Playing Card Divination for Beginners: Fortune Telling with Ordinary Cards (For Beginners (Llewellyn's))

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9780738702230: Playing Card Divination for Beginners: Fortune Telling with Ordinary Cards (For Beginners (Llewellyn's))

The gentle art of card reading

Now anyone can practice a six-hundred-year-old tradition of fortune-telling that survives to this day. Chances are you already own the necessary oracle. So grab a deck of playing cards and this latest book by popular author Richard Webster, and start reading the future for your family and friends.

You will learn the meaning of each card, how to interpret groups of cards, how to read your own cards, special spreads to answer questions about love and romance, and six other spreads from the simple to the complex.

·A beginner's guide to divination using a standard pack of playing cards
·The only book with techniques on how to memorize the meanings of the cards
·Includes original spreads not available elsewhere
·Teaches anyone how to gain advanced knowledge of opportunities, problems, relationships, money, career, and sudden changes
·Includes the poetry card reading "Six Paths to Happiness"

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About the Author:

Richard Webster was born and raised in New Zealand. He has been interested in the psychic world since he was nine years old. As a teenager, he became involved in hypnotism and later became a professional stage hypnotist. After school, he worked in the publishing business and purchased a bookstore. The concept of reincarnation played a significant role in his decision to become a past-life specialist. Richard has also taught psychic development classes, which are based on many of his books.

Richard's first book was published in 1972, fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming an author. Richard is now the author of over a hundred books, and is still writing today. His best-selling books include Spirit Guides & Angel Guardians and Creative Visualization for Beginners. 

Richard has appeared on several radio and TV programs in the United States and abroad including guest spots on Hard Copy, WMAQ-TV (Chicago), KTLA-TV (Los Angeles), KSTW-TV (Seattle) and the Mike and Matty Show (ABC). He currently resides in New Zealand with his wife and three children. He regularly travels the world to give lectures, workshops and to continue his research.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


People have always wanted to see a glimpse of the future. Primitive people lived in a state of constant anxiety, as so many things were out of their control. Earthquakes, droughts, floods, thunderstorms, and wild animals were just some of these forces.

It is not surprising that primitive peoples sought ways to find out in advance what was going to happen. If they knew that, they could store food to sustain them during a drought, just as the pharaoh did at the time of the seven-year famine. They could move to higher ground before a flood occurred, or move away from an area that was to be destroyed by fire.

Of course, even though life has changed enormously, we still live in uncertain times. The fast pace of the lives we all lead creates as much anxiety as anything our ancestors experienced. People want to know if their jobs are secure, if relationships will last, if they have enough money for retirement. At every stage of life, people have questions about the future.

Nothing could be more fascinating and intriguing than the unknown, especially the mystery that surrounds the future. During the last few thousand years, many different systems have been used to predict the future. The movements of the planets, extremes of weather, lines on the palms of hands, bumps on the head, crystal gazing, dreams, and omens of all sorts are just some of the ways that have been used by people in attempt to part the veil of the future and see beyond now.

The Bible mentions a variety of methods of divination, including dreams, signs, and prophecy. Joseph saw visions from his early childhood (Genesis 37:5-11). Saul visited the witch of Endor (I Samuel 28:7-25). The king of Babylon consulted the teraphim, which were images used for the giving and receiving of oracles (Ezekiel 21:21).

A History of Playing Cards

No one knows exactly how or when playing cards were invented. However, there are two legends that may, or may not, describe their origin. The first claims that playing cards were invented in the twelfth century in the harem of the Chinese imperial palace. The women living there led lives of incredible boredom waiting to be summoned to the emperor''s bed, and the legend says that in 1120 c.e. one of them invented playing cards to help pass the time.

The second legend claims that playing cards were invented in India. Apparently, one of the maharajahs constantly pulled at his beard. This habit annoyed his wife so much that she invented a game to utilize his hands.

These legends are charming, and may even hold a kernel of truth. However, it seems more likely that playing cards originated in Korea and were descended from a Korean divinatory arrow. At least two experts on the history of playing cards, Sir William Wilkinson and Dr. Stewart Culin, made a study of the Korean connection and were convinced that this is where playing cards began.1

Wilkinson and Culin were certain of this origin because the original Korean cards were similar in shape to the slips of bamboo that were used as arrows in divination rites. A scroll in the shape of a heart on the backs of the cards was thought to represent an arrow feather. Finally, it is thought that the numbers on the cards were related to the cock feathers on the arrows.2

It is possible that playing cards reached the West through Persia, as the designs on their cards included young men and women, and kings and queens on thrones. However, no one knows for certain if modern-day playing cards came from Korea, China, India, or Persia. In fact, it is possible that they were invented by a European, perhaps after seeing an Asian deck of cards.3

No matter where they came from, playing cards quickly spread throughout Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century. No one knows if they arrived in Italy or Spain first. The Moors occupied large parts of Spain at that time, but Italy was busy trading with the East, making it the more likely candidate.

