Lotería is a bingo-like game played in Mexico and the southwestern USA with a game board and a deck of 54 cards. Recently, I saw an exhibit of these cards at a local museum of Mexican folk art, and was surprised to learn that the deck began with a 15 th -century Italian board game, and that several cards are very similar to tarot trumps.
The card images have a compelling, iconic quality thanks to more than 300 years of being distilled through European and Mexican folk culture. Several cards share names with tarot: Sun, Moon, Star, Angel, and Devil. Two cards resemble their counterparts in the 1664 Mitelli deck: World as Atlas holding up the globe, and Death as a standing skeleton with a scythe.
About 1769, the national lottery was established in New Spain, and playing a lottery game at parties became popular. Lotería cards and game boards were initially hand-made by local artists. By the mid-1800s they were being printed commercially; and in the early 20 th Century, the Don Clemente card style became the standard (the Tarot de Marseille of the lotería world).
Don Clemente was a French businessman who supplied the army with food and ammunition during the Mexican revolution. Soldiers received little decks of Don Clemente’s cards with their tins of sardines and boxes of bullets. By the early 20 th century, Don Clemente’s style of lotería cards had swept through Mexico. The company still publishes its distinct brand of cards. Other publishers have their own style, but there’s much overlap in card imagery and titles.
Spontaneous poetry is part of the game, reminding me of the tarocchi appropriati parlor games popular in 16 th century Italy. During the game, the caller doesn’t announce the name or number of a card. He calls out a poem or riddle, and the players have to figure out what image he’s referring to before they can play the card. A good caller shapes his poetry to the audience: bawdy, political satire, or family-friendly.
Just like tarot, contemporary lotería cards are influenced by popular culture. I saw a Christmas-themed deck with a cultural mix of reindeer and Las Posadas. Nearby, a pink and purple Hello Kitty deck kept company with a skateboard laminated with custom-designed cards. Publishers do spin-offs of the Don Clemente pattern, while artists create their own highly personal decks. The travelling exhibit of Teresa Villegas’ original art based on the Don Clemente deck was so successful, the company published her images as the Nuevo Versión Lotería.
These cards are fascinating and compelling. I haven’t come across any mention of divination with the cards, but I strongly suspect there’s an underground tradition. NOTE: I just found a reference to divination with these cards. See the Comment below.
Amazon has a huge selection. Search for lotería Mexican bingoLotería is a bingo-like game played in Mexico and the southwestern USA with a game board and a deck of 54 cards. Recently, I saw an exhibit of these cards at a local museum of Mexican folk art, and was surprised to learn that the deck began with a 15th-century Italian board game, and that…
- The Loteria Stories
- Loteria Interpretations
- Alice Cards
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Loteria Card Meanings
I read online about using the Mexican Loteria cards for readings and so I have been working with them like that for about a year. I’ve started making a list of my own card “meanings” based on the picture on the card and the riddle that I am aware of that goes with it. Here is a listing of my work so far.
1. El Gallo: El que le canto a San Pdero no le volvera a cantar: The Rooster: He that sang for St. Peter will not return to sing again. Interpretations: Beware of betrayal OR Someone who has betrayed you will not do it again OR The person who is trying to warn/advise you is going to give up.
2. El Diablito: Portate bien cuatito si note lleva el coloradito: The Little Devil: Behave yourself so that the little red one doesn’t carry you off. Interpretations: Make sure you are behaving yourself OR A little mischief is in the making OR someone is causing a bit of trouble in this situation.
3. La Dama: La dama puliendo el paso, por todo la calle real: The Lady: The lady taking an elegant walk along main street. Interpretations: Handle this issue with grace and elegance OR Keep your manners about you OR This is all for show. Someone is showing off or pretending.
4. El Catrin: Don ferruco en las almeda su baston queria tirar: The Dandy: Don Ferruco in the Alamda, he wanted to toss away his cane and polish his steps. Interpretations: Let go of what you are holding onto and reach a new level OR Always strive for self improvement OR When something isn’t working, try a new approach OR Be carefree, trust your instincts.
5. El Paraguas: Para el sol y para el agua: The Umbrella: For the sun and the rain. Interpretations: Someone or something is protecting you in good or bad times OR Be prepared for the good and the bad in any situation OR Always look at both sides of the situation (at least you have an umbrella)
6. La Sirena: Con los cantos de sirena no te vayas marear: The Mermaid: Don’t get dizzy with the songs of the mernmaid. Interpretations: Don’t get carried away with emotion. OR Keep a clear head OR Look at the factors that are influencing you closely.
7. La Escalera: Subeme paso apasito. Ho quieras pegar brinquitos: The Ladder Climb me step by step. You don’t want to hop up. Interpretations: Take it slow and steady, don’t go to fast OR You are moving forward in the issue, keep going.
8. La Bottella: La hermienta del borracho. The Bottle: The tool of the drunk. Interpretations: Caution, there is an obsession or addiction here OR drinking is involved in this issue OR Someone is trying to forget their sorrow.
9. El Barril: Tanto bebio el albanil que quedo commo barril. The Barrel: The bricklayer drank so much that he ended up like a barrel. Interpretations: Beware of alcohol involved in this situation OR Do not over indulge in anything. OR There are always consequences for our actions. Examine what they might be. OR Too much of anything is not a good thing.
