Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.
Turning Playing Cards Into a Tarot Card Deck
For entertainment purposes, tarot card readings can be a blast. However, you may not have a deck of tarot cards handy, or you may not want to purchase one.
Fortunately, a regular playing card deck can be used to read people's fortunes. The 52 cards of a playing card deck represent the Minor Arcana. You may also keep other extra cards in your deck and interpret them as you will.
Playing Card and Minor Arcana Suits and Assocations
|Playing Card Suit||Minor Arcana Suit||Element||Area of Life|
Creativity and will
Emotions and love
Finances and material possessions
Conflict and reason
The four suits of a deck of playing cards correspond to tarot cards and the four cardinal elements, as shown in the table above.
Generally, Cups cards are positive when dealing with emotions, while Swords cards represent conflict or tension. For instance, the Three of Swords (Spades) stands for betrayal and a broken heart. The Two of Cups (Hearts) signals romance and a growing relationship.
The number five means something negative in all suits, so keep this in mind.
Sometimes the court cards (also known as royalty or face cards) represent actual people, whether yourself or someone else. They can also represent the qualities those character cards possess—the King of Spades stands for shrewd logic, while the Queen of Hearts represents compassion.
Knowing the general rules about the cards will help significantly, even if you don't know what each card represents in the whole deck.
I like to use the Joker card as a Magician or Fool. Both of these are somewhat wild, but perhaps in different ways.
Playing Card Numbers and Their Tarot Associations
|Number||Upright Meaning||Reversed Meaning|
New beginnings or opportunities
Bonding or connection
Separation or loss
Strength or stability
Instability or uncertainty
Disorder or confusion
Improvement or productivity
Failure or setbacks
Misstep or loss
Royal Playing Card Tarot Interpretations
New beginnings, honesty, friendship
Youth; male or female, or an immature person
Femininity, creativity, motherhood, love
Female; usually motherly or mature
Control, leadership, power, authority
Male; usually mature or young and troubled/burdened
When doing a tarot reading, I shuffle the deck a few times. I ask a question about an issue that I desperately need some clarity on. Generally, I shuffle the deck about three times and then pull out a card.
If the card doesn't seem to offer enough information for me, I'll shuffle the deck three more times and pull another card to lay next to my first. Sometimes, the answer isn't clear until you pull more cards.
Be advised that this is just for entertainment, so if you are unhappy with the results, remember that these cards are meant for personal interpretation only.
Perhaps, if you are upset about the answers the cards are delivering, then that in itself is helping you to decipher your feelings about the situation in question. Many readers believe tarot card readings are more psychological than supernatural.
How to Do a Tarot Reading With Playing Cards
When doing a read for, say, a relationship, it is best to ask a few different questions and lay out cards that are responsive to each query.
For instance, you could ask:
- Does John like me?
- Does John like Megan more than me?
- Does John miss me?
- Why does John like me?
- What is the problem that is preventing John and me from being together?
- What is the best solution to overcome this?
Let's say we draw a card for each of these questions. For the first one ("Does John like me?"), you end up pulling the Two of Hearts. This should be fairly self-explanatory.
The Two of Hearts signals that a romantic encounter is ahead. It's a positive card to receive in this slot. It means there is a romantic connection building.
Okay, for the second question ("Does John like Megan more than me?"), let's say you pulled a Three of Spades. This would most likely mean that Megan broke his heart in a painful way.
Likely, this Megan character cheated on him, or something drastic of this nature occurred. This card could also mean that he is releasing her and trying to forgive her, but it likely means that he likes you more than her.
If you pulled a Five of Hearts for the third question ("Does John miss me?"), this would be a clear yes because a Five of Hearts means that one is despairing, distressed about the past, and can't see the full picture.
Fives are always somewhat negative, and coupled with an emotional card, it can show that someone is without love; therefore, yes, John misses you.
Let's say for the fourth question ("Why does John like me?"), you end up pulling a Jack of Spades (Swords). Jacks in playing cards stand for knights in the tarot.
Therefore, you have a Knight of Swords card, which points to someone who is hasty in speech and perhaps aggressive; maybe this is something he lacks or something he likes to see in women.
For the fifth question ("What is the problem that is preventing John and me from being together?"), let's say you pulled a King of Diamonds or the King of Pentacles. This more than likely represents John and the fact that he is too focused on his career to invest in romantic relations at this time.
However, he is well-balanced with his materials, a great manager of things, and more than likely has nurturing qualities. A king card shows a great sense of development.
For the final question ("What is the best solution to overcome this?"), let's say you pull an Eight of Spades (Swords). Swords are generally negative; therefore, if we were to look at the tarot definition, we see that this card represents isolation, fear of speaking, or fear of change.
What the card is attempting to tell you with this question is that in order to grow, you need to speak about your feelings, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be.
Tips for Interpreting Playing Cards in a Tarot Reading
As for the elements or suits, if you are pulling a lot of one type, consider that this is a guiding force in your life. If you see a lot of fire, then you have a lot of passion for creativity.
The question is: What do you do with fire? You don't want fire to build up to the point of burning down your home. You want enough fire that it brings warmth and light and cooks your food!
Consider how to best harness the energy you receive so that you can get the results you seek.
Cards are indicative. Remember that there are other philosophical tools, and you should be on the path of righteousness, not evil. In readings, cards may present evil connotations, but carrying out evil plans can be harmful to others and yourself.
With the elements, try to visualize what those elements look like, their positive and negative characteristics, and why we need them. If you're looking for a romantic relationship, a lot of water cards are a positive sign when mixed with some clubs and some diamond cards.
Spades are usually undesirable for romance, though the court cards are generally positive, depending on what is being asked.
- Make sure to shuffle the cards! If the response you get seems off, you probably didn't thoroughly shuffle the cards.
- Feel free to keep additional weird cards in your deck, like how to play games and coupons and such. You may have fun interpreting them along with the playing cards.
- Try different methods of playing with the cards and interpreting them to see how different techniques work.
- Watch others do card interpretations. You can find lots of card readers online.
- Don't force people into readings.
- Don't mix two decks together.
- Write down your results in a journal and see if any predictions come true or if you feel more in charge after doing card readings.
- Remember that in elements, water and fire clash, and so do earth and wind, but these can be good combinations in the right circumstances.
- Avoid using spells or actual magic. You don't want to engage in trickery and become attracted to the occult.
- Try using other playing card decks, and see if you get different results.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Andrea Lawrence
Andrea Lawrence (author) on January 31, 2016:
The 2 of hearts has to do with courtship, budding romance, dating, etc.
An Ace generally means "potential." An Ace of Spades has to do with success, Ace of Hearts means love, Ace of Diamonds potential money, and Ace of Clubs potential creativity, inspiration, new projects, etc.
lisa on January 31, 2016:
what does the 2 of hearts mean and a ace mean/??