I am not an expert

Pile of Cartomancy Books
A Selection of Cartomancy Books with a Small Sample of Decks

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’ve really just talking to themselves in the past.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

It’s worth pointing out in the early life of this blog, that I don’t consider myself an expert in divination or fortune telling. I do think of myself as a student and I enjoy sharing what I’ve found out about the various systems I’ve been studying.

I feel most confident in Tarot, as I’ve been studying it for over twenty years, I also feel quite comfortable with Lenormand with five years of use. Kipper is a system that I find fascinating and slightly uncomfortable (it weights towards to the dramatic and negative when I read for myself).

And then we have newer card systems, oracle cards included, who are unique to their creators. I am getting to know Mildred Payne’s Secret Pocket Oracle and pulling cards from Wild Unknowns Animal Spirit, as well as trying out other oracles.

Playing Cards for me fall between the old and the new depending on what meanings you use or what customised deck you choose to end up reading. I’ve

I am currently exploring four variations. A more traditional approach as per cardseer.wordpress.com, and three more modern takes: Cartomancy Poker Cards, Open Portals Playing Card and Ana Cortez’s Playing Card Oracles.

I hope to start studying geomancy, oghams and runes in more depth over the coming months. They all use casting in some way, and it’s not a technique I use.

Some guides I’ll be using:

  • Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie
  • Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle by Paul Rhys Mountfort
  • The Art of Geomancy Art And Practice Of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance by John Michael Greer

These have all been recommended by Kelly from The Truth in Story.

Speaking of Kelly, she recently released a set of Journey Tokens that I am going to be spending time with in May. It’s also another casting system but can be used like Lenormand as well.

Journey Tokens by The Truth in Story
Journey Tokens by The Truth in Story

And thanks to The Living Wheel Astrology Cards I’ve finally taken then plunge into taking a serious look at Astrology – having a set of a cards to visualise the sky is breathing life into the chart for me right now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m on a journey. I hope I can help on your travels. I also hope that you will be able to help me along the the way too.

Fortune Telling (telling a future) VS. Divination (asking for Divine guidance)

This article discusses the potential differences in the terminology and how the use of fortune telling and divination as a style and as a method may affect our approaches to reading. 

Ultimately, I think we end up in similar same places but it’s worth exploring, especially as they are seen as different sides of the same coin. 

Fortune Telling is a form of divine guidance. Fortune is also known as Fortuna, the goddess of Luck, Chance and Fortune. She is a divine being who has a particular role to play in our lives. 

Wikipedia describes her as: 

…the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is often depicted with a gubernaculum [a ship’s rudder/steering destinies], a ball [usually standing on it to depict uncertainty] or Rota Fortunae [Wheel of Fortune] and a cornucopia [horn of plenty/ gibing abundance]. She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, and came to represent life’s capriciousness.

Knowing the above does give the ‘fortune’ part of Fortune  Telling a bit more of an edge.  It brings to mind thoughts like, ‘What has fortune got in store for me?’ and begs the question, ‘can I win favour with Fortuna?’ This raises questions about what a prediction actually is and if we have ‘free will’ or not.

I like really like the statement below as it shows that a predictive reading can also be empowering:

‘Fortuna Speaks Negative To Warn. To Be Warned Is A Chance To Prepare. Preparation Is Grace’

– borrowed from a forum post.

  Some people worry that readings take away free will but just as a reading can show us our fate, it can also offer us options about what can do about it. 

I was lucky enough recently to hear Rachel Pollack tell a story about the Jewish tradition of ‘arguing with God,’ if we are able to connect to Fortune and Fate why can’t we argue our case? 

What about Divination? How is that defined? The Wikipedia entry starts off with this:

Divination (from Latin divinare “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”, related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.

Divination, Wikipedia

The phrase that stood out to me is inspired by god. How powerful is that idea? Not to just be connected but be inspired by a god.  

So at this point, the distinction between Fortune Telling and Divination is the difference between being warned or being told vs being inspired. 

Because of the nature of the ‘language’ that comes from the cards, the decks and systems we choose do influence the reading we receive. A Lenormand or playing card reading is likely to be a more a ‘telling’ experience and from an oracle or tarot deck,  we are more likely to get an ‘inspiring’ reading. 

Another factor is the questions we are willing to put to our cards. There appears to be an acceptance to ask a more invasive question in a ‘fortune-telling’ reading than in a ‘divination’ reading.  

And then there is the point where a reading of just the cards ends and where advice from the reader creeps in. 

When I started to learn Tarot it was at a time where there was a push for Tarot to be as seen as professional and for it to move towards a more ’contemporary coaching-style’ rather than the more ‘traditional’ model of telling and prediction.

But since I’ve been learning to read Lenormand and other older cartomancy methods I’ve been forced into thinking differently.  I am challenging myself around about what questions I am willing to ask, the nature of the answers I want the cards to give and how I integrate (if at all) my own views into that process. 

There is also a conscious choice about whom want we want to reach out to in order to receive guidance. That is a very much a personal choice and goes into the realms of belief, which is outside the scope of this article, but I wanted to mention it as another influence. 

Does choosing between fortune telling or divination make a reading unnecessary cold or overly comforting? An argument for a more fortune telling style reading is to keep a distance between the reader and the querent. whereas a divinatory reading can be seen as trying to empower the querent. 

During a fortune telling-based reading you could stop at the telling level of giving information but that’s stopping you from taking it to the guidance level?

And with a more divination-based reading what’s stopping you from taking it back down to practical advice? 

Nothing is stopping you defining your own rules. It’s a good idea to sit down an explore your boundaries and comfort levels, as well as being conscious of what style or styles you offer and how that may affect the service you offer. 

I hope this has given you something to think about. What do you think? Is there a difference between Fortune Telling and Divination?