This was a subject that came up last week and got me thinking (from the rarified spiritual musings of the Ironwing last week to this week’s How to Win Big Bucks!) Somebody was asking if there was a tried and tested method of using cards – tarot cards – to choose lottery numbers. They didn’t specify winning lottery numbers, but I’m guessing that was the general idea. The subject is a fascinating one; all readers will tell you that at some point or other they’ll have heard the gauntlet-tossing challenge of ”well if tarot works how come you haven’t won the lottery?” Of course, tarot doesn’t work like that. It’s nebullous, it’s uncanny (we say), it works in mysterious ways and most of all it hates being specific. It will tell you what might happen, how you might feel, a possible outcome but it can’t tell you what the rate of inflation will be in Africa, or what a yen will be worth when you travel to Japan next year and it certainly can’t predict exact numbers for a lottery win, can it? For specifics, tarot seems to shie away. There are those who deem such uses of the cards “unspiritual” (as if spiritual was telling a lovesick teenager in Idaho or Innsbruck that, yes, tonight’s date will lead to something more.) I don’t subscribe to this at all, but I do think that the chances of my winning lottery numbers coming up – however I choose them - are very slim indeed. The chances of me drawing a selection of random numbers via cards which actually match those winnning numbers, is even more slim. The chances of these numbers matching the same week and country of the draw is very, very slim indeed. However, surely it is no more irrational using cards to choose lottery numbers than it is juxtaposing your birthday with your mum’s birthday, with the age of your dog and the number of your house, the usual method used to select a string of hopefully lucky numbers.
I don’t know how the lottery works in different countries, all I know is that it varies widely, but here, the “Euromillions” draw that happens twice a week requires you to choose seven numbers; five numbers from 1-50 and then two extra “star” or bonus numbers from 1-11. I believe the National Lottery in the United Kingdom also has a system along these lines. I have always chosen my numbers haphazardly – pen poised like a pin over a map – deep breath, eyes looking into the mid-distance as if invoking spirits, receiving messages from the beyond. This week, I thought it might be fun to use my cards. My first thought was of a deck which does actually have inbuilt lottery numbers; the Italian deck “Le Carte della Fortuna” published by Modiano (see photograph above). It is a 56-card deck and each card has a number in red in the top right hand corner. The deck can be used for conventional fortune telling and the artwork is a peculiar mix of Biedemeier naive with elegant 1930s. It is a very attractive deck and for those who read with Lenormands and can understand a bit of Italian (or any romance language) it is an easy deck to use and – with its playing card inserts – feels like good old-fashioned gypsy cartomancy. Yet if you fan it out on the table, you can use it to choose your lottery numbers. Except that the numbers 51-56 don’t really help you. Plus, how would you choose the 1-11 bonus numbers? Presumably you’d have to fish out the first eleven cards and randomly choose from these. There is actually quite a tradition of using cards to choose lottery numbers, especially in Italy. Lo Scarabeo have published the 52-card double-ended Sibilla della Fortuna which is described on the box as “for winning the lotto and super-lotto” and can be used for choosing numbers from 1-90.
Another possibility is an unused or incomplete tarot deck. At last! A use for those incomplete decks that you barter down to $1 at the yard sale. I have a Papus Tarot (pictured above) which numbers 51 cards. I am thinking of writing 1-50 on all cards except one. Or maybe write on a tiny sticker in the corner as ink might not penetrate the lamination. Numbers could be chosen this way. The big question of course is whether it could possibly work. Could using cards to choose lottery numbers possibly lead to a win? I decided this week to experiment and devise a system in the process. I have long been drawn to two Lo Scarabeo 78-card non-tarot decks, The Nostradamus Cards (one of my favourites, pictured below) and the Voices of Saints. There are no divisions in the cards, no Major Arcana or Minor Arcana, just 78 clearly numbered cards with no noticable structure to the deck.
The Nostradamus Cards have one number at the top of the card, while the Voices of Saints has the number duplicated at the top of the card. For this experiment, I decided to use the Voices of Saints, a deck made up of those Catholic holy cards. The LWB contains a brief description of the saint’s attributes and sometimes a little about their martyrdom and what or who they protect. Not the easiest deck to do divinatory readings with I have to say, which is why I decided to experiment another use for it. Some might see it as bordering on profanity to use a deck such as this – on a holy theme - for such a purpose but the saints have been invoked for centuries to intercede in trivial human pleas for improved fortune.
I separated the first 50 cards to choose my five main numbers. In another pile I set aside cards 51-61. Cards 62-78 were discarded. I shuffled the first 50 cards and cut them into five piles face down. The bottom card of each pile was my chosen number. I then mixed up cards 51-61 and chose my two bonus numbers; 51 would be one, 52 would be two, 60 would be ten, 61 would be eleven and so on. So I went along to the lottery shop and played with those numbers.
Now imagine my surprise when, upon checking the result the following day, I saw that I had won. Ok, before you all accuse me of making all this up, let me explain. I didn’t win the big bucks, I am not a millionaire, but I did actually select three numbers out of the seven, which really quite surprised me. Not the first prize but definitely not the last. Out of thirteen prizes, hitting on three numbers is the eleventh prize. I then decided to try again (feeling bold) a few days later using the same technique and – incredibly – won again (only two winning numbers this time; the thirteenth prize.) The winnings aren’t significant I must confess; maybe enough for a nice lunch somewhere, but it gave me the feeling of a “work in progress”. Maybe with a bit more work, if I try harder, concentrate more, shuffle more carefully, I might manage more than three correct numbers. Of course, I don’t take this seriously (I should add) but if you love cards, or have a deck which really doesn’t work for you as a reading deck, or one of those “out there” oracles with at least fifty cards then you might want to give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose. If you are someone who does the lottery, using a system such as this is as good a way as any to choose your numbers. Let’s face it, the chances of winning are so remote, you might as well marry it to the love of shuffling, dealing, cutting and give a function to an unloved deck.