What is Cartomancy?

Cartomancy, or fortune-telling through cards, is the most popular form of divination amongst Pagans.

There are two different forms that this can take:

  • one involves a Tarot deck,
  • the other involves a regular playing card deck.

In both cases, the diviner chooses a card and then looks at it in order to gain insight into his/her life.

The history of cartomancy

Cartomancy in the old Egypt

Before the introduction of Tarot cards, Egyptians had their own forms of cartomancy. These included gambling with dice as well as using sign boards and tree leaves for divinatory purposes.

However, the method that spread far and wide was sorting out cards into different categories such as those based on royalty (like kings, queens, princes), those based on numbers (like the ace, ten, seven), or even simply by colour.

Cartomancy in the Middle Age

Tarot was introduced in the fifteenth century by Egyptians who were trying to act as mediators between the East and the West.

This new form of cartomancy was different from how it is practised now, because at that time, Latin was used instead of French or English.

People also had to use “pips” (which is simply a slang term for the suit of playing cards) as opposed to what we use now, which are the Major Arcana.

Cartomancy in the Renaissance period

Tarot cards became even more popular during the Renaissance period.

This is because more people were interested in them and believed that they held some sort of power. People began to use these cards for gambling purposes, which was probably how it deviated from its true purpose as a divination tool.

During the eighteenth century, the use of cartomancy became more widespread. This was because there were many people who performed readings during that time to make some extra cash.

However, it is important to note that these people were ill-reputed and were often considered charlatans by those around them.

Cartomancy nowadays

Today, the most common form of cartomancy is based on a Tarot deck. This involves choosing a card and then interpreting its meaning in order to gain some insight into one’s life situation.

However, there are some people who still use playing cards for divinatory purposes as well.


It is important to note that cartomancy has evolved throughout the ages, starting with simple gambling games in ancient Egypt up until the modern age where it is widely practised.