Playing Card Tarot Deck

Minor Arcana

This simple deck uses images of playing cards for the pip cards, that is the numbered cards from Ace, 2, 3, 4 etc. to up to 10 in each of the four suits. Each suit also includes four court cards representing the Page (J), Knight (C), Queen (Q) and King (K).

The images used for the pip cards will be familiar to anyone who has used a standard pack of 52 playing cards, 54 cards when two Jokers are included. The court cards in this deck have been adapted from an old 'French Tarot', also known as Tarot Nouveau, deck thought to date from the late C19th and to have been used for a card game played in France and parts of French-speaking Canada. The images have been adjusted for use as part of this tarot deck. They have been resized to match the the pip cards and edited to feature symbols representing the suit more prominently and in different ways according to the design of each individual card. They have also been smoothed and processed for consistency of colour palette for this use. While the symbols J, Q and K will be familiar to users of English language playing cards, use of the symbol C for the Knights might be less obvious. This is in recognition of the French origin of these court cards, 'Chevalier' being the French word for 'Knight'.

The correlations between the suits in the most common styles of Tarot decks and the suits in Playing Cards are well known. Following the usual convention, they are:

Major Arcana

The 22 cards of the Major Arcana have been created especially for this deck using black and white images only. These have been drawn, adapted or selected to both represent the title of the card and convey something of the essence of its traditional meaning and interpretation.

Each of the Major Arcana cards has a concise unembellished style consistent with the Minor Arcana of this limited colour deck. In addition to a bold black image on a white background each Major Arcana card also includes its name and number in the lower part of the image.

'Upright' or 'Upright and/or Reversed'

This deck can only be used for upright-only readings because the Minor Arcana cards are symmetrical (i.e. they look the same 'upright' or 'reversed') so the distinction has no meaning for them. As the Major Arcana cards are not symmetrical they could be used 'Upright and/or Reversed'. In order to use them in that way it would be necessary to restrict the reading to use of the 22 cards of the major arcana only. Tarot readings using the Major Arcana only are not unknown but are not usually preferred because using only this sub-section of a larger deck is considered to reduce the overall richness of the reading by removing subtler detail provided by the generally less dramatic, but still significant cards, of the Minor Arcana.

More about what this means:
In the cases of most tarot decks, including for example the popular Rider-Waite, Robin Wood and Golden Dawn decks, the cards can be used either upright or reversed. If they are used 'upright and/or reversed' not only is the order of the cards in the deck shuffled, but also the orientation of the cards. In that case the same card, e.g. the 5 of Cups, has different meanings depending on whether it appears upright or reversed (upside-down) in a spread, as well as all the other considerations such as its position in the spread, the subject of the reading, and so on. Some people prefer to use tarot cards 'upright and reversed' because between them the 78 cards can then represent 78x2=156 different possible interpretations in the case of a single card reading. Other people do not like to use tarot cards reversed because overall the 156 rather than 78 different interpretations is sometimes thought to include a greater proportion of more negative, or at least challenging, interpretations.

For comparison, the Oxford Tarot Deck (IvyRose, 2007) consists of only the 22 Major Arcana (Tarot) cards, while this Playing Card Tarot Deck (IvyRose, 2017) includes all of the standard 78 cards. However, because the Minor Arcana cards in this deck cannot be read 'upright or reversed', but only 'upright', it does not have the complete flexibility of use of a fully illustrated 78 card tarot deck. Some people prefer 'upright only' readings anyway. By using a full deck of 78 cards rather than a restricted deck of only 22 cards, it is possible to offer larger spreads of e.g. 10, 15 or 18 cards rather than being constrained to smaller spreads of only 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 cards.

Tarot Readings using this Playing Card Tarot Deck

The best way to gain a personally meaningful sense of a tarot card deck is to use it for readings. No amount of information about the design, intention or 'essence' of the deck - however interesting, can effectively communicate the experience of using that particular deck. In the case of this deck, neither the reader nor the querent (also called the 'sitter', that is the person for whom the reading is intended) is assisted or distracted by detailed illustrations on the cards themselves, especially not on the pip cards.

Online readings using this deck are available on this website. There is no need to tell us anything about yourself. The options available so far are:

  • a One Card Tarot Reading for those who would just like some very general insight into a situation,
  • a Yes No Tarot Reading for whose considering whether or not to proceed with a specific course of action.
  • a Past, Present, Future Reading for those who would like insights into the potential development over time of a particular situation or relationship.

Tarot Articles:

Tarot Card Games - for, against and examples

Learning to Read Tarot Cards

20 Steps to reading Tarot Cards

Why use Free Printable Tarot Cards?

List of Tarot Card Meanings

Origins of the Tarot Nouveau - or 'French Tarot'

Learning Tarot

Uses of Tarot Cards

Celtic Angels were believed to act as guardians or companions - much as totem animals in other traditions.

Although care has been taken when compiling this page, the information contained might not be completely up to date. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright. See terms of use.

IvyRose Holistic 2003-2022.