top of page

Cartomancy: Reading Playing Cards as Tarot

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

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 tarot 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.

tempest tarot deck


  • Clubs = Wands

  • Hearts = Cups

  • Spades = Swords

  • Diamonds = Pentacles

Card Meanings


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

Meanings Chart










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.


Giovanna M
Giovanna M

Thank you for this, I am new to tarot and I found this very helpful.

bottom of page