How To Read Playing Cards

For Fun And Self Development






Louise Hart




Published by

Sirius Publications


© 2002 by Louise Hart.  All Rights Reserved.


No part of this publication may be produced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Cover art design copyright 2002 by Sirius Publications. Cover graphic copyright 2002


Printed in the United States of America


ISBN 1-930889-38-0




About the Author


A former newspaper editor with over thirty books to her credit, the author has investigated psychic phenomena, interviewed internationally known practitioners and written about their experiences, lives and extrasensory perception for over twenty years.  Her articles on the subject have appeared in international publications, syndicated newspapers and magazines.  It was during her investigations that she first encountered the card readers from whom she learned the techniques and layouts presented herein.

A graduate of Boston University, the University of Massachusetts and Harvard University in the United States with concentrated studies and graduate degrees in administration, education and communications, the author has compiled these techniques and information for the benefit of readers seeking to utilize English-style or other playing cards for fun and personal development.  To facilitate that development, she has also designed and/or arranged for the production of several specially chosen decks of playing cards.  The majority of the decks of cards are printed in normal English style on one side with natural scenes selected for their spiritual quality on the other. Although it is not requisite for would-be readers to use these decks, they are offered as a means of assistance in their personal development and mastery of this method of tapping one’s intuition. At least one special deck features pictures that relate to the meaning of the card for those intending to start reading by utilizing the meanings provided in the following guide.   
Table of Contents


About the Author






Card Layouts

          The Pyramid

          The 5-Pile Layout

          The Clock

          The Bed


Card Meanings and Their Values






Interpretations of Four and Three of a Kind


Interpreting Face Cards


How to Find Lucky Numbers


Getting Started


Reading Logs


Additional References




This book is the result of many years of investigation, observation, study, experience, practice and discussion in the fields of parapsychology and self-development and the use of cards and other materials in these fields.  Without the assistance of practitioners with names such as Anna, Betty, Bob, Carol, Doris, Fay, Harriet, James, Kate, Lillian, Lou, Margaret, Marie, Martha, Michael, Ray, Richard, Rita, Ruth, Susan and Tom, the idea of this book would not have been entertained.  Their names may seem ordinary, but these people are truly extraordinary.  Not all have the same talent or beliefs.  Some are clairvoyant; others are clairsentient.  Some are spiritualist or religious in their approach.   Others are not.  Some are ministers, preachers or personal counselors while others are pragmatic business professionals, engineers, teachers or retired factory workers. Some hold multiple college degrees while others have had little formal education. What links them together is that each has fully mastered how to use English playing cards to tap, release and channel intuitive psychic energies.  Their willingness to share that knowledge, philosophy and practical techniques, including the layouts and meanings provided herein, is what has made this book possible.     











Prehistoric Man imitating the creatures about him was first a forager and then a hunter. As a hunter, he was also hunted.  He quickly learned that there was both safety and efficiency (in food production) in numbers.  He joined communities.  Communal living provided him with companionship and others with whom to share the work of hunting, preparation of food, clothing and shelter.  He had defenses against predators and could hunt animals with a greater safety and success.  However, the benefits of communal living that man sought also cost man.  Living on his own or with only a partner, man lived by his instinct.  That instinct alerted him to danger, guided him in finding food, shelter and safety and protected him from weather or natural disasters.  In short, how to stay alive and prosper.  This instinct, some believe, became suppressed as communal man specialized.  Man no longer needed this sixth sense to survive.  Hence, most lost the ability to tap it.  As proof that the gift of clairvoyance or sixth sense is an innate talent that has been atrophied by society, some parapsychologists point to very young children who often exhibit these abilities, but lose them after they enter school (join a closed society).

