QUESTION: My grandmother used to tell fortunes with playing cards. How is that different than tarot?
ANSWER: The two systems are probably similar. In fact, some popular divination decks are basically decks of playing cards.
The main difference is the structure of the deck: a tarot deck has four suits, like a playing card deck, as well as 22 major arcana cards.
What’s more, most modern tarot decks are fully illustrated. In a deck of ordinary playing cards, most of the cards are simply illustrated with simple repeating pattern of clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds. In a tarot deck, however, every card has a distinctly separate illustration.
Those illustrations— along with the titles printed on each card — make it easier to use tarot cards for divination. While it’s true that some people can read playing cards based solely on intuition and psychic impressions, most have to memorize the meanings of each card in a playing-card deck, or write them on each card. When you read tarot cards, you can interpret the symbols on each card, and use the images as a reminder of traditional interpretations.
It’s interesting to note that historically, wandering fortune tellers used playing cards, not tarot cards. Some switched to tarot cards with the passage of time, but only when their customers began to expect tarot cards on the table.
I offer tarot and astrology readings online and in person at my Haunted Antique Shop in DeLand, Florida. To schedule a reading, click here.