“When we used to send telegrams, each word costs money,” Matthews explains, “so you’d have to send very few words like, ‘Big baby. Mother well. Come to hospital.’ And you’d get the gist of it. I read cards in a very similar way—starting from a few general keywords and making sense of them by filling in the words that are missing. This isn’t the tarot style of reading where you project things, like, ‘I can see that you’ve recently had a great disappointment. Mercury is in retrograde and da da da.’ A cartomantic reading is much more straightforward and pragmatic, for example, ‘Your wife will eat tomatoes and fall off the roof and die horribly.’ It’s a direct way of reading, a pre-New Age way of reading.”
These trump, or triumph, cards were often painted for wealthy families. Members of the nobility would commission artists to create for them their own set of cards, featuring family members and friends as the triumph cards. A number of sets, some of which still exist today, were created for the Visconti family of Milan, which counted several dukes and barons among its numbers.
We can all help psychic mediums to have an extremely clear path while on stage, or in a private reading, by sending them our love and acceptance. Say a little prayer to help the psychic medium receive perfect clarity in their communication. Don’t sit there with your arms folded and an angry look on your face. Lighten up. Relax. Have fun. One message that often comes through for people from their spirit-guides is that they need to lighten up—don’t be so serious! Many spirits have communicated to psychic mediums that when they crossed-over to the spirit world and looked back at their life, they were regretful that they were so darn serious and didn’t have more fun while they were here.
It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that the tarot was taken up wholeheartedly by occult and esoteric societies for use in divination. A Swiss clergyman named Antoine Court de Gébelin wrote a treatise called Le Monde Primitif (The Primitive World) which connected the imagery in the Marseilles tarot to the mysteries of Isis and Thoth, thereby forever linking the two. (Aleister Crowley would later take this up in his creation of his own Thoth deck.) De Gébelin made many assertions regarding the connection between the tarot trumps and Egypt; these were later debunked by Egyptologists.
The Burning Question reading is for times when you have a question that needs to be answered immediately—a burning question, if you will. A card symbolizing the question is placed at the center of the spread with the remaining six cards placed around it, suggesting the shape of a flame as it clings onto an object. Spread created by veteran tarot reader Laura Mead-Desmet.