Human quintessential need to know the future, and hence affect it too, is probably as old as speciesor mantic arts, as methods for achieving this had always been an essential part of human culture. Readers, people who specialized in divination aspects of spiritual working, performing mantic arts, reading and understanding omens, or simply, telling the fortune, future and giving guiding advices, were both reverend and persecuted. Quite often simultaneously. Information is power, more so if it’s about the upcoming event, and could thus enable for people to preclude upcoming calamities, win wars or simply have a more prosperous and happy life. However, as it’s only expected to occur that way in human society, respect and social power readers would attain and enjoy , caused envy, and consequently they’d create nemesis, by simply being there and doing what they do.
Unlike prophetic gifts, divining future is a more “Gnostic” approach, where the spiritual worker seeks insight, pays attention to signs, omens , numbs the common physical senses, and sharpens those intangible senses, that’ existence is debatable, at least according to science. According to Christianity seeking spiritual gifts, yearning for them , more so when fueled by pragmatic needs, is seen as profane and leads to sin. I’d agree with that, being a Christian myself. But then again, divination is not a sin in or by itself, rather a tool that can be abused and thus lead into sin. Following the same logic , we should never take knife in our hands. Or frozen fish even, for it can be an extremely deadly weapon, If You wish it to be. Addressing mediums, psychics and readers for most profane things is actually a sin of sloth, and recklessness behavior that leads in spiritual numbness, and procrastination towards self-salvation. True again, yet, most of the things existing in this world, become dangerous in excessive amount, furthermore, If You are a spiritual practitioner why not do a readings for Yourself ? If not, address to Higher forces for guidance when You have a genuine dilemma, and need for actual discernment , rather than to find out “if she fancies You”
Before we proceed on the practical part of this post, to conclude, divination is akin to homeopathy, use in small doses and when needed, and You should be safe from spiritual decadence, as well as sin.
Many methods and tools are employed in divination, let’s name just a few for illustration purposes:
· Astragalomancy – divination by reading from position and shape and size of cast bones, in modern day simply divination by dices
· Pyromancy – Divination by fire element , encompassing many disciplines, such as observing flames and bonfires and their behavior ( such as those done on Imboloc, I’ve written on that before ) , reading candle wax remaining or drippings ( ceromancy ) , reading from remaining ashes after combustion of sacrifice ( cauliomancy ) and so on
· Bibliomancy – Divination by randomly picking passages , sentences or words of book, sometimes combined with other methods such as placing a key in the book, and observing when and how it fall out from the book
· Belomancy - Divination using marked or specially decorated arrows , according to some, Bamboo arrow divination in Korea preceded the following example;
· Cartomancy – Divination by reading card, playing cards or specialty cards, such as various divination decks, most well-known example being Tarot. Reading Tarot is sometimes referred as Tarotomancy, although I myself ( and I don’t think I’m alone in that either lol ) find that redundant,…
And many, many others. In this article we will be dealing with Cartomancy, more precisely, some basic history, symbolism, and spreads done with common, playing cards.
Or are they that “common” ? The ordinary playing cards are more magickal and mysterious than one would assume on the first look. Their origin is even nowadays, after years and years of research, in best case speculated, or half-guessed.
There are many myths regarding the origin of the playing cards, according to one geishas in the Chinese imperator’s castle invented the game. According to yet another of the legends, the invention came from dire need of some Indian’s maharaja’s women, to prevent his obnoxious habit of picking his own beard, by means of keeping his hand busy with something .
However the Kun Pa’I game of China, dating back to time of the Tang dynasty ( 618-907 ) of the ancient China.  Apparently the playing cards, firstly represented both the money of a kind ( stakes ) and cards in China, and were initially hand printed, thus extremely luxurious. Earliest records place playing cards in Europe in 14th century , namely Spain and Italy. They were a rarity in those days, and as each deck was had printed they were unique, and a prestige symbol. By the early 15th century, woodcuts with all the playing cards were made, and they had become accessible to broad public and very popular.
