From its earliest beginnings to contemporary times, mediumship practices have had many instances of fraud and trickery. Séances take place in darkness so the poor lighting conditions can become an easy opportunity for fraud. Physical mediumship that has been investigated by scientists has been discovered to be the result of deception and trickery. Ectoplasm, a supposed paranormal substance, was revealed to have been made from cheesecloth, butter, muslin, and cloth. Mediums would also stick cut-out faces from magazines and newspapers onto cloth or on other props and use plastic dolls in their séances to pretend to their audiences spirits were contacting them. Lewis Spence in his book An Encyclopaedia of Occultism (1960) wrote:
Teacher and publisher Jean-Baptiste Alliette wrote his first book on the tarot in 1791, called “Etteilla, ou L’art de lire dans les cartes,” meaning “Etteilla, or the Art of Reading Cards.” (Alliette created this mystical pseudonym “Etteilla” simply by reversing his surname.) According to Etteilla’s writings, he first learned divination with a deck of 32 cards designed for a game called Piquet, along with the addition of his special Etteilla card. This type of card is known as the significator and typically stands in for the individual having their fortune read.
The pentacles is the suit of all things worldly and material. Though we will immediately think of the pentacles as relating to financial matters, we also can understand them as being associated with security, stability, nature, health, and prosperity. The pentacles are of earth element. When we see pentacles show up in a reading, they are usually concerned with your long term future, career, generosity, your household, business investments and your feelings of sensuality. The negative side of the pentacles show up as greed, jealousy, miserliness, and unbridled ambition at the cost of all else.
Matthews has authored several books on divinatory cards, and her latest is The Complete Lenormand Oracle Cards Handbook. This 36-card deck was named after the celebrity card-reader Mademoiselle Marie Anne Lenormand, who was popular around the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, though the decks bearing her name weren’t actually produced until after her death. The oldest packs in Matthews’ collection are two Lenormand-style decks, the French Daveluy of the 1860s and the Viennese Zauberkarten deck from 1864, which were some of the first decks to be illustrated using the technique of chromolithography.
You may not always get the opportunity to physically sit down with someone who is skilled in the art of reading the cards, or perhaps afford to pay for regular readings, so here at Lotus Tarot we aim to provide you with a little guidance and easy and convenient access to information. Hopefully, this will bring you some pleasure, as well as insights and hope for the future.
In contrast, the meanings in other decks are particularly difficult to decipher, like the infamous Thoth tarot developed by Aleister Crowley, notorious for his involvement with various cults and experimentation with recreational drugs and so-called “sex magick.” Completed in 1943, the Thoth deck was illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris and incorporated a range of occult and scientific symbols, inspiring many modern decks. As Wolf explains, “with the rise of the divination market in the 20th century, more liberties were taken, and the imagery evolved into increasingly personal artistic statements, both in content and style of execution.”
Often, I will do a Skype call with my best friend in the evening, when she is off work. She lays the cards out for me on her Turkish scarves then - ta-da! - the fortune-telling happens. Because she knows me so well, since we were pip-squeaks, it is helpful to have her insight on what each card forebodes. After the reading, I get to process it all with my pal then take it with me into my dreams.