As with the tarot, each card in the modern deck of playing cards has acquired a traditional interpretation over the centuries, and the reader—or person telling the fortune—has become familiar with these meanings. The next step in the process is to interpret the drawing or placing of each card by the querent (or questioner)—the person seeking the fortune—in terms of certain of the cards next to which it appears in the layout or draw.
There are about as many methods of placing or laying out the cards as there are card readers. The reader may have the querent select a card at random to represent him or her in the reading and the resultant spread may revolve around that particular card. The reader may also through the process of trial and error develop a spread or layout that seems to stimulate his or her psychic awareness and increase the ability to "tune in to" the querent. Some readers prefer to draw—or allow the querent to draw—one card at a time and do a free-flowing interpretation. Others like the pattern of a cross, a circle, or several rows of cards placed in various representations of what the reader perceives as best providing a window to the querent's future.
Listed are some basic meanings of the individual cards in the traditional deck—minus the Joker (some readers use this card to represent the querent):
DIAMONDS: Diamonds represent the practical, material side of life, especially money. They can also stand for difficulties that will arise if insufficient energy is expended in the desire to accomplish financial goals.
The ace of diamonds signifies a beginning or an important message that brings money or a gift to the recipient. The king of diamonds represents a man who has achieved material wealth and success. The queen of diamonds is a woman who is noted for her flirtatious nature and her tendency to gossip about others. The jack of diamonds symbolizes a jealous friend or relative.
Regarding the "spot" or numbered cards of the suit of diamonds: Ten brings money—or possibly a journey that will result in financial success. Nine signifies a wish to wander and explore. Eight is a sign of financial success or a marriage that will take place. Seven warns of ill fortune in a financial enterprise. Six is read as an early marriage that is likely to fail. The five of diamonds points to gain and prosperity in business and in marriage. Four predicts that quarrels and disagreements lie ahead. The three points to disputes, quarrels, and potential lawsuits. Two is a happy card of good fortune in both love and business.
HEARTS: Hearts symbolize a strong emotional force that can nullify evil and indicate success in business, as well as in love.
The ace of hearts alludes to happiness in the home. The king of hearts is a just man, remembered for his fair play and his generosity. The queen of hearts evokes the image of a well-loved woman, a mother, faithful wife, or one's true love. The jack symbolizes a reliable and trustworthy friend or relative.
The ten of hearts promises success and good fortune in any project. The nine represents triumph, fulfillment, and success. When the eight turns up, it insures a happy occasion. Seven indicates false hopes. The six reveals a weakness to be overly generous and trusting. Five is a card of indecision. The four of hearts is the card of the bachelor or the spinster. The three is a card of cautions against becoming impetuous or easily angered. The two of hearts symbolizes success in love and in business.
SPADES: Although they have a reputation for being all bad, spades often signify warnings and cautions, rather than predicting actual dire consequences. Generally, though, when spades appear in a spread, they indicate bad luck, financial loss, illness, separation, divorce, even death.
The ace of spades is the card of misfortune, sometimes dramatically named the "death card." The ace may also signal the end of a relationship or a business situation. The king of spades represents a man whose unchecked ambitions may cause him to prove to be a danger. The queen of spades allegorizes a woman who is malicious, spiteful, selfishly domineering. The jack of spades can be seen as a spiteful and prying young man or woman, who only pretends to be a friend.
The ten of spades is an unlucky card that foreshadows tears, afflictions, and sorrows. The nine of spades is regarded as the absolute worst card in the pack and indicates forthcoming illness, loss of money, the infidelity of a loved one, or the failure of a business. The eight warns about false friends. The seven cautions one to avoid misunderstandings with friends and relatives. Six of spades is associated with discouragements, but the card also offers the hope of overcoming troubles through perseverance. Five is a lucky card representing business success and a happy marriage. The four of spades indicates a brief illness, temporary financial reverses, and warns against the petty jealousy of others. The three of spades is an unhappy card of severance and separation in love or marriage. The two indicates a complete separation from loved ones, the loss of a home, or a death.
CLUBS: While clubs most often symbolize friendship, they also warn of hypocrisy and treachery. Although clubs are generally good cards, they may advise caution in any life situation that involves placing too much trust in fair-weather friends.
The ace of clubs reveals a state of perfect contentment and triumph. It is a card of wealth, fame, and success in a chosen profession. The king of clubs represents a man who, though sometimes a rival, is a valuable friend. The queen of clubs is a woman who is occasionally temperamental, but who can always be relied upon to be loyal in love or in friendship. The jack signifies a generous, sincere, and constant friend whose devotion is never in question.
The ten of clubs is a strong good luck card. Nine indicates a loss of money and a variety of other troubles, including serious disputes with friends or family members. Eight of clubs warns against incurring bad debts. The seven is a happy card of profit and gain. The six of clubs is the partnership card, a sure portent of success based on a trustworthy friendship. The five is a marriage card, usually representing a happy future for both parties. Four symbolizes danger or a sudden misfortune or failure. Three is a sign of a second marriage and possibly a third. The two of clubs is an unwelcome card, indicating a loss of money or friendship.
How often may the cards be consulted by the querent? Most card readers answer that question by saying as often as the client wishes. Generally, repeat deals or readings should only be done to clarify questions left unanswered or unclear.