We’re going to take a brief look at my main method of divination, cartomancy.

Cartomancy is divination using a deck of cards. Any deck of cards will do, including playing cards, cards you’ve created on your own, or the well-known tarot.

Can cards really tell us anything?

It’s good to have a sense of skepticism when dealing with the world around you. I like to believe in the cards, but I also keep a healthy sense of skepticism. People use cards for many different reasons. Telling the future, seeing into the past, asking if a spell will work, connecting with spirits, and connecting with deity are a few among these reasons. Personally, I like to remind my clients that they are purchasing a reading for entertainment purposes only, and I cannot guarantee anything.

How did I get into cartomancy?

At the age of 16 or 17, I read the Blue is for Nightmares series by Laurie Faria Stolarz. I was immediately fascinated by the magic brought to life in the series, specifically the practice of reading the future using a regular deck of playing cards. What the series never explained was the meanings of the cards, so it took a little research on my part to find them. I stuck to a 9-card layout, which was an extension of the common 3-card “Past, Present, Future” layout. I used the same deck of playing cards into my college years, but have since retired the deck.

This website does a decent job of describing the card meanings similar to the ones I originally used.


My Current Practice


Currently, I use six different decks. Pictures of these decks can be found in my etsy shop, Hawthorn Howl.

  1. Fairy Tarot – A whimsical deck, featuring suits that best reflect Fae (Acorn, Hearts, Leaves, Bells). I use this deck as my personal default deck, as well as for people with a light, enchanting nature to them. The deck can also be used for Fae communication.
  2. Steampunk – Man, machine, science, nature, alchemy, and romance all in one deck. This is a darker deck, that tends to go into greater detail than my others. I associate this deck with Hecate and Persephone.
  3. The Hobbit – As a LOTR and The Hobbit fan, I had to have this deck. Knowing the story of The Hobbit gives greater insight into the meaning behind the cards.
  4. Shadowscapes – A popular fantasy deck with some of my favorite artwork, influenced by Asian and Celtic artwork, as well as myths around the world.
  5. Animal Wisdom – A colorful deck, with each card being a different animal. I instantly fell for the coyote on the deck box. Who doesn’t love a trickster? This deck is great for communicating with your mirror animal. I associate it with Loki.
  6. Art Through the Eyes of the Soul Oracle – Not your average card deck, and much different from the tarot. The Lady of the Lake is the focus of this deck, with her dark mysteries in the depths of her waters.

Card Spreads

Spreads can be used for specific questions, or simply to reflect something, such as “Past, Present, and Future.”

I’m a huge fan of the 5-card spread in the shape of a star, which includes insight into the inner situation, life direction, obstacles that will appear, how to overcome those obstacles, and the overall purpose. It can be used as a general spread, or to answer a specific question. In my shop, I have listed one, three, five, seven, and eight card spread for different purposes, including fae connections, future, money, and relationships. I’m also willing to create a spread for questions not covered by those spreads.

Creating a card spread isn’t something I’d suggest for beginners. If you’re just starting out, pick one or two card spreads, and stick with them. Once you’ve been working with the cards for a while, you’ll get to know your decks, and what feels right, in the event that you do need to create a spread. As an example, I’ve created a spread visually similar to a staircase with two doors, using the Steampunk deck, for a past life reading.

Conducting Readings

I have a set routine of shuffling my cards into five separate piles, and then combining them all again. I then cleanse them using a quartz crystal. Sometimes, I choose to cleanse them by waving them above a candle flame. It’s really just how I’m feeling at that time. At this point, I concentrate on the purpose of the reading, or the question. Once the cards are shuffled and cleansed, I spread them out in front of me on a special cloth. I find it disrespectful to lay them on any uncovered surface, again, just my personal practice. I then go over the cards with my right hand, all the way down the line and back to the beginning before I begin to choose cards. Sometimes, I’ll feel a tingle in certain fingers. It might feel like a light vibration, it might be a stinging pain. Other times, I see certain images that guide me to choosing the cards. Once I choose a card, I begin to form the spread.

Card Meanings and Interpreting a Reading

The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to memorize the card meanings. In my case, I have six different decks, with different suits that don’t always match up. In time, you become familiar with the meanings, but it’s always good to do your research and check the meaning anyway. It’s much easier to tell a client “I want to do the research to provide you with the correct meaning of the cards,” rather than “I’m really sorry, but I didn’t do my research, and provided you with the wrong meaning.”

Once you’ve got the meanings to the cards, it’s time to interpret the spread as a whole. I look at the big picture, the artwork, and how it fits together to tell a story. I pay attention to themes, the same suit coming up, the same numbers coming up. They all provide keys into giving greater detail in my interpretation of the cards.

Important Note: Words I See Used in Relation to Cartomancy, and Why I Don’t Use Them

Gypsy – I am not a gypsy, my readings do not make me like a gypsy. This term is a racial slur.

Animal Totem/Spirit Animal – These terms are not culturally appropriate for me, and I will not use them. Instead, I will use terms such as “animal guide,” or “mirror animal.”

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I see most often.

Why do I charge for readings?

They are a service that I offer. Practicing for roughly seven years has made me a more advanced reader. On average, a reading can take me anywhere between 20 minutes to 40 minutes. They can also be tiring, and I need to re-energize myself afterwards. What I make from readings is saved to help pay off my student loans. If you’d like a free reading, tell me how to explain to the student loan company that I can’t pay off my student loans.

Want to learn more about cartomancy and tarot?

Go here.