The Cartomancer: The 10-minute Devil in 2 Parts

The Cartomancer: The 10-minute Devil in 2 Parts December 28, 2016


the queen of diamonds with a sigil drawn in gold on top of it
Gold sigil playing cards by Ryan Edward, a personal gift (Photo: Camelia Elias)

It’s the end of the year. Some like to revisit thoughts, concepts, memories, positions and philosophies. I give you here my take on reading the cards, sharp and clean, with devotion and honor. What I say here in less than 10 minutes it will take you to read, features in all my cartomantic writings, books, essays, courses, and lectures. Enjoy the summing up at summit 2016.

Part 1: 4 principles of reading the cards

1. Context is king.

Do you have a question? A well thought out and eloquently formulated question? Congratulations. You got the key to half the answer.

You don’t have a question? No worries. You can let the cards themselves formulate a question for you.

A question you need. You don’t get off the hook if divination is what you want to practice.

So stop listening to the nonsense out there that claims that we can be oracular without a question. We cannot. Imagine Oedipus showing up to consult the oracle at Delphi. You think he had no question? Think again.

2. Detachment is king.

Now that you understand the significance of a well formulated question, one to the point, even if the point is to uncover your deepest and most hidden desires that you know nothing about consciously, we can move on to the importance of detachment.

It’s painful to formulate a real question. How do you know that your question is real?

Try this exercise: Every time you have your question ready, whatever it is, before you lay down the cards, ask yourself, ‘do I really want to know this?’ Is this [formulate it in full] what I really want to know? If your answer is yes, then proceed further.

You may note that your yes, while unambiguously clear, may be filled with painful emotions, memories, or anguish and anxiety.

This is all good. Because the next step in the reading like the Devil is detachment.

You simply can’t identify with your emotions. Not even with your intellectualizing your situation, or what’s worse, with reasoning your emotions. Perplexing yourself can be entertaining, but don’t identify with your perplexing.

Do you think the cards care about your emotions, or your rational eloquence and response to the world? Think again. Why would the cards care about that? They don’t.

So, the best way to approach the cards is by adopting the same – call it Zen – position: You see what stares you in the face. You see what you see, not what you desire to see; not what you anticipate as being a confirmation of your worst fears.

You hope for the best and expect the worst. Well, ain’t that pretty, and useless?

Stop rendering useless advice unto yourself.


Whatever you think, you think. It’s not real.

3. Evidence is king.

When the Devil reads the cards he has one mantra only: Evidence, evidence, evidence. You can only combine your analytical sense with your creative impulse if you can find evidence for what you’re saying in the visual material you are working with.

Again, the best is to get neither emotional nor smart when sitting with your cards. Your task is to listen and see things clearly, not to be clever.

4. Gratitude is king.

Seeing things clearly takes courage. Also because once you see things clearly you can’t go back to the old deceptions.

Thank yourself for being courageous. Thank yourself for taking the time to formulate a real question, to detach from being too involved in what concerns you, to seek evidence in the cards that support what you see, not what you wish to see, and finally to think about where real transformation really lies within, namely, between your words.

Don’t be the reader who shouts ‘sovereignty ‘ a lot and demonstrates the opposite.

Be grateful to yourself and your true vision.

Part two: When the Devil makes an appearance and we start reading with the Marseille cards, the Lenormand oracle, the playing cards, and the modern day cards.

I start with the Marseille.

In my just concluded series of Tarot Prompts that I offer on occasion to groups of 100 people, the Devil popped 3 times out of 22. The series revolves around letting the cards formulate a question connected to the context of what we identify as shared problems or moments of collective crisis.

I share here the last prompt in the series focused on the notion of coping – which I see as a waste of time.

‘Pay attention,’ is the Devil’s last instruction on how you become a hell of a reader.

three tarot cards laid out on a table
Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot, 1650, reconstructed by Edmund Zebrowsky (Photo: Camelia Elias)


Lack of vision can be taken care of by action and sheer force.

