Cartomancy basics: Meaning, spreads, and more

A person does not need tarot cards, magic tricks, or psychic ability to do card reading. The only thing a person interested in card reading needs is the basic knowledge in cartomancy.

Cartomancy is the act of foreseeing the future and finding out inspiration by using a regular deck of cards. Sometimes it is referred to as “reading tarot from a regular card deck.” Intuition and the subconscious mind are the basis for card selection when doing a reading. The cards may speak of people, seasons, warnings, and even love.

The Basic of Learning Cartomancy

Tips for beginners

Here are some helpful tips for beginners when doing cartomancy:

1. Clean the deck. It is important to properly cleanse the deck after each use. This is done by shuffling the cards, storing the cards with a crystal, or placing the cards under moonlight.

2. Know the stories in cards. When learning to read cards, a person must try to put stories in them. For example, reading a king and queen together means a possible marriage. If the cards are read separately from each other, they would have different meanings.

3. Develop intuition. One should understand that the cards have different meanings. As the three of hearts may mean an affair, for a beginner it can mean a social event.

4. Keep a journal. It is important to take note of the cards chosen and the reason behind it. Referring to this journal at a later date may help in studying cartomancy reading.

5. Everything has meaning. The card suit has different meanings so does the numbers. There are many different definitions, combinations, spreads, and types of readers in cartomancy. One should know which works best for him or her.

6. Never read for oneself. No one should do card reading for himself or herself. Those who want to know about their life should have someone more experienced do it for them.

7. Trust instincts. The first instinct is important when reading cards. Following the gut feeling is more essential than logic.

The meaning of the cards

When choosing a card to represent the subject of the card reading, these guidelines can be used:

Gender. King represents the male gender, Queen the female, and Jack the youth of any gender.

Zodiac Sign. The Club or Heart represents the Fire Signs, such as Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. The Diamond or Spade signifies the Earth Signs, such as Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. The Air Signs such as Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius may be Spade or Diamond, while the Water Signs Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces may also be Heart or Club.

Personality factors. The Heart may represent people who are shy and helpful. The cool and logical ones are represented by the Spade. Diamond signifies individuals who are ambitious, businesslike, impatient, and outgoing. People who are instinctive or intuitive, cheerful and friendly are symbolised by the Club.

Knowing the spreads

One card is used for a quick answer to a question. For a more comprehensive reading, experienced card readers use the different kinds of cartomancy spreads.

The Three-Card Spread. This spread is used to give a quick answer or overview. This is done by shuffling the deck and concentrating on the question. Then the cards are laid out in a row from left to right.

1  2  3

The first card represents the past, the second the present, and the third card the future.

The Nine-Card Spread. This is a more in-depth reading of the Three-Card Spread and is done by laying the cards out in three rows across and three down.

1       2      3
4      5      6
7      8      9

Cards 1, 2, 3 are for the past. Cards 4, 5, 6, are for the present. Cards 7, 8, 9, are for the future.

The Magic Square. Known to be good for psychic or psychological reading, this spread begins by choosing a Significator Card to represent the questioner. This is placed on one side while the questioner shuffles the remainder of the deck. When shuffled, the reader takes four cards from the top of the deck and places them in the order presented. The fifth card is the Significator Card selected for the questioner. The remaining cards are taken from the top of the deck.

1   2   3
4  5   6
7   8  9

Card 1 – Individuality (Questioner’s true nature)
Card 2 – Duality (Relationships with others)
Card 3 – Stability (What is stable in questioner’s life)
Card 4 – Tenacity (Where the questioner will not compromise)
Card 5 – Potentiality (Court card for questioner)
Card 6 – Opportunity
Card 7 – Spirituality
Card 8 – Negativity
Card 9 – Positivity

The Horseshoe of Fate. This spread is done with seven cards and is good for answering questions of great concern, or questions involving life changes, such as changing careers, moving house, or getting married.

Unlike the Magic Square, there is no Significator card selected. The deck is then shuffled and spread out face down in a fan shape. The questioner chooses seven cards from the spread and gives them to the reader. Then, the cards are spread face up in the order that they were selected.

1            7
2        6
3   5
4

Card 1 – Past influences affecting present situation
Card 2 – Options and alternatives
Card 3 – Stability or instability of situation
Card 4 – Challenges
Card 5 – Help or hindrances
Card 6 – Who are friends or adversaries
Card 7 – Aftermath

The Horseshoe Spread. Done with 21 cards, this spread provides a more universal overview of the seeker’s life. It is done by laying down seven groups of three cards in the shape of a horseshoe or arch. After laying down the cards, the reader counts from one to seven, then starts the eighth card on top of the first card and go around again. The 15 cards should be placed in a structure on the first and eighth cards and so forth.

The seven categories for each group in this spread are:

1 – the past
2 – the present
3 – developments in the near future
4 – what the seeker does not expect
5 – people around the seeker
6 – obstacles and opposition
7 – the outcome

The Gypsy Spread. Like the Horseshoe Spread, this is also done with 21 cards. From left to right, the reader lays down three rows of seven cards. The top row represents the past, the middle row the present, and the bottom row the future. This 21-card spread demands great skill and is not to be attempted until one is very confident with the meanings of the cards and combining them into a meaningful narrative.

Pyramid Spread. This spread is good for general reading and there is no Significator card selected. The deck is shuffled and spread out face-down in a fan shape. Then ten cards are nominated from the spread. The reader places the cards obverse in the order that they were selected, following a pyramid.

1
3  2
4  5  6
7  8  9  10

Top Card (Card 1) – Overall influence at work
Second Row (Cards 2 & 3) – Choice of action
Third Row (Cards 4, 5, & 6) – Essential forces
Base Row (Cards 7, 8, 9 &, 10) – Guidance of the cards or resolution

Celestial Circle. This spread is done only once a year. Like the rest of the spreads, there is no Significator card selected. The deck is shuffled and spread out face-down in a fan shape. The reader selects 13 cards from the spread, and then places them up-side in the order that they were selected like that of a clock. For example, the first card would be 1 o-clock, the second card 2 o-clock, and so on. Card 13 is placed at the centre.

The cards are read as months of the year, where the first card is the current month. Card number 13 is the overall forecast for the year. The card is read by suit alone.

  • Heart – Happy forecast for the year
  • Diamond – Successful practical year ahead
  • Club – Enterprise, money, accomplishment in the next year
  • Spade – Arguments or disagreements ahead

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