10. El Arbol: El que a buen arbol se arrima buena sombra le cobija: The Tree: He that seeks the shelter of a good tree, good shade covers him. Interpretations: Good friends are like a good tree, they offer you shade OR Make good choices and you will be fine OR See the good in life and you will always be ok OR Make sure you are a person of character and you will be protected OR If you ask for help from a good person, you shall receive it.
11. El Melon: : Me lo das me lo quitas: The Melon: I can take it or leave it. Interpretations: Simply take it or leave it, you decide OR It is time to make a decision OR Which ever choice you make won’t have a big impact.
12. El Valiente: Por que le corres cobarde trayendo tan buen punal. The Hero: Why are you running like a coward when you are carrying such a good dagger? Interpretations: Do not be afraid, you have what you need to be successful. OR Don’t let fear rule this situation.
13. El Gorrito: Ponle su gorrito al nene no se nos vaya a resfriar: The Little Bonnet: Put the baby’s little cap on, let’s don’t cause him to catch cold. Interpretations: Someone needs protected or shielded in this issue OR Take care of those you care about
14. La Muerte: La muerte sirqui siaca. Death: Skinny death. Interpretations: Denying self something, Dissatisfaction with body/self, Lovesick or missing someone, An ending.
15. La Pera: El que espera desespera. The Pear: He who waits despairs. Interpretations: Do not wait too long or you will despair OR someone is giving up in this situation OR waiting is not the best choice here. take action.
16. La Bandera: Verde blanco y colorado, ta badnera del soldado: The Flag: Green, white, and red, the flag of the soldier. Interpretations: Stand behind what you believe in OR There are strong beliefs in this situation and people will defend their position.
17. El Bandolon: Tocando su bandolon esta el mariachi Simon. The Mandolin The mariachi Simon is playing his big mandolin. Interpretations: Someone is playing music in this situation (making others dance). OR Keep cheerful, follow the beat.
18. El Violoncello: Creciendo se fue hasta el Cielo y como no fue violon.Tuvo que ser violocello: The Cello: Growing he went up to heaven and because he wasn’t a violin, he had to be a cello. Interpretations: Grow up and recognize the harsh realities of life OR When something blocks your way, go another direction OR Even if you can’t have what you want, you can enjoy what you have.
19. La Garza: Al otro lado del rio, tengo me banco de arena, donde se sienta me chata pico de garza moreno. The Heron: On the other side of the river is the sandbar where sits my honey with a beak like a brown heron. Interpretations: True love is there but you might have a ways to go to find it. OR Look and you will find what you are seeking, maybe in an unlikely place. OR What you want is in sight but still just a little out of reach.
20. El Pajaro: Tu me traces a puros brincos como pajaro en la rama: The Bird: You’ve got me jumping to it like a bird on a branch. Interpretations: Someone/something is pulling your chain or making you jumpy. OR Don’t just pretend to take action and flutter around. actually DO something about this issue. OR a certain level of nervousness is present.
22. La Bota: Una bota es igual Porte: The Boot: One boot is the same as the other. Interpretations: Of two choices, one is as good as the other OR Nothing has changed OR You might “see” things differently but you are more alike than you think.
23. La Luna: El farol de enamorados: The Moon: The lantern of lovers. Interpretations: Love or romance is present OR Be careful that strong emotion is not influencing the situation OR Put a brighter light on the situation, something is clouding your vision.
24. El Cotorro: Cotora, daca la pata y empiezame. The Parrot: Parrot, land here and chat with me. Interpretations: Somone needs to talk to you or you need to talk to someone. OR Don’t get so busy that you do not listen to others.
25. El Borracho: A ue borracho tan necio ya no lo puedo aguantar. The Drunk: I cannot put up with the foolish drunk. Interpretations: Someone is being foolish in their ways or drinking too much. OR Be cautious about overindulgence of any kind. OR Remember what your actions look like to others.
26. El Negrito: El que se comio el azucar: The Negro: He who ate the sugar. Interpretations: Someone is experiencing difficulty but is still seeing the sweetness of life OR We do what we need to do to get through life.
27. El Corazon: No me extranes corazon que regresso en el camion: The Heart: Don’t miss me, heart, because I will retun in a truck. Interpretations: Don’t give up OR This love is true OR A longing for someone or something.
28. La Sandia: La barriga que Juan tenia ere empacho de sandia. The Watermelon: John’s belly was stuffed full of watermelon. Interpretations: Things are going well. OR Indulge in the pleasures of life OR There is enough here, do not worry.
29. El Tambor: No te arrugues cuero viejo que te quiero pa’tambor. The Drum: Don’t wrinkle old leather, because I want you for my drum. Interpretations: Careful, someone wants you. OR There is value here. OR Things may not be as they appear.
30. El Camaron: Camaron que se duerme se lo lleva al corriente. The Shrimp: The shrimp that sleeps is carried by the current. Interpretations: He who hesitates is lost. OR Take some action or you will be pulled about by others. OR Take control of the situation. OR Being passive is not the best choice here.
All the loteria card meanings I have developed are now posted. HEREThe Quest Pages The Loteria Stories Loteria Interpretations Moon Alice Cards Crystals Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Loteria Card Meanings I read online about ]]>