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Cartomancy is a form of fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. The practise of cartomancy has been observed since playing cards first came into use in Europe in the 14th century, with some practitioners (known as cartomancers) claiming its origins date back to Egyptian times, the art being derived from wisdom given to the ancient Egyptians by the scribe-god Thoth. A standard deck of Anglo-American playing cards (i.e. 52-card, four suit set) may be used for this purpose. However this usage is frowned upon by many people in the art, who believe that one should not use divination cards for playing. As a result there are many decks designed specifically for use by cartomancers, the best known of which are Tarot decks. Whichever cards are used, there are specific layouts designed to tell different things, from one card to about thirty.

The Tarot consists of 22 Major Arcana cards, and 56 Minor Arcana cards (Arcana means "hidden things"). Each Minor Arcana suit consists of 4 court cards (king, queen, knight and page) along with 10 numbered, or pip, cards. The fifty-six minor cards are similar to the regular deck of playing cards most people know today, while the Major Arcana was cut from popular culture because of its heretical images and symbols representing occult knowledge.

Playing Card Suit and Tarot Suit Equivalent: Spades = Swords (power, intellect); Hearts = Cups (love, emotion); Diamonds = Coins, aka Pentacles (money, education); Clubs = Wands (hard work).

Despite its heretical reputation, the best known Tarot deck, Rider-Waite, includes a great deal of judaic and christian symbolism, from the Torah to the Pope. The symbolism in the Tarot marries this symbolism with astrological, numerological and Egyptian and Kabbalistic symbolism.

Example of Cartomancy Card

Cartomancy is essentially fortune telling by using Cards, be that playing cards, or especially designed Tarot Cards. The example here shows the number 2 diamond card, which is said to be associated with Happiness. Each card is believed to have a follow on effect, one cards influences the next and so on, for example drawing the Queen of Hearts immediately before or after the 2 of Diamonds, the reader would then surmise that Happiness is associated with A Fair Woman (represented by the Queen of Hearts).

A popular methodology of a Cartomancy reading is that a court card is selected to represent the questioner, that card is returned to the deck and shuffled, all cards are laid out, 14 cards are chosen following a very specific count, with forward and backwards passes, the selected 14 cards are then used to divine a reading from, ergo: the future is told with cards.

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