Introduction to Kipper cards

As promised, my second blog post and the few that will follow are to be focused on Kipper cards. This fascinating deck of 36 cards has not had one fraction of the exposure Lenormand and especially Tarot have received so far. I do sincerely hope that this is about to change and that increased interest will bring about a new generation of readers as well as deck creators. So far, Kipper has largely remained confined to the boundaries of the German-speaking world and it is my intention to be a part of the solution by offering useful information to the English-speaking public.

The story of Kipper begins in the late 19th century. The deck first appeared in 1890, in today’s Germany, and has gone through very little alteration or remaking over the course of the next century or so. The name is likely to be a product of imagination as no famous fortune-teller named “madame Kipper” is known to have existed. The images in the deck are simple and straightforward, depicting the reality and aspirations of the middle classes of the time. By the look of them, it is easy to place the illustrations in 1870’s Bavaria, judging both by the fashion as well as the interiors and exteriors pictured on the cards.

All of this, of course, refers to the original deck, nowadays kept in print by ASS Altenburger. A more modern variant is Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siècle Kipper which offers a richer visual vocabulary but omits some of the nuances of the original, especially in terms of directionality. It is precisely this feature that sets Kipper apart from most other methods of cartomancy. In short, it refers to the emphasis on the way each person card is facing, whether left or right, and the way it is thus read in relation to the cards that surround it.

This may seem like an awkward mechanism to many, especially those coming from a Tarot background. People familiar with Lenormand however will usually have some understanding of the concept as some of the cards in the deck do bear this quality. The Clouds have a light and a dark side, the effect of the Scythe is very much dependent on which side the tip is pointing towards etc. In Kipper, this is taken to a whole new level, even to the point where the entire reading can be turned into a mirror image of itself, depending on whether the querent is male or female etc. More about that will be written in a separate article soon to come.

Another thing that sets Kipper apart from most other cartomantic systems is its genuinely large number of people cards. This makes it ideal for love readings or those focusing on interpersonal relationships in general as quite a few factors can be taken into consideration when trying to gain insight into the works of any social situation. Kippers hold no playing card associations of Lenormand nor the metaphysical correspondences of Tarot which makes them easier to master and a good match for tackling day-to-day concerns.

In the following blog posts outlining the card meanings and the ways of reading them in conjunction, I will rely on the images of the Original Kipper Wahrsagekarten for illustration and also put emphasis on the traditional German method of fortune-telling with all its nuances. I hope you will enjoy it and learn something along the way.