Intro to Reading Mah Jongg Cards

As a practitioner of Tai Chi, I find myself becoming interested in all things related to Eastern thought. My friend, Diane, and I (she is a Medium), have always read cards and come out with very accurate interpretations. She and I, you could say, are “card buddies.” Recently we both began reading the Chinese cards and got what we thought were very good interpretations.

Most people know the Mah Jongg as a tile card game, however few realize the cards can be read as well. Unlike regular Tarot cards, the Mah Jongg Oracle has a total of 144 cards, which at first may seem overwhelming. However, we quickly learned that there are four sets of duplicate cards (34 cards each). Each set is comprised of three Suit cards (9 each), and seven Honors cards. Lastly, there are eight “Guardian” cards.

I love the Guardian cards. They offer help and guidance through difficult times. In essence, when a guardian card is drawn it is always replaced by another card, so two cards end up occupying the spot of one. (One is “guarding” the other). The Guardian cards have beautiful names as follows: Plum Blossom, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, Bamboo, Fisherman, Woodcutter, Farmer and Scholar. These cards are meant to represent the seasons, and seasonal occupations. In Chinese painting, the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo are known as the “Four Nobles,” exquisite examples representing the four seasons. The four occupations represent humble yet honest callings (the Fisherman, Woodcutter, Farmer and Scholar). In traditional Chinese folklore, it is believed that four mortals from these occupations were transported to the celestial realm because of their pious work ethics.

The three suits are as follows: Bamboo, Circles, and Wan.

The Bamboo suit is involved with refinement and tranquility, essentially inner happiness. This suit represents family relationships and health. The Bamboo suit teaches patience and understanding. The Willow, which is number nine in the Bamboo suit, shows strength through flexibility. The Duck, number 2, demonstrates the quality in a steady partnership, whether it is a business or marital union.

The next suit is that of Circles, which was the first suit in the Mah Jongg tiles. Circles of course, are the symbol that most replicate nature, and are seen in all religions, whether old or new. This suit is concerned with business and money, much like the Pentacles in a Tarot deck. And just like Tarot cards, the Mah Jongg cards are interpreted depending on the question asked. For instance, if someone were to ask about love, it would be important that the 2, 6 and 8 Circles be present. They are Pine (2), Peach (6), and Tiger (8). The pine usually represents a young man, lover or brother or friend, with the strength and firmness of a pine tree. The Peach represents a young woman, with the softness and fragrance and velvety texture of a peach. Tiger symbolizes authority, masculinity, bravery and aggression. This symbol usually represents an authority figure.

Next suit is that of Wan, representing abstract concepts such as the visionary, theorist, and perfectionist. These are individuals who value academic achievements and the fulfillment of ideals over the mundaneness of everyday life. Wan, in Chinese, means ten thousand, which can be translated to mean any large number. For instance “ten thousand things” can mean the entire universe, while “ten thousand people” can be everyone in the world.

In readings, a high number of Wan cards would generally mean the querent would be disappointed in their answer. As an example, if asking about romance, the Sword (2) and Knot (8) would represent severing the relationship. If there are a large representation of circle cards without these three, it is demonstrating that priorities are not in the right order, and the querent should reconsider this partnership.

Read more about Mah Jongg cards next week!

2 thoughts on “Intro to Reading Mah Jongg Cards

  1. Ariel X9775

    Hi Lovely,
    Yes~! I absolutely luv the diminutive size of the cards, plus the pictures on the back. They appeal a sense of “less is more”, or understatement, but deliver quite a “punch”~!
    Thnx for your kind comments.
    Much luv & lite,

  2. The Lovely Duckling

    Thanks for the interesting article, Ariel! I am not surprised that Mah Jongg tiles can be used in such a way…the Chinese have so many other forms of divination.
    I love to play the game itself, but it’s always been on a computer. I would love to have a set of tiles (now for more than one reason)! When I told my Chinese students that I like to play Mah Jongg, the teased me unmercifully because it is ‘an old people’s game’. LOL! Apparently the more youthful game is Go, but I have yet to figure out how to play it.
    Can’t wait to read more about this, Ariel!!!


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