While many appear to have lost this ability, some retained it.  In ancient times, these were called oracles, soothsayers, shamans, seers, diviners, prophets, druids, priests, priestesses, sages, witches, witch doctors, palmists, fortunetellers and occultists, etc.  In the New Age, all humans were again perceived as potentially having the ability to develop extrasensory perception, clairsensions, clairaudience, telekinesis or precognition by connecting with their inner or instinctual self.  Some New Age seekers still rely on others (psychics, mediums, channelers, spiritualists, empaths or sensitives) to channel their inner senses or to draw from a universal consciousness or other source.  These practitioners and others seeking to develop their own abilities often use a variety of tools or items as catalysts.  These tools or channels, such as runes, tablets, Ouija, astrology, I Ching, Yarrow stalks, fire, entrails, sand, rocks, crystals, sea shells, sticks, dice, numbers, water, potions, incense, stychomancy, bibliomancy, automatic writing, faces, palms, body types, auras, charts, tea leaves and tarot cards, have been passed down from generation to generation.  Interpretations, instructions, special approaches have grown up around these tools.  Would-be practitioners study these guides and use them as though they were scientific instructions and instruments that by following and using them exactly will impart assurance of the accuracy of what they sense.

Few who use these instructions realize that playing cards, which first appeared in Europe in 1377, were not used for chiromancy (fortune telling) until about 1750.  Whether playing cards are a derivative of tarot cards or vice versa is the subject of counter claims Tarot Cards are thought to have originated in Europe (Italy) at the beginning of the 15th century.  Several historians attribute their development to a duke in Milan who was thought to have ordered their development much as we would now order a new electronic game).  The game for which Tarot cards were developed was called Triumphs.  It soon became extremely popular among Italy’s upper classes and spread to France.  Unlike playing cards for which card games were likely to be developed locally, the Tarot, consistent with its origin as a game, came with a “companion book” of instructions (which has been preserved in the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris).  The book described the cards, their rankings and the meaning of the classical deities and other images featured on them.  This first Tarot book gave no instructions for the game or for divination using the cards.  It did, however, set the precedent for the linkage of the cards with allegorical meanings beyond their face value.  This distinguished the Tarot from English playing cards.  

The origin of playing cards is even more obscure.   Some historians believe that they originated in China and were imported to Europe from there or from India or Egypt.  English playing card decks differ from the Tarot insofar as they consist of 52 cards.  Tarot decks with Minor and Major Arcanas consist of 78 cards.  The Minor Arcana consists of 56 suit cards.  Those suits have been equated to the suits of the English playing cards.  That is, wands (clubs), cups (hearts), swords (spades) and pentacles (diamonds). Each Tarot Arcana has 14 cards – four court cards, including the King, Queen, Knight and Page and ten cards numbered Ace to 10.  The Major Arcane consists of 22 trumps or pictorial symbol cards.)  Given that each country altered the number of the cards in the deck (depending upon the configuration of the trump or face cards), arguments can be made as to the relationship of these two decks.  However, the questions that arise may never be fully answered.  As noted above, both cards were first used for recreational amusement.  Many of the earliest card games for which each was developed are still played in some parts of the world.    

Playing cards were, of course, thought to have arisen in China.  As mentioned above, they came to Europe from China, India or the Islamic nations.  Those who argue for the latter, note that it was in the Islamic countries that cups and swords were added to the original Chinese decks.  The Europeans replaced these with courtly human figures.  The English decks feature Kings and Queens as well as courtly Jacks on horseback.  Many European countries, including Italy, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, have no queens in their decks and their Jacks are afoot.  The corner indices were an American innovation.  Americans also led the way in collectible playing card decks, many of which were originally developed as a commercial advertisement medium (the railroads in the early 1900s).  Cards still vary from country to country, games, uses, etc., and the meanings now associated with the cards (for purposes of readings) differ substantially from those originally given.

The use of playing cards and the Tarot for divination appears to have arisen simultaneously.  If the earliest references to playing cards were public warnings against their use for idle games and gambling and the Tarot was developed for the amusement of the aristocracy, their use for divination was equally interchangeable.  In fact, The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Tarot as any deck of cards used for divination. 

