Tag Archives: Cartomancy

Fortune-telling with 54 Devils

Playing Cards have been used for Fortune-telling longer than Tarot Cards

Over the weekend I came into posession of the book, “54 Devils:  The Art and Folklore of Fortune-telling with Playing Cards” by Cory Thomas Hutcheson of New World Witchery. You can purchase this lovely little book at a low price here.

54 Devils lays out Cory’s personal methods of divination using the cards of a standard poker deck. What sort of mystical, magical significance do playing cards have? Doesn’t Tarot work good enough? You might ask. Well, it seems that playing cards are a bit older than Tarot, giving them a longer time to be used in divination. Evidence shows that Tarot was used as a game, not for fortune-telling and definitely not ancient. Furthermore, the majority of divination systems share counterparts in the gambling and gaming world. Cards, dice, coins, and similar things all find their way into fortune-telling at some point. Both gambling and fortune-telling are overseen by random chance, or as she is called sometimes “Lady Luck.”

I recommend Cory’s book for anyone who wants to find the mystical in the mundanity of playing cards. It is a concise manual laying out the symbolism for Red and Black, Aces, the numbers, the face cards, the Joker, and of course, the four suits. While I realized that Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds are similar to Swords, Wands, Cups and Coins, the meanings attributed to them are slightly different.

My favorite part of the book was the collection of folk-wisdom in the appendix. Cory presents a story of a Soldier explaining the Biblical symbolism in a deck of cards, as well as how it may serve useful as an Almanac. Also included are two incantations first recorded by Charles Leland of “Aradia” fame. An old fortune-telling game played at parties comes next- it’s instructunes are presented as a rhyme, and meanings are different for men and women. Cory also includes card meanings recorded in a 1920’s book of Kentucky Superstitions, as well as a short fiction written by himself about the famous Aunt Carolina Dye giving a card reading in order to provide inspiration to the would-be-reader.

I’ve been wanting to read playing cards for a very long time. It’s easier to carry a playing deck than a Tarot deck. Plus, if I find myself in someone’s home or business and want to perform a reading, I will more likely be able to find a deck of playing cards. The best part of all is preparing to do a reading for someone who expects magic and divination to be a grand affair and pulling out a simple playing card deck. When their skepticism sinks in due to the seemingly ordinary cards, I invoke the 54 Devils and give them a “spooky accurate reading.”


If you want a free reading, to help my get some pratice in while I learn the playing cards, please contact me. I will not be doing this for very long, maybe just the next couple of weeks. I would also appreciate some feed back as concerns the manifestation of the prediction.

Email me at: thecuriocabinet@gmail.com