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How to turn Playing Cards into a Tarot Deck

Andrea writes on various topics from dating, couples, astrology, weddings, interior design, and gardens. She studied film and writing.

Turning Playing Cards into Tarot Cards

For entertainment purposes, Tarot card readings can be a blast. You may not have a deck handy or you may not entirely want one, though the mystical aspects we add to these decks are not necessarily the intention they had centuries ago. A regular playing card deck can be used to read people's fortunes. This will represent the Minor Arcana. You may also keep other extra cards in your deck and interpret them as you will.

The four suits correspond to Tarot and the four cardinal elements.

Clubs - Wands - Fire - Creativity

Hearts - Cups - Water - Emotions

Diamonds - Pentacles - Earth - Finances

Spades - Swords - Air - Conflict

When reading, generally cups cards are positive when dealing with emotions, while swords cards can represent tension. For instance, the 3 of Spades stands for betrayal and a broken heart. The 2 of Cups is a signal of romance and a growing relationship.

The number 5 in all suits means something negative, so keep this in mind.

Sometimes the court cards represent actual people whether yourself or someone else. They can also represent the qualities those character cards hold -- the King of Spades stands for shrewd logic while the Queen of Hearts stands for compassion. Once you know the general rules about the cards, this will help significantly even if you don't know what each card represents for the whole of the deck.

I like to use the Joker card as a Magician or Fool. Both of these are somewhat wild, but perhaps in different ways.


When playing, I shuffle the deck a few times. I ask a question I feel I am desperately needing some clarity on. Generally, I shuffle the deck about three times and then pull out a card. If the card doesn't seem to offer enough information for me, I'll shuffle the deck three more times and pull another card to lay next to my first. Sometimes the information that you need isn't clear until you pull more cards.

Be advised, this is mostly for entertainment, so if you are unhappy with the results -- don't be dissuaded. They are cards, and perhaps if you have strong feelings against what you are seeing, then that in itself is helping you to decipher your own emotions. Many readers believe this is more psychology than supernatural.

When doing a read, for say a relationship, it is best to try to ask a few different questions and lay out subsequent cards. For instance you could ask:

1. Does John like me?

2. Does John like Megan more than me?

3. Does John miss me?

4. Why does John like me?

5. What is the problem that is preventing John and I from being together?

6. What is the best solution to overcome this?

Let's say we draw a card for each one of these questions. On the first one "Does John like me?" You end up pulling a 2 of Hearts. This should be fairly self-explanatory. The two of hearts symbolizes a romantic encounter is ahead. It's a positive card to receive in this slot. It means there is a romantic connection building.

Okay, for number 2, "Does John like Megan more than me?" let's say you pulled a 3 of Spades. This would most likely mean that Megan broke his heart and in a painful way. Likely, this Megan character cheated on him or something drastic of this nature occurred. This card could also mean that he is releasing her and trying to forgive her, but it generally would mean -- he likes you more than her.

If you pulled a 5 of Hearts for "Does John miss me?" This would be a clear yes because a five of hearts means that one is despairing, is distressed about the past, and can't see the full picture. Fives are always somewhat negative and coupled with an emotion card it can show that someone is without love and therefore, yes John misses you.

Let's say for "Why does John like me" you end up pulling a Jack of Swords. Jacks in playing cards stand for knights in Tarot. Therefore, you have a Knight of Swords card which means that you are hasty in speech, perhaps aggressive and maybe this is something he lacks or maybe something he just likes to see in women.

On the fifth question, what is preventing the two of you, let's say you pulled a King of Diamonds, otherwise the King of Pentacles. This more than likely represents John and that he is too focused on his career or job to invest in romantic relations at this time. However, he is well balanced with his materials, is a great manager of things, and more than likely has care taking qualities. A king card shows a great sense of development.

Lastly, what is the best solution to overcome this: let's say you pull a 8 of Spades, otherwise 8 of Swords. Swords are generally negative, therefore if we were to look at the Tarot definition, we see that this card represents isolation, fear of speaking, or fear of change. What the card is attempting to tell you with this question is that in order to grow, you need to speak about your feelings and that the longer you wait, the worse it will be.

I strongly suggest using the Biddy Tarot website if you don't know meanings of the Minor Arcana. Then you can look them up and match them to the playing cards.

As for the elements, if you are pulling a lot of one type consider that this is a guiding force in your life. If you see a lot of fire, than you have a lot of passion for creativity. The question is: what do you do with fire? You don't want fire to build up to the point of burning down your home. You want enough fire that it brings warmth, light, and cooks your food! Consider how to best harness the energy you receive so that you can have the results you seek.

Cards are indicative. Remember that there are other philosophical tools and you should desire to be on the best path for righteousness, not evil. Cards may indicate evil indications, but carrying out such plans can be harmful to others and yourself.

With the elements, try to visualize what those elements look like, what would be their terrain, what is positive and negative about them, and why we need them. If you're looking for a romantic relation, a lot of water cards is positive mixed with some clubs and some diamond cards. Spades are usually undesirable for romance, though the court cards are generally positive depending on what is being asked.


1. Make sure to shuffle the cards! If the response you get seems off, you probably didn't shuffle the cards.

2. Feel free to keep extra weird cards in your deck like how to play games and coupons and such. You may have fun interpreting them into the mix.

3. Try different ways of playing with the cards and interpreting them to see how it works.

4. Watch others do card interpretations. You can find lots of card readers online.

5. Don't force people into readings.

6. Use this as a technique to be distracting at Poker. ;)

7. Don't mix two decks together.

8. Write down your results in a journal and see if anything comes true or if you feel more in charge after doing card readings.

9. Remember that in elements water and fire clash and so are earth and wind, but in the right circumstances these can be good combinations, such as a Phoenix is said to rise from water and turn to flame.

10. Avoid using spells or actual magic. You don't want to involve yourself in trickery and become attracted to the occult.

11. Try using other normal playing card decks and see if you get different results.


Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on January 31, 2016:


The 2 of hearts has to do with courtship, budding romance, dating, etc.

An Ace generally means "potential." An Ace of Spades has to do with success, Ace of Hearts means love, Ace of Diamonds potential money, and Ace of Clubs potential creativity, inspiration, new projects, etc.

lisa on January 31, 2016:

what does the 2 of hearts mean and a ace mean/??

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