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Playing Cards, Clubs 1

December 29, 2011

The suit of Clubs is associated on the one hand with friends and relationships and on the other with money and finances. It is not so self-evidently equivalent to the Tarot’s Pence or Pentacles as the suit of Hearts is to that of Cups, but once all four suits have been considered, one is left with little option but to draw that conclusion. I speak, of course, of a correspondence by meaning; symbolically, Clubs equate with Rods – or Staves or Wands as they are sometimes called; a wand being nothing more than a thin branch cut from a tree. But Diamonds, which one would be forgiven for assuming corresponded to Pence, are, in playing card divination, associated with career matters, communications, travel, and politics, not with money.

Ace of Clubs – Wealth, happiness and peace of mind.
ACE. Good luck and news of a marriage and money coming your way. Also means artistic talent and the chance to use it with the help of friends.
Ace: Wealth, health, love and happiness. A letter concerning money.
Ace: Indicates wealth, fame . . . having many friends or acquaintances. Feeling well known and being able to receive certain perks due to good looks or social status.
Ace of Clubs: Wealth, prosperity, unexpected money/gain. However, in a difficult spread, this money may disappear almost as quickly as it appears.
Ace: harmony, property, achievements, love, peace of mind, professional success.
Madeline Montalban – Ace: Success in business deals. Reversed –You will give, or receive, a present.
Hilda Marie – Ace: A letter, often relating to business matters.
Gypsy – Ace: Luck, good news, receipt of letter or newspaper (I think this is a typo and ‘news’ is intended. Auntie)
Minor Arcana – Ace: Wealth and professional success; life-long friends and peace of mind.
Etteilla – Ace: Birth. [Perfect joy]

The Ace of Cups reflects the meanings attributed to the suit as a whole. Most entries associate it with wealth and prosperity, a reference to friends cropping up here and there. Possibly, with regard to this last point, the root meaning, from which those recorded above have descended, is best preserved in the phrase ‘having many friends and acquaintances’. Alongside wealth and prosperity, we must place ‘unexpected monetary gain’, ‘a letter concerning money’ (or ‘a letter relating to business matters’), ‘success in business deals’ and ‘professional success’.

One minor riff is ‘peace of mind’, ‘harmony’, i.e. contentment. Another is ‘good luck’; a third is ‘good news’ not limited to money or business; in one instance ‘news of a marriage’ is specifically cited, and emphasis in certain quarters on fame/achievements and artistic talents suggests that for some querent’s ‘news favorable to you career hopes’ may at one time been one of the card’s meanings.

Etteilla’s ‘Birth’ is at odds with everything else written about the card. I do not know how significant it is that his meaning for the Ace of Coins (Diamonds) is ‘Perfect joy’ (given in square brackets above]. I remark upon it because ‘Perfect joy’ comes close to the Ace of Clubs’ ‘peace of mind’/‘harmony’, and in the knowledge that Clubs and Diamonds meanings were exchanged at some point in the English-speaking world when they came to be applied to the Tarot. Club meanings often went to Pentacle cards, Diamond meanings to Wand cards. My guess is that this happened because Clubs represented wealth (see above) while Diamonds represented communications and travel. The logical thing to do was match the two suits associated with money and the two other suits denoting news and travel. (For any of my readers who find the connection with Wands and communications and journeys tenuous, I refer them to Madeline Montalban’s single suit readings. She declares the suit of Wands to be the one to use for all questions relating to news, travel or health. Wands she evidently places under the rulership of Mercury, lord of communication and of travel, whose symbol, the caduceus, indicates the medical profession (health), and who was a master magician – and as every child knows, the sign manual of a magician is his wand. – Our modern understanding of the Tarot suits is frequently at variance with that of our grandparents.)

As befits a ‘black’ suit, Club court cards are universally recognized as representing dark-haired people, formula as before: Kings are men, Queens are women, Knaves are young persons of either sex. As mentioned in an earlier post, coloring is not the best way of identifying people in a spread these days. It is usually advisable to focus on the type of person described. Club people are helpful or at least willing to help the querent should their aid be sought.

