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The first time we come in contact with the cards is usually in childhood when we associate the cards with magic tricks or simply, lucky symbols. There is probably not a child in the world who has not reflected on the meaning of the images and pips represented on cards. However, we do not think about the deeper meaning let alone the origins of cards until later age. Card symbols bear a certain meaning even today, and the roots of that meaning go deeper than you can imagine.

The History of Card Symbols

Many texts have been written on this topic. What we know for certain nowadays is that the provenance of card playing and gambling in general goes deep into the past, to ancient times. The researchers still cannot conclude without a doubt whether those origins relate to ancient China or ancient Egypt for example. One thing is for sure. People used cards as a mirror to reflect the reality.

In the ancient world, people used to decide on many crucial things by looking at the cards. Sometimes, they assigned a particular meaning to a particular card, and then played the game of prediction to guess the events that would unfold in the future.

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While doing a research for this text, I came across an interesting depiction of the use of cards in ancient Egypt. Reportedly, the historians believe that the main concerns the Egyptians had was how to protect the vast Egyptian knowledge on many subject and areas, from the enemy. For that purpose, they purportedly used cards as their secret language in the game of prediction. Namely, each card would represent one of their knowledges. The cards they used were a simple form of what later became known as the tarot cards.

The Relation Between Ancient and Modern Card Suits

If we believe that tarot cards originated from ancient Egypt, the fortune telling has roots in reality. Through out history, people used many different objects to predict the future, but only cards and the images they represent resisted the time.

Namely, it is believed that the magical aspect of cards was introduced much later, in the 18th or even the 19th century. Before that time, people genuinely believed that higher forces, spirits, or gods were talking to them through the object used for fortune telling. Spiritualism was part of a daily life and far more “real” than it is today. 

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The card symbols as we know them were used for predicting future events as well. The first time this happened was reportedly upon the arrival of people from the far East to Europe. There have been various interpretations of the meaning of card symbols. Since we are far away today from the time the card symbols were used for fortune telling, we can only assume their real meaning. Nevertheless, what we know for sure is that the meanings of suits, although suffered various interpretations, still bears the essence of all things dear to men. Hence, there are some standard meanings that we ascribe to card symbols today.

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Card Symbols and Their Meaning

Cards represent fields of life. Our lives consist of various areas: emotional, material, mental, and physical. Originally, the cards reflected those various areas that our souls travel through. Today, it is not easy to imagine binding your everyday routine to the card reading.

On the other hand, some decisions in table games, you need to make on a hunch. When doing so, it so interesting to know the following meanings of 4 card symbols.

  • Heart – it represents love and devotion. This is the symbol of birth, youth and all passions in life. People love to say that this card puts a focus on family and close relationships. In broader sense it represents the Spring season. 
  • Clubs – it represents communication and the exchange of ideas in general. Therefore, it is no surprise that people used to connect this symbol with knowledge, mental strength, reason. If heart represents the Spring, Clubs represent the Summer. This is very interesting when you come to think of it. Spring culminates with the arrival of Summer. Hence, the mind is the culmination or a higher level of our emotions – at least according to the meaning of card symbols.
  • Diamond – the favorite symbol of many gamblers. Diamonds relate to money. But this symbol has much deeper meaning. It usually stands for worth – the power behind the material representation. Accordingly, it represents Autumn – the time of the harvest.
  • Spades – This symbol speaks to our physical self. It relates to physical labor. You may have noticed that a spade is actually a digging tool with a blade. Spade represents winter, older age, and often – a diminishing physical strength.

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