The university laboratories that seek to study and control telepathy, telekinesis and other forms of extrasensory perception use cards with symbols as part of their distance viewing experiments, as well as dream laboratories, pictures, etc. both as targets and as tools or focus objects.

Although a great deal of ceremony and credence is placed in using tarot, astrology charts, dream analysis, Ouija boards, palms, biorhythms, tea leaves, runes, automatic writing, etc., those who have been able to re-develop this sense often note that they use these tools only to relax or divert their consciousness or if reading for another, to comfort the listener - not themselves. More advanced practitioners may not need or use cards to achieve this alternate state.  Many, like the late Edgar Cayce, use self-hypnosis or trance-like states to achieve a state of free association and alternate communication. However, readers or practitioners achieve this state, what they see or cognize is often symbolic.  Even cards, charts, etc. may provide symbols or images.   How these symbols or images are interpreted is individual.  In fact, I have known a number of professional practitioners who have maintained that their visions or the symbols that they saw were correct, only their interpretations were at times impaired by individual prejudice, emotions, etc. 

All claimed that the symbols or images were messages powered by energy.  Not all agreed as to the origin of that energy.  Some attributed it to the energy of the subject; some to their own energy; others to universal energy or to that of guides.  All, however, agreed that the attitude, state of mind and emotions of the subject could influence the outcome.  Some indicated that they used the cards and other tools as a means of not only achieving an altered state of consciousness, but also, of overcoming any negative mindset, energy or emotions on the part of themselves or their subjects (if reading for another).  As with all other skills or abilities, all reported that there was a period of development needed.  Even those for whom the “gift” seemed in-born or for whom the ability appeared suddenly noted that a period of study or training seemed necessary before they achieved any control over their “powers”.   Some believed that they never truly controlled this power, but rather, that it was under the control of others, whether they called them guides, spirits, angels or others.  Many who reported that the power was “given” to them suddenly noted that they became aware of it while experiencing a traumatic event.  They attributed their survival or well being to the “gift”.  That is, in fact, how the “gift” was first developed by prehistoric man - one individual using all of his conscious and unconscious powers to survive.

Viewed in this manner, the tools used are diversionary catalysts.  They focus, divert and relax individual concentration and consciousness and allow the practitioner and/or his or her subject to block out the distractions that clutter our lives.  By so doing, the individual is free to achieve a level of Zen consciousness, trance or free association that is not unlike the creative experience of the artist or zone of the athlete.  

The theory behind the established meaning and instructions for the tarot, cards, Yarrow, runes, etc. is similar to that behind any common language.  It creates a database or set of commonly agreed terms or symbols that can be understood by more than one individual.  In addition, it is believed that the practitioner or person for whom the reading is being conducted or others seeking to communicate with the subject will subconsciously influence which cards, runes, stalks, sticks, dice or passages are selected in order to communicate a certain message to himself or herself.  Some, of course, believe that the cards, dice, sticks, etc. channel messages from the “reader”, universal or other consciousness.  Often practitioners or users believe that using the cards or other tools allow them to enter the aura, subconscious of the subjects or another or universal consciousness.  Carl Jung believed that there was a universal consciousness or collective of all of our thoughts, memories, spirits and wisdom.  Ancients believed that these were contained within the Akashic records. These records included the histories of all lives, past, present (and future).  The American psychic Edgar Cayce believed that he tapped these records when he read for distant targets or subjects.  Spiritualists believe that the consciousness is that of deceased relative(s), friend(s), “guide(s)” or angel(s) communicate through them using symbols that only the subject may understand.  They see themselves as channels or the equivalent of party lines.  The spirits or guides communicate with symbols, they believe, to provide subjects with privacy on their party line.

