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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

The Playing Card Oracles

The Picture Book of Ana Cortez is an original work of art designed to facilitate Divination.


Extraordinary playing cards created by Charles J. Freeman (1941-2010)

“There is magic in the seemingly ordinary playing card deck we all grew up with, a whole enchanted world, just waiting to be discovered. The playing card deck has slipped through our lives for many hundreds of years under a veil of ordinariness, its magic disguised by its simplicity and the fact that it can be used for games…”

This deck is an original work of art designed to facilitate Divination, evoking the mysteries of ancient oracles, created by Charles J. Freeman (1941- 2010). Charles Freeman spent many years developing a full series of illustrations which are quite different from all previous decks in this genre.

cards from the Picture Book of Ana Cortez

Above: the Picture Book of Ana Cortez, a pen and ink style illuminated pack of playing cards designed to facilitate divination by Charles J. Freeman (1941-2010). 52 cards + title card first published by Two Sisters Press, 2002. The deck was reprinted by U.S. Games Systems and is available now from the publisher and Amazon. It is a smaller version than the original printing, a true "playing card size." The first publishing, by Two Sisters Press, is available only to members of the online Workshop offered through, as they are extremely limited.

The Playing Card Oracles is an inspiring and beautifully illustrated 280-page book based around the cards, containing a wealth of insights and ideas on playing card symbolism and meanings. Written by Ana Cortez, the book also includes a section written by her father, Charles J. Freeman, with supplementary essays, notes and food for thought regarding the history of playing cards. The book is available from:

THE SUIT OF SPADES Cards - Meanings

Interpretations for the suit of spades taken from “The Playing Card Oracles” by Ana Cortez, suitable for use with Playing Card Oracles - Alchemy Edition or with any normal deck of playing cards.

ACE of SPADES – Terra Incognita

  • Something concealed, secrets
  • Change, a threshold
  • Death
  • Potential for re-creation

TWO of SPADES – The Enemies

  • Opposition
  • Division, conflict of interest
  • Inability to find resolution
  • Wars, disputes
  • Inner turmoil
  • Need for harmony, cooperation

THREE of SPADES - The Grave

  • A time to “let go”
  • A burial
  • A past that no longer serves
  • A burden being carried

FOUR of SPADES – The North Wind

  • A strong, unsettling energy
  • Raw power
  • Sexual motivations
  • Hardship, challenge
  • The need to seek protection
  • The direction of North

FIVE of SPADES – Circle of Crows

  • To feel trapped or ganged up on
  • Uncertainty, frustration
  • Dismal prospects / an unsatisfying job
  • Constriction, fear of change
  • Feeling a victim

SIX of SPADES – The Ruin

  • A lingering past
  • Something that has been neglected or destroyed
  • Form without substance or life
  • A past that can provide lessons for the future
  • Hibernation or rest, winter

SEVEN of SPADES – Sword of Destruction

  • The ability to cut off or let go of those things that do not serve
  • The need to exercise control, discipline
  • The power to do harm
  • Destruction

EIGHT of SPADES – The Field of Stones

  • Difficult karma
  • Numerous obstacles
  • Bad timing / bad luck
  • Time “run out”
  • The need to wait, to rethink strategies
  • A threatening group, an army

NINE of SPADES – Throne of Spiders

  • An energy drain / a heavy burden
  • Overworking yourself
  • Addiction or co-dependence
  • Bad company / peers leading you in a poor direction
  • A need to let go

TEN of SPADES - Terrene

  • Earthy, grounded
  • Serving or subservient
  • Melancholic
  • Nurturing, protecting
  • Practical
  • Meek or modest
  • Tactile / sensual

JACK of SPADES – Pampero

  • Reliable, loyal
  • Disciplined, predictable
  • Something missing, forgotten
  • A whiner or complainer
  • Physically strong

QUEEN of SPADES – Morgana

  • Alone or lonely, isolated
  • Strong, independent
  • Discontent, unhappy
  • Secretive, manipulative
  • A disciplinarian or one who dominates
  • Vanity, aging beauty
  • The menopausal woman

KING of SPADES – Mardoc

  • A ruler over labour and practical matters
  • Stubborn, skeptical
  • Cold, unforgiving
  • One who terminates
  • A wanderer, one without a permanent home.

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