In the 1860s and 1870s, trance mediums were very popular. Spiritualism generally attracted female adherents, many who had strong interests in social justice. Many trance mediums delivered passionate speeches on abolitionism, temperance, and women's suffrage. Scholars have described Leonora Piper as one of the most famous trance mediums in the history of Spiritualism.
Most card readers recognize that the associations and preconceptions of the person being read for are just as important as the actual drawings on the cards: Divination cards offer a way to project certain ideas, whether subconscious or not, and to toy with potential outcomes for important decisions. Thus, like scenes from a picture book, the best illustrations typically offer clear visions of their subjects with an open-ended quality, as though the action is unfolding before you.
Sometimes I may even come up with a word or saying in their language that I’ve never spoken before. One time I did a reading for a woman who was from Romania. Her mom came through, and she’d never spoken English in her life. When she connected with me, it was all in pictures and symbols. I wasn’t remotely surprised to find out that her mom was an artist and was a visual person. It was as if these pictures and symbols had words attached to them.
The illustration on some decks did double duty, providing divinatory tools and scientific knowledge, like the Geografia Tarocchi deck from around 1725. “The Geografia are extraordinary cards, almost like a little encyclopedia of the world with the oracle imagery peeking out at the top,” Matthews says. “The actual bit that you read from is just a cigarette-card length. So for example, the hanged man just shows his legs at the top of the card, while the rest of the card has information about Africa or Asia or other places on it.”
Present - The next card, the middle card, represents your present state of being. This card helps you gain perspective on where you are right at this moment, what you are up against and what you have to work with. It may reveal things you are reluctant to acknowledge. For example, you may learn that your current efforts are in vain or that someone you trusted is shifty. On the other hand, you will also learn where your powers lay which you can nourish and grow into the future.