Heidi Kabel as Die Kartenlegerin

The German word for Cartomancer is Kartenlegerin. A YouTube search brings up two fascinating works. The first is the amazing singer/actor Heidi Kabel as the card reader in the made-for-TV play, Die Kartenlegerin (1968). A rough translation by Alexander Kurzwernhart of the reading is available in the Comments. One thing to note is the method of “counting cards,” which is a key cartomancy technique used when reading a layout of the whole deck (usually 32, 36 or 52 cards). One counts 5, 7 or 9 cards in any direction from the querent’s significator and from the significator of the ‘person of interest’. (It looks like she’s stabbing the cards with her finger.) Fast forward to Minute 6:00 to begin the reading.

Schumann’s – Die Kartenlegerin, Op.31 No.2

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote this song in 1840 (based on a poem in French “Les cartes ou l’horoscope” by Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780-1857)), about a young girl stopping her sewing to quickly read her cards while her mother sleeps. Learn more about it here. The translation comes from the Lotte Lehmann League. You might want to listen to the music while you read the English lyrics.

Has mother finally fallen asleep
Over her book of sermons?
You, my needle, now lie still,
Stop this constant sewing.
I shall read the cards,
Oh, what things can I expect,
Oh, how will it all end?
If I am not deceived,
One, I think of, will appear,
Great, here he comes,
The knave of hearts knows his duty.
A rich widow? oh dear.
Yes, he woos her, I’m undone,
Oh! the wicked scoundrel.
Heartache and much vexation,
A school with restricting walls,
But the king of diamonds will take pity
And comfort me.
A nicely delivered present,
He elopes with me, a journey,
Money and happiness in abundance.
This king of diamonds
Must be a prince or king,
Which means that it won’t take much
For me to be a princess.
Here’s a foe, who strives to soil
My name before His Majesty,
And a fair-haired man stands by me.
A secret comes to light,
And I escape just in time,
Farewell, O life of splendor,
Ah, that was a cruel blow.
The one is gone, a crowd
Surges around me
That I can scarcely count them all.
What’s this?
A dumb female apparition,
A wheezing old woman coming my way,
To banish love and happiness
Before my youth has gone?
Ah, it’s mother, who’s woken up,
Opening wide her mouth to scold.
No, the cards never lie.

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