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Tarot Without Tarot Cards, 2

December 13, 2011

No article on the tarot appeared in the February 1956 edition of Prediction. This is something that happened on occasion over the years, though rarely. Another gap in the sequence occurred in April 1956 when again no article on the tarot appeared in the magazine. This wasn’t to happen again while Madeline Montalban was the magazine’s resident tarot pundit, and I don’t believe it has occurred since that time either.

In the March issue, Miss M. returns to the theme of divination using playing cards as substitutes for tarot cards, in this case the Trumps. She ends the article by referencing a method of calculating which cards in a spread represent one’s friends and enemies. Sadly she never published this method in Prediction. Nor did she ever publish her account of the Temple of Fortune, a spread she mentions at the end of the first Tarot Without Tarot Cards article. Whether her notes were turned into a handout she shared with people who wrote to her privately I don’t know.

Tarot Without Tarot Cards – Using the Trumps

By Madeline Montalban

While on a visit to Spain I was taught a method of using some cards from an ordinary pack of playing cards as Tarot trumps, and was astounded at the quick and true divination this gave. It differs from ordinary readings in that only the cards which appear reversed are read; those which fall the right way up are discarded. One card alone – the Joker – representing the matter inquired about, is always used whether or not it is the right way up. It is important to remember that for this method answers one question at a time only – and that question is represented by the Joker.

Before I explain the method, take out from a pack of ordinary playing cards the Joker (or the 2 of Hearts if there is no Joker in the pack) and then the four Kings, the four Queens, the four Knaves, the four Aces, the 10 of Hearts, and the four 9s of each suit. This makes twenty-two cards in all. These should be marked at the top in pencil with a cross to indicate the upright position.

Each card corresponds to one of the Tarot trumps, and before I describe the method of lay-out, here are the meanings.

The Joker: Represents No. 0 or 22 in the Tarot – The Fool. It signifies the matter inquired about. If the card is reversed, the message is that things will not go smoothly in this matter.
King of Diamonds: No. 1, The Magician. Your plans are not well favored. Abandon them if possible. If not, do not pin your hopes too high.
Queen of Diamonds: No. 2, The High Priestess. Occult messages, dreams, or spiritual inspiration may not prove reliable.
Knave of Diamonds: No. 12, The Hanged Man. Great self-sacrifice may be called for in the project, but it may be in vain.
King of Hearts: No. 8, Justice. Be on your guard as others are not well disposed towards you.
Queen of Hearts: No. 6, The Lovers. Only inconstancy of purpose can defeat you.
Knave of Hearts: No. 5, The Hierophant. Those who have deceived you will regret their actions. Restitution may be made.
King of Clubs: No. 4, The Emperor. Expect the goodwill and assistance of others.
Queen of Clubs: No. 3, The Empress. Loneliness gives way to much sociability; but new acquaintances may be self-seeking.
Knave of Clubs: No. 9, The Hermit. Be on your guard. Keep a still tongue about your affairs.
King of Spades: No. 13, Death. Your plans and hopes can’t succeed. Change your aims.
Queen of Spades: No. 20, Judgment. Impending changes which are fortunate if the Joker is not reversed – otherwise not.
Knave of Spades: No. 15, The Devil. You will be greatly tempted, and will regret it if you fall.
Nine of Hearts: No. 7, The Chariot. Almost miraculous rescue from your difficulties.
Nine of Diamonds: No. 10, The Wheel of Fortune. Your own efforts, and those alone, turn Fortune’s favor your way.
Nine of Clubs: No. 11, Strength. Those who have deceived you, or caused loss, will be forced to make restitution if you act firmly.
Nine of Spades: No. 16, The Tower. Unexpected help and a joyful surprise when all seems lost.
Ace of Diamonds: No. 17, The Star. Expect to overcome difficulties and opposition.
Ace of Hearts: No. 19, The Sun. A benign influence shadows your every move and action, guiding you to act rightly.
Ace of Clubs: No. 14, Temperance. Do not let restlessness or changeability lead you into making disastrous decisions.
Ace of Spades: No. 18, The Moon. A warning that your own duplicity or perhaps self-deception, impedes your plans.
Ten of Hearts: No. 21, The World. A very happy omen. Through worry and tribulation you’ll find success and happiness eventually.

