From lucky rabbit’s foot to a horseshoe nailed over the door, symbols of good fortune come in all shapes and sizes and materials. Some are deeply rooted in culture and represent generic or personal beliefs. Some are there just for fun. For the next few days, I’ll be delving into these interesting and curious symbols of good luck. Today ~ cards. I like cards.
I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys and learned how to play cards. I never learned pinochle, but I did learn blackjack and poker. Our poker games always had outrageous wildcard combinations: Ace-y Duce-y (aces and 2’s), boxcars (6’s), or puppy toes(the 3 of clubs). I still enjoy poker, though my husband teases me about wanting to play wildcard games. In his neighborhood they played cutthroat poker–not a single puppy toe among them. How boring.
Interesting thing about cards, people also use them to divine the future. My husband’s grandmother read fortunes off a deck of regular old playing cards exactly like a Tarot deck. She once told him a person with red hair was going to change his life. Ha! Now that’s an understatement.
Card reading is called Cartomancy or seeing with cards
I have a friend who is an accomplished tarot card reader. One afternoon she spread the cards for me and read them. I had no grand question in mind, but as I was not yet published, I asked if I’d publish my magnum opus (MO) that year. The MO is my unnamed series I’ve been writing for years. The cards said no. I asked about publishing my children’s books. No. I asked about my historical youth novels. No. She said perhaps I’d publish a book I hadn’t written yet. I was knee-deep in the 5th book of the MO. In my mind the only book I’d be writing next was book 6. If I didn’t publish 1 to 5 first, how could I publish 6?
She read the cards again with that new question and they said yes. Ok, even I knew I’d get published eventually. I asked her when. She did a different spread that showed the passage of time. The cards said I’d be contracted with a publisher at the very end of the year, but not for anything I’d written up to that point. Like I said, I only saw book 6 in my future. Several months later, I had a synchronistic week that put me on this romance author’s path (a path I never envisioned for myself). In three days time I’d crafted an edgy novel designed to get noticed and submitted it. On December 29th, I received my contract. A true story and very odd.
When we think of fortunetelling we often go to the Hollywood version where Gypsies turn over the Hanged Man or Death cards and act like you’re doomed. But the history of tarot is much more interesting than that. The tarot, or tarocchi/tarock popped up in Europe in the mid-15th century. The decks themselves were symbols of the Renaissance–the cultural movement that sought to shake off an over-reaching and corrupt church and return to the philosophical glory of classical Greece and Rome. Hidden in the cards were references to the societal ideals of those times. Later, tarot became associated with esoteric groups like the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. And after that, the Victorian era made them popular again and they became the classic tarot cards we recognize today. The Victorians were very much into romanticism, mysticism, occultism, and spiritualism. They were also into death observances and seances. Tarot was one more way to capture a glimpse of the unknown.
When you look at today’s tarot cards, it’s important to remember there are many styles out there and their authors and artists have dreamed up many interpretations –everything from angel decks to animal decks and more. Most have no similarities to the original decks and meanings whatsoever.
The tarot deck has two types of cards in the deck called the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. Arcana, in case you’ve never heard that word before, comes from the Latin Arcanum meaning things hidden. The 56 cards called the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits that correspond to conventional playing card suits of hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds. Each tarot suit has fourteen cards consisting of four face cards and ten pip cards numbered from ace to ten. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards rife with symbolism and allegory. Together they make up a 78 card deck. I’ve had a deck known as the Rider-Waite deck since I was a teen. The Rider-Waite was first published in 1910.
There are many ways to read tarot. Simple methods like drawing one card from the deck to complex spreads across a table. I find it as fun as reading tea leaves.
American Tarot Association
The cards and their meanings
Tarot artist Julie Cuccia-Watts and I were involved in living history together and I must say I’ve never met such a versatile artist. From stitchery to painting, she has astounding creative talent. She’s written several books on the subject as well as created incredibly striking tarot decks. If you’re looking for stunning decks with old meanings or new, try here:
Poke around her website. You can have an online reading somewhere in there.
Next week ~ More!
“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Authors and Industry representatives all month long.
Our January contest is on! Prizes often include $100 in gift cards for Amazon/B&N, ebooks, print books, audiobooks, additional gift cards, and non-book items. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/