Regardless of whether an individual believes that it is the spirit or consciousness of another or the subject’s own subconscious and whether the individual is using cards, runes, sticks or monitoring dreams, the reader has a choice.  That choice is to accept the meaning of the cards, runes, sticks, dreams, etc. in accordance with the dictionary or instructions given or to write one own dictionary.  To do so, the individual needs to look at each card, rune, stick, object and by free association determine what that object means to him or her.  Often this is how dreams are interpreted.  The same can be done with cards.  However, since it takes time to develop such a dictionary or diary of terms, the reader may wish to adopt the standardized meaning or significance placed on the individual objects.

For the many Tarot decks, divination cards, runes, Yarrow, etc., the instructions include a full listing of the meaning of each individual objects.  It is when a user attempts to obtain a reading from a plain deck of cards that the results may seem elusive.  There are readers who use plain decks.  Many are reluctant to detail the meaning of the cards (if they know them).  Others have equated the English Playing cards and Tarot and (even astrology) and interpret the cards accordingly.  For instance, the Tarot wands are equated with clubs or fire signs.  Fire is said to bring energy, creativity, growth, glory, spiritual enterprise, inspiration and constructive energy for practical and spiritual growth.  They are said to ad passion for new creations, ideas and events and if negatively aspected, they bring competition and transformation.

Cups are equated with hearts or water signs.  They relate to emotional relationships, intuition, pleasure and love.  The mutability of water is thought to add peace and balance to cups or hearts.  Their influence is dependent upon their environment as water is dependent upon its depth, tide, undertow, etc. for its force and flow.  Swords and spades are interpreted as air signs.  They are thought to represent mind, applications of logic, thought, authority, aggression with energy derived from wisdom and knowledge.  Adversely affected, they bring great challenges and greater lessons.

Pentacles or diamonds have been equated to the astrological earth influence.  That is, they are thought to indicate money, trade, material matters, security, physical well-being and fortune.  They are thought to indicate slow, steady progress.  The interpretation of individual cards is, of course, subject to its position, neighboring cards and the influence of the total layout and even the questions asked.  In short, all readings are subject to the intuitive ability of the interpreter or reader.  

To assist any who might be seeking to use regular cards for divination or self-development, the following guide and cards are provided.  The meaning of the cards and layouts were taught to me by a spiritualist minister who had used regular cards to assist her parishioners and others who came to her for advice.  She, like many other practitioners, had her favorite cards that she used only for readings.  The cards offered with this guide were specially designed to assist would-be practitioners.  Some feature pastoral and natural scenes that can help would-be readers by setting the tone for the readings.  At least one deck has been specially designed with pictures on the number side that serve as reminders of the classical meanings attributed to each card.  Practitioners are, of course, free to use any playing deck, but as noted under the instructions for getting started, some readers have found that use of decks featuring trees, flowers or even animals or other scenes can help in relaxing the practitioner, allowing him or her to detach or distance himself or herself from everyday concerns and thus, enable the emergence of his or her intuitive, spiritual or subconscious self.  Choice of any particular style of deck or scene is a matter of choice left to the individual. 

After reading this text through, individuals are advised to read through and familiarize himself or herself with the meaning of the cards and the layouts before attempting a first reading.  As noted above, both the meaning of the cards and the manner in which they are laid out are subject to individualization.  Some readers lay all cards in a line or lay out a certain number in set patterns.  Others lay the cards out in designated geometric formations.  The options provided below are only that, options.  The reader should adopt the pattern that makes him or her most comfortable.







Card Layouts


Playing cards can be laid out using the same layout designs as are used with Tarot.  That is, single card, three-card or Celtic crosses.  These are, of course, often used when the asker or reader is seeking the answer to a specific or only one answer.  The more complex the search, the more complex the layout or the same layout (for instance a single card) may be used repeatedly in seeking responses to a series of questions.

Many psychic readers who use regular playing cards as a catalyst to delve their intuition or subconscious have developed layouts or spreads specifically for the regular playing card deck.  The following are five such common card layouts.

