Swedish fortune-telling with playing cards - an ancient method from the Secrets of the Sibyl

Swedish Fortune-telling with Playing Cards

Swedish fortune-telling with playing cards - an ancient method from the Secrets of the Sibyl

The Swedish fortune-telling card meanings below are from the book Sibyllans Hemligheter (Secrets of the Sibyl), edited by Sven Linde published in 1977. This book is a collection of the best practical divination and magic tricks (stage magic and mentalism) from very old Swedish sources. I do wish Mr. Linde revealed his sources!

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Sibyllans Hemligheter Swedish Fortune-telling

If divination and stage magic seem an odd mix to you, let me assure you that I agree. I happily skipped the magic tricks portion of the book and went straight for the astrology and divination sections. This was my favourite book as a child and many years after my grandmother died, my father passed it on to me. Sadly, this book is no longer with me. It went into the recycling skip during a religious trauma episode.

Many Methods and Traditions of Swedish Fortune-telling

There are actually several sets of meanings and methods included in the book. Hence, I decided to publish the most popular set. The most popular Swedish fortune-telling method is with only 36 cards from a 52-card deck. This means you have to first remove the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s from the deck.

This set of meanings requires a layout based on four rows of nine cards in each row, which is also a popular layout for the Lenormand cards.

Swedish Fortune-telling Playing Card Meanings


Ace: love letter, impending marriage
King: uncertain promises, happy news
Queen: a forgotten lover
Jack: an unfaithful lover
Ten: good news from one’s place of birth
Nine: joy, frivolity
Eight: good prospects for the future; if next to the 7 of Clubs – unexpected happiness
Seven: almost no meaning but if it is the 11th card from the signifier, it could mean comfort in suffering
Six: obstacles and delays in business


Ace: house or property in the country; also, faithfulness in a lover. If the card is under the 7 of Spades, it means success in business. If it is the fifth card to the left of the signifier, a secret that the querent has entrusted to a friend will be revealed
King: friendship, faithfulness, reliability
Queen: an honest woman
Jack: a bad man, a secret advisor; together with the 7 of Spades and the 9 of diamonds – a seducer. A sign that one’s lover is about to stray.
Ten: good fortune and respectability; however, in the same row as the signifier, it means an annoyance
Nine: unpleasant adventures, opposition
Eight: good health; pleasant dreams. Together with the 8 of Clubs and the 6 of Hearts, it means news of a fire.
Seven: a minor gift of gold, silver or other metal
Six: wishes fulfilled; news of distant acquaintances; travels. If the 9 of Spades is left of the 6 of Diamonds, it signifies the ‘final journey,’ i.e. death.


Ace: false messages, letters, a love affair. If the Ace is reversed (tip of Sword pointing upward), it means tender, innocent love. The upright meaning indicates an illicit love affair.
King: rivals, stalkers, false people
Queen: an unfaithful woman
Jack: a fake, a crook, false people
Ten: adversity/distress, if it is next to the signifier. The 7 of Spades above the 10 of Clubs counteracts the bad news.
Nine: defamation
Eight: a dark gift
Seven: illness and bad things, if next to the signifier.
Six: a celebration, company, a trip for pleasure, especially next to high-ranking cards in the same suit.


Ace: pride, false shame, remorse
King: revenge, punishment, injustice; also, sad news. The bad meanings of the King are counteracted if it falls under the Queen of Spades.
Queen: (next to the signifier) backstabbing by a person the querent has helped, the nearest Courier will reveal if the backstabber is dark or fair
Jack: false friends
Ten: unreciprocated love; also sadness and disease
Nine: death, and huge suffering when the 9 of Swords is next to the signifier. If the 13th card from the signifier is black, there will be a death in the family.
Eight: severe illness next to another black card (especially the 9 of Spades); company and travel if the Eight is in the same row as the signifier and surrounded by the 8 of Clubs, the 9 of Diamonds or the Jack of Hearts
Seven: the house where the signifier lives; if the 6 of Diamonds is next to it – annoyances in the family
Six: travels by land or sea. Surrounding Courtiers may reveal travel companions.

In the four rows of nine cards, the reader pays extra attention to the 7th and 13th cards, both to the left and right of the signifier. There is more information about reading these cards in the book.

Combinations with the Suit of Hearts

Look first at the signifier (Queen of Hearts for a Lady and King of Hearts for a Gentleman) and the surrounding cards, noting also the 7th and 13th cards both to the left and the right of the signifier. Because the meaning of the cards depends on the surrounding cards, we must observe the following rules:

Ace of Hearts next to the signifier means that you will meet a person (either a lover or close friend) in a company where you would rather not meet him. If the 6 of Spades is in the same row, it means that you will have an unpleasant encounter during a trip.

