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The following text has been compiled from numerous astral preambles outlining how to use the card game Solitaire as a divination tool. Please forgive any awkward transitions or repetitions which are caused by tacking all these preambles together.

Astute readers will notice that I’ve changed things in some sections – particularly from the section immediately below, which came from the March, 2009 column. Most glaringly, I wrote in that first column that an odd number of cards revealed a Yes answer, an even number a No. However, I have changed this (third paragraph below) to: an EVEN number of cards means YES, an ODD number means NO. Actually, you can use either method, so long as you establish it for yourself and don’t vary from game to game. (Generally, “even=yes” is better for practical and sensual questions, “odd=yes” is more suited to intellectual searches.)

Okay, here’s the divination technique: Set up playing cards for a traditional game of solitaire. After you lay the cards out, you will be picking up (or clicking, if you’re on a computer) one card at a time, and only once. (I don’t recommend the computer, as it is too easy to become facile, making your answers more and more superficial .) As soon as you’re gone through the deck once, that’s it. No repetitions. I wouldn’t try the “every third card, three times through the deck” style, at least not at first. One note: If you “cheat,” even a little, then you are controlling the answer consciously -- and therefore, of course, do not have a correct or reliable answer – you’ll have cheated yourself! For this reason, accept any “mistakes” you make, and live with them. For example, if you’ve placed a card in the “stacks,” (the four piles where you place cards you’ve “freed”) but then see you can use this card better in the “playing rows,” you can’t return it to the playing rows.

The object of solitaire is to place all 52 cards on top, in four suits, starting with the Ace, then 2, etc. I’ll call this the “pot” or the “stacks.”
The divination part: before you even shuffle the cards (on computer, before you click “deal,”) ask your question. The answer will be revealed in the cards you manage to place in the pot. If your question is a yes-no one, the total number of cards you’ve managed to place in the stacks, or pot, before the game ends, gives your answer: an even number is “yes,” an odd number a “no.” (When you get above 9, don’t reduce – e.g., 13 is an odd number, not a numerological “4” and therefore “even.) If you place 11 or more cards in the stack/pot, the answer is a strong one – a definite “yes” or “no” rather than a “sure, yes, probably, conditionally or at first blush.” If you place exactly16 cards in the pot, your question deals with a situation of grave destruction, such as divorce.

One caution: DON’T count the cards in your stack or pot before you finish the game (otherwise, you can consciously engineer how many cards you place in the pot, which makes your answer invalid).

Note how many cards fall in each suit. Generally, Clubs = work, burden or slowness, honest but phlegmatic motives. Spades = bad action, bad motives, selfishness, lust, even crime. Diamonds are light, social, quick, clever motives, everyday wishes coming true. Hearts = deep affections, luck, love, romance, love of children, good motives. (Diamonds = light, witty flirtation; hearts = infatuation.)

As for the numbers in each suit (these meanings also apply to the total number in the pot): 1 = self, your personality or ability to project a facet of yourself. 2 = possession, earnings. 3 = communication, casual daily relationships, short travel. 4 = home, security, children, real estate. 5 = romance, adventure, risk, a “gamble.” 6 = work, service, machinery. 7 = relationship, face-to-face, marriage, divorce, contract, fight, etc. 8 = change, lust, financial situation (e.g., investment). 9 = legal, far travel, understanding, cultural association. 10 = career, prestige, ambition. 11 = social group (and justice). 12 = same as 3, but luckier. 13 = same as four, but also transcendent concerns. 22 = a major change. All 52 cards: a final result, can’t be changed, or is already accomplished in some manner. (Notice that if you put 11, 12 or 13 cards in one stack – say, hearts – then the last card showing must be a court cards – Jack, Queen, or King. These three can also represent people affecting your answer, but I will discuss court cards and their special, additional meanings later. Meanwhile, we will stick with their valid “number” meanings: 11 is optimism, socializing, 12 is deeper communications – almost subconscious! – but also seclusion, retreat, healing, while 13 is “transcendent security” or the kind of security issues which would occupy a king, or a governing person. In other words, a view of security that goes beyond simply one’s own security – it is also the transcending self, one’s superego or higher personality. Though sometimes it’s simply a man! – but that’s discussed under “court cards” near the end of this long article.)

