photo 2One of the reasons why I like to collect cartomancy decks is because they always greatly amuse me in their take on the difference between men and women. Most often the gist of this difference can be summed up as follows: seek the company of men, and run away from women as fast as you can.

As most of these decks are meant to be read with both, upright and reversed cards, we can see how this difference comes to expression particularly in the reversed cards.

photo 5While the reversed kings are almost always people you can look up to, it’s not so with the Queens. While the Queens are violent, frustrated, quarrelsome, or deceiving, the Kings are brutal, but they can still lend you moral support, so their brutality is seen as a virtue (when Clubs), or as having an external function (such as in the situation of having to show up in court, and that is not something that you generally like, so it’s more neutral).

photo 3When the woman is intelligent she is also callous. When the man is intelligent he is also fair. When the woman is loving she is also deceiving. When the man is loving he is also protecting. When the man is dangerous he is also respected. When the woman is dangerous she is a witch.

And so it goes.

What I find even more amusing is the fact that we find these male and female attributes in correspondence to palmistry, as here, or metoscopy, something which reminds me of my previous post on the planetary and Kabbalistic seals on the Tironian Lenormand.

photo 4So which one is it, I’d like ask. When men frown, they are full of secret wisdom, while women are merely occult? No wonder the tarot cards got more popular than the fortunetelling cards, and at least since the 60s and onwards we’ve been experiencing a continuous outpouring of revisionist decks. Hence, I don’t like much the ‘tradition’ of reading fortunetelling cards and which still insists on maintaining crap culture.

imageWhat I’d like to see more of is how we can assign the Queen of Spades the role of magistrate, without having to look over our shoulders and fear the King of Spades’ disapproval of having to share this role with his consort.

What I’d also like to see is how we can translate the abstract qualities of the Queen of Spades as having calumnious tendencies into something other than the traditional, practical meaning of unpleasant advice, slander, and evil talk. Why can’t she exhibit supremacy, like the King does on the abstract level? Why not also the ability to go to war for a just cause on the pragmatic level, as the King does?

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 5.49.25 PM

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Since it’s mostly women who read cards, I’d say it’s about time we demanded more respect from ‘tradition’.

Enjoy your revolutions.


image_1Note on the deck:

Jeu de la Main.

Cartomancie Grimaud.

J.-M. Simon, 1963


9 thoughts on “MEN AND WOMEN

  1. Camelia Elias says:


    Bent Sorensen: Queen of Spades? C’est une Pute…
    40 mins · Unlike · 2

    Fortune Buchholtz: Camelia Elias, do you happen to have Thirteen’s famous ebook on card meanings from That Purple Site?
    26 mins · Like

    Camelia Elias: No. Do they refer to the Queen of Spades as a Whore? I wouldn’t be surprised. Send me a link.
    21 mins · Like · 1

    Camelia Elias: Un gars: c’est un jeune homme. Une garce: c’est une pute!
    Un courtisan: c’est un proche du roi. Une courtisane: c’est une pute!
    Un masseur: c’est un kinésithérapeute. Une masseuse: c’est une pute!
    Un coureur: c’est un joggeur. Une coureuse: c’est une pute!
    Un professionnel: c’est un sportif de haut niveau (variante: un travailleur très qualifié). Une professionnelle: c’est une pute!
    Un homme sans moralité: c’est un politicien. Une femme sans moralité: c’est une pute!
    Un entraîneur: c’est un homme qui entraîne une équipe sportive. Une entraîneuse: c’est une pute!
    Un homme à femmes: c’est un séducteur. Une femme à hommes: c’est une pute!
    Un homme public: c’est un homme connu. Une femme publique: c’est une pute!
    Un homme facile: c’est un homme agréable à vivre. Une femme facile: c’est une pute!
    Un homme qui fait le trottoir: c’est un paveur. Une femme qui fait le trottoir: c’est une pute!
    Un péripatéticien: c’est un élève d’Aristote. Une péripatéticienne: c’est une pute!
    17 mins · Like · 3

    Iulia Dragan: Alors on danse
    14 mins · Edited · Like

    Camelia Elias: La danse est bonne, manque de respect n’est pas bon.
    11 mins · Like · 1

    Fortune Buchholtz: LOL. No, not at all. These misogynistic attitudes seem stuck in cartomancy, possibly, from Etteilla. What I love about Paul Hughes-Barlow’s site is that he has all the “famous” meanings for each card there to compare, and you see the problem from that perspective. Crowley is the first to start to move this problem forward in tarot at least, to give him due credit, and as Le Fanu noted in his famous and excellent consideration of XVIII, it starts there and then progresses. I think Thirteen’s excellent Wicca-inflected meanings, which present these cards positively, in the sense of “making things real,” of actualization and fulfillment, have since proven very influential. That book has no date on it, but I’ve always assumed it comes after Bunning, who also removed all traces of misogyny from the deck. If we posit that both tarot & playing card cartomancy as we know them today start with Etteilla’s meanings, it’s interesting to examine why tarot has moved on while cartomancy has largely not.
    4 mins · Like · 1

    Iulia Dragan: Fortune: “misogynistic”… you just read my mind
    1 min · Like · 1

    Bertrand Saint-Guillain: “maintining crap culture” , that would also fit the Lenormand too if you ask me (although no one asks me anything about the Lenormand anymore)
    41 mins · Unlike · 2

    Bhima Beausoleil: I can understand all that, but these attributions can be revised. Most of them were a product of their time and reflected the cultural views of the era they were made. With all this revisionism that’s going on and revivalism of ancient decks, one has to wonder why doesn’t cartomancy get a face lift. Either by putting out new decks or by assigning new meanings to the old ones.
    Granted, cartomancy has a different set of rules than tarot, but even so were talking about language here. And language evolves. We’ve already seen it happen with other forms of card playing.
    40 mins · Like

