In his work, 'The Mystic Test Book', Olney Richmond explains the way in which a standard deck of playing cards can be used for divinatory purposes.

For you to understand the writings of Richmond, it is best that you understand a little about his background.

Olney Richmond was an astrologer and mathematician.  Most of the first writings appeared after he was involved with the forming of the Order of the Magi in Chicago, 1889.  There a temple was created where he lectured.   In 1892 he compiled a number of the 'Temple Lectures', which were published.

But it was in 1893, in his publication 'The Mystic Test Book', when we saw the introduction to the "Magic of the Cards".  According to Richmond, the playing cards (which they have been referred to since the Fourteenth Century) have a very ancient origin.  Many of the most ancient of nations claim their invention (Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, etc.).  The deck of cards is referred to as a 'book' and he claims it to be the oldest book known, dating to a time before the modern written languages were conceived.


According to the writings, the Egyptians were not the originators of the "Test Book". It appeared, said Richmond, over 15,000 years ago in Atlantis. Atlantis was a continent existing in the Atlantic Ocean that was segmented into 4 quadrants by 4 rivers flowing to the sea from one source, a mountain lake. Upon a large rock in the center of the lake was built The Palace of Kings - where the 4 kings ruled this ancient continent. Around the palace was built The Garden of Atlantis within which was planted every tree or fruit to delight the human senses.

Atlantis supported a civilization of highly evolved beings, nourished by the efforts of their advanced scientific and metaphysical communities. About 15,000 years ago when Atlantis was in the height of its civilization, colonies were established in Egypt and South America. The tradition of the Cards was brought to those colonies where the priests built temples for study and practice of that amazing science.

As is typical in our human history, improper use of these advanced opportunities paved the way towards its destruction. A great tragedy occurred and Atlantis sank into the Atlantic Ocean. Only the temples in Egypt and South America remained where the tradition of the Cards was kept alive. There is speculation not only as to the reason that Atlantis crashed, but also about whether it even actually existed.

One thing should be stated clearly:

If you do not believe in the existence of Atlantis, the science of the cards will be of little use to you and you should look for another form of divination.  I am convinced that belief in this fundamental historical principle is necessary for the intuitive mind to be aligned with the cosmic mind from which the science of the cards originates.

From my own discoveries and memories, one of the fundamental issues that arose when Atlantis crashed was that much of the daily practical use of this system was lost.  Even though the priests who colonized both Egypt and South America built temples and continued to practice the system, it was not a feature of daily life for the typical person in those colonies.  It was kept, rather, as a sacred science where it was mainly practiced by the priests and their proteges.  In Atlantis, practical use of this system had been widely spread throughout the culture. Therefore, there was a great reservoir of psychic awareness available to those who practiced the art.

We are again faced with similar circumstances that were present in both Atlantis, and its distant ancestor Lemuria.  Both Atlantis and Lemuria perished during great catastrophes which occurred at the height of their civilizations.  Our civilization today is at a technological high point as well, especially in the area of genetics.  Interestingly, this was one of the main failures of the Atlantean science towards the end of its reign.  The main failing was essentially a misaligned association with the accumulation of power.

The science of the cards as presented in 'The Mystic Test Book'

Olney Richmond brought this science to us in 1893 with his book, 'The Mystic Test Book'.  In short, it revealed:

  • How the science of the cards was first brought to us from Atlantis, where four rivers flowed from one source and four kings ruled in one capitol.  This was the Garden of Eden, where the Religion of the Stars was the only religion known or practiced. 
  • The formula for how the 52 playing cards are represented by the 52 weeks in the year, with the Joker taking up the remaining portion of the year.
    • Each card is assigned a 'spot value' based on its number, Ace being 1 and King being 13.
    • The 'suit value' (emblem value) for the cards are:  Hearts=0, Clubs=13, Diamonds=26 and Spades=39.
    • The 'solar value' of each card is the spot value added to the suit value, where is 1 and the is 52.
    • The number of cards in the deck = the number of weeks in the year, and the number of suits = the number of seasons in the year.
    • Each day of the week is related to one of the seven planets.
    • The spot values of the cards added together=364, which is the same as the 7 planets multiplied by the 52 cards in the deck.  The joker takes up the remaining 1 1/4 days, making it equal the number of days in the year (which takes into account Leap Day).

  • The way in which the deck is laid out and the manner in which to 'quadrate' the deck were described.
  • The formulation for associating each day of the year with a card was described as a purely mathematical phenomenon.
  • Olney stated that the layout of the deck (in its perfect order) was purely arbitrary, and it was not until the client shuffled and cut the cards, using a specific set of rules, would one be able to do a reading for the client.  This is an important concept that we will discuss later.
  • He placed the planets to the right of each row to represent the planetary ruler for that row.  In his readings, the columns were described as follows: 
    • The rightmost 2 columns (and a portion of the 3rd column from the right) were presented as energies relative to the past.
    • The leftmost 2 columns (and a portion of the 3rd column from the left) were presented as energies relative to the future.
    • The remaining 3 columns in the middle (not including those positions delegated to either the past or future) were to be taken as the present.

Olney had a way of describing the phenomena of the mechanics of this card science that is quite revealing.  For a person to understand the esoteric meaning behind much of the symbology and workings of this science, it is best to become acquainted with this original reference.

I have only touched on the most basic points described in 'The Mystic Test Book'.  There is quite a bit more content available in this reference that may awaken the inner thinker.