Wednesday, 28 April 2021


 Dear readers:

 This account has been running for a decade now. Unfortunately for personal reasons, I had to suspend my monthly posts, and  must suspend my posting schedule from now until about July- August 

I am yours, &c. 

Anthony Lee 

Monday, 1 February 2021

A divinatory form of "Roll call patience"

Some years ago I made assertion that there is only one form patience that has a use as a fortune telling method. 

I am evidently wrong. 

This unusual form of card divination that I feature here can be found on p 30 of Muhammed Ali's "Telling fortunes by cards" [Cartlon B Case] as method D. It is a curious cross between a game of patience and a divination method, specifically, the very simple form of patience  sometimes called "Roll call" or "Hit or miss". Here is a video showing how you play it: (I recall reading a book saying that this form of patience, without the divinatory function, is the most efficient waster of time after television--)


Below is shown the original text of the work, taken from . Another version can be found here


The instructions, are in summary: 

  1. - Shuffle the 52-card pack

  2. - Turn out cards, saying  " Ace , 2 [...] 10, jack, queen, king" and back to Ace. 

  3. - Whenever the value of the card turned up matches that of the count, it is set aside as a "hit". 

  4. - if 2 or 3 cards of the same value are also turned out, they too are set aside, even if they do not match the count.

  5. - "Runs"  [e.g. 2, 3, 4] are also set aside as hits , even if they do not match the count, 

  6. - the misses are reformed into a pack, and steps 1-5 are repeated with them twice more.

  7. - The hits are collected (presumably without shuffling), and dealt out in 4 piles, two cards at a time. 

  8. - The book shows the piles as arranged in the form of a cross, each pile named after a cardinal direction, like this: 

West    East


- each  pile is read is an indication of the future. North represents the most immediate future, followed by South, then East, then west,

- Carter provides two sets of meanings, one "ancient' and another  "modern" for each card of the 52 card pack. 

- Of the two the modern seems to be suited to this method; most of the ancient meanings are directly related to marriage. 


Astute readers would note that this method does not answer specific questions (eg "will i get a job"?) , but rather general open ended readings about what would happen in the future, probably about a week or so. 

Regarding the ancient and modern meanings of the cards,  (pp 12 and 20, respectively) they too are worth commenting upon. Consider the auspiciousness of the suits: In the ancient system, the suits are ranked thus: 

Clubs: Most Auspicious suit signify happiness
Hearts: "lovemaking, invitations and good friends"
Diamonds: Money,
Spades : Least auspicious suit, annoyance, loss. 

But, in the modern system, Case reverses the auspiciousness of clubs and diamonds,  so diamonds (representing wealth) are more auspicious than clubs, which are reinterpreted as "business matters". Those with a marxist bent would clearly see the stamp of capitalism on this matter-- wealth literally trumping relatonships... 

Thursday, 31 December 2020

"Lad" pattern 童子

"Lad" pattern, 童子, anon 128 cards, namely 
3 suits
9 cards each suit + 3 extra
4 copies of each of the above;
to which are added 
additional 8 cards   

A deck of money-suited cards purchased in China. They are made of plastic, and have square corners. 

The suit of coins, on the left, the ace, and so on till the 9; the penultimate card on the right 
Notice the delightfully careless way the 8 of coins is arranged
The leftmost card [i.e. the one with the red stripe is the 白花, White Flower] 

The suit of strings. As you may have noticed, these cards have scoops in the top, which serve as indices
the 9 of coins is also arranged in a delightfully careless manner 
The leftmost card is what appears to be a bonus; he has a red X on his chest 

The suit of myriads. The faces are rather mask-like. The 8 of myriads has a small dab of coloir on his head. 

The fouur bonus cards on the deck. 
The third card from the left, depicting a standing figure, is the 童子, or boy
The fourth card from the left, with two red squiuggles is the 千萬, thousand myriad
The back depicts the word 福, prosperity 

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Yellow Fish 黄鱼

 黄鱼 = yellow Fish, 120c [30 x 4] 

This deck of money-suited cards comes from _______, China. It is structured much like most common money-suited cards, but it has several interesting features. 

The suit of coins. As you can see, the first unusual feature of this deck is its colour: It is printed in on a yellow background. Ace is on the left, and the 9 is the penultimate card on the right. The 2 of coins contains the word 成, "Complete". 

 The rightmost card is akin to the "Dragons" in Mahjong. Its name is 代宗, one of the emperors of the Tang dynasty, 

The suit of strings. On the left is the ace of strings, which has been depicted as a fish, hence the patern;s name. Notice the marks in the black portion of all the cards; these are the indices. For example, all the aces have a scoop cut on the left, the 2s have a circle, etc. Unlike other decks of money-suited cards, the markings here do not change with the suit. 

The bonus card [rightmost card] depicts Wu Song 武松, one of the heroes of the Chinese novel The water Margin  水浒传. 

The suit of myridads.Each depicts a human visage, and is named after a character of the Water Margin, The 8 of myriads is not named, and instead marked with 福 meaning Luck. The extra card  [2nd from the right] is labelled 刘唐

The back is shown as the rightmost card, The central motif is again the character Fu, meaning luck. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

"Blue Owl" lenormand

 Lenormand J.M.C. "Blue Owl"  Koningsfurt Urania (i.e. Cartamundi), 36c. 

This deck is one of a category of decks that are called "Lenormand" decks: cards specially produced for fortune telling purposes. As many of my readers are unlikely to be knowledgable in fortune-telling, but would nonetheless be interested in knowing more about these cards, I have generated a short introduction to them. 

