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I’ve been working with the Oracle of Fortuna, a divination system created by the seemingly little-known occultist who used the moniker “Ophiel.” This is a method of divination with a playing card deck by playing a game of solitaire (patience). Specifically, the well-known game of Klondike — long familiar to Microsoft Windows users — is the base for this oracle.

An old method of divination using solitaire is based on the idea of winning the game to answer a question: if a person meets the winning condition the answer is yes, otherwise no. Ophiel’s system is more sophisticated, by fine-tuning the rules to allow for three end conditions, one of which is “winning.” However, he intended the system to provide guidance for its user. Even without a winning condition the reader is empowered to find where things might be stuck and get an idea of how to improve his situation.

Besides a standard 52-card deck, the reader needs a set of seven planetary cards and four elemental cards. Ophiel gives directions for making and using these. The energies shown by these cards are the extras that help turn the game into an oracle that can offer both coarse and subtle advice. Elements and planets allow for pinpointing issues according to elemental influence in a planetary sphere.

I’ve done three basic readings as I’m new to the Oracle of Fortuna. I cheated and used a tarot deck, so that I could substitute appropriate major arcana instead of creating planetary cards. I chose my pocket-sized Thoth deck, especially because it’s small; and partly because the majors have planetary glyphs visible on the cards. I removed the major arcana and princess cards, leaving me with a playing card deck equivalent for the game. The drawback of the Thoth is that the art is “busy” and distracting when these small cards are laid out to play solitaire.  I used the seven majors with planetary associations as the planet cards, and played the game according to Ophiel’s rules. As I was mainly interested in getting a feel for the rules, I wasn’t trying to get a detailed analysis at this stage.

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