If the King and Queen of Hearts are separated by the Ace of Clubs, it means happy future events. However, if the 7 of Diamonds is the first card in the row of nine, you can count on an argument instead.

The Jack of Hearts and the 8 of Spades in the same row as the signifier means family strife. If the 6 of Spades is also in the same row, you will embark on a journey which starts badly but ends well.

Number Card Combinations

The 10 of Hearts means an annoyance if the 9 of Hearts is the second card to the right of it. However, if the 10 of Diamonds is in the same row with the 9 of Spades and the Jack of Clubs on either side, it means that you will have news of the death of an acquaintance. The signifier should be in the second row for this to be certain.

When the Queen of Spades follows the 9 of Hearts, it means great joy for the seeker, especially if the Ace of Spades is not in the same row as the signifier. However, if the King of Clubs is in the same row, it means that unexpected events will disrupt any plans.

When the 8 of Hearts is between the signifier and the 10 of Diamonds, it means a large inheritance or that you can expect a large sum of money.

If the 7 of Hearts and the Queen of Clubs are found together right after the Ace of Spades, with the signifier in the same row, it means good fortune in business and to a farmer good crops.

When the 6, 10 and Queen of Hearts are in the same row and there are no other courtiers in that row, you can expect tears if the signifier is in the bottom row. If the Jack of Clubs is the first card in a row where the 6 and Queen of Hearts are, a surprise visitor will knock on your door.

Combinations with the Suit of Diamonds

The Ace of Diamonds in the same row as the signifier (with no more Aces in the same row) means a lovely letter, as long as the 10 of Spades is not to the left of it, in which case it means sad news. The Ace of Diamonds, immediately followed by the 10 of Diamonds, in front (in the direction the signifier is looking) of the signifier in the same row: recorded delivery (valuable letter).

Two Jacks of different colours in the next row: a lottery win, unless the 6 of Swords is close to the signifier in which case it means bad luck. If the 6 of Spades is the 7th card from the signifier it also means bad luck in love. If the 6 of Spades is the 13th card away from the signifier, you can expect toothache or other ill health

The King of Diamonds next to the signifier: you will become acquainted with a person who will grow into a great friend. If the 10 of Diamonds is the next card, this person will become someone who will help and support you in your old age.

Unexpected Company

If the Queen or Jack of Diamonds are next after the 10 of Diamonds and the signifier is the last card in the row, it means unexpected visitors whose company you won’t enjoy. The Queen of Diamonds followed by the 9 of Hearts is a lucky sign for ladies but to men, it means loss through theft. Also, if the 6 of Spades is the card preceding the Queen of Diamonds it signals ill fortune during travels or while going for a walk. The Jack of Diamonds usually doesn’t mean anything good if next to the Queen of Clubs. However, when followed by a lower-value red card, he brings money to the person next to him.

When both red Jacks are in the same row as the signifier and separated by the 9 of Diamonds, you can expect good company and amusements, provided the signifier is a red card. Otherwise, you get the same meaning through two black 7s separated by a red Queen.

Number Card Combinations

The 10 of Diamonds as the 9th card away from the signifier is a lucky sign when the signifier is in row one, next to a black card. You can then expect a gift or money unexpectedly coming to you through events related to a journey. If the 10 of Diamonds is the 13th card from card one and the signifier is next to it, you can be certain of a lottery win.

8 of Diamonds and the King or Queen of Spades, separated by the signifier means a false and evil person who is trying to damage one’s good name and reputation. When there are several black cards in the same row or found in the 7th, 9th and 13th positions, it signifies grave illness.

7 of Diamonds next to the signifier, with three 9’s in the same row, is a sign of happy future events.

If the 6 of Diamonds is next to the 9 of Spades and the 10 of Spades is in the same row, it means illness and possibly death.

Combinations with the Suit of Clubs

The Ace of Clubs next to the signifier foretells lies or gossip from a friend. Who this friend might be is shown by the closest courtier, counting the 7th, 9th or 13th card.

Having the King and Jack of Clubs next to each other in the same row as the signifier is a bad omen. This signifies the need for extreme caution in all relationships and endeavours.

When the Queen of Clubs and the Queen of Spades are related to the signifier, you will experience troublesome interactions, causing grief and unexpected expenses.

When the Jack of Clubs is between two Queens of different colours, the one having his or her fortune told has a cheating spouse. If he is between two other Jacks, there is little hope for the future. However, these two rules only apply if the Jack of Clubs is in the same row as the signifier.

Number Card Combinations

When the 10, 7 and 6 of Clubs are next to each other in the same row as the signifier, you will find yourself in grand company. If one of the black Kings is also in that row, one person in this company will offend you.

The 9 of Clubs does, as previously mentioned, in general, imply defamation. However, if the Ace of Clubs is next to the signifier, the words will return to cause harm to the backstabber.

