A Tale of Five Pips

As promised, here is my first serious attempt at divination with the playing cards. I used the Goldfield Nevada 1864 giant playing card deck, and I also augmented the five-card spread with the Night Sky playing cards to see if there is interpretive syncretism with any astrological fixed stars that may appear in the constellations. I asked in general terms “What will the rest of 2020 bring me?” and used five cards, one for each of the remaining months of the year. All of the cards were pips with no court cards in the mix. My chief source of card meanings is the material from Kapherus on the Art of Cartomancy website, with additional commentary from “Louise” at Auntie Tarot and Arthur Edward Waite in A Manual of Cartomancy, Fortune Telling and Occult Divination. The parenthetical phrases after each card title, as well as some further detail in the text, are from Jonathan Dee’s Fortune Telling Using Playing Cards.


The two Tens may denote a change of trade or profession – but only a remote chance. Since I’m retired and not planning to return to work, I’d say “remote” is the right word. However, if it suggests improved prospects for my professional tarot practice, I’ll buy that (although it’s still a long-shot with the ongoing pandemic). They also suggest a “short trip” but all of my journeys are short these days since we don’t go out-of-state. These represent one of the best and one of the worst cards in the deck, the “good news” 10 of Cups and the “bad news” 10 of Swords, so it could be a period of extremes.

August: 8 of Diamonds (“Material Success”) – I think it’s prophetic that I got an “8” for the eighth month; generally an upbeat number, eights suggest a give-and-take between balance and imbalance, especially in physical well-being – notably eye health in the suit of diamonds. I found from the different interpretations I’ve gathered that “ups-and-downs of money management” is a common theme. Caution and care in planning expenditures and the need to curtail spending are highlighted. August is something of a “financial  crossroads” month for me every year so the advice is appropriate. Since it occurs at the beginning of the reading, the best opportunity exists for financial good fortune at this time.

September: 5 of Hearts (“Disappointment”) – Cherry-picking Kapherus’ key concepts, I stayed away from the numerous “woman” and “female instincts and sensibilities” ideas and instead chose “Desired opportunity, proposal which brings happiness and success; satisfy one’s desires; fulfill a dream.” Also, “doing right, being right, being truthful, fair, just.” Other sources mention “unfounded jealousy and ill-will from people around me,” “an inability to make up my mind” and ” a tendency to make-and-break plans with others.” Another meaning is “something that was once precious (for example, a long-held desire) is drawing to a close,” hence the disappointment.

October: 10 of Hearts (“Good News”) – From Kapherus: “Victory, emotional fulfillment, happiness, enjoyment, amusement, emotional commitment.” From other sources, “good luck and happiness; an excellent card, and it helps overcome bad cards in its vicinity; maybe a proposal coming; successful future and plenty of money.” This suggests the outcome of wise money-management in August. It looks like the best month of the whole period. As far as the jealousy and indecision mentioned in the 5 of Hearts and the imprudent choices of the 3 of Hearts, this very fortunate card between them may take the edge off any such negative implications.

November: 3 of Hearts (“Hasty Promises”) – Kapherus’ take: “Creative talent, artistic ability, creative achievement such as poetry or artwork. Love, beauty and happiness are on the increase; a small celebration; a job promotion.” Other opinions differ: “A warning not to be too impulsive. Avoid mistakes through planning.” And once again: “Imprudence: impetuous decisions threaten favorable undertakings. You need to be cautious; don’t say something you’ll regret.” I can read the signs! Although Three is almost always a benevolent number as suggested by Kapherus, here it can show the consequences of unwise decision-making and too-hasty action. I won’t want to let my enthusiasm run away with me.

December: 10 of Spades (“Disillusionment”)  – Kapherus observes: “Traditionally a card of misfortune, grief, ruin and tragic ends.” Sounds about right for the dreary beginning of winter, especially since he adds to his list of keywords “cold weather, winter.” He also says “This card casts an ominous shadow across all surrounding cards in the spread.” That places it squarely in the path of any hasty promises made in November, and as the “consequences” card for any unwise moves initiated under the 3 of Hearts. This card can also indicate unwelcome news. I think I will be laying low and watching developments very closely.

Of the fixed stars of astrology, Polaris (the “Pole Star”) appears in the constellation Ursa Minor under the 10 of Hearts. Its traditional meaning is largely contrary to that of the card, bringing a little ballast to its buoyant optimism: “Sickness, trouble, loss, affliction and (the best of the lot) spiritual powers.” I will keep a wary eye on the negatives and play up the spiritual angle. Under the 10 of Spades, the two fixed stars of interest in Sagittarius appear to be Spiculum and Alnasl (although sources differ as to whether they are in the last degree of Sagittarius or the first degree of Capricorn; this may have something to do with the precession of the equinoxes). Both make mention of eye trouble and the risk of blindness, conditions that are not out-of-sync with the dismal outlook of the 10 of Spades. More cause for vigilance in December.  The rest of the constellations in the layout (Lepus, Crater and Corvus) lie in the Southern Hemisphere and off the ecliptic.

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