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Playing Cards – Hearts 2

December 25, 2011

Eight of Hearts – Pleasure, company.
EIGHT. A light-eyed person loves you and wants to marry you. You will go to a party soon and may also receive a delightful gift.
Eight: Visits and visitors. Invitations out or attending a party.
8: An event, a celebration, a party/bash, etc. Some sort of ceremony that is already in the works or is being planned.
8 of Hearts: Unexpected gift or visit; an invitation to a party.
8: invitations, but also partings, parties or celebrations.
Madeline Montalban – Eight: An unexpected gift or visit. Reversed – Disappointment, annoyance.
Hilda Marie – Eight: A fair person’s affections.
Gypsy – 8: Love from blonde person, marriage, dowry, furnishing a house, flirtation.
Minor Arcana – 8: Pleasurable company and good-fellowship; parties and planned celebrations.
Etteilla – Eight: Fair Girl, Honest and/or Practical. Reversed: Satisfaction, Happiness, Contentment.

Etteilla’s meaning of a fair girl has been carried down the centuries, not only in the significance gypsies have allotted to the card, but in Hilda Marie’s ‘a fair person’s affections’ and, from the Internet, ‘a light-eyed person loves you and wants to marry you’. Although Etteilla doesn’t mention the possibility of love, let alone marriage, such ideas were soon tagged on to the basic ‘fair girl who is honest and capable’, especially in a Tarot context. Hence we find The Complete Book of Fortune, first published in the 1930s, presenting its readers with this delineation for the 8 of Cups: ‘Disinterested love will receive its reward in a happy marriage, and the inquirer will have true and affectionate friends; if he is a man, marriage with a fair-haired woman is indicated.

Waite’s suggestion is that the card denotes pleasure and company. His thought is reflected in those entries which present the card as representing ‘invitations, parties or celebrations’ or ‘an unexpected visit or gift’. I have not been able to trace Waite’s meaning back to a source – unless it is an inflation of Etteilla’s ‘Happiness and Contentment.’

One meaning taken from the Internet sets both concepts side by side, giving them equal weight, something that tends to happen when later practitioners attempt to reconcile conflicting approaches that have come into being over a number of decades.

Seven of Hearts – A fickle and false friend, against whom be on your guard.
SEVEN. Other people are unreliable now. This is a bad omen for marriage. You will be quite busy in the near future, but be careful not to talk too much.
Seven: An unfaithful or unreliable person. Broken promises.
7: A card of disappointment. Usually indicates a partner or other person failing to keep their promises. If this card comes up when dealing with some sort of plan, expect the other person to back out.
7 of Hearts: Someone whose interest in you is unreliable; someone with fickle affections for you. This card can indicate lovesickness.
7: someone is unreliable, broken promises by friends.
Madeline Montalban – Seven: A true love. Reversed – A worthless infatuation.
Hilda Marie – Seven: Someone is thinking highly of you.
Gypsy – 7: Small pleasure or small wish fulfilled.
Minor Arcana – 7: Fickleness and broken promises. Be on your guard against over-optimistic friends or thoughtless acquaintances.
Etteilla – Seven: Thought, Intelligence, Idea, Imagination. Reversed: Project, Plan, Resolution (Decision).

Etteilla’s meaning, although it is the oldest, appears to have no connection with those that follow after. Even Hilda Marie’s ‘someone is thinking highly of you’ more likely derives from the same tradition as Madeline Montalban’s ‘true love’. Seven is almost universally a fortunate number; someone, somewhere has evidently assigned to the 7 of Hearts the meaning ‘true love’ as, what seemed to them, a logical attribution. The same trajectory of thought accounts for the felicitous meaning favored by the gypsies, which makes the 7 of Hearts akin to the 9 but at a lesser intensity: ‘small pleasure or a minor wish fulfilled.’ The meaning supplied by Madeline Montalban goes a step further in that the reversed card, rather than depicting true love, denotes a worthless infatuation. That is the way reversed meanings are often formed – by turning the upright meaning on its head.

Other commentators, uncharacteristically, see the card as having negative import. They present variations on or extensions of Waite’s implied ‘fickleness and broken promises’, speaking of unreliable friends, fickleness and infidelity.

Six of Hearts – A generous but credulous person.
SIX. Your plans are taking shape, but beware of people taking advantage of you.
Six: Unexpected good luck. Someone helping you out.
6: Warning card. Someone may try to take advantage of the querent. Also . . . the querent is being too generous to somebody and not getting anything in return. They are being used.
6 of Hearts: A sudden wave of good luck. Someone takes care of you, takes warm interest in you.
6: unexpected good fortune, generosity, imposed upon by untrustworthy people
Minor Arcana – 6: A sign of credulity. You may be easily imposed upon, particularly by untrustworthy associates.
Etteilla – Six: The Past, Formerly. Reversed: The Future, Subsequently.

Again Ettteilla’s meaning for the 6 of Hearts seems not to have touched the world of divination by playing cards. It does, however, lie behind certain interpretations of the 6 of Cups. This is what Sepharial says of that card in The Art of Card Fortune-Telling: ‘In the normal [i.e. upright] position, this card indicates that the “telling” refers to the past. If reversed it indicates the future, but it is the immediate future.’ The Complete Book of Fortune Telling agrees: ‘When upright, this arcanum indicates that the cards which are associated with it in the divination refer to actions that took place in the past. If reversed, they have not yet come to pass, but will do so very shortly.’

