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Playing Cards for Tarot Reading. A Brief How-To

Playing cards for Tarot reading




"Can I use ordinary playing cards for Tarot reading? I lost my Tarot cards but I found my Tarot book." -Cat in Singapore.

This is a great question from the Tarot FAQ Files.

Yes, you can use ordinary playing cards to do Tarot readings.

In fact, using playing cards for Tarot reading was immortalized by Madame Marie Lenormand, a celebrated French Mystic. She was able to predict amazing events, all with a primitive deck, much like our modern-day playing cards. You can read more about Madame Lenormand on Mary K. Greer's blog here.

Playing cards are set up much like the Tarot, except for a few differences.

Playing cards do not have Major arcana cards. If you like, the Jokers in the playing card deck can represent the first and last cards of the Major arcana (Fool and World). This could be very telling if pulled in a reading.

The Knight archetype is missing from playing cards too. You can assign both Page and Knight attributes to the Jack cards of the playing deck.

If you are not already familiar with how the suits of Tarot and the suits of the playing cards correlate Click here for An illustration with the suit corresondences (which suit in playing cards relates to each Tarot suit).

If you are wondering how I associated the Tarot suits with the suits of playing cards, I've written about how I came to these correlations here. Tarot and Playing Card Explanations.

To further help in using playing cards for Tarot reading, here is a backgrounder on the suits:

  • Hearts deal with emotions, love, and matters of the heart. Be mindful of romance, friendships, marriages and heart-based passions with these playing cards.
  • Diamonds talk about money, worldly possessions, business matters and security. Be aware of foundational concepts like jobs, stability, financial security, and materialistic views with these cards.
  • Clubs speak to us about transactions, communication, community development, spiritual progression and an exchange of ideas. When there is a predominance of these cards it indicates a need for expression and initiating new deals in social realms. Higher communication and creativity are key.
  • Spades often indicate conflicting thoughts. The point out contrasts between what we are thinking, and what we are actually doing or how we are behaving. Because we sometimes think differently than we act, naturally, spades may present quarrelsome energy. Use these cards to point out solutions in areas of analyzation, mental focus, concentration and strategy.

In using playing cards for Tarot reading, you will be relying heavily on these suit aspects. You will also want to tap into the symbolism of numbers (numerology) to enhance your reading. My number pages may help you with this: Number Meanings in the Tarot (portal page with a link to each individual number meaning).

Other than combining Page and Knight meanings for the Jacks, the other royals in the playing card deck will follow the same meanings as the Tarot court cards. Here is a link to Tarot Court Card meanings on this site for assistance if you require it.

Until you get more fluent in the unique language of playing cards, you can refer to your Tarot book to enhance your interpretations.

In spite of the differences, your reading with a playing card deck can be just as helpful to you or your client.

Enjoy your reading!


This question comes from the Tarot FAQ files.



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