'The Pythia' of Delphi Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia



The World of The Supernatural has always had a close relationship with the skills or natural born gifts of those who can predict or foretell the future.  The Delphic Oracle, The Pythia (see picture above) was one of the most famous examples of those who were asked to see into the future, with ill-fated Casandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy being the most tragic example of someone with this gift.


I think it would be a good idea for me to explore this art, for the purposes of 'filling out' my background knowledge of the subject should it ever be an inherent facet of the stories I write.  My knowledge of prediction?  More or less nil, so follow me as I explore the various methods and devices used in this ancient art.  I hope at the end of our journey both you and I will have benefited from a thorough and objective examination of the techniques used to tell the future, at the very least, we should be a hit at dinner if the scintillating table conversation dries up!

The Tarot

This is my first port of call in my journey through the World of Prediction and Foretelling the Future.  Why?   Well, it's the first one I thought of that 'sprang to mind' and is a relatively old and intriguing way of foretelling the future, used both in the past and today.  Tarot cards apparently date from the 15th Century and a brief outline of their history and use can be found if you click on the Wikipedia link below:-



Out on the Tarot Trail - November 2015

Photograph © Paul Fitz-George 2016

Here's a picture of me in action from a week ago, when I attended a craft fair and did fifteen or so readings at my table.  My clients were lovely people and I hopefully satisfied their curiosity once they had crossed my palm with 'Coin of The Realm'. 

A really interesting evening with the cards working their usual magic for my delightful enquirers.  The deck I used by the way was the standard Tarot of Marseille, Major Arcana only.  The spreads I limited to a three-card a past, present, future spread and a three-card Veil spread to answer one question at the reading's end.


Obtaining Your Instruments of Prediction

So first steps, you need to buy a tarot deck and I purchased the full sized Major Arcana of 22 cards of the Tarot of Marseille on Amazon, I just liked the look of it.  There are many other designs of decks you can use and you can also obtain them online at Waterstones or at your local Waterstones, 'New Age' or "Occult' shops.  These outlets will usually have a good selection of both cards and instruction books for you to choose from. 

At the moment I'm not going to use the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana as this is just too much detail for me to take in right away and I've decided that the Major Arcana will do just fine, until I have got the hang (pun intended) of simple small spreads.


A Simple Three Card Reading

I've read Tarot card reading instructions and help on several websites and I'll be placing  links to these on the site in due course.  Opinion on how to actually do a reading, is on the whole quite diverse with no standard or definitive system is held up as a benchmark for the would-be practitioner. 

The following is one example of card reading I gleaned for a simple 'Three Card Spread' that gave me a snapshot on what 'The Fates' - 'The Moirai'  had in store from me.

I asked the cards for an indication (as far as 'The Fates' were concerned?) of what My Past was or was believed by them to have been, What My Present Status is and lastly, the most important question...What Did The Future Hold For Me?

Here is the simple method I used: -

  • I turned all the cards upside down in a heap and then just shuffled and turned them around and around face down on the table
  • Keeping them face down, I brought them together into one deck
  • I then dealt the cards out into three equal piles, still keeping them face down
  • I then joined the three piles (mini decks) together one on top of the other. Do this in any way you feel inclined to, i.e. whatever takes your fancy or whim at the time but keep the cards face down at all times
  • I then dealt out just three cards from left to right, face up this time and read them from left to right, i.e. from the past to the future.  Note that this methodology can vary from reader to reader
  • I then read and interpreted the spread using the key in the pack's instruction booklet along with the Wikipedia page on the subject.


The Cards' Meaning

So you've done your spread, what did the cards you've dealt out mean?  What does the future hold for you?  The answer seems to be, whatever you personally believe they reveal.  The meaning obtained is a totally subjective one arrived at by the the reader, or the client consulting a reader, using the keys in the links above and their skill (or lack of it?)

Cost wise, it's not too expensive, provided you shop around for the cards and the books that give instruction on their use.

If you are thinking of consulting a reader, do check them out thoroughly via reviews and  feedback etc. on the web, as like every other skill or gift, readers will vary from the competent and skilled practitioner, to the incompetent charlatan, so the axiom 'let the buyer beware' most definitely applies.

Here is a quick guide by Kate that I found on YouTube that might be of help to you and there are plenty of other websites that give information about the cards.  She does a three card reading in a pleasant and easy to understand way and there are several links to other sites at the side of Kate's reading that show techniques associated with the reading of Tarot cards.  Kate is using a different deck to my one, with cards like the VII being the 'Eight of Cups' in her deck and 'Justice' in mine and you will find that cards vary from deck to deck.  So click on the YouTube link below to listen to Kate's lesson.


Update 15th October 2015 - Well, I've been practicing the three card reading (past, present, future) on myself and friends and family and it seems to work well, encouraging one person to change tack at a business meeting and achieving more than they thought they would. 

On the 16th of October 2015 I read my own cards, a three card past, present and future spread and the following sequence appeared:-

Photograph © Paul Fitz-George 2016

According to this fortuitous hand, I should:-

1) The Fool (past card)  - be experiencing a new opportunity or challenge  with

2) The Sun (present) - achievement and success and...

