A common technique for reading playing cards today generally classifies red as good and black as bad. That is, hearts and diamonds have positive meaning; whereas spades and clubs would have negative meanings. This means a spread with a majority of red cards, or a line that ends in a red card, would generally mean good things for the questioner whereas a majority of black cards would mean bad things are in store. A further refinement to this is that clubs aren’t quite as negative as spades; so a line ending in a club, for example, might mean a block that can be overcome through some effort.

This concept of red playing cards as generally having positive meanings appears to be a modern convention. I can’t say for certain that all “Romany” (32 card) methods follow this traditonal approach, as described by modern authors. But searching through historical sources, including Sepharial and A.E. Waite, suggest that card meaning assignments were more idiosyntratic; and a red card could be good OR bad, and the same goes for a club. Spades still mostly draw the short end of the stick, and carry largely (but not unanimous) negative meanings.

I’m still deciding how I feel about this. It’s convenient when an overview can determine the likely result or “feel” of a spread of cards, based on predominant color. This is similar to analyzing a tarot spread for majority suits, for example. Leo Martello and Regina Russell are two readers whose systems of cartomancy are based on this fact. However, does life have to be so black and white — or black and red?

One concept I really like from the traditional, or older, ways of card reading is that diamonds are more “reflective” of the suits nearby. (I’ve not seen it described that way, but that’s how I thik of it.) Diamonds would mean things that are sharp, or cutting, or they speed things up. Whether this is good or bad is determined by combinations.

The 9 of diamonds by itself might mean news or sharp instruments. Combined with the 8 of spades, a health card,  it now indicates surgery. (Which may happen sooner than later.) Reading all the cards is necessary to determine the outcome. If these two were followed by the 10 of clubs, it would likely mean the surgery would be successful — the goal of the operation would be met, and one can infer a typical recovery. The 10 of hearts would also mean a successful surgery, and probably an effortless recovery. But what about the 8 of hearts as the third card? In modern systems, red-black-red is usually good. But the 8 of hearts speaks of jealousy, and related actions. The outcome no longer seems so benign.

I’m not sure how I feel about this yet; I’m still doing research and experimenting with reading. I wanted to share my thoughts at this time.

Whether you have experience based on modern usage of suit colors, or you’re a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, you know the drill: if you have something to say on this, hit the comments. I’d love some opinions on this topic!