Here are some thoughts on the book It’s All in the Cards by Chita St. Lawrence. This is a great book for someone who wants to get quickly started with reading playing cards. I’ve found it to be a good foundation for me, and I’m carrying forward some of the method while incorporating other material.
The book was a very enjoyable read, starting with the history of her card-reading method and how it began, and traveled through five generations of women to the author herself. I didn’t like her statement that women have that extra something, that “women’s intuition,” that makes them the best readers. (I think she was explaining this mainly in the context of why gypsy women read cards.) Other than that, I liked the book.

Her method is interesting. It consists of up to three spreads. First, a quick read by cutting the deck and reading two cards at the cut; a 5-card reading in a Y-shape; and finally an in-depth reading of 22 cards, most of which are in pairs. So there is card interaction, but not the same as doing a line of 4+ cards. This is the part I had trouble with, because although pairs can be descriptive, I find it more appealing and helpful to read card triplets.

One thing that initially struck me is that Ms. Lawrence uses the K heart and Q heart to represent the querent and the querent’s significant other. (Like the Man and Woman in Lenormand.) Her K diamond represents a father/son/younger man, and Q diamond is similarly mother/daughter. Then the J diamond is expectations. So the red face cards are already a departure from the usage that most people else seems to use, which tend to group people by age, color and/or temperament. I have found her court descriptions very helpful, and incorporate her basic face card usage as I work with other systems.

The cards are supposed to talk about whatever they want; the querent, which Ms. Lawrence calls the Principal, is not to ask a specific question. For the 5-card layout, cards are drawn in pairs at first until a pair with the significator ( K heart or Q heart ) turns up. The meaning of the pair differs depending which of the pair is on top.

Someone once mentioned that Chita’s meanings and system are straightforward and uncomplicated. This may be true, but Chita does write that the fewer descriptive words that a card has, the more the reader can get out of it (or words to that effect). I think she expects the reader will get a feel from the overall cards layed out in a reading, with experience, and not be limited. She perhaps doesn’t feel it necessary to dwell on this, and she even writes that the peron will learn the basics of this method then “be on your own.” In other words, only experience will be a real teacher.

This also fits in with some views on tarot that I am familiar with, namely that it’s better to only have a couple of keywords per card rather than extensive lists of meanings which jostle each other and hamper the reader’s intuition.

Lawrence includes a lot of sample readings, which is both helpful and interesting. I liked them a lot. A lot of these are presented as practice exercises, where the learning reader should layout and interpret an example spread, then compare to how Ms. Lawrence would interpret it.

All in all, I find her approach appealing. It seems a bit simplistic for me, as I am fond of having “systems,” and things like timing cards and interaction that can provide more detail. As given, this method seems fairly straightforward and high-level event-driven. Yet it’s easy to get started with, I really like the sample exercise style, and I think this book could carry someone a long way in card reading. I’ve had some good success with accuracy in reading for people with this method. I also suspect that someone who uses this system over a longer period of time will get quite a bit out of it; more than might be written in the book.

Only time and experience will tell. The person who isn’t interested in memorizing a bunch of attributions and definitions will especially like this book. It even includes a one-page “tear sheet” at the end, which makes for a great reference to have on-hand while reading, when reference is needed. I have no problems recommending this book to a beginner or someone looking for something a little different.

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