These cards are named after the 18th century french diviner Madam Lenormand. However( and this is the consensus in the divinatory community) these cards only appeared after her death.  The earliest antecedent of these cards was a set of "coffee cards" published in 1796., and subsequently taken up by German publishers. 

These cards are a French-suited deck of 36 cards, [i.e. 6-10, J, Q, J, A in each suit] structured identically as those which are used to play Jass. 

The playing-card motifs are consigned to a small corner of each of the cards. The vast majority of each card is taken up by a symbol. It is this symbol that is most immediately important to divinatory purposes. Indeed, some decks omit the playing-card figure entirely.  

There are 36 symbols, one for each card of the deck. Unlike the exotic trumps of the tarot, these symbols are perfectly mundane. Examples include, the Lilly, the Scythe, The Key, the book, and the Dog. A full list of them (along with basic divinatory meanings) can be found here.

 Each card in this deck is numbered continually from 1 to 36, although not in the manner that seems logical. Here is the layout 

There are several Lenormand decks made by playing-card companies. This is the most common, made by Koningsfurt Urania, the arm of cartamundi that produces divinatory decks.  It is typically  called the "Blue Owl" from the design of its back

As mentioned above, the pips of the cards are consigned to a small corner of the deck; Nonetheless, they are still legible; they show a french-suited deck that has no indices. The author has been unable to conclusively identify what pattern these cards are of. 

The number answering to each cards is fund in a circle on the left-hand corner. Some cards have numbers in both circles; others, like this, have only one number, the other taken up with monogram "M" 

These cards are made fairly small- much smaller than both poker and European-style decks. There is a pragmatic reason behind this. Many of the "spreads" used in  fortune-telling involve spreading the cards out on a surface. In one case, the "Grand tableau", all 36 cards are spread out. Hence, the cards must be made as small as possible, so they can take up less space. 

The aces of Hearts and spades play a special role in this fortune-telling system. They are respectively, the Man and the woman. These cards represent the person who is setting the question to the oracle, the man if the :querent is a man, and the woman if the querent is a woman. By examining the cards that immediately surround this card, predictions may be made on what would happen to the querent 

The box. The left hand side shows the back of the cards, which depicts a Blue Owl. It is this feature that gives the cards their common name 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Trumps of the Bourgeois Tarot

The subjects of the trumps of Italian suited tarots have been the subject of much attention. The subjects on the french-suited counterparts have not been so well-studied. Granted, there is much diversity in French-suited tarots as a whole. But one particular variety, the  Bourgeois Tarot displays remarkable stability in the subject of the trump-cards.

 I shall thus attempt a thorough description of the trump cards. I have used three decks in my research:
1: A deck published by Grimauld of France, purchased c. 2011 ( previously featured Here)
2: A deck published by "Corfalu Kim'play", Purchased c. 2012 ( Previosuy featured Here)
3: A deck published by Modanio,

Some attempts have been made to describe the trump-cards [ ( in French) and], but none of them have been extremely detailed in their descriptions. I therefore attempt to provide such a description.

Description of scene
Polett’s titles
Wikipedia’s titles
Jester and lady/ Man in frock coat talks to Perrot
Individual Foolishness
Folly, individual.
Girls play at skipping, dolls, etc, / Boys play at soldiers
Three women promenading in street/ Men and women loiter in park
Seated women with child on lap, girl sitting in door playing flute/Interior scene,  Two men  seated in table talking
Mature age
Interior scene. Two seated women, one sewing other knitting while girl looks on. / Bearded man talks to girl, two boys playing at soldiers standing by
Elderly age
Old age
Reapers in field/ Interior scene, Two women seated at table drinking tea.
Workingmen and women resting in a field/ Interior scene, seated woman holds letter to seated man
Family scene; seated man and women with girl on knee, another girl looks on / Man accompanied by lady pianist sings to an audience
Man standing with one leg on rock, dog looks on/ Man enters doorway, looks furtively at another smoking, but looking other way
Men breaking stones/ Shepherd sitting in field with goats
Earth and Air
Man rows woman on lake / men and women at a picnic
Water and fire
Water/ fire
Country dance/ Ballroom dance
Rural women buying cloth at a draper’s / Urban men and women in a room (department store?)
Hunting party with dogs/ Men fishing with nets on boat, and angling
Open air
Open air
Man painting while girl looks on/Man take photograph of seated woman
Visual arts
Sheep-shearing scene/  gardener waters plant while well-dressed family look on
Horse-racing scene / Women winnowing?
Market scene / Men threshing grain
Interior scene, Women spinning, man reading / Skaters
Men play at lawn bowling/ Men play at cards
The game
Ballroom dance / Military parade, with jester looking on.
Collective foolishness
Folly, collective

Friday, 14 August 2020

Tian Pai 天牌,

Tian Pai (= Heaven Cards), Tianlu, Jiangxi ...

This is a curious set of domino cards purchased in China. It is structured like an ordinary deck of domino cards, with the exception that there are 6 copies of each card; 3 decorated, 3 plain. The decorated cards have an image of a flower or plant of some type

The decorated cards have an illustration on them; the plain cards are devoid of any markings except the dots. Notice the pleasingly symmetric swan on the [3/1]

 For the reasons of space, for this image I have omitted the unmarked cards. 
 However, I should stress that ALL the cards come in the marked/unmarked form, like you saw in the first image

Unlike most decks of domino cards (eg _ and _) in this deck, what would be black pips in the ordinary deck are printed green. 

The cards on the far right are the Jokers,; inscribed with the words 百搭 “Hundred Combinations". The trident-like shape in the middle of the left-hand card is actually an archaic variant of the character for 'longevity' 寿, Shou.