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Monday, May 20, 2013

MM: That Darn Joker

Dear Carolina Dean, 

I am interested in reading playing cards and have been studying a lot of different systems to get a greater understanding of the art. My question to you is, is there a use for the Joker in a playing card deck and if so how is it used in the process of reading playing cards?


Simone Latrelle 

Dear Simone, 

Thank you for your question.   The Joker is something of an enigma among card-readers and carries his own mystique. He is not associated with any suit and, therefore, stands alone and apart from the royal court.

The Joker, is thought to have derived its name from Jucker which is the German word for Euchre. Originally it was called The Best Bower and later it was known as the Little Joker or the Jolly Joker. Suffice it to say that the Joker is akin to The Fool in the tarot deck, and they have several similarities which is as it should be.

The Fool tarot card precedes the Joker by several hundred years (the Joker being introduced around 1860 by Euchre players who had modified the rules of the game) and The Fool is theorized to be the inspiration behind the Joker being depicted as a court jester as tarot decks at that time often depicted The Fool as a harlequin or a buffoon.  In the modern era, the Joker (along with the Ace of Spades) is specially designed as part of the manufacturer's brand (see image at left).

Some readers make use of this card and some do not. Of those that do, it is used in one of two ways. The Joker is used to represent the querent in the reading, that is, the person who is receiving the reading. In this instance, the Joker is either removed from the deck and placed on the reading surface before hand and then the querent shuffles the cards; or some readers make a habit of having the querent hold the Joker while the reader shuffle the cards herself, only stopping when directed to do so by the querent. The Joker is then placed on the reading surface and the cards laid out around him.

The Joker is left in the deck to act as a wild-card. In this instance he is said to represent everything and nothing. Cards that surround this card are usually said to represent what is close to the querent's heart. He can represent folly, and the results of poor decisions. Then again, he can represent fresh starts and new opportunities. Then again, he can represent the attainment of desire or simply the unknown. It is up to you, the reader, to decide if and how you wish to make use of the Joker in your playing card readings.

To learn more about the art of reading playing-cards, click here


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