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Cartomancy is fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. Forms of cartomancy appeared soon after playing cards were first introduced into Europe in the 14th century. Practitioners of cartomancy are generally known as cartomancers, card readers, or simply readers.
Cartomancy is one of the oldest of the more common forms of fortune-telling. It is similar to tarot card reading in that various card spreads are used, such as single card, "Destiny Square," and 3 cards. The tarot can also be used in cartomancy.
Cartomancy using standard playing cards was the most popular form of providing fortune-telling card readings in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In English-speaking countries, a standard deck of Anglo-American bridge/poker playing cards (i.e., 52-card, four-suit set) can be used in the cartomancy reading; the deck is often augmented with jokers, and even with the blank card found in many packaged decks. In France, the 32-card piquet playing-card deck was, and still is, most typically used in cartomancy readings, while the 52-card deck was, and still is, also used for this purpose. (A piquet deck is with a 52-card deck with all of the 2s through the 6s removed. This leaves all of the 7s through the 10s, the face cards, and the aces.)
The most popular method of cartomancy using a standard playing deck is referred to as the Wheel of Fortune. Here, the reader removes cards at random and assigns significance to them based in the order they were chosen. Though the interpretation of various cards varies by region, the common significators for the future are as follows:
|King of Hearts||A man over 35, with sandy, dark blond, or light brown hair, with brown, blue or hazel eyes. Usually a family member or other loved one. Paternal and family-oriented.|
|King of Diamonds||A man over 35, with red or light blond hair with blue, green or gray eyes, Usually a wealthy man in an authority position.|
|King of Clubs||A man over 35, with medium or dark brown hair, with brown, blue or hazel eyes. Usually a married business man (although business could have a sexual, rather than commercial, interpretation.)|
|King of Spades||A man over 35, with dark brown to black hair, and dark brown eyes. Usually a widower or divorced man, or a man from a foreign country. Ambitious and powerful, can be arrogant and deceptive.|
|Queen of Hearts||A woman over 18, with sandy, dark blond, or light brown hair, with brown, blue or hazel eyes. Usually a family member or other loved one. Maternal and family-oriented.|
|Queen of Diamonds||A woman over 18, with red or light blond hair with blue, green or gray eyes, Usually a wealthy woman in an authority position.|
|Queen of Clubs||A woman over 18, with medium or dark brown hair, with brown, blue or hazel eyes. Usually a business woman or social butterfly.|
|Queen of Spades||A woman over 18, with dark brown to black hair, and dark brown eyes. Usually a widow or divorced woman, or a woman from a foreign country. Ambitious and intelligent, can be cold, calculating, or spiteful.|
The interpretations of the meanings of different cards even within the same deck varies greatly among cartomancers. This raises doubt in the idea that there is some objective message coming directly from the cards, as might be necessary for amateur cartomancers to derive use from them. The lack of a shared understanding of card meanings hinders both verification of cartomancy's effectiveness and communication between practitioners.
Cartomancy has also been criticized for not providing a proposed physical mechanism by which cards could be used to predict one's future. Additionally, there have been no tests to date that show that cartomancy does any better than chance in either predicting the future or determining traits about individuals, despite large incentives to cartomancers who can show a successful test, such as the Randi challenge.
- Huson, Paul (2004). Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage. Vermont: Destiny Books. ISBN 0-89281-190-0
- "Cartomancy Reading". Astrology Circle. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Knight, Jan (1980). A-Z of ghosts and supernatural. Pepper Press. pp. 15–6. ISBN 0-560-74509-5.
- "Cartomancy". The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. 2006. p. 99.