How To Use Playing Cards As Tarot Cards

While it may not prove as visually satisfying as using a set of individually designed tarot cards, you can use playing cards to read tarot. There are still some conditions to bear in mind that remain the case for many tarot card readings.

In order for it to be a successful reading, you should clear your mind and ask certain, specific questions.

How To Use Playing Cards As Tarot Cards

In this guide, we will look at how to use playing cards as tarot cards. This will include how the suits of playing cards correspond, how to use the card numbers, and interpreting the face cards.

How To Use Playing Cards As Tarot Cards

For a tarot card reading with playing cards, you should still try to take it seriously and carry out the reading properly (for more information, read here). Begin by clearing your mind of any pervading thoughts that could interfere with your interpretation.

Close your eyes and breathe in deeply then exhale away your thoughts.

Once your mind is clear, you can form a specific question that should guide your reading. That could be about your life choices, love life, or any issues with work. Be specific, name names, and identify certain situations.

You could be general and ask about how the year is going to go in your career, your love life etc.

Shuffle the cards, as you normally would, then cut the deck and ask for guidance. Draw a single card then ask a yes or no answer or a series of them; red means yes and black means no (if you want to learn more about performing a “yes or no reading”, read here).

For more open-ended questions, you will need to lay out a spread of playing cards. That first card will represent the past, the second is for the present while the third and final card represents the future.  

How The Suits Of Playing Cards Correspond To Tarot Card Suits 

Granted, it is comparably harder to use playing cards yet the suits do directly correspond. 

  • Clubs will represent wands and represent travel, future actions, and your creative thinking.
  • Diamonds will represent pentacles and connect to money and work. 
  • Hearts will represent cups as well as home, feelings, and relationships. 
  • Spades will represent swords though they connect to intellect, loss, planning, and obstacles.

Using The Card Numbers For A Deeper Interpretation

The number cards are also known as ‘pip’ cards and each number will mean something different, just like with tarot cards.

Remember what each suit represents when you start to interpret the card number though do consider that the interpretations are general. 

  • Ace – Beginnings/The New
  • 2 – Relationships/Balance
  • 3 – Connection
  • 4 – Stability
  • 5 – Disturbance
  • 6 – Harmony
  • 7 – Mystery
  • 8 – Stagnation/Movement
  • 9 – Growth
  • 10 – Completion

You should be relatively creative in all your interpretations though there are points to consider. The two feminine suits of Diamonds and Hearts become more positive after the first five cards.

Unfortunately, that does mean that the remaining masculine suits of Spades and Clubs will veer towards the negative.

While the ten of Hearts will represent joy and the ten of Diamonds will represent great wealth, the ten of Spades will represent victimization, and the ten of Clubs will represent responsibility or debt.

How To Use Playing Cards As Tarot Cards (1)

Interpreting The Face Cards

The face cards are also known as ‘court’ cards and tend to reflect real, actual people. These face cards may indicate that an individual is about to enter your life.

  • Jack of Hearts – A confidant
  • Jack of Spades – A clever individual
  • Jack of Clubs – A risk-taker
  • Jack of Diamonds – A grounded and serious individual 
  • Queen of Hearts – A nurturing and kind woman
  • Queen of Spades – An honest woman
  • Queen of Clubs – An ambitious woman
  • Queen of Diamonds – A helpful and peaceful woman
  • King of Hearts – A calm, wise man
  • King of Spades – A man who is calculating
  • King of Clubs – A man who inspires
  • King of Diamonds – A rich, hard-working man

Then there is the Joker which simply represents a surprise that is waiting for you. That could be a situation that is about to change. The change could be good or bad, positive or negative just on its own.

As the equivalent of the Fool in a tarot card reading, it should have unlimited potential and signify having the intention to take a huge risk but knowing that all will be well at the end.

Interpret It Yourself

To get a deeper understanding, revert to the cards in your three-card spread. Be consistent as we all attach special meanings to certain numbers so maintain your interpretation.

Finally, put all of your interpretations together to achieve your reading and the full picture. Pair the suits’ meaning with that of the card’s number then see how they all bounce off one another. 

Final Thoughts

When you do use playing cards as tarot cards, remember to interpret it all yourself and have fun with it. With that in mind, you can use a deck to present fun tarot readings for friends until you get competent and can get more serious.

That could begin with a one or two card reading before advancing to a three-card reading. Practice often on the straightforward aspects like laying out a spread of cards as the position of them will modify their meanings. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Differences Between The Numbers Of Cards Between A Tarot Card Deck And That Of A Playing Card Deck?

In a standard playing card deck, you can expect 52 cards with an additional Joker. As a standard tarot card deck has 78 cards, you may want to forgo the Knights and a lot of the Major Arcana.

That’s because there are 22 ‘trump’ cards just in the Major Arcana as well as the 56 suit cards in the Minor Arcana.

Do Reversed Cards Occur With A Standard Playing Card Deck When Performing A Tarot Card Reading?

Remember that the playing cards will look identical whichever way they face, up or down. You can still interpret the playing cards anyway you like, positive or negative though try to be accurate with the meaning. 

Andrea Daehma
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