They contained numerical values in for suits ( matching designs ) much like they do now, with a bit more “archaic” symbols, being polo sticks, cups, chalices and swords. These are still , even today prominent suits or markings in Tarot card decks, whereas the common playing cards have adopted the symbols to ones we are familiar nowadays, being namely: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs. Spot cards ( on which the values were depicted in smaller symbols of their “ruling” suit ) were 9 of each, sometimes other than ten, lacking also six, making thus 8 of each. The “court” cards were pictured cards, depicting personages, even though in the beginning the depictions did not resemble humans, rather they were abstract. They eventually evolved from King, Vice - king, and Second in deputy , to King, Queen and knave or knight, sometimes also servant, 3 of each correspondent to one suit or “color”. They are reportedly created to depict famous historical personage , such as King David ( King of Spades ), Julius Cesar ( King of Diamonds ) , Judith ( Queen of Hearts ), Biblical Rachel ( Queen of Diamonds ) , Lancelot ( Knave of Clubs ) and so on.
Like most of the things appearing in plurality of limited forms, offering possibility of random arrangements of elements of some kind, they’ve become prominent tool for divination. When and how exactly, is hard to tell, although it is safe to assume, that it would have happen not too long ago after the very invention of the cards. Considerable amount of experts think that it could have been the Gypsies, to introduce the use of common playing cards as divination tool, and that they’ve spread their “findings” throughout the Europe, consequently. One of the first written documents that not only speaks of divination with cards in Europe, but also gives practical instructions of how to do it, offering also the possible interpretations for each card individually, appeared in Germany during the late 15th century . It was called “Eim Loszbuch Aus de r Karten”  which some authors associate with Tarot, but is actually about the common playing cards, though could have, and probably was what influenced the creation as well as use of Divination decks, such as Tarot.
Magickal association and superstitions about playing cards
Each suit is associated with an element, and also corresponds to Tarot cards symbol.
TAROT CARD | PLAYING CARD | ELEMENT | DIVINATION SYMBOLISM |SOCIAL GROUP
Pentacles | Diamonds | Earth |Business, journeys, news |Traders and admin
Swords | Spades | Air |Obstacles, misfortune, diseases, death |Aristocracy
Sticks | Clubs | Fire |Money, or efforts, hard work, changes |Landlords, peasant
Chalices/Cups |Hearts | Water |Luck, friendship, love, family |Theocracy
They can be used to represent the elements in rituals and conjurations. The symbolism of the cards is easily applicable in spell casting.
Playing cards are considered lucky, ominous, amuletic and talismanic. For example it was believed that If the whole deck was to fall down on the floor, that was foretelling a great misfortune . It was considered to be very risky to go down a mine, or off to sea with a deck of cards. Nine of Clubs is considered a lucky gamblers charm, more so If gifted to one by a child or prosperous person. Simmilar goes for 7 of Clubs. Nine of spades however, is a card that is sometimes used in hexing ritual that are done in order to cause or inflict pain, suffer and illness upon someone. Old deck must never be simply thrown away but rather burn and a new deck smudged, over it, in the flame.
There are many great books written on the meaning , interpretation , as well as spreading the playing cards for reading , and with that being said, I could not cover all that in this one, single post. Rather , I’ll discuss some basic meanings , and a simple spread or two J
I think it’s wise to keep in mind, that proper expertise comes with experience anyway, and not try to learn all the meanings by heart, for a day or two.
We consult the cards when we have an important question or dilemma , asking stupid questions may result in equally stupid actions. Also testing the accuracy of the cards by double asking the same, is beyond stupid, we can all guess at least three reasons why is it so
Other than simple reading card by card, we should also consider meanings card form together, and allow intuition to ennoble and refine the insight.
Readings are most proficient if done on Mondays or Fridays  The deck used for divination should not be used for playing, when not in use should be put down in a safe place, much like You’d have it done with common magickal/ritual tools such as athame or wand.