King of Clubs – A dark man, upright, faithful and affectionate in disposition.
KING. A dark man who likes to have fun and help his friends. A good advisor – listen to him. He is a faithful friend always.
King: An honest, generous and affectionate man. A dark-haired man.
King: Represents a very good friend. A lifelong companion, someone who can be trusted and counted on during times of need and sorrow.
King of Clubs: Dark-haired, kind-hearted man; or a man with Fire predominating in his chart. A generous, spirited man.
King: dark haired man, honest, open, generous and faithful.
Madeline Montalban – King: A helpful dark man. Reversed – His help achieves nothing.
Hilda Marie – King: A man of medium colouring, more dark than fair.
Gypsy – King: Good character, loyal man.
Minor Arcana – King: An honest and sincere man, generous and faithful.
Etteilla – King: Dark man. Man of the Country, Good and Strict Man. Reversed: Good and Severe Man.

Ignoring the coloring, with which I have already dealt, the King of Clubs is honest, open, generous and kind-hearted. His advice can be counted upon and he will be supportive to the inquirer in times of adversity. The idea that Clubs represents Fire (‘a man with Fire predominating in his chart’) is, I think, a modern one. It arises possibly from the Golden Dawn attribution of Fire to the Tarot suit of Wands and its reflection in the designs of the Wand courts in the Waite-Smith Tarot. The correspondence is then transferred to the suit of Clubs on the assumption that Wands equal Clubs.

Etteilla’s meaning has nothing to do with the King of Clubs (except for the coloring). It does, however, fit descriptions of the King of Pence/Pentacles given by Mathers (in his booklet on divination and gaming with the Tarot), Sepharial and others. Thus Sepharial says that the King of Pentacles indicates ‘a man living in the country. … Alternatively a man who is dealing strictly though not necessarily unkindly with the enquirer.’

This mutates into The Complete Book of Fortune Telling’s:

‘. . . man, probably unfriendly to the inquirer, and in any case un­sympathetic. Reversed, this card symbolizes a hard, cunning and avaricious man who lives a retired life – in a word, a miser and a recluse.’

This King will assist the querent to the best of his ability. If the card is reversed, his efforts will not be enough to rescue the inquirer entirely from the difficulties in which she or he has become embroiled.

Queen of Clubs – A dark woman, gentle and pleasing.
QUEEN. A brunette woman who can be trusted. She is fond of people and helps them; mercurial but loyal.
Queen: An attractive, self-confident woman. A dark-haired woman.
Queen: Represents a wife or girlfriend in long term relationship for a man. For a woman, represents a sister or good friend, someone who shares a lot of knowledge about the querent.
Queen of Clubs: Dark-haired, confident woman; or a woman with Fire predominating in her chart. She may give you good advice.
Queen: dark haired woman, strong, helpful, attractive, nice woman, inclined to be temperamental.
Madeline Montalban – Queen: A wealthy woman. Reversed – She is mean.
Hilda Marie – Queen: A woman of medium colouring, more dark than fair.
Gypsy – Queen: Dark, friendly woman.
Minor Arcana – Queen: An affectionate and kindly woman, although inclined to be temperamental.
Etteilla – Queen: Dark lady. Woman of the Country. Reversed: Good Woman, Kindness, Obliging, Helpful.

Symbolically, the Queen of Clubs is the counterpart of the King. Like him, she is trustworthy, affectionate and kindly, someone the querent can turn to for advice and rely on for support.

Again, Etteilla’s meaning has more in common with interpretations of the Queen of Pentacles from Victorian times to the 1960s. Sepharial’s description of her is: –

‘A woman living in the country. Otherwise the love of money, or a craving for some monetary success.’

The Complete Book of Fortune says of the Queen of Pence: –

‘A wealthy, fair woman leading a retired life; also an urge to make money.’

Madeline Montalban’s Queen of Clubs is wealthy, but stingy or careful with her money when the card is reversed. This reading parallels that given for the King of Pence in The Complete Book of Fortune, which delineates him as a ‘man who lives a retired life – a miser and a recluse’.

Knave of Clubs – A sincere but hasty friend. Also a dark man’s thoughts.
JACK. A friend of either sex whom you can count on, or a sweetheart who is sincere in loving you and will do anything for you.
Jack: A reliable friend. A dark-haired youth.
Jack: Represents a good friend, one who uses a lot of flattery, but only to make the other person feel better. Someone who is good at cheering the querent up.
Jack of Clubs: A dark-haired or fiery youth. Popular youth who is good-hearted and playful. Can also indicate an admirer.
Jack: a reliable friend, sincere but impatient.
Madeline Montalban – Knave: A dark, ardent young man. Reversed – He is fickle.
Hilda Marie – Knave: A young boy of medium colouring, more dark than fair.
Gypsy – Jack: Dark, attractive young person, a friend.
Minor Arcana – Jack: A sincere but impatient friend; well-meaning flattery.
Etteilla – Jack: Dark youth. Stranger, Unknown, Uncommon. R. Announcement, Warning, Admonition.

