What is Cartomancy? How to Read Playing Cards

Cartomancy is a centuries-old form of divination using a standard deck of playing cards. It was particularly popular in France, Germany and other parts of Europe.

How to read playing cards?

Learn how to read playing cards and what is cartomancy

What kind of deck do you need?

A regular playing card deck is typically used for fortune telling. Often, a simplified version is used by removing cards 2-6, creating a deck of 32 cards. This is called a piquet deck, preferred by the French school.

Are playing card meanings similar to Tarot or Lenormand cards?

Although playing cards are very similar to the Minor Arcana in Tarot, they don't necessarily have the same meanings. Playing cards are the basis of Lenormand cards a small divination deck of 36 cards with simple illustrations. Lenormand cards originated in Germany, where they were known as Das Spiel der Hoffnung (the Game of Hope). They were popularized by Mlle Lenormand in 18th century France. She was a famous fortune teller for the French court of Napoleon. The classic Lenormand card deck includes a small insert of a playing card over the card's main illustration.

There is some variation in playing card meanings depending on the country of origin, but generally they are similar.

How are playing card usually read?

Playing cards can be read as a single card if you're looking for a simple message. They can also be read in smaller spreads of several cards, or in a large spread involving the entire deck. This is known as the Grand Tableau spread in Lenormand.

Learn how to read playing cards for fortune-telling

What are the meanings of playing cards?

Each card can have multiple meanings, sometimes depending on the context. They can also be used to indicate timing and describe physical appearance of people. Here are some quick keyword meanings of playing cards.

Hearts: love, relationships, feelings.

  • Ace of Hearts: new love, friendship.
  • 2 of Hearts: happiness in a partnership.
  • 3 of Hearts: indecision, be cautious.
  • 4 of Hearts: movement, travel.
  • 5 of Hearts: someone is jealous, be careful about making decisions.
  • 6 of Hearts: good luck, new love interest.
  • 7 of Hearts: someone is untrustworthy, broken promises.
  • 8 of Hearts: unexpected guests, an invitation.
  • 9 of Hearts: your wish will come true.
  • 10 of Hearts: luck, happiness and success.
  • Jack of Hearts: a young person who loves you or is a good friend. Blond or lighter complexion.
  • Queen of Hearts: a kind, gentle woman. Blond or fair-haired.
  • King of Hearts: kind, helpful man. Blond or light haired.

Clubs: business, ambitions, success.

  • Ace of Clubs: good luck, wealth, good news about money.
  • 2 of Clubs: gossip, obstacles.
  • 3 of Clubs: successful marriage, good luck, wealthy partner.
  • 4 of Clubs: deceit and betrayal, be careful.
  • 5 of Clubs: help is around you, new friends.
  • 6 of Clubs: good luck, success, prosperity.
  • 7 of Clubs: success in business, possible love trouble.
  • 8 of Clubs: work and love troubles, jealousy.
  • 9 of Clubs: achievements in love or work, an admirer.
  • 10 of Clubs: financial success, lucky trip.
  • Jack of Clubs: a happy dark-haired friend, admirer.
  • Queen of Clubs: a dark-haired, confident woman.
  • King of Clubs: a strong, affectionate older man, dark haired.

Spades: conflict, problems, messages.

  • Ace of Spades: bad luck, an ending.
  • 2 of Spades: separation, deceit, changes.
  • 3 of Spades: heartbreak due to a third party in a relationship.
  • 4 of Spades: small illness, financial troubles.
  • 5 of Spades: an obstacle that turns out for the best.
  • 6 of Spades: things are getting better, improvements.
  • 7 of Spades: a loss, bad advice, grief.
  • 8 of Spades: be careful, possible deceit, trouble, danger.
  • 9 of Spades: bad luck, stress anxiety.
  • 10 of Spades: unfortunate turn of events, bad news.
  • Jack of Spades: an unpleasant or unkind young person with black hair.
  • Queen of Spades: a divorced woman or widow, with dark to black hair.
  • King of Spades: a selfish, ambitious older man with black hair.

Diamonds: work, money, career.

  • Ace of Diamonds: good improvements, a letter or message, a gift.
  • 2 of Diamonds: business partnership, a shady love affair.
  • 3 of Diamonds: legal document, arguments.
  • 4 of Diamonds: unexpected money coming in.
  • 5 of Diamonds: improvements and success. Possible birth of a child, happiness at home.
  • 6 of Diamonds: relationship troubles, possible separation.
  • 7 of Diamonds: problems at work, happy news.
  • 8 of Diamonds: new job or travel, unexpected romance.
  • 9 of Diamonds: new business opportunities, money coming in.
  • 10 of Diamonds: prosperity, financial stability, success.
  • Jack of Diamonds: unreliable young person with red or fair hair.
  • Queen of Diamonds: an outgoing, seductive woman with red or fair hair.
  • King of Diamonds: a successful, accomplished older man with red or light hair.