonds are hottest and spades coldest. Use this to determine the conditions of a narrative, it can start hot and get cold, start cold, heat up quickly and cool down, or be hot/cold throughout, etc.
Coming Up Next. Symbols and Numbers and People Oh my! Continues here.