3) The Wheel of Fortune (Future) - an unexpected stroke of luck, with a fortunate change of circumstance, huzzah!

= a dashed good hand!!

It's now the afternoon of the 18th of October and as yet no major fortunate happenstance has occurred to change my life!! I wait with baited breath for fortune to smile upon me and will inform you (yea or  nea) as and when this does/doesn't occur.

Asking Questions?

I did say that I'd be trying out the Major Arcana, 'three card one question hand' and here is the result of my investigations into this burning question (pun intended)!

This methodology comes from the very good Biddy Tarot site.  I have actually used it at public readings and it seems to work well, so worth a go if you are after the answer to a 'specific question' e.g. will I get that job, be lucky in love, gain world domination a week next Tuesday etc.  This reading is also know as the 'veil spread' or 'veil reading' and it goes like this:-

Shuffle the cards using a standard shuffle or a messy shuffle, whichever you prefer.  Here's Biddy's advice on tarot deck shuffles, just click on the word shuffle - SHUFFLE to watch her YouTube tutorial video. 

Lay your cards out this time horizontally, the top card being the situation or question you are asking.  The card placed directly below that is the problem, i.e. the veil (hence the reading's name) or obstruction that is preventing you from seeing a clear answer to your question.  Finally, the bottom (last) card, is the advice the cards are giving you on the action you need to take to remove the obstruction and resolve your question successfully.

It's then up to you to use whatever decoding system or book you prefer, to interpret the question's answer and work out your future strategy, based on what the cards you've just dealt have shown. It's an interesting one and if doing it for someone else (they shuffle first of course), it helps if they tell you what their question is, otherwise it can get a bit drawn out and complicated on the interpretation front.

Here is a clip to another video of Biddy's that gives a mini tutorial on the methodology for the veil reading, just click on the word veil - VEIL, good luck!




© Photograph by kind permission of BBC Enterprises


As promised, here is a quick overview of those ancient Norse instruments of prediction, runes.  I first came across them when I and my fellow school chums were about fourteen years old and heavily into J R R Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', using them to write all-powerful 'words of diabolical magic', oh yes!  Not really I'm afraid and neither alas, were we able to turn our incredibly ratty and demonic physics master Mr Bliss, into an 'orc who had a case of the constant runs'.

However, I did find them fascinating and my seminal exposure to them in The Hobbit and of course later on in The Lord of the Rings, was reawakened when that fabulous TV series 'The Last Kingdom' came on to our TV screens last year, care of BBC TV or BBC TV America (depending on where you watched it).

Watching their use in episodes when cast as magically conjured advice for the wronged young King Uhtred (played by the handsome and butch Alexander Dreymon), by his feisty and captivating warrior maid companion Brida (who was played by the gritty and alluring Emily Cox), helped rekindle my boyhood interest in them.  I of course purchased a bag of gold engraved black rune stones the very next day, these just one of the many kinds available on sites like Amazon.

So I bought the runes, but what was I to do next by Odin?  Fortunately and at more or less the same time, my perceptive son James (obviously a chip off the old parapsychologist's block), bought his old dad a very, very interesting book, 'The Book of English Magic' by Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate, from of all places the British Museum's bookshop, a place awash with magic!


Photograph © Paul Fitz-George 2016

This has proved invaluable in executing simple three rune readings on the same basis as those used for tarot cards e.g. past-present-future, or the single question 'veil spread' system and I particularly like the simpleness of the methodology suggested in the book and the tips on interpretation.  I actually found that I had to cross-check some runes in the information leaflet provided in the bag, with those in the book, as some of the symbols can vary and need to be nailed down interpretation wise if an accurate reading is to be made.  In short you simply:-

  • Put your hand in the bag and allow three runes, one at a time, to 'find' your hand - you'll know what I mean when you do it, it is after all magic!
  • Lay them out top to bottom or left to right, whichever you prefer and then using your book of interpretation (I used the 'Book of English Magic' naturally'), work out what the stones are saying.  One thing I noticed and should point out, is that interpreting the future and 'what will be', proved not to be as easy when I used runes as when I used tarot cards.  Maybe you will find this is not the case for you, though I personally found it more difficult.

Rune reading then, is really as easy as that future seekers and as with writing, the only way you'll become proficient in their use is to get your runes and interpretation book out daily and get divining!

Here are some links to the 'runes available' page on Amazon and that great guide 'The Book of English Magic', which will hopefully expedite your divining career, just click on their names below to go to them.



The Future!

I'll be updating this area regularly, so do pop back occasionally to see what new or very old instruments of prediction I have come across and am dabbling in.  Needless to say if I've managed to predict the next set of lottery numbers, I may have the update executed by one of the many magical minions I can now afford to employ!


Paul Fitz-George

O.A.Dip. (Tarot & Cartomancy)

O.A.Dip. (Rune Divination)

© Paul Fitz-George, 2013-2016

The names English Ghosts and  englishghosts.com are the sole property of Paul Fitz-George and any unauthorised use or copying of these terms is forbidden.