The Skat cards, often called “Gypsy cards,” are a German method of fortune telling, or cartomancy, that uses just 32 playing cards from a regular deck of cards. The number cards from 7 up through Kings, plus the aces, are used. While the non-fortune-telling-game of Skat originated in Germany in the early 1800s, one can imagine that since there was bidding involved, men primarily played it.
The sparse information found about using Skat as a form of divination is usually linked to a grandmother or great aunt from Russia, Poland, Germany, or Hungary who learned to tell fortunes with playing cards from their own mothers. It’s easy to envision the women all slipping off to the kitchen when the men started their card games to read each other’s cards in hopes of divining the gender of their soon-to-be-born baby or the fate of their no-good, drunken son-in-law.
While the spreads and interpretations will vary depending on the reader and who it was that trained her in the oracular art of Skat card reading, there are a series of intricate rules and interpretations that govern the specific cards and their positions in a throw. The clubs and spades are typically the “negative” symbols in the system. The Queen of Hearts is always used to represent the woman who is seeking the reading. Skat readings focus on the factors, known and unknown, that are influencing the situation in question, the forces that led up to the situation, the probable outcome, and the emotions and hidden motives of the people involved. A Skat card reader is undoubtedly a person who comes from a long, strong line of ancestral intuitives and seers, or someone very in tune with occult divination practices from Eastern Europe in centuries past.