Someone at a forum was assembling card combinations in an attempt to cover every (or at least, most) eventualities that might arise in a reading, notably around people’s relationships.

I don’t think a reader can, or should, be prepared for every eventuality that is going to come up. Basic combinations of cards can be good to have in mind, and they help the reader learn the language of the cards. Most cartomancy books teach in this fashion, by including sample card combinations. Usually they aren’t exhaustive, but rather are meant to show the learner how the art of reading into multiple cards works. They are a valuable learning tool in that regards, sort of like training wheels on a bicycle.

Combination lists also suggest that life can be neatly compartmentalized, but life doesn’t work that way. Life is messy. It gets complicated. A romance could bring pregnancy, an infidelity, new friendships, ending friendships and a family reunion all in one fell swoop. (How does a swoop fall, I wonder? But I digress.)

Knowing certain combinations of cards can help with the basics, not unlike learning a new language where rudimentary vocabulary and rules assist in absorbing the language. It lets a language newbie know where the verb is and whether one should duck to avoid getting hit by something, or if a cute but harmless duck is waddling behind you.

I don’t think anyone should need (or want) to memorize a combination for every imagined contingency. That could stifle the most important tool of the card reader: intuition. The cards might want to say that a car accident will entail a trip to the hospital where love is going to blossom although it will end in ruin when it turns out that the potential love is an unknown cousin, but don’t worry, there’s a lottery win in the near future.

Yes, that’s a silly and contrived example. But hopefully it illustrates my point: real life is messy, so card readings will be messy too. Neither one can be fully prepared for.

Cicely Kent (I think) once made the distinction between someone who reads cards by following the rules — like a paint-by-numbers picture — and someone who is able to read the cards and get true knowledge out of them. The former is someone who knows “the meanings” and assembles them; this is like the tourist in another country armed with a phrasebook. The latter knows the cards and has gone beyond the rules and lists, and hears what they have to say, like a foreigner who has immersed himself in a culture to learn a language.

It is the latter that I always aspire to, and I imagine many of my readers do as well. I didn’t start that way; I wanted to know the rules too, so I could always produce insightful readings that were always correct.

There is nothing wrong with studying card combinations or noting ones that are meaningful. As I said, I think that’s a great exercise for learning, and no doubt those who grasp card “languages” in this fashion make great strides in their artful and intuitive reading abilities. My opinion is that this should be considered a crutch until one can  hear the language the cards speak while engaging one’s intuition.