Ace of Spades

ace of spades


Main Image/Theme:

Europa Riding the Bull

Once upon a time, Zeus looked down from the top of Mount Olympus and saw a beautiful young Phoenician woman named Europa and instantly fell in love. Unfortunately for Zeus, he was already married to Hera. (This, it seems, was more problematic for the virile god than the fact that Europa was his great great granddaughter, but that’s not part of the story for some inexplicable reason.) Fortunately for the story if not for his wife, Zeus was well practiced in the art of subterfuge and disguise.

Whether to attract Europa’s attention or to hide his infidelity, Zeus turned himself into a handsome white bull and mixed in with Europa’s father’s (no relation – only mentioned because you never can tell with these myths) herd. Europa saw the beast and couldn’t resist stroking his soft hide and running her hands over his hard muscles. Eventually, after weaving flowers around his horns (ahem), she pulled herself onto his back.

Slowly, so as to not alarm his rider, the bull ambled into the sea. Europa was so transfixed that she didn’t realize Zeus was swimming farther and farther away from shore until it was too late for her to swim back. They swam all the way to Crete, where the Zeus revealed his true self and made Europa queen of the Greek island.

Far from formidable eyes made his face appear tranquil. Agenor’s
Daughter was truly amazed that this beautiful bull did not seem to
Manifest any hostility. Though he was gentle she trembled at first to
Touch him, but soon she approached him, adorning his muzzle with flowers.
Then he rejoiced as a lover and, while he looked forward to hoped for
Pleasures, he slobbered all over her hands, and could hardly postpone the
Joys that remained. So he frolicked and bounded about on the green grass,
Laying his snowy-white flanks on the yellowish sands. As her fear was
Little by little diminished, he offered his chest for her virgin
Hand to caress and his horns to be decked with fresh flowers. The royal
Maiden, not knowing on whom she was sitting, was even so bold as
Also to climb on the back of the bull.

– Ovid, from Metamorphosis translated by Daryl Hine

The classical interpretation of this mythological event is to caution against straying from the family unit and to foretell despair. However, a modern reading of the myth changes the interpretation. If Europa was a willing participant in her own seduction, this becomes a coming of age story about a teenager’s sexual adventure. Given that, historically speaking, a woman’s advancement from child to adulthood always comes with some amount of pain or loss, it’s easy to see how this card has been traditionally interpreted as a bad omen. However, Europa was rewarded for the courageous act of climbing onto the back of a bull with the reign of Crete. I choose to interpret this myth as the movement from innocence to wisdom.

Ace of Spades:

This playing card represents contractual elements arising within a life; legal processes or transactions which may bring difficulties.

It can also announce the beginning of a period of mental depression, loss of a job, or loss of a loved one either through death or the end of a relationship.

It’s good to remember, however, that all things that come to an end can also be interpreted as a new beginning, a reframing, a tabula rasa.


Auriga – A greek charioteer holding a goat and its two young in his left hand, and the reigns of his horn in his right. It is interesting to note that this particular constellation “rides” the milky way, as Europa rides the bull. Again we have a traveling hero, this time a protector of the innocent. (Unless the charioteer’s planning on eating the goat family.)


I’m not sure what the significance of the letters are. If someone knows about a particular tradition of using letters for divination, please comment.

Image on the bottom left:

A woman stands in the doorway of her home with her hands in her pockets. The booklet that comes with the cards says she has a doubtful character, but it’s not immediately clear from the image why this is so. Perhaps because she’s hiding her hands? What does she have in her pockets?

Floral bouquet:

Paronychia, also called nailwort, gets its name from the fungal nail affliction it’s thought to cure.

Club moss is not a moss at all but a fern. The spores of this was used in Victorian theaters as flash powder for special effects.

Sweet pea was cultivated for its heavenly scent.

(I challenge you to ask the querent if they’re having trouble with fungal toenails….no, actually, don’t do that. I’m just kidding.)

Image on the bottom right:

A man sits at a table with a drink. Respect your body and don’t fall into excess.

Overall interpretation:

A massive change will happen which will cause pain and high emotions. However, in the end, the querent is likely land on their feet having eschewed all childhood influencers to follow their own path. Moderation is key. Remind the querent to care for their body and mind as they travel towards their true self. Try to enjoy the tears as much as the laughter.


For more information you can read Le Livre du Grand Jeu de Mlle. Lenormand: Les 54 Cartes et Leurs Définitions by Jean Didier, published by Éditions Trajectoire in 1997.

The explanation booklet I refer to, entitled The Famous Parlour Game and Secret Practices by Mademoiselle Le Normand: Fortune-teller By Cards to (Emperor Napoleon III), the Emperor Napoleon I, the Empress Josephine, King Louis XVIII, and Prince Charles-Louis-Napoleon Later to Become the Emperor Napoleon III came with the packet of cards first printed by B.P. Grimaud in 1845. My cards were printed in 1969

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