For instance, say you manage to put 3 hearts, 1 (i.e., Ace) club, 5 diamonds and 4 spades up before the game ended. This would be, first, a 13 total = No to a yes-no question, and a result that would involve the transcendent concerns of security and family. (E.g., moral or spiritual angle/result of a certain action, or concerns about a whole family, rather than about one’s own self.) But in addition, the cards give a more precise answer when we read each of the four suit-stacks in the whole “pot”: doing the contemplated action, or entering the situation you asked about in your question, or already existing as an answer to your question, would be: a) an affectionately communicative, sincerely friendly situation, or sweet words/friendship (3 hearts); b) you would project your most serious, responsible side (1 club); c) a flirtatiously and superficially romantic influence – playing the field, or engaging in a romance – and probably winning, because you’re doing it wittily and lightly – but you’d leave this romance if the wind changed or a real love came along (all inherent in the 5 diamonds); and d) there’s something deeply wrong about the security or family side of all this (4 spades). For example, if you were married and asking about pursuing someone else, you’d impress them with your affectionate communication (3 hearts) and an affair might even occur (5 diamonds) but it would be superficial (5 diamonds). There could be grave effects on your family or home (4 spades). Your own motives, shown by the Ace of Clubs, suggests you’re being sober and actually seeking more responsibility – perhaps deep down you want to shoulder alimony payments, etc!

Months ago I suggested using the card game Solitaire as a divining tool. Here are some new wrinkles: (I know, it says a lot about my love life!) I’ll assume you’re familiar with the standard, simple form of Solitaire. Ask your question, then shuffle. As you “free” each card (starting with the Ace) place it above the game, in its suit. Place the first Ace on the left, so the next Ace is to its right, and so on.

If you end the game with an even number of stacked or “freed” cards, your answer is Yes; an odd number indicates No. The exact total of cards gives a more specific answer: ending with only 1card (which would always be the Ace of some suit) does mean “No” (because 1 is odd) but it also means self-conception, self-image, the desire to be something. (Don’t confuse this with the simple desire to romance someone [5 cards] or to be with someone [7 cards] or sexual desire [8 cards]). Two cards means income or possessions, and/or a mild, polite, possibly sensual relationship; 3 means communications, travel, friendliness; 4, home, kids, security; 5, romance, creativity, a winning gamble. Six means health, work. 7 = marriage, partners or enemies; 8 = investments, large finances, inheritance, secrets, power plays, and intimacy/sex. 9 = far travel, legal or educational affairs, and cultural events such as weddings; 10 is career, prestige, ambition, responsibilities; 11 indicates social circle, wish fulfillment and happiness; 12 means restriction, institution (jail, hospital, etc.) spirituality, healing and burdens. 13 = rising above yourself, to make a new beginning.

If you free 14 cards, recycle the 13 by subtracting it, but note that you’re now on a higher (or inner) plane – for example, 14 (minus 13) is really a 1, self-image, but concerns a deeper, inner self or a higher self-conception. 15 is really a 2, 16 a 3, etc. When you reach 27, begin subtracting 26 (13 X 2) – so 27 is also a “1” – self – but in one of three ways: either “wise self” or “self-attaching sensually-to-another” or “self sharing.” 28 (minus 26) is a 2, so it means possessions, income and sensual contacts, but a way that creates a new situation – e.g., that sensual contact could bring pregnancy. When you get to 40, subtract 39 (3-13’s), and so on. The 40-52 “run” deals with the 1-through-13 meanings, but now they have an “ending” flavour (which hints that a new situation will replace what you’re asking about. All 52 cards up = the end!

Special numbers: 11, more hope than result. 16: you might face some destruction if you engage in the activity you asked about. 22: a life-changing action is involved. 33 means words or travel that might lead to a loving home. 44 means change is needed.

Let’s continue with Solitaire: remember, the total number of cards you free or stack, of all suits, gives you an overall answer to your question. Odd = No, an even number = Yes. But smaller, precise answers also exist within this “stacking.” To see these, note the very first Ace (or suit) you put up, or free. (Of course you will stack cards over the aces, in most instances.) Red means Yes, black aces/suits mean No. Hearts are a powerful Yes, Diamonds a weaker, superficial Yes, while clubs give a No that is not severe, and Spades a definite No. The first Ace or suit will give a quick answer, and an “early” one – in other words, it is speaking about the first condition, event, or response in your question/situation. The second ace will show matters down the road a bit, the third ace conditions deeply into the affair, and the last ace (if you get that far in the game) shows the end result, and the complete cycle of the situation/project you asked about.
For example, say your first Ace (suit) was hearts, second spades, third clubs, and the fourth a diamond. Then you would have a lucky start (hearts) suffer a major set-back (spades) work your way out of it (clubs) and end with some gain (diamonds).