Certain segments of the European community opposed playing cards from the start. The first prohibition against playing cards was probably issued in Bern in 1367. However, this is not based on conclusive evidence; it is mentioned in a list of legal documents that dates back to the end of the fourteenth century.4

A German monk named Johannes von Rheinfelden also mentioned playing cards in a Latin manuscript found in the British Museum. It says, "The game of cards has come to us in this year, viz., the year of our Lord 1377." 5 Rheinfelden described six different packs of cards, containing from fifty-two to sixty cards, each with four suits. Although he did not describe the suits, they were probably the traditional cups, swords, money, and clubs.

A few years later, playing cards were being mentioned in places as widespread as Paris, Florence, and Barcelona, usually because of a prohibition against them. It did not take the Christian church long to pronounce playing cards the work of the devil.

It is unlikely that playing cards were seen in Europe before about 1370, as Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) and Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) did not mention them in their writings. From all accounts, these men were enthusiastic about games and gambling, and it is inconceivable that they would not have mentioned playing cards if they had known of them. Petrarch wrote a treatise on gaming, and did not mention playing cards. Boccaccio and Chaucer both referred to other forms of gambling in their works, but failed to mention playing cards as well.

In 1363, an ordinance of the Catholic Church prohibited clerics from participating in games of chance. However, it did not specifically mention playing cards. Neither did an edict of King Charles V of France, dated 1369, which forbade certain sports and pastimes by name.

Many people believe that it was the Gypsies who introduced playing cards to Europe. However, this is not the case as playing cards preceded the Gypsies'' arrival in Europe by more than twenty years. (The first Romanies appeared in Europe in 1398.) Other people claim that Marco Polo brought them back from China. Although the Chinese did have playing cards, they were totally different from the cards that were introduced into Europe. Another story is that the crusaders brought them back from the Holy Land. Unfortunately, the Crusades were over some seventy years before playing cards were first mentioned in Europe.

The oldest Tarot cards in existence were made for Charles VI of France. This has led people to speculate that Jacquemin Gringonneur, the man who made three decks of Tarot cards for the king, invented playing cards. This is not true either, as playing cards were well established by the time he made these decks in 1392.

The story of Charles VI and Tarot cards is an interesting one. Apparently, Charles VI suffered from periods of depression. Odette, his beautiful mistress, played the harp, sang, and read to him. She also constantly searched for anything that might amuse the king. One day she heard about playing cards, which were new to the city. After seeing them, she asked Jacquemin Gringonneur to design a special pack in which the principal cards depicted important people in the royal court. The deck is alleged to have brought the king out of his depression (at least temporarily), and the picture cards became known as "court cards."

The legend does not finish here. Shortly after the king had been helped by the playing cards, a Saracen woman visited Odette and taught her how to interpret and read the cards. Although Odette was supposed to keep her new skill a secret, word quickly got out, and fortune telling with cards became hugely popular. Some people were unhappy with this, especially when the cards picked out their infidelities. Consequently, they told the king that the cards created huge gambling losses and succeeded in having them banned.

A famous knight named Etienne de Vignoles--better known as "La Hire"--was unhappy with this ban. The cards had successfully told him that a certain lady loved him, something he would not have discovered on his own, and he resolved to repeal the king''s edict. He succeeded by asking Jacquemin Gringonneur to create a patriotic deck of cards showing mythological gods and goddesses, Biblical figures, and past and present heroes. The four kings were Julius Caesar (diamonds), Charlemagne (hearts), Alexander the Great (clubs), and King Charles VI (spades). The queens were Pallas (also known as Minerva), the goddess of arms (spades); Judith the great biblical heroine (hearts); Rachel (of the Bible) (diamonds); and Argine the fairy (clubs), who looked exactly like Odette. (Argine is an anagram of "regina." )

La Hire also included himself in this pack of cards. He became the jack of hearts. The other jacks were Hogier the Dane (spades), Hector of Troy (diamonds), and Lancelot (clubs).

La Hire even gave the suits a military theme. The clubs depicted the sword crossguards, the hearts the tips of the crossbows, the diamonds the heads of the arrows, and the spades were the tools that were so useful in a siege. The king was delighted with the new pack and repealed the edict. In no time, cards were available everywhere again.6

The oldest known decks of cards are Tarot decks, and the standard decks of playing cards that we use today derive from them. Within a few years of their introduction, entrepreneurs began mass-producing playing cards using stencils. By eliminating the major arcana and the knaves, the pack was reduced to a deck of fifty-two cards, making them less expensive to manufacture and purchase.