The Jack (or Knave) of Clubs is a sincere, reliable friend. He is described as impatient, hasty and ardent. He is more likely to be supportive to the inquirer than helpful. This may be because his youth puts him at a disadvantage where assistance is concerned. It is unlikely he has the professional status or financial clout that would allow him to pull strings or call in favors, so his support is limited to bolstering the querent’s confidence and such like activities.

Etteilla’s meaning seems first to have migrated to the Page of Pentacles and thereafter to have slipped through a crack in history’s floorboards. Sepharial has the Page of Pentacles signify: –

‘A friendly stranger, or good news; Reversed, bad news or worry.’

But some years later, when the Complete Book of Fortune was published, the ‘stranger’ part, derived from Etteilla, has vanished: –

‘A young, fair person of either sex, bearing a pleasant message or a letter containing good news. Reversed, bad news and loss of money.’

Ten of Clubs – Unexpected riches, and loss of a dear friend.
TEN. Money arrives from an unexpected source. Good fortune generally and a chance for a fresh outlook on life.
Ten: Unexpected money coming in. Good luck. Travel abroad.
10: A card of happiness and good fortune. Can also represent a long and fun-filled journey.
10 of Clubs: Business success. Good luck with money. A trip taken now may result in a new friend or love interest.
10: unexpected money, good luck or a gift, unexpected good fortune with bad loss.
Madeline Montalban – Ten: Success in business or matters of affection. Reversed – A modicum of success.
Hilda Marie – Ten: A change of occupation.
Gypsy – 10: Successful journey.
Minor Arcana – 10: Unexpected good fortune, the cause or outcome of a long journey; but it may be accompanied by the loss of a dear friend.
Etteilla – Ten: Treason, Perfidy, Duplicity. R. Obstacles, Hindrances, Vexations. [House. Reversed: Lot, Fortune, Gambling]

For once we are afforded a glimpse of the mechanics behind the changes to a card’s meaning occurring over the passage of time. The starting point is ‘House’, Etteilla’s meaning for the Ace of Diamonds, and the end point the ‘successful journey’ and ‘travel abroad’ of modern Gypsy meanings and those posted on the Internet and attributed to the 10 of Clubs.

Leaving Etteilla’s hands, the first transformation surfaces in Sepharial’s The Art of Card Fortune-Telling in this form: –

‘The house or dwelling; often the family of the enquirer if he or she is married. Reversed, loss or specula­tion involving risk.’

The disconnect between the upright meaning of the card and its reversed meaning goes back to Etteilla. It is present also in the delineation given for the 10 of Rods in The Complete Book of Fortune: –

‘An unfamiliar or foreign town, travels abroad. Reversed, unless care is exercised an undertaking is likely to go awry.’

However, now, instead of the home, the upright card signifies an unfamiliar town or foreign travel. This is the second transformation of the card’s original meaning, and traces of it can be detected in three of the entries I took from the Internet as well as it contributing to the Gypsy meaning and that pertaining to the Tarot’s 10 of Rods/Wands.

Other meanings ascribed to the 10 of Clubs echo those awarded to the Ace of the same suit – unexpected riches and success in business or in matters of the affections. It is marked out as a happy omen no matter what the question as it symbolizes luck or unexpected good fortune. If trapped between maleficent cards, any gain may be followed or accompanied by loss. The loss most often mentioned is that of a dear friend, but the cause of the loss – whether by death or through a falling out – is not referred to. Almost certainly other cards in the spread would have to be consulted if the querent required further elucidation on that point.

At various times, both the 10 of Clubs and the 10 of Wands have been regarded as symbols of change. Generally this manifests as a change of place, hence the unfamiliar town and travel abroad. But it can be more general, as in Hilda Marie’s ‘a change of occupation’.

The 10 of Clubs is a card whose meaning has been influenced by input from a wide variety of sources.

