Cartomancy seeks to tell the future using a deck of cards. Tarot readings are one form of cartomancy, though others have been used throughout the ages. Playing cards were first used in Europe in the 14th century, though the ancient Egyptians may have used a form of cartomancy to receive the wisdom of the god Thoth.

The most popular form of cartomancy uses ordinary playing cards. In English-speaking countries, that means a 52-card deck. French-speaking countries often use a 32-card deck instead, known as a piquet deck. While the 52-card deck is more common, you can create your own 32-card piquet deck by removing all of the cards with a value of two to six. The remaining sevens through tens, aces, and face cards will give you 32 cards.

In recent years, cartomancy has waned in popularity, though Tarot readings are still well-known. Practitioners believe that a deck which is used in cartomancy should never be used for any other purpose. They see it as a tool which should be properly cared for. To some, the cards are so sacred that they should never be touched by anyone except their owner.

A tarot deck is different from standard cartomancy decks. In Tarot, there are 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits, each with ten numbered cards plus a king, queen, knight, and page. These 56 cards are remarkably similar to modern decks of playing cards; the Major Arcana are found only in Tarot cards.

The four suits of the Minor Arcana correspond roughly to the four suits of modern playing cards. In modern cards, the spade is like the sword of Tarot cards, signifying intelligence and education, and the wind element. Hearts are the equivalent of cups, representing the water element and emotions. Diamonds are Pentacles or Coins, the Earth element responsible for health and material issues. Finally, Clubs are related to Wands, the power symbol of the fire element.

Skilled psychics use these cards as a tool to aid in divining events of the present and future. These tools can help you understand your life, and the challenges that you face.

The Fortune Teller, by Art Nouveau painter Mikhail Vrubel, depicting a cartomancer. Courtesy Wikipedia.