    Fortune Buchholtz: to you Bertrand Saint-Guillain; but what else could we expect from the Biedermeier era? We really need to find an apartment to rent in Copenhagen Bertrand so you can stay with us when we go visit Camelia Elias!
    37 mins · Like · 1

    Camelia Elias: Bertrand Saint-Guillain, the Lenormand cards reflect crap culture too, very much so. Just looking at the male so-called cards there makes me vomit. I’m not a fan of haute-bourgeoisie, or any of that conformism that informs these cards. When that is said, and as I always insist, if you read with view to taking into account your own time and context, then you can read with anything, including the crap-culture cards. Mind you, I actually enjoy reading with all sorts of ‘lowest of the low’ cards. I get a kick out of it. Just as much as I also enjoy reading with a lot of crap tarot cards. By Jove, you should see me in action with a Marseille type, angel approaching iconography, or a cheesy Rider Waite Smith deck. Oh, the glory of kitsch and crap. As I also always say, the magic is not in the tool. It’s in the approach to it.
    2 secs · Like

  2. mopfeil says:

    Dear Camelia, I suspect a hidden agenda. Wise and clever women have long known that they get by better when avoiding upfront confrontation with men, particularly the court. So how better to flatter them by instilling the male court with ample ability and quality. But then they also need respect so how better to make them fear the feminin than by making it un-known and secretly devious. Might it be self maskerading on the part of the, mostly female, readers for ulterior domination? Do I see a bit if the Uzanne at work? Fan-tastic post!

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Thanks Markus. I take your point, and indeed, one can argue that we can trace the history of women to practices of devising such strategies of survival that have to do with myhtologization the feminine power. The only trouble is that no one takes it seriously. It’s more a case of men telling women, ‘you know as well as I do that you don’t mean any of that mystery crap’. The irony is, of course, that where mystery is concerned, it exists. It’s just that few women can really pull it off, and even fewer man can recognize it when it happens. So, generally speaking such sophistication has never been of any use on the larger scale, and it has certainly not benefitted women. And how do we know this? Well, simply because what we now call feminine power has become a cliché. In this sense, the lowest in rank of the cards, the fortunetelling type, are actually more precise in telling us the truth, namely that, indeed, if we get the King of Swords in a reading, it is still very likely that he will embody the noble warrior, whereas the Queen of Spades remains the vengeful and nasty splitter. So when I talk about change, I don’t mean the cards. I mean people. The cards only mirror what’s there at the societal level, and just beneath the surface.

  3. Markus Pfeil says:

    Dear Camelia,

    I think you give women too little credit here. The subtle influence women have on men is quite incredible I think. On the outside of course all men would balk at the notion, but then all McDonalds restaurants should be emtpy according to peope asked whether they ever eat there…On the inside many of us know that women are better in touch with their intuitiona and that they have a more developed vision of what is good for the family and even humanity. So when men are given a chance they will call for the witch to burn, allthewhile stirring the cauldrons in the evening for the missus. So I think there is more seriousness here than appears, which, as far as the cards go, the ploy described does work to an extend. Still, you are also right, men still manage to controll a lot….alas.

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Markus, yes. The trouble is that no one recognizes women’s skills. In fact no one even bothers to call them that, or rather, associate women with skills. That’s why we always run into the type of language that’s imprecise, and end up associating women with intuition. But is that recognized as a skill? No it’s not. As long as women are associated with the type of ‘skill’ that’s not precise enough, they’ll never get anything out of it, let alone power. So my suggestion is that when we equate women with intuition, we call it logic, or math, or any of the other contemplative disciplines. As a physicist into experimental physics you must know exactly what I mean. I have as yet to meet or read about a very good mathematician who is not or has not been extremely intuitive, and that both by personal and external account. But do such mathematicians are recognized as skilful at intuition? No they are not. Their intuition is called intelligence or power of action. And my question is, why is this so? I’m afraid to say that the answer to that is simply, ‘because they are men.’ Intuitive men are intelligent. Intuitive women are still either whores or witches. Some culture we all live in. Alas, as you yourself point out.

      1. grackleandsun says:

        Precisely about intuition. Carolina Gonzalez at Camino de Yara has a great article that talks about the skill of intuition–how true intuition is not some nebulous touchy-feely thing, but a real skill to be honed and used.

        Another thought on the belittling of women and their skills is that it very often does not just come from men, but is perpetuated by women themselves. Whether because they believe it genuinely or because they want to hold something over other women, women are often to blame for keeping a lot of this shit going.

      2. Camelia Elias says:

        Of course. When all you give women is no recognition of her skills – something that has been happening for millennia, and is still happening – what women will give in return is the same, a complete lack in knowing what they actually do know. Add to that a doses of mistrust in their own capabilities, and you will find out that such women turn fundamentalist, following rules and their husbands, fanatics, following God or some other such male authority, or mean. As Ray Charles used to say, ‘it’s a sad sad situation’, because it takes a lot of time, and both, cognitive and emotional investment to ‘unlearn’ what others have decided for you that you know. Add to this economical resources, which most women don’t have, and you’re all set for witnessing the continuous tragedy. Yep, it’s sad all the way through.

  4. mnemolithe says:

    I’ve personally had the Queen of Spades represent someone in a doctorate position.

    But I totally understand what you are talking about otherwise. There is a negative rhetoric attached to women in most of the divinatory arts…

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Indeed. And depending on the question, the Queen of Spades stands for women in office, as judges, police, PhDs, or whatever such functions that require that truth be told.

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