Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards



I am reviewing an old and unusual set of divinatory cards.  They are not tarot cards, nor do they belong to traditional cartomancy.  They are the Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards.  The Gypsy Witch cards have been around for a long time. They were first published in 1904 and have been around ever since, and predate many of our better known tarot decks such as the famous Rider-Waite deck which was first published in 1909.

This is a curious deck of cards.  They claim to be based on ideas by the famed French cartomancer, Madam Lenormand.  There are numerous Lenormand style decks that make use of mnemonic images on the cards.   The images and their meanings don’t seem to correspond to the accepted meanings attributed to the suits or numerology.  The Lenormand style cards are unique in themselves, and today we’d call this style of deck oracle cards. 

The Gypsy Witch deck is a facsimile of the Lenormand decks that were developed after her death.  This Gypsy Witch deck is a standard deck of playing cards, but each card has an illustration and the meaning written down.  The illustrations are old Victorian style images.  This adds charm to the deck.  With the meanings of the cards written on each card, we’d think it would be easy to use.  There is nothing to memorize. I bought my deck out of curiosity long ago.  However, I rarely used these cards. Why?

I have issues with the Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Deck.  First, these cards have no relationship with traditional cartomancy or the tarot.  Cartomancy certainly has a wide variety of  interpretations towards any card’s meaning, but there are some simple “rules”.  One is the meaning of the suits.  The heart represents matters of the heart and emotion; the diamond represents matters of money and commerce, and so on.  With this deck, the pips and numbers have NO relationship with the meanings and imagery depicted. 

Comparing gypsy witch cards with tarot cards

Comparing gypsy witch cards with tarot cards

Scary cards

Scary cards

Above is an example of their Aces compared to the same with the Rider-Waite deck.  Do the meanings written on the card have any relationship with the suits?  Expect for the Ace of Spades, no.  Which begs the question, is any correspondence necessary?  Are there really any rules when it comes to inspiring our intuition?  Is any system of symbolism only in our imagination?  Probably.  Intuition does not follow rules.   But I like to think there is some sort of system behind cartomancy.  If there is a system behind the Lenormand style decks, I don’t understand it. 

Another issue with these cards is their meaning is literally spelled out on each card. Reading people’s fortunes is not a game.  Many people take it quite seriously.  If a deck has written meanings that the participant can read along with the reader, it takes away from the reader their responsibility to “soften the blow” if something negative is seen.   Who knows if a reading will ever become reality?  And this deck has quite a few scary cards.  I have a pair of images to the left.  Imagine if someone saw these two in their layout…the 5 of Spades, with an image of a coffin, combined with the 10 of Diamonds, the Scythe, suggests an early death.  Spelled out right on the card.  Yikes!  That is way too literal.

One thing I like about this deck is its method of reading cards, which seems intriguing.  It could easily be used with tarot cards.  It uses a card to represent the participant in the center, and is surrounded by an inner square of eight cards, and an outer square of eight cards.  The inner square of cards shape the destiny of the participant, and the outer square of cards represent the forces surrounding him or her.    Below is a chart I made to show how it works. This type of layout has a lot of possibilities, and makes for a change from the typical Celtic Cross layout.



Print out these instructions, right click and print:

Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Instructions

Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Instructions


The reverse side of the instruction booklet:

Instructions reverse side

Instructions reverse side

63 Responses to “Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards”

  1. karina Says:

    I am the 4th generation of women in my family successfully using the cards. What I am interested in knowing is how to get a copy of the book, “Gypsy Fortune Telling.” Please get back to me if you have any information.

  2. tonia Says:

    I had been taught by my grandmother to read the regular playing cards and I do them differently from the one that is shown, it is interesting non the less, I believe that it doesn’t really matter how you read the cards to an individual, your gift comes through to serve the person you are reading. On numerous occasions I would get a call back in less than a week from the person to be told how accurate the reading was for them. I always forget after a reading what was said, I believe the message came from my higher self to this person and the message was not meant for me to remember. thanks so much for the gypsy card info.

  3. Kyra Says:

    I am missing 7 cards due to leaving them out around my small children. I have had the cards forever (like 15 years). Should I keep my deck and supplement other cards for the missing ones? Or buy new? If I should keep, please tell me the card # description and picture of 9 of spades, 9 of hearts, ace 2, 4 and king of diamonds? thanks!

  4. Teri Says:


    My sister, who recently passed away, inherited a deck of these cards that were from the 1930’s. We did not live in the same state, so every time I visited her, which was maybe 2 times a year, she would read my fortune using these cards. All I can say is that every card reading was correct for my past and future experiences. The Death and the Scythe cards you describe can be interpreted different ways and should not be taken literally. With that said, I did get the coffin card a little over a year ago in one of my readings and we figured it was the experience of the death of my marriage (which was true); however, now I find it uncanny that my sister has died recently. Again, I find these cards to be accurate. Smudge and be sure to think positive thoughts while shuffling and prior to the reading. Thanks.

  5. David Says:

    I still have my first Tarot deck I bought as a teenager, and use it to this day. I’d buy a new deck and replace the missing cards. Your old cards has personal history to them. Don’t ever discard them, but pass them to your family when you leave this world.

  6. David Says:

    Hi Karina,
    I did not write “Gypsy Fortune Telling”, so I can’t help you there. I I did include an image of the instructions for the deck for those who may have lost it.

  7. David Says:

    Premonitory dreams are very real. Not all of them, but we know them when we dream them.

  8. Shae Says:

    Is it possible to read for a friend or relative who lives across the country or can you just pick the cards as your intuition tells you? If so, do they pick three or four cards and you use them, as for eg. in a three card spread, etc.? What is the best way to read for them? Thanks.

  9. David Says:

    Hi Shae,
    I think you are onto something here. Face-to-face tarot readings are filled with personal interaction, and we might be reading more what the participant taking the reading is thinking. We become something of a therapist. But to read from a distance without any clues from the participant, that is a real test. I think if a person has a true talent, it can work. However, I believe the tarot is a tool for personal interaction, and someone that has a talent with understanding human nature can stand out. The tarot has many uses.

  10. Marie Says:

    I inherited a deck of Lenormand cards (48 cards). I have had this deck for a while and do not use this for tarot reading. Recently I opened this inherited deck and have found that #37 is missing – to me this in itself is a sign. Can you help?

  11. David Says:

    Hi Marie,
    That is very cool, an inherited deck. I doubt you’ll be able to find card #37 alone, but it might be possible if you look around online. Missing one card is not so bad, the deck can still be used for divination.

  12. Nicole Says:

    My deck is not like the ones u guys have here. I cannot figure out how to properly read them. They say Madame Le Normands gypsy fortune telling. Very old cards. Anybody help?

  13. David Says:

    You may have an older version of what we now have commonly known as the Gypsy Witch deck. I’d suggest you google “Madame Le Normand” for images and you might recognize the deck online. Then you’d likely know what you have. If it is old, then you have a gem!

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