Nine of Clubs – Disobedience to friends’ wishes.
NINE. A gift or an inheritance may cause trouble, but your hard work will be recognized and rewarded, although you may lose a friend through his or her jealousy.
Nine: Achievements. A new lover or admirer. Don’t be stubborn.
9: Trouble: Represents arguments with good friends. A loss of a relationship, a dispute that will remain unresolved.
9 of Clubs: Achievement; sometimes a wealthy marriage or a sudden windfall.
9: a new romance, disputes with friends, bad quarrels.
Madeline Montalban – Nine: A large amount of money. Sometimes a wealthy marriage. Reversed – An unexpected present or windfall.
Hilda Marie – Nine: A money gain; possibly a win of some kind.
Gypsy – 9: Unexpected good luck, positive outcome of legal matters.
Minor Arcana – 9: Disputes with friends; obstinate quarrels.
Etteilla – Nine: Delay. [Result, Achievement. Reversed: Artifice, Fraud, Deception.]

It is possible that the ‘Achievements’ and ‘Achievement’ found in some lists on the Internet go back to Etteilla’s meaning for the 9 of Diamonds but they could just as easily be similar to it by  coincidence, so no definite conclusion can be drawn.

‘A new romance, disputes with friends, bad quarrels’ covers the strongestly accented divinatory elements associated with the 9 of Clubs. They appear on the list in various guises: ‘a new lover or admirer’, ‘sometimes a wealthy marriage’; ‘you may lose a friend through his or her jealousy’, ‘disobedience to friends’ wishes’, ‘don’t be stubborn’; ‘a dispute that will remain unresolved’, ‘obstinate quarrels’. Note how the three meanings bleed one into the other.

Madeline Montalban and Hilda Marie seemed plugged in to an alternative tradition, one that associates the card with money: a financial gain or a substantial amount of money. One cannot judge how alternative this tradition is as two of the meanings taken from the Internet mention a windfall or an inheritance, which, though these may not take the form of money, probably do represent financial gain or show the querent coming into possession of something that can be turned into money readily enough.

One atypical meaning is: ‘your hard work will be recognized and rewarded’; though this too may be linked to ‘gain of money’ if the predicted reward is pecuniary. This is the kind of meaning that begins as a personal significance, noted as applicable by one reader, passed on to her (or his) pupils and at last enters the mainstream, where the generality of cartomancers may or may not find it helpful when forming their own prognostications.

Eight of Clubs – A covetous man. It also warns against speculations.
EIGHT. A dark person is interested in you romantically or a dark lady brings you good luck. A fortunate card denoting harmony.
Eight: Trouble in relationships, business and personal. Jealousy and greed.
8: A sense of desperation. An urgent need for money.
8 of Clubs: Work/business problems that may have to do with jealousy. This is generally thought to be quite unfavorable.
8: opposition, chance of recklessness, someone will use money not his own.
Madeline Montalban – Eight: A dark girl, or (more likely) a small sum of money. Reversed – Minor losses.
Hilda Marie – Eight: A dark person’s affection.
Gypsy – 8: Good friends.
Minor Arcana – 8: Covetousness: someone is likely to make use of money that is not his own.
Etteilla – Eight: Country. [A Dark Girl. R. Lack of (Voided) Ambition]

Etteilla’s meaning for the 8 of Coins (Pentacles) has had an effect on that given to the 8 of Clubs. Hilda Marie, Madeline Montalban and one entry culled from the ’Net all have ‘a dark girl’ or ‘a dark person’s affections’ as their meaning.

In fact this card has acquired a more diverse spread of meanings than others reviewed to date. On the one hand there is the ‘someone will use money not his own’ thread, which may tie in with ‘an urgent need for money’, the latter meaning being perhaps a damped down version of the former. On the other hand there is the ‘opposition’/‘work or business problems’ thread. Both views see the card as carrying an unfortunate influence. For cartomancers who take the card to indicate a dark-haired person, the 8 of Clubs is a beneficial card denoting affection and/or harmony. The Gypsy meaning (‘good friends’) might belong under this heading too, though I have been unable to trace its line of descent from other delineations given to the card. It may be an atrophied form of ‘a dark girl is interested in you romantically’, or it may have been devised by an enterprising gypsy reader for some reason or other, or borrowed from a source I have not yet located. At the moment, the origin of the Gypsy card’s meaning remains one of the mysteries of playing card divination. If any reader can shed light on it, I hope they will do so.

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