We can also read the character of the suits. The earth HHearts represent love, affection, benevolent emotions, and generally give a strong Yes to a question. The diamonds (weaker Yes) indicate social and money situations. Two lovers are hearts. But two people attending a prestigious dinner would be a diamond. If your first two piles of freed cards are red (i.e., diamonds and hearts) the answer is a direct Yes, even if the total number of cards is odd. (In this case, your answer is Yes, but in a larger context, it is No. E.g., Romeo falling in love with Juliet.) If the total number is even, with two red aces freed before either black ace shows, this is a very strong Yes. If the two red aces are freed first, and you free all 52 cards (i.e., “win the game”) it is almost like saying, “It is already so.” But if one red ace appears first, and the next ace is black, then the answer is Yes only IF the total number of cards is even. Otherwise, the answer is neutral or mixed, or even “failure after a promising beginning.”

The Clubs stand for duties, restrictions caused by practical affairs, patience, caution, diplomacy, hard work, etc. The Spades are not good. They stand for bad motives, plans that will fail, rejection, enmity, etc. But in representing the death of a matter, they do open a doorway to higher spiritual planes. If the first pile of cards is black the answer is “No,” even if the card total is even.

Okay, more solitaire as a divination tool. We use solitaire because the game is complex enough that we cannot pre-determine the results, or affect them with our conscious mind. (Of course, if you cheat, you won’t get the correct answer!)

Remember, if the total number of cards you free is even, the overall answer is Yes; if odd, No. (You can reverse this method if you want to). But if the first ace you free is red, the immediate or “short” answer is Yes; if black, No. (Heart Ace = strong Yes, diamond a weaker Yes, Spade a strong, definite No, club ace a weaker No.) Two red aces first (before any black ace shows) = a definite Yes, even if the total card count is odd. (Sometimes the odd total count with two first red aces means “Start Anyway” – you’re lucky, but you might change your objectives halfway through.) A red ace followed by a black ace, and the total card count is even, indicates a Yes; if the first red is followed by a black, and the total count is odd, the answer is still No, after a promising beginning. Two black aces first, a major No, despite the total card count.

If you only manage to free one ace, then its answer is stronger, but it also shows you are only conceiving of the beginning of a project, relationship, etc. If two aces are freed during the game, you will reach a stage wherein you will possess or grasp the situation more fully. If three aces, you will take this relationship, project, action or situation very far, but not to its end. Four aces indicate that you will fully experience the maturation and end-point of the project. If the last ace to be freed is the Ace of Spades, then the project/relationship really will end, probably permanently, and perhaps with rancour, regret, sorrow, etc. If the fourth and final Ace, however, is, say, the Heart, then this “end” could be satisfying to all, and the basis of a new beginning. (However, if the entire answer began with an ace of spades or clubs, the project, though perhaps ending well, won’t have been worth the effort.) For example, if the question was “Will I marry Joan?” and the hearts are the last stack (i.e., the Ace of Hearts was the last ace freed) then – if the ultimate answer is Yes (determined by the total amount of cards stacked –odd, No, even, Yes) then this marriage will lead to ongoing joy – IF the answer began with the other red ace. In the same example, if this answer began with a spade ace, and ends with the heart, you probably will not marry Joan, but you will reconcile, become friends or forgive each other at the end.

To continue the solitaire method of divination: Last time we discussed the order in which the Aces are freed, and what that means.

Now, except in rare cases, most of your Aces will not simply sit there by themselves – as the game progresses, they will be covered by other cards: first the 2, then the 3, the 4, and so on, depending how far you get in the game. The number of cards in each of the four stacks (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) is very significant. So is the order of the suits you stack.
For example, if your hearts stack, at game’s end, has a 3 of hearts showing (i.e., is the last heart to be freed) then in the area of affections you will experience a loving communication, possibly even a trip based on friendship or romantic inclinations. But it does not promise the romance or friendship – only the travel or communication. (In addition, all 3’s indicate some indecisiveness, or changeable conditions.) If the last heart freed is a 5, it indicates powerful attraction, romance, deep love of children, a successful gamble or creative project, etc. The 7 of hearts can indicate marriage.
(The numbers meanings will be found in the May 9,2010 column preamble. They refer to total cards freed there, but you can use the same meanings for each stack.)

