Hoodoo magic with playing cards

This week Aradia Academy has opened registration for the Read Like the Devil series of foundation courses focussing on the Playing Cards module, a series that is taught by The Janitor, Bent Sørensen, this time around. He will present 6 video lectures based on my Playing Cards volume of the Read like the Devil trilogy of textbooks.

For fun I here share some of the specialised material he has decided to add to the course. This is one of 5 essays he offers on an adapted use of hoodoo and folk magic together with playing cards. In Bent’s own words:

“In these essays I’ll be working through Professor Charles Porterfield’s book: A Deck of Spells: Hoodoo Playing Card Magic in Rootwork and Conjure. These are not my native traditions by any means, so I’ll be looking at them as an outsider, and as someone who is used to different types of magic with cards.

There is a wealth of anecdote in Porterfield’s book, and he starts out with a discussion of the old Country and Western song, “A Deck of Cards, or A Soldier’s Bible”. So far, so good. He then proceeds to give a potted history of Playing Cards, and their origins and dissemination through Western culture. There is not a lot of detail in that section, but as a very first introduction it might indeed work just fine. Then there is some description of differences in suits and values between traditions, and then a very brief introduction to Tarot cards and to Fortune-Telling decks. Those bits are not so interesting.

By now we are on p. 25, and this is where the book gets going: Porterfield gives us a set of rules of thumb for what he calls “interpretation” of Color, Suits, ‘Ranks’ (pips), Courts or ‘Royals’, and of Timing. He then does a few spreads, and finally lists of meanings – some specific to Kentucky, some to Illinois, and the “The Professor’s Own.” Here we are not keen on lists of meanings, but comparing may be of interest to some of you.

Next section is about prepping your deck for magic and conjure, and this is tradition-specific to hoodoo and rootwork. It involves a lot of work with oils and anointments – something which I find slightly horrifying, as I would not want to smear anything on a classic Piatnik or Dondorf deck, let alone a vintage rarity. So, here is where you make a trip to the grocery store and pick up a brick of inexpensive decks, because you will be cutting them up, hammering nails through them, burning and burying them, and oiling them up thoroughly.

There is a list of specific spells you can do with each card in a deck, and that is gold if you are thus inclined. The spells fall in many categories: healing, harming and cursing, reconciling, protection, blessing – and of course success and money spells galore.

Finally, the book closes with sections of spells, organised thematically according to area of interest and influence (“by condition,” as the Professor says), rather than going card-by-card. These areas are: Work/Money/Success; Love/Family; Healing; Cursing and Harming; and Protection and Jinx-Breaking.

I’ll be mining these last sections during the course, especially the Money and Success part. For all-purpose Road Opening, use the 6 of Diamonds (and we understand why – the Suit of Diamonds is for wealth matters, and the Six is for stable progress) and draw an open road on the card, connecting the three Diamonds on one side first, and then the three Diamonds on the other side of the card. The card now physically resembles a road. Down the ‘road’ in the centre of the card, write the words, “Let the Road be Open!”. For added success use oils such as Road opener oil to anoint an orange candle and the card. Place the candle on the card, and surround this with eucalyptus leaves – light the candle and recite a specific wish for opening. Porterfield recommends invoking Joshua and the opening of Jericho’s walls as the candle is lit. May the obstacles in your way tumble and crumble like those walls! I think the Judgment card in the Tarot can be used to amplify this wish as well.

Lots of these spells involve preparation and discipline. Oils need to be kept, and numerous plant ingredients as well. For those not willing or able to do so, I have adapted a few spells for use in a non-Hoodoo tradition.

For success in business you need three cards: 9 of Diamonds, 9 of Clubs, and 8 of Clubs. You write sigils and names on these cards. On 9 of Diamonds write the name of your bank and your account number you’d like money to flow into. On 9 of Clubs write the name of your business and draw a money sigil, for instance $$€€$$. And on 8 of Clubs write your name and birthdate (you can add sign or any other significator you hold belief in, such as an angel’s name or that of a saint). Now place the 9 of Diamonds in your wallet and say: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” from Luke 11:9 – or words to similar effect, if you dislike using the Christian Bible. Place the other two cards in your shop, or under your computer if your business is online and bless them with this prayer from Psalms 90: “May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands.”

One final spell – try it out for the coming week: “Seven Diamonds, Seven Day, Steady Work Spell” — Take 7 of Spades and put it face down under a flat stone. Write your wish for work success in the coming week on a piece of paper and place it on top of the stone. Encircle the stone with 7 pips from the suit of Diamonds, starting with the Ace and going up to the 7 of Diamonds. Place a green candle on the paper and light it, while asking for blessing for the work: “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfil them; let all the neighbouring lands, bring gifts to the One to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.” (Psalms 76) – or words to similar effect. This is good against infidel bosses who don’t recognise and respect your skill set as they properly should.”


I hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘guest appearance’ on Taroflexions by Bent. The Playing Cards course is open for registration with a very limited number of spots left, since the class is capped at 50 students, so that Bent can honour his commitment to give feedback on every single post in the course Facebook group.

Advance your Read like the Devil skills via courses at Aradia Academy.


Published by Camelia Elias

Read like the Devil | Martial Arts Cartomancy | Zen

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