[Or, listed sequentially: –

King of Diamonds  No. 1, The Magician
Queen of Diamonds  No. 2, The High Priestess
Queen of Clubs  No. 3, The Empress
King of Clubs  No. 4, The Emperor
Knave of Hearts  No. 5, The Hierophant
Queen of Hearts  No. 6, The Lovers
Nine of Hearts  No. 7, The Chariot
King of Hearts  No. 8, Justice
Knave of Clubs  No. 9, The Hermit
Nine of Diamonds  No. 10, The Wheel of Fortune
Nine of Clubs  No. 11, Strength
Knave of Diamonds  No. 12, The Hanged Man
King of Spades  No. 13, Death
Ace of Clubs  No. 14, Temperance
Knave of Spades  No. 15, The Devil
Nine of Spades  No. 16, The Tower
Ace of Diamonds  No. 17, The Star
Ace of Spades  No. 18, The Moon
Ace of Hearts  No. 19, The Sun
Queen of Spades  No. 20, Judgment
Ten of Hearts  No. 21, The World
The Joker  No 0/22, The Fool

So much for the correspondence of the playing cards with the Tarot trumps. Though it seems a formidable list, you really do not have to memorize it for, at the very most, six cards are used in the method.]

Take all the cards named above, including the Joker, and shuffle them well. Cut once with the left hand, and re-stack the pack. Now search for the Joker. Whether he comes out upright or not, place him on the table before you as representing your question.

Put the pack together again, shuffle, and cut again and then, using the cut card first, see if it is reversed. If so, place it on the left-hand side of the Joker. Carrying on, place the next reversed card on the right-hand side of the Joker, the third reversed card below him, the fourth reversed card above him, and the fifth reversed card on top of him.

If you have not enough reversed cards to cover all these positions when you’ve gone through the whole pack, never mind. Just read what are there.

The card to the left of the Joker shows what is past. That to the Joker’s right shows the present trends. The card below the Joker tells you what will fade out of the problem. The card above the Joker indicates what is immediately due to happen. The card placed on the Joker itself shows the outcome of the query.

In rare cases where no reversed cards appear in the cut, you must take it as an omen that the query is not ripe for judgment. It is possible in such circumstances to try to make a reading seven days later, when outside circumstances have had a chance to “form” themselves. We are not always the arbiters of our own destiny.

Where only one or two reversed cards appear, these must fall on the left and right positions. The left shows what has passed. The right shows the present trends.

If the whole cut is unpromising, yet the Joker is upright in the original cut, the querent will have his own way in the end, though whether this will bring happiness is debatable.

Where all the cards threaten ill, and the Joker is reversed too, the querent is most seriously advised to alter his plans and wishes; to let Fate itself decide the issue, and accept that judgment, not forcing his own will.

For the many students who have asked me about the ancient method of identifying themselves with a certain card in the Tarot for readings, I have this to say.

Though more than willing to describe the method by which you decide which cards are your “friends”, which are “enemies” and which is you, unless you are prepared to go into such study shorn of all illusion it is hopeless to start studying the Secret Arcana of the Tarot.

But if you have a taste for what is called “Astral Correspondences”, and are prepared to admit that the entire universe was built according to a plan, you’ll enjoy studying the Secret Arcana of the Tarot; a long but far from tedious process, which opens up many occult secrets.
[Prediction, March 1956]

  1. Hi Auntie,
    Never seen this way of reading tarot before. Am going to try it.
    About the meanings M.M. gives. Would they be Spanish meanings or has M.M. superimposed her own thoughts onto the framework she picked up in Spain?
    Also, are they reversed meanings (to match the reversed cards they are attached to) or normal meanings highlighted by the fact the card has been brought to the reader’s attention because it is reversed?

    • Hi Walt,

      My guess is that the meanings are Miss M.’s own. To what degree they reflect those she learnt from the person who taught her the spread in Spain is not known.

      Aside from The Fool, which has a specific meaning in this layout, the meanings are a mixture of the upright and reversed meanings Miss M. habitually relied on. Upright, The High Priestess indicates that intuition, a dream or clairvoyance will lead the querent in the direction of a happier future. Reversed, Trump 2 represents the opposite – as it does in this article. Miss M. took Trumps 7 and 10, and to some extent Trump 21, as depicting, when reversed, the same as they did when upright but with the element of Delay or the expectation of Obstacles appended. This is more of less what these cards signify according to the text of this article.

      Trumps that don’t fit this outline are The Empress, The Hierophant and The Star. I don’t think we will ever know why they are assigned the meanings they have when this spread is employed. Perhaps this was part of the original Spanish layout.

      Best wishes,

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