Don't take those playing cards for granted. Take a break from blackjack and baccarat and learn a bit of playing cards' history below.
Playing Cards, the Suits and the Four Elements
As you know, a single deck is divided into four suits: spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. These four suits are known as swords, cups, wands and pentacles. They correspond to the four elements: fire, water, air and earth. These have hidden meanings that some people believe in.
Here are the correspondences of the playing cards' suits:
Spades Swords Fire Hearts Cups Water Clubs Wands Air Diamonds Pentacles Earth
Meanings of the Suits and Elements
The four elements were believed to be the creator of the universe. Everything was said to have come from the activities of the elements. Fire came first, and then water, air and finally earth.
The four elements were connected to the "humors" by the ancients. These humors have meanings related to the human personality.
Fire / Swords / Spades symbolize willpower, courage, strength and other masculine qualities.
Water / Cups / Hearts stand for love, emotions, imagination and the subconscious. These are feminine qualities.
Air / Wands / Clubs represent mind, speech and words. These are neutral qualities.
Earth / Pentacles / Diamonds signify wealth and matter.
The face cards also carry the traits of their elements. Court cards of the fire element signify men and women of action; those of water are sensitive and benevolent people and so on.
Numbers on the Playing Cards
Even numbers have meanings ascribed to them.
Number One or Ace represents beginnings, fresh ideas, new ventures, etc.
Number Two is duality, love and partnership.
Numbers Three is the number of fate and "karma" and the planet Saturn.
Number Four is completion and the material world, of wisdom and of Jupiter.
Number Five is said to be the number of man (half of ten, number of the universe) and Mars.
Number Six is a number of the divine and the Sun.
Number Seven is the number of love and Venus.
Number Eight is the number of intellect. Eight is also double the number four, meaning the positive and negative qualities of the four elements. Mercury rules this number.
Number Nine is the number of the soul and the Moon.
Number Ten is the number of the whole world, of Earth.
When a card's number is combined with its suit, it takes on a unique meaning used in divination. Divination is the art of obtaining answers from some method such as drawing from playing cards.
This is a brief survey of the mystical significance of playing cards that some people believe in. While it is not useful for gambling, it is good to know the history and origin of the playing cards we now use and enjoy.
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