When the 8 of Clubs is the last card of the bottom row and the signifier is in the top row, you can expect a gift or present.

The 7 or 8 of Clubs in front of the signifier means unexpected happiness. If the Ace of Hearts is the next card, you will experience good fortune through marrying into money or by an inheritance from someone outside your own family.

The 6 of Clubs surrounded by lots of Courtiers means an invitation to a large party or large gathering.

Combinations with the Suit of Spades

When the Ace of Spades is the second card to the left of the significator and the card separating them is the 10 of Clubs, ill fortune will surely strike – especially if the Ace is upright.

The King of Spades next to the Ace of Spades: news of someone falling ill. If the King of Spades is card number 13 from the 10 of Clubs (with the latter in the same row as the significator), incredibly bad news can be expected.

The Queen of Spades is usually considered an unpleasant card, whether it is found next to the significator or when counting the 7th, 9th and 13th cards. This means unpleasant conditions, especially if the 7 of Clubs or the 9 of Spades are next to the significator.

The Jack of Spades to the right of the significator, with three 9s in the same row (two of them should be black), means news of an unexpected death or the seeker falling ill.

Number Card Combinations

The 10 of Spades and the Queen of Hearts in the same row, with the significator in the row above, means winning money – most likely lottery winnings.

When the 9 of Spades follows the 6 of Spades and the significator is the 5th card away from the 6 of Spades: an invitation to attend a funeral. If the 9 of Spades, the Jack of Diamonds and the Ace of Hearts are in the same row, it means sponsorship outside the family. The courtier in the row above is then usually the person you will be sponsoring.

If the 8 of Spades is on either side of the significator and the King of Spades is the other flanking card, it means troubles that will last for a long time. However, if the King of Diamonds is next to either of these two cards, a person of standing will assist you in overcoming your ill fortune.

The 7 of Spades as the second card from the significator, with the 9 of Spades separating the two, means a loss in the family.

The 6 of Spades next to the significator: expect losses both during travels and on the home front.

If you enjoy this post about Swedish Fortune-telling, you will probably enjoy THIS POST about our ability to predict the future and THIS POST about doing a weekly fortune-telling experiment.

Pairs and Multiples in Swedish Fortune-telling with Playing Cards

Four Aces in the same row means love or marriage, especially if either of the black Aces is upside down.

Four Kings in the same row foretells all kinds of happiness. Either the seeker is already a powerful person or they are about to be elevated to a position of power.

Three Queens in the same row as the significator means that the seeker will be loved by someone of the same colour as the middle Queen. However, if the signifier is positioned so that there is only one card to the left of it, this instead signifies receipt of an entertaining letter from a female.

Two red Jacks side by side, when the signifier is in the row above, means companionship, a joyful meeting or good news.

Three tens in the same row, with the two black tens in front of the signifier, foretells sadness, grief and misery. If the signifier is turned away from the black tens, the same will happen to a friend or acquaintance but the seeker will be spared.

Three nines, where two are red, in the same row as the signifier, means good news from distant relatives.

Three eights together is usually good news. However, if either of them is separated by the 10 of Spades, a love affair will cause grief.

Two black sevens in front of the signifier foretell grave illness. However, if either of the red sevens are in the same row, the illness will pass quickly and the seeker will receive a gift to commemorate their recovery.

Four sixes in the same row signify luck in love and marriage to the person who has their card to the left of the sixes.


Comments 15

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  1. Your posts and insights are always so accurate and meaningful for me, and I so appreciate them. The moment I saw the title of this post I was intrigued and then saw a similarity in the comments of other readers. When I was a child I picked up playing cards and “read” them as a game until an adult told me not to. I’d unwittingly gotten too close to the truth. It took me over 15 years to pick up a tarot deck after that. That was 40 years ago. I guess we will look for information in the tools as they present them whether they are playing cards or formal tarot or oracle decks. The wisdom is consistent. Thanks for all the information and gifts you share, Lisa. Much appreciated.

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      Thanks Jan, so pleased you find my posts meaningful. People are always afraid of the things they don’t understand. I had to battle ignorance (my own as much as that of others) during the years I served in the church. Blessings

  2. When I was a little girl I was desperate for tarot cards but wasn't allowed them, so I used to try and use playing cards. The memories are as clear as day!

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  3. Thanks Lisa for sharing this info. It reminded me my childhood in Latvia when my grandmother taught me how to do card readings with playing cards. Natural Psychic – Gunita Zaube

  4. Hi Lisa

    Thank you so very much for sharing this. I'm very much interested in this. I have been reading with deck of playing cards (full deck 52 cards) and also the lenormand based 36 cards. The meanings come from lenormand. But I would like to know more about how to read these cards together regarding given meanings.

    Thanks a lot & much appreciated

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