If the hearts stack is the first one (meaning the Ace of Hearts was the first card you freed) then a matter of affections, of love, is the most important element (or event) of the entire situation asked about. But were, say, an Ace of Clubs your first freed card (and therefore your first stack is clubs) then the most important, and first, element of this situation is duties, or age, practical considerations, etc. (If the Ace of Clubs comes first in a romantic question, it can indicate a significant difference in age between the two, that practical matters interfere, or that at least one participant is conservative, cautious, sceptical, or otherwise not primed for true passion.)
If your first stack is diamonds, it indicates the question and the situation is not extremely important – though in social climbing and money, “diamond luck” rules.

If your first stack/ace is a spade, the entire question, situation, and your motive for being in it, should be examined. You should not be in this situation, should not enter it, and perhaps should slap yourself for even asking about it! The final number of cards stacked in this pile will show you in what specific arena the Spade’s bad motive/bad luck will likely operate: for example, if you end with the four of spades, don’t buy that house. The five: failed romance. Seven: bad marriage or business partnership.

Okay, this is the last solitaire fortune-telling preamble, I promise! If any of your stacks end with a court card – Jack, Queen or King – it usually indicates a person involved with your question. These cards can also represent general meanings (see # 11,12 and 13 meanings in the May 9 column) as well as urges in yourself, or parts of your own personality. In this regard, the Jacks represent your hopes and urges toward friendship/socialization. The Queens are your softer inner side, your dreamy, intuitive side, your need for communion, sexual satisfaction, nurturing (and can denote seclusion or imprisonment on some level). The Kings are your desire to rule, to govern your life as you want to. These urges apply whether you are male or female.

But, addressing the strictly “people” side of the court cards: When a stack ends with a Jack (i.e., a Jack is the last card freed in that stack before the game ends) it shows the presence or influence of a younger, active person, male or female. This person can be wooing, loving (heart) witty but tricky (diamond) conservative, hard working or somewhat unfriendly (club) or definitely not to be trusted, perhaps a thief, or someone depressed or of bad morals/motives (spade). These interpretations indicate this person’s effect on you, rather than everyone’s opinion of this person. For example, if a witty, social person whom everyone would describe as the Jack of Diamonds plans to invade your on-line bank account, you’ll see the spade Jack, not the diamond.

The Queens and Kings follow the same suit qualities. A heart King is a loving father and mate. A diamond King is talented in business, and can talk you into anything with his good-natured charm. A club King is probably your boss or father, strict and demanding – but there’s a good side to demanding. A spade King is bad, should be avoided – though it can mean that a mature man in your circle might die soon, in which case it might not indicate bad morals. Some commentators say the spades – Jack, Queen and King – can also represent magi, or people who have left the ordinary paths of life to seek other spiritual planes. I’ve never met one – so don’t “excuse” the spades too often!

Which stack(s) end with a court card, is also significant. If the first stack, he/she is a prime mover and instigator in this affair. In the second stack, he/she plays a somewhat passive and usually benevolent role. In the third, he/she helps communicate your needs/desires, or speaks against them (if a spade, perhaps secretly). If a court card tops the fourth stack, he/she is “there at the end,” involved with the final success or failure of the matter in question: he/she might even be your final destination!

Well, that is the end of the preambles. One could write much more on the meanings of the cards. You’ll notice that in various places I emphasize one meaning that seems completely different than the meaning I assigned a number or a card elsewhere. But if you look closely, you’ll see that those meanings share a common thread (or two). There are only 52 cards, and they represent the entire world of feeling, event and perception – so of necessity each card carries a pregnant burden of multiple meanings. It is up to you to discover those meanings as you “divine.” (Now you can sense what the word “divine” means!) But, at the same time, keep the meanings you discover true to the basic truth of the card. Check and re-check your interpretation: is it true to the card’s “personality,” or is it wishful thinking? I hope you can use my method – but that you don’t play so much you intellectualize life rather than living it. Remember, Solitaire and “solitude” have a similar meaning!

Tim Stephens

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