In cartomancy, soothsayers attempt to read the past, present, and future using cards. Normal playing cards are commonly used, as are fortunetelling cards like tarot cards.

According to tradition, the cards used for fortunetelling should be used for only that reason, and not others. The card set is a tool that requires careful care. Some practitioners go so far as to insist that their cards are touched by no one else. it is bad fortune to read your own cards, to read cards alone, or to read the cards for the same person more than once per week.

Divining the future using cards is an ancient art, the one that is most commonly associated with gypsies. Modern playing cards were derived from tarot cards. Today’s playing cards originated in 15th century France. Ancient sets were hand-painted or printed using wooden blocks. Unlike modern cards, which can be viewed from two directions, ancient playing cards sets and tarot cards alike are viewed from one direction.

In 1832, playing cards became mass-produced. This wide availability meant that standard playing cards became commonly used in fortune telling. In English-speaking countries, diviners prefer the 52 card deck with four suits. In France, however, a 32 card deck is preferred, although the 52 card deck may also be used.