All start with the user shuffling the cards until he or she feels ready to begin the reading. The user selects twenty-one cards from the full deck (without looking at the cards).  He or she then shuffles the twenty-one until he or she feels ready to lay the cards down. Without looking at the cards, the user then spreads or places the cards out (face down) in the pattern he or she has chosen.






The Pyramid


For the first layout, the user lays the cards out in a pyramid, beginning with card number one at the top, adding one card to each row and continuing until all selected cards have been used.  The pattern of the lay out of the cards is given below.



2 3

4 5 6

7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14 15

16 17 18 19 20 21



The cards are then turned over one by one, beginning with card number one and continuing until all cards are lying face up.  Referencing the meanings and values provided in the following list, the user then interprets the reading.  Users can expect their readings to seem mechanical at first.  However, once a reader or user starts, he or she should set aside a special time each day to lay out the cards.  He or she may find that with time, the interpretation of the layout becomes less mechanical as that the user begins to sense an overall pattern or meaning to individual layouts.






The 5-Pile Layout



The second layout begins as the first with the shuffling, selection and re-shuffling of the twenty-one cards.  When the user feels comfortable or ready the twenty-one cards are placed (face down) in five piles of four cards each with the twenty-first card set on the side.  The physical pattern for the piles is



2 3 4

                          5          21st card 


          Pile number one represents what the user or person for whom the reading is being conducted will face within a short period of time.  Pile number two represents what lies ahead for the reader.  Pile number three is what the Creator will give the reader.  Pile number four is what the reader should avoid, turn his or her back upon or avoid.  Pile number five represents what is certain to come and for which the user or reader must stand firm and wait.  The twenty-first card is the consolation card.








The Clock



Again, the user, reader or person for whom the reading is being conducted (if someone else is serving as the reader or interpreter) starts by shuffling the deck until they feel that the cards are ready to select the twenty-one cards.  Again, the twenty-one cards are also shuffled until the user feels that he or she is ready to lay them out.  However, as the user shuffles the twenty-one cards, he or she can make a wish or ask a question.  Then, the cards are laid out in a clock formation.  The first twelve cards form the outside circle or perimeter of the clock.  The next eight cards are placed just inside this border.  The twenty-first card is placed in the center. 






The card layout is



    11  20                       13  1        

 10  19                                            2

9   18                     21                  14   3

 8                                                           4 

      17                                   15  

    7                                               5







The “reading” or interpreting of the cards proceeds clockwise, starting just to the right of “high noon” or midnight.  The three cards to the left of “noon” are the last to be read or interpreted. 

The first three cards to be read represent the user’s past life.  The next three represent the user’s present.  The cards positioned in the six to twelve o’clock positions represent the future.  The cards in the three to nine o’clock positions represents what will come without warning but must be acknowledged.  The cards between the twelve and six o’clock positions represent what the user has yet to face or encounter.  The middle card is called the key card and as such it is thought to be the most important and the tone setter for the reading.

The Seven Fates Spread


The seven fates or influences, including family life, success, career, wealth, happiness, relationships and romance, are the focus of this reverse pyramid or arrowhead shaped spread.

Practitioners or card readers begin as above, shuffling first the whole deck, picking twenty-one and then shuffling again.  When the subject is comfortable, the 21 cards are then divided into three stacks. The three stacks are then divided into seven groups of three.  One card from each stack is drawn for each of these groups.  The middle card of each set and the middle card of the middle stack are the focal point of all readings.

Subjects use left, right or alternate hands to deal the cards into the pattern depending upon the purpose of the reading.   For a past life reading, a subject deals the cards with their left hand.  For a reading about a question or event in the future, a subject shuffles and deals the cards with their right hand, and for a question about current problems or the present, a subject alternates hands dealing the cards out.

As with the other layouts, each group represents an aspect of the questioner or subject’s query, including family life (1), success (2), career (3), wealth (4), happiness (5), relationships (6) and romance (7).


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