Updated: Jun 12
Tarot has 78 cards while a playing deck only has 52 cards. But using the court cards and numbered cards, here’s how to read tarot with playing cards.
Did you know that reading playing cards as tarot cards is as easy as learning a few meanings? If you don’t have a tarot deck on hand (and you already have the Tempest Tarot Deck), here’s a fun way to entertain the party and create some ice breakers.
Tarot vs. Cartomancy
Cartomancy is the act of using a 52-card playing deck as a divinatory tool. Playing card decks are used for parlor and casino games such as Hearts or Blackjack. The only difference between playing cards and tarot is that the 78-card tarot card deck has only one use: to give tarot readings.
Regarding the layout of a the two decks, there are a few key differences. A tarot deck consists of two sections: the 22-card Major Arcana and the 56-card Minor Arcana. And interestingly enough, the Minor Arcana resembles that of a traditional playing card deck.
How so? Well, both tarot decks and playing card decks have four suits. They both have a 1 - 10 numbered system—with Aces representing the first number. And they also both have a court card system. The only difference between the two is that tarot cards have gendered Jacks (female and male). That’s why this section has 56 cards, as opposed to 52.
One amazing thing about cartomancy is that it’s a great way to sneakily read cards to a skeptic. A person who has never used tarot would be much more likely to “get their fortune read” by someone using a deck they’re very familiar with. This can put your querent completely at ease, without having to pull out special tricks or stops.
Clubs = Wands
Hearts = Cups
Spades = Swords
Diamonds = Pentacles
Clubs are associated with the suit of Wands, and they represent themes of planning and fruition.
Ace of Clubs: new rewards, new plans, new beginnings
2 of Clubs: balancing responsibilities
3 of Clubs: sharing plans or success
4 of Clubs: winning, succeeding
5 of Clubs: chaos, loss
6 of Clubs: the importance of “success”
7 of Clubs: illusion in the plan
8 of Clubs: readying yourself for the future
9 of Clubs: traveling, expanding, moving
10 of Clubs: completing plans, finding success
Jack of Clubs: young person of charity
Queen of Clubs: woman of charity
King of Clubs: leader in plans or boss
Hearts, associated with Cups in the tarot deck, represent everything that has to do with our emotions, peace, and intuition.
Ace of Hearts: new relationship, new feelings, finding peace
2 of Hearts: falling in love, extraordinary emotions
3 of Hearts: abundance of love, crossing emotional boundaries
4 of Hearts: calmness, soundness, happiness
5 of Hearts: loss in love, breakups, upset
6 of Hearts: feeling sentimental or nostalgic
7 of Hearts: disillusionment in love, red flags
8 of Hearts: leaving past behind, finding closure
9 of Hearts: blissful happiness, peace
10 of Hearts: fulfillment, family, abundance
Jack of Hearts: young person love interest
Queen of Hearts: woman love interest
King of Hearts: man love interest
Spades, associated with Swords in the tarot deck, represent everything that has to do with intellect and action.
Ace of Spades: new actions, new hobbies
2 of Spades: indecisiveness, uncertain, loss of clarity
3 of Spades: stepping backwards, losing hope
4 of Spades: waiting, patience, gathering information
5 of Spades: obstacles, conflict of thought
6 of Spades: preparing to find new paths
7 of Spades: clarity coming to light
8 of Spades: blurred lines, fear of the future
9 of Spades: hesitation, worry, anxiety
10 of Spades: backstabbing, actions coming back
Jack of Spades: young person in the future
Queen of Spades: woman in the future
King of Spades: man in the future
Diamonds, associated with Pentacles in the tarot deck, represent everything that has to do with energy, physicality, and work.
Ace of Diamonds: new career, new work path, renewed energy
2 of Diamonds: overwhelm, conflict
3 of Diamonds: teamwork, groups, working together
4 of Diamonds: trusting in the process, success
5 of Diamonds: coming back from loss
6 of Diamonds: charity, helping others
7 of Diamonds: waiting, slowness, stagnancy
8 of Diamonds: learning, progress
9 of Diamonds: excitement, self-worth
10 of Diamonds: success, status, happiness
Jack of Diamonds: young person who can help
Queen of Diamonds: woman who can help
King of Diamonds: man who can help
How many cards in a tarot deck?
There are 78 cards in a tarot deck. There are 56 cards in the Minor Arcana.
How many cards in a playing deck?
There are 52 cards in a playing deck.