Earlier this week, I received a copy of the Cartomancer Poker Deck in the mail. The deck is the creation of Alain Benoit, and was a Kickstarter project I backed in the fall (autumn) of last year.
I was fascinated with the project for a couple of reasons in particular: The first was that the deck is a fully-illustrated deck of playing cards; the second is that it’s based on archetypal psychology, and Alain gives credit to Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung as a source of inspiration for the deck. Having a background in psychology myself, this aspect intrigued me.
Typically, when I get my hands on a new deck of cards, the first spread I do with it is the “New Deck Interview Spread,” a layout I found on the (now-defunct) Aeclectic Tarot site many years ago. With that layout, I learn about the deck, what it’s here to teach me, how it specifically wants to be used, and what my relationship with it would possibly be like.
But because I’m enamored with playing cards these days, I opted instead to break the deck in with the Marriage Spread, a layout I discovered in the Card Reader’s Handbook by Regina Russell.
If you’ve checked out my posts where I work with the Answer Spread (also by Russell), the layout is exactly the same, consisting of six cards, laid out in two rows of three cards each, one above the other.
Unlike the Answer Spread, in which the cards are read in pairs vertically, the Marriage Spread has you reading them in order, from left-to-right. Card 1 opens the reading up about the marriage (or relationship), and each subsequent card builds on the story, arriving at Card 6, which wraps up the story.
Asking the cards, “What do I need to know about my relationship with the Cartomancer Poker Deck?” I pulled the following: Black Joker, 6 of Spades, 7 of Diamonds, Queen of Clubs, Man, and Jack of Diamonds.
I tend to read this particular Joker (there’s another Joker in the deck, that one being red) as shaking things up; with that in mind, the Cartomancer Poker Deck wants to assist in releasing old ideas, which makes sense, given the keyword, Consciousness, on the card, which implies awareness.
I took this to mean that I might not understand what the deck has to say at the start of our relationship. But that would pass, as the 6 of Spades can also suggest progress being made.
Taking a look at the image on the card, it reminded me of The Hanged Man of Tarot, because the man’s face has been turned upside down. One of the meanings of The Hanged Man is a change in outlook or perspective, so I applied that to this version of the 6 of Spades.
In essence, the 6 of Spades says that the Cartomancer Poker Deck wants to turn things on its head.
Following the 6 of Spades is the 7 of Diamonds, a card I read as getting a return on the time and energy invested into a situation; my first thought is that investing in a relationship with the Cartomancer Poker Deck will be well worth the effort, and very rewarding.
The card has an interesting image, which says to me that the deck could somehow “get under my skin,” that it has a deeper layer of meaning, if one is willing to go beyond the surface (making me think of the expression “skin deep”).
Moving to the bottom row, first up is the Queen of Clubs. Typically, “face” cards can represent people, but given that I’m asking about my relationship to the deck, I opted for the more symbolic aspect of the Queen, which is receptivity.
Clubs is the suit of work, but in the more metaphorical sense, I read work as meaning effort. Clubs is also the suit of progress. Putting all of that together, the Queen of Clubs is suggesting that I would be receptive to the progress being made in the relationship, which is the result of the effort I put into it.
Alain has named the Queen of Clubs “Mother of Time,” and I take this to mean that the progress will be made over time.
Looking at the image, the Star of David at the bottom of the card stands out. It symbolizes the union (marriage) of the spiritual (the triangle that points up) and the material (the triangle that points down), and I think that speaks to the spiritual and transpersonal aspects of Jung’s work, which served as inspiration for the deck.
The Star of David also symbolizes the combining and integration of the elements (fire, water, earth, and air), and the deck suits also correspond to each of the elements. This bit tells me that the deck brings together various “elements” into a cohesive whole.
Things get real interesting with the next card in the reading: the Man card. The Man card is an extra card, and is comparable to the Gentleman card in Lenormand, in that it refers to a male seeker or querent.
In this case, the Man represents me. And the beautiful thing about his turning up is that the card was “randomly” pulled from the deck, meaning I didn’t pre-select it before the reading.
Alain encourages directional cues with the cards, and the first of those comes into play with the 6 of Spades above the Man card. If you notice, the face on the 6 of Spades appears to be looking at the Man.
When I read Lenormand, a card directly above a significator can suggest what’s on the person’s mind. Going with that here, this would suggest that what will be on my mind is how the Cartomancer Poker Deck gets me to see things in a different way (perspective).
Also, a card to the right of a significator—especially when the significator is facing it—can indicate the future. And that brings me to the final card in the reading, which the Man card is facing: the Jack of Diamonds.
With the Man facing the Jack of Diamonds, the pair could be read to say that I (Man) will be looking forward to receiving valuable messages (Jack of Diamonds) in the future.
And then I noticed that the final cards in each row was from the suit of Diamonds; with the Jack of Diamonds below the 7 of Diamonds, I saw the potential for those messages being received in the future to increase in value as well (moving from a 7 to the Jack, which is “valued” at 11).
And that’s how I concluded my Marriage Spread with the Cartomancer Poker Deck.
It looks like it will be an interesting “marriage” indeed.