When you feel you can’t see how you can think and execute a plan that you can then devote yourself to, what do you do? Think some more? Speculate? Assume? Think about the impossibility of it?

The reality is that coping is just a notion. A notion in your head.

You think you’re small, serving a nasty master, and you need to replace your smallness with some bigness, you in command. I hear the Devil laughing. Replacing smallness with bigness is replacing one concept with another. In other words, replacing one fiction with another.

What you need to think about is how you are in between changing from one metaphor to another. What you call IT, or THAT, or a PLAN, or STRUGGLE, is just that, words in the Devil’s den.


I could go on. But I won’t. Words ruin everything. I don’t buy small. I don’t buy big. I buy nothing. I read cards.

Now the Lenormand oracle.

I have a question for this one:

What is the function of intuition in card reading?

playing cards with the images of a fox, trees, and the sun on them
The Lenormand Oracle: Erwin Kohlmann / Oswin Volkamer, Verlag für die Frau, Leipzig 1982.


You have a hunch. If it’s more rooted than clever, then the function of your intuition is to make everything clear.

As the Fox is a trickster, however, the cards clearly suggest that what you need to pay attention to is the state of your mental health.

How often do you check with your mind? Do you have a clear mind to begin with? Without a clear mind, a grounded mind, your hunches are useless.

On to the playing cards.

But first, the notion of ‘playing’ in the playing cards as a tool for divination must not be lost on you.

While you need a question, devotion to your detachment, and a vigilant eye for evidence, you also need to play. That’s why you’re thankful all the time. The fact that you breathe is already a good game of life. Enjoy it while it lasts.

So the question:

What’s the fastest route to detachment from all fears and desires?

three playing cars on a table
Dondorf, Otto Tragy Jugend Spielkarten, Ver. Stralsunder Spielkartenfabrik, 1910


Reduce the top level mental activity, and see that context manifests reality.

Between two rows of nervous tracks, you keep your eyes on the ball. The diamond in the middle of the 7 is indestructible, but only as far as context allows for it.

It’s all in your head, but wouldn’t it be nice sometimes to get a sense of either how big your head is, or what ‘all’ is? Start cutting your shit to the bones.

Diamonds are simply associated with the nervous system because your mind is indestructible. Your mind creates the world, as at least one sage used to insist. Rightly so. Thank you Buddha. You da man.

Modern times

You’re here. May the Devil be with you!

How does the Devil prefer to be honored?

We like the association of our readings with the Devil who reads cards like the Devil because, well, because he’s the Devil. In many representations we find the Devil card featuring lots of eyes, in the head, on the belly, and on his knees. So the Devil is something or someone related to vision. What kind of vision?

Depending on the context – let me say it again, context is king – if your question is one about relationship, watch what happens: If the Devil falls on your table, he will tell you that if you have a problem, then it’s because you can’t see anything. Or else, you only see what you desire to see, or fear to see. But you are not your desires. You are not your fears. You are not the embodied identification of your self with what’s in your head.

A clear mind knows this. The Devil makes you think very hard. He will convince you to stay in your head and feed all your demons as you channel them up and down your body. Nasty business. Having things in your head does not equal a clear mind.

But say, you know what the Devil is to you. You make a pact. If you want anything from your card reading, then it’s clear vision. The Devil understands this perfectly well. After all, in some stories, the Devil is Lucifer, the light bringer.

So, how does the Lord of Vision, even as he may be roaming in the darkness of the underworld, want to be honored?

Well, what do you know?

three tarot cards: the hermit, the hierophant, and the fool
Baphomet Tarot, Akron/H.R. Geiger, 2010 (Photo: Camelia Elias)


Breathe through your thoughts samurai style, contemplating precisely on the nature of your mind, just as a hermit would. Then raise that staff like Aaron in the desert and start preaching.

You actually have things to say.

But say it in such a manner so that what you say participates in the liberation of all from their ignorance, your own included, even if it means putting a gun to your head.

So you honor your Devil by freeing yourself.

I’ll be damned.

Thank you cards. Thank you all for reading and sharing.

I wish you all a great new year.

Keep going.


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