Monday, July 11, 2011


The (technically) first divination type on our list is Cartomancy.  Cartomancy is divination by cards.  Playing cards originated in China, and traveled to Europe in the 14th century to become similar to what we know now.  According to Wikipedia, the first documented occurrence of playing cards was in 1367 when the town Bern, Switzerland.  Different decks of cards are used in different countries.  While the 52 card deck is used in most of North America and western Europe, in France the Piquet deck is more often used; a normal deck with all the 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6's removed leaving a 32 card deck.
The Fortune Teller by Mikhail Vrubel

Traditional decks can be used for tarot as well as modern 78 card Tarot decks.  The cards are each assigned a meaning, and it is up to the reader to interpret the cards as they fall.  In Tarot, the court cards represent people, and the same is true of court cards in a deck of playing cards.  The King of Hearts represents a fair main, the King of Clubs a dark man, etc.  Oracle Decks are something else entirely; they too are cards with images that are assigned meaning, but the interpretation of the cards is something that is best done with intuition.  With tarot the meanings of the cards come with the books.  With oracle cards there will be a book with meanings as well, but the reading relies much more heavily on the reader with oracle cards than with Tarot.  There are some wonderful Oracle decks out there, enough different styles to attune with everyone, as with Tarot.  There are fairy, angel, and dragon oracles; animal, Native American and Druidic oracle decks, and many more.

There is a game that we use to play with a deck of playing cards when I was in Elementary school; a rudimentary form of divination even if we didn't know what divination was at the time!  I'm sure if we knew, it would have been considered evil and outlawed.  Regardless, with a regular deck of cards, we played a fortune telling game.  What kind of house you would have, how many children you would have, if you would be rich.  You know, all the things that are important to young children thinking about the future, haha!

An instruction on Tarot Cards or Oracle Cards would take me months, so that isn't what I'll do here.  If you are interested in learning Tarot, or even just brushing up on your skills, there is a wonderful 6 week e-mail course Introduction to Tarot offered by Patti Wigington which is fabulous.  Oracle Cards are both simpler and more difficult than Tarot; a rudimentary Tarot reading can be done from the book; though the great Tarot readers use their intuition.  Oracle cards require that intuition from the start.

What other types of Cartomancy have you tried?  Which is your favorite?

Goddess Bless,


  1. I've tried both Tarot and Oracle.

    When I was in school, we never divined with cards. We played MASH instead. ^_^

  2. I've always had better luck with Oracle decks than Tarot, though I have several of each. Right now, I'm using both of Brian Froud's faery decks (humor and brutal honesty rolled into one).

  3. Great post! I personally prefer the oracle cards, though I read the Tarot for many years before I began with trying oracle decks. I like the oracles better, because there is less tradition and more room to really use the intuitive sense rather than relying on this or that book to find meaning.