But the playing card meaning in the main follows Waite’s lead and focuses on credulity. A second thread is that the 6 represents ‘a sudden wave of good luck’. As we have seen happen before, latterly there has been an attempt to yoke the two disparate meanings together: ‘unexpected good fortune; generosity, imposed upon by untrustworthy people.’

Five of Hearts – Troubles caused by unfounded jealousy.
FIVE. You will have to make up your mind and end something – soon. Don’t cry.
Five: Jealous people around you. Take your time to make any decisions.
5: Indecisiveness: The querent’s inability to make up his/her mind on a subject. A tendency to make and break plans with others.
5 of Hearts: Jealousy; some ill-will from people around you.
5: jealousy, inability to make a decision
Minor Arcana – 5: Jealousy without foundation; or inability to make up one’s mind, resulting in delay and avoidance of responsibility.
Etteilla – Five: Inheritance, Legacy, Succession, Bequest. Reversed: Consanguinity, Family, Forbears.

Oddly enough, the clearest exposition of what the 5 of Hearts represents is found under heading of the Minor Arcana, where it would have been applied to the 5 of Cups. ‘Jealousy without foundation; or inability to make up one’s mind, resulting in delay and avoidance of responsibility.’

Etteilla, once more, seems to have nothing to do with the matter.

Four of Hearts – A person not easily won.
FOUR. Someone who has put off marriage because of being too hard to please and too set in his or her ways. Unselfishness is rewarded.
Four: A change, a journey or a move of house/business. A late marriage.
4: The bachelor or old maid card. This card represent someone who is too fussy in their selection of a partner. Someone who, by their picky nature, is destined to remain alone.
4 of Hearts: Travel, change of home or business.
4: changes, travel or postponements, marriage delayed, bachelor or spinster.
Minor Arcana – 4: A person not easily won: a bachelor: or spinster, or a marriage delayed.
Etteilla – Four: Boredom, Weariness, Discontent. Reversed: New Instruction, New Light.

Etteilla’s meaning was taken up by certain Tarot readers. Their ideas were reflected by A.E. Waite in his Key to the Tarot where, in his typical jumbled presentation, amongst other meanings, he gives the 4 of Cups the significance: ‘Weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations, as if the wine of this world had caused satiety only’. Personally, I prefer the original: ‘Boredom, Weariness, Discontent.’

Among those who tell fortunes with playing cards, the 4 of Hearts has developed two meanings. The first is delayed marriage, a person whose heart is not easily won. The second revolves around change and may manifest as a journey, a new home or alterations in business. The two meanings appear together often enough to lead me to think that they have not been combined in recent years but have kept company for most for the twentieth century at least.

Three of Hearts – Sorrow caused by a person’s own imprudence.
THREE. A warning not to be too impulsive. Avoid mistakes through planning.
Three: You need to be cautious. Don’t say something you’ll regret.
3: An unwise decision, made in haste and without proper background information.
3 of Hearts: Love and happiness when the entire spread is generally favorable. In a difficult spread, this can indicate emotional problems and an inability to decide who to love.
3: be cautious, an impulsive decision threatens good ones
Minor Arcana – 3: Imprudence: impetuous decisions threaten favorable undertakings.
Etteilla – Three: Success, Fortunate Outcome. Reversed: Expedition (of business), Dispatch (celerity), Execution (of an act).

Just as Sevens are generally beneficent cards (excepting the ill-omened suit of Swords), so are Threes. Yet, in the same way that the 7 of Hearts is treated as a card of fickleness and faithlessness, the 3 of Hearts betokens sorrow, as like as not caused by imprudence or an unwise decision. I have found but one dissenting voice: ‘Love and happiness when the entire spread is generally favorable. In a difficult spread, this can indicate emotional problems and an inability to decide who to love.’ Even here the card is sullied by proximity to unfortunate cards, whereas other positive Hearts cards – the Ace or 10, for instance – bear down the difficulties and obstacles represented any negatively-oriented cards in a spread, triumphing over them.

Two of Hearts – Great success, but equal care and attention needed to secure it.
TWO. Good things are coming to you soon – more than you thought possible.
Two: Success and prosperity. An engagement or partnership.
2: Success, often beyond the querent’s expectations. If bad cards surround . . . there may be delays in reaching the goal.
2 of Hearts: A warm partnership or engagement. This is a very favorable card that indicates strength and support coming from a partner.
2: success by careful thought, friendship.
Minor Arcana – 2: Success and good fortune; but care and attention will be necessary to secure it.
Etteilla – Two: Love, Passion, Affection. Reversed: Desire, Craving, Longing.

While Three is generally considered a lucky number, Two is often perceived negatively. But that is not how the 2 of Hearts is treated, either by Etteilla or Tarot card readers or readers of playing cards. Possibly the two hearts, and the two cups also, are seen as symbolizing two individuals bound to one another by ties of love (the suits of Hearts and Cups signifying Love). Etteilla set the tone with his ‘Love, Passion, Affection’. The refrain is taken up by others in terms of an engagement or partnership or simple friendship.

Where Love is not the prime consideration, opinion diverges. Some see the card as wholly beneficial: Good things are coming to you soon – more than you thought possible. When associated with unfortunate cards, the success and good fortune promised in only delayed. Others, however, place the benefits denoted by this card on a knife’s edge, stating that the 2 of Hearts indicates: Great success, but with great care and attention needed to retain it.

Alone among those meanings I have collected, ‘success by careful thought, friendship’ is slightly out of kilter with the others, concurring in respect of ‘friendship’ only. I suspect ‘success by careful thought’ may be a cut-down version of Waite’s ‘great success, but great care and attention needed to retain it.’ However, the phrase is so gnomic that one can impute nothing to it with certainty.

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