The spread of playing cards alarmed the church and they began burning them in huge bonfires. This did nothing to diminish the demand for cards, and mass production brought the cost down to a more affordable level. In fact, in 1454, a pack of cards was purchased for the dauphin of France for five sous tournois. This was one-thousandth of the price the duke of Milan had paid for a deck thirty-nine years earlier.

As playing cards spread across Europe, different regions made changes to them. For instance, in the Italian decks the kings are depicted sitting down. In Spain, the kings are standing up. The Germans changed the suits entirely, choosing to use bells, hearts, leaves, and acorns, instead of the Italian swords, cups, coins, and clubs.

Wood engraving enabled playing cards to be produced more quickly, and with greater quality, than before. Then the invention of copper engraving enabled artists to incorporate more and more detail into the cards.

The first known copper engraver, known as Master of the Playing Cards, was born in the early fifteenth century, and had a major influence on the quality of playing cards. He was working in Mainz, Germany, at the same time as Johann Gutenberg, and it would be amazing if the two men had not known each other. In fact, it is possible that the Master of the Playing Cards worked for Johann Gutenberg.7 If so, this shadowy figure is connected with two of the most important events in the history of playing cards: the invention of copper engraving and printing.

It was the French who gave us the suits that we know today.8 Legend attributes this to Etienne de Vignoles, the French knight we have already met, who died in 1442. If this is true, the suits we know today were created in the first half of the fifteenth century.

The heart and spade were copied from the German heart and leaf. However, the leaf was turned ninety degrees to make it an upright spade. The club is probably an adaptation of the German acorn. The diamond, however, was an original creation. This shape was popular in France between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries in ecclesiastical pavements, and was chosen deliberately to depict the major divisions of society in a single deck of cards.

Consequently, hearts represented the church; spades could be read as spearheads, and represented the aristocracy, because spears were the weapons of knights; diamonds represented the chancel of the church, which is where the wealthy were buried; and clover (clubs) represented the peasantry, as it was a food for pigs.

The French card manufacturers were highly innovative. They quickly discovered that they could make the four kings, queens, and jacks from one woodblock or copper engraving, and simply stencil in the four suits later. This enabled them to create packs of cards much more quickly than their rivals in other parts of Europe. Not surprisingly, it wasn''t long before card manufacturers all over Europe began using generic kings, queens, and jacks too.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the jacks were called knaves. At this time, the card manufacturers began placing indices on two or four corners of each card to indicate its value. The familiar K for king and Q for queen began at this time. However, Kn for knave was potentially confusing, and the card''s name was changed to jack. Nowadays, of course, a knave is considered a rogue.

The joker is a nineteenth-century American addition, and can be related to the Fool card in Tarot. Euchre used to be an extremely popular card game in the United States (and still has a strong following today). In this game, the jack of the trump suit and the other jack of the same color are called the "Bowers." When euchre was first invented, another card was introduced, called the "Best Bower." Ultimately, it became known as the joker.9

The Gypsies were probably the first to use playing cards for divination purposes, and greatly aided the spread of playing cards throughout Europe. One of the first books on fortune telling with playing cards appeared in Germany in the 1480s. It is called Eim Loszbuch Ausz der Karten. The instructions tell the reader to shuffle the cards and remove one. He or she then looks up the meaning of the card in a book of fate.

In 1540, Marcolino da Forli published a book on card reading in Venice. This was the first book to explain the different layouts and interpretations that can be made with playing cards. His system, which appears to be entirely his own, used only the number cards.10 Marcolino da Forli''s system split the cards into various groups such as goodness, beauty, intelligence, death, wedlock, sloth, and humility. His system was able to answer almost any question. The questions answered in his book include: "Is the lady valued by him she adores?" and "Will he do better to take a beautiful or an ugly wife?" 11

The origin of one of the earliest decks of playing cards devised for fortune-telling purposes is not known. John Lenthall, a famous English producer of novelty cards, reprinted it in 1712. It seems likely that the original version appeared in the late 1600s. Lenthall was good at promoting his products, and advertised these as "Fortune-telling Cards, pleasantly unfolding the good and bad luck attending human life. With Directions of the Use of the Cards."

The method for interpreting these cards is unusual and complicated. A list of questions is printed on one of the kings. Each question also contains a number. The enquirer uses this number to receive an answer on one of the odd-numbered cards. He or she is then referred to an even-numbered card for a quotation allegedly from a famous sibyl of antiquity. As well as this, each card contains a great deal of symbolism. For instance, Merlin appears on the ace of clubs, and Hermes Trismegistus on the ace of spades. Dr. Faustus appears on the three of clubs. The king of hearts depicts Herod. Nimrod is on the king of diamonds. Pharaoh is on the king of clubs, and Holophernes is on the king of spades....

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