Here are some things to consider in readings:
· Should the Higher ( Figural and Ace cards ) appear dominant in reading, the questioner is expecting great changes in life, which are often groundbreaking, and always reffering to future
· Naturally opposing the above , lots of “lower” cards appearing in the spread indicate to stagnation and necessity of taking action more vigorously
· If ¾ of all of the cards are of the same color or suit this is extremely indicative! Black usually represents unfavorable outcome, and even great tribulations , while red cards are the opposite
· Domination of the spades in spreading may indicate danger, obstacles, need for extra caution, cold-head thinking and optimism and counseling with other people
· Dominant clover spread speaks of luck, success , money and well being , although If all the cards appear to be clover, that should be a warning that person had grown egoistic and neglects others
· Diamonds dominating spread speaks of good financial chances, success and gain, too many of them, however, are a warning that the person might get lost in all that, turning into a “green monster” of a kind, obsessing over material
· Hearts dominating the opening indicate that person is open for new meetings, , or might be seeking a love partner. However, almost all cards of the heart ( as in suit ) in a single reading indicate that person is too open, servile, submissive or that it shall try to take on themselves more than they are able to handle
· Some important and common interpretations include: Two red ten’s ( ten value cards, being diamonds and hearts ) indicate marriage, ace of clovers means letter , two of cloves warns about a false friend, a “snake in the grass” If you will, five of hearts predicts upcoming gift from a lover or a suitor, ten of cloves an over-the-sea traveling, four of hearts represents the marital bed, four of spades sickbed, seven of cloves prison or imprisonment, captivation 
Nine of hearts is also called “card of wishes” and is considered to be one of the most positive cards in the deck, while directly opposing it “stands” nine of spades ( curious is that is similar with swords in Tarot )
The above given will ensure a solid base for general cartomantic interpretation, yet each card, as stated before, can have very specific meaning, which by all means should be taken in account during readings. Have that in mind , more so If You really want to get an in-depth, concrete and precise reading, and thus consult some source that provides those*
Following are example of card spreads, that are commonly used in cartomacy that employs the common, playing card deck:
Shuffle the cards well, then align 7 cards , in front of You ( facedown ) , in a horizontal line. The middle ( or 4th card ) shall serve as the central point of the spread, and the central point of the vertical line, which You get when You place three ( again, facedown ) cards above the central, and three bellow it.According to some schools of thought, the central card may represent the petitioner, or the person for whom the reading is done , or oneself in, case we are giving a reading to ourselves
First uncover the central card, that going from down to up, all the vertical cards, and finally the horizontal cards, from left to right. Vertical cards speak in general of the question, and may provide guidance towards solution, as well as stress the influences of importance , while the horizontal provide additional details and speak of chronological aspect of the question, those left from the central card speaking of past and those on the right side, speaking of the future.
Yes and No quick spread
This particular swift method will provide the yes and no answers, or rather, will indicate If something we have wished to happen will occur the way we want or not. Alternatively, If we are in doubt of the outcome of certain situation, the cards in this spread will tell If the outcome will be positive ( desired ) , or , alas, negative ( undesired ) one. It’s quite simple really, and fun
Thinking of the “wish” ( also; situation, event , plan ) shuffle the cards slowly and gently, placing those from the bottom to the top, in smallest possible groups, or better yet, single card at the time. Now draw one by one until either Nine of Hearts, or Nine of Spades appear. If the Nine of Hearts appears first ( also known as Card of Wishes ) the wish will come true, or the outcome will be positive. If, unfortunately the Nine of Spades appears first, it’s a clear omen that the wish will not come true, or that the outcome will not be as we would like it to be.
But keep in mind, many wishes are but silly whims, and such coming true, could actually be more pain than gain. Also, getting Nine of Spades, may mean that You need to try harder, instead of sitting and whining how nothing good ever happens to You. Not to mention, that one can always do a more profound reading to find out, what is blocking the positive outcome, or why will it not occur, and thus affect the future. In any case, this particular method is not to be consulted about the same wish in 24 hours, and If You think a bit You will realize that it is only logical to do so.
This article was written and composed by myself, hence If You wish to use any part of it elsewhere online, feel free, but add credits Shadow of Shadows magick place, or Shadowfirstname.lastname@example.org or a direct link to this postCREDITS AND REFRENCES
*try first learning basic meanings of suits, color and what they represent, than consult various sources that offer each of the cards In deck interpretation, and cross reference them. Other than the books and resources “listed in Credits and References” , try also here:
 according to scientific article by Sir Wilkinson, W.H. (1895) titled “Chinese origin of playing cards” published in “American Anthropologist” magazine
 Divination symbolism mainly based on that given in “Gledanje u karte” ( literarily : “Card reading” ) by Wendy Kroffer
 acc to Cassandra Eason, as stated in her book “Encyclopedia of magick and ancient wisdom”
 according to the same source as under  , page 120th , edited and paraphrased here
IMAGE CREDITS: The first, illustrative image is from http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-playing-cards-candle-image7635556 , which was then edited by myself, and used here without any ill will.
The Mythical Cross spread scheme is by little me.