An Interview with Robert Camp, Author of Love Cards and Destiny Cards

The Spiritual Traveler

An Interview with Robert Camp, 1     I spoke on the phone with Robert Lee Camp, author of Love Cards, Destiny Cards, and other books based on the ancient science behind our common deck of playing cards.  This subject was first explored in modern times by Olney H. Richmond in The Mystic Test Book, published in 1894, and elaborated on in Sacred Symbols of the Ancients, by Florence Campbell and Edith Randall, in 1947, and in Arne Lein’s 1978 book, What’s Your Card?  According to Campbell and Randall, the mystical significance of the fifty-two cards and their amazing connection with our individual birthdays was a secret kept by the Order of the Magi for thousands of years and revealed only when the time was finally right.        
      The science of the cards is based on the combined influences of astrology and numerology.  Robert Camp describes it as a system of self-understanding and prediction, with the same function as astrology, but much easier to learn and more readily available.  You can learn this system well enough within in an hour to do a significantly accurate reading for yourself or somebody else.  It can be most easily explained as based on a connection between the cards and the calendar year.  There are 52 cards in a deck, with thirteen cards assigned to four suits each.  Similarly, there are 52 weeks in a year, which can in turn be divided into four seasons of approximately thirteen weeks each.
      A Birth Card and a secondary symbol called the Planetary Ruling Card together represent each day of the year.  These cards, and the relationships between them, can tell you a great deal about your self and your relations with friends and loved ones.
      After discovering this system and experimenting with it, I found it to be not only more immediate and accessible than astrology, but in some ways deeper and more fundamental, as well.  Although astrology is most commonly represented in superficial fashion in the daily horoscopes published by newspapers and magazines, in fact it involves a grasp of many factors, including twelve astrological signs, twelve houses, ten planets, and a number of major aspects that the planets make with one another.  Then there is the necessity of calculating the exact time of birth to determine the ascendant, which is crucial in constructing the natal chart, the influence of transiting planets, progressions, and many other nuances.
      I expressed this to Robert, and he agreed.  “Just understanding astrology on a rudimentary level can be overwhelming for many people,” he said.  “You have to understand what a chart is and what it looks like.  The average person is not going to take the time to do that.  The science of the cards is more approachable.  Of course, you have to pick up a book, read about it, and learn some new terminology.  In an hour or so, however, you can do a reading that will blow you away.  Some people are hooked right from the beginning.  You just have to look up your card in the back of the Love Cards book to start reading about yourself.  Moreover, armed simply with a birth date, you can look up the cards of your relatives, friends, and acquaintances, and learn a great deal about the nature of your relationships to them.  By testing this system in the world, you can immediately confirm its validity.”
      “Can this system be used to identify states, towns, and cities with which you’re compatible.  In the past, I’ve talked to locational astrologers who use astrology in order to calculate good places for people to reside, but it seems to me that such systems are complex.  
      “It is.  You really need software to do it.  You might be interested in a book called Moving to Success, by Rose Murray.  She takes the birthdays of all these places, and you can see how compatible you are with them using the standard techniques that we use in the Love Cards book for determining compatibility.  Every state has a birthday and even towns have birthdays.  The book contains a lot of this information.”
       An Interview with Robert Camp, 2I tried to feel Robert out about the basic mechanics of this system, explained in more detail in advanced books that he sells from his Web site.  At the root of it is the most basic spread of the cards, called the Spiritual Spread, in which the cards are laid out in seven rows and seven columns.  The layout goes upwards through the four suits — Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades, starting with the Ace of Hearts and ending with the King of Spades.  From this it is possible to generate a second spread, called the Life Spread, by a process called quadration.  By locating one’s Birth Card and Ruling Cards in these two spreads, it is possible to see a host of relationships and connections with the other cards almost at a glance.  I asked Robert about the quadration process.    
      “In essence,” he explained, “quadration is a process that symbolizes the transformation from the spiritual plane to the physical plane.  When you move into the world of matter, you’re moving into a realm of four-dimensional reality.  This world has four seasons, four elements (fire, air, water, and earth), four directions, and four stages of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age).  In the spiritual realm, you don’t have that.  It’s all the unity of God, represented by the Spiritual Spread, which is in perfect order.  That’s not where we live our lives, however.”
      “In certain religious and spiritual systems,” I suggested, “it is said that there are four planes — the Physical, Astral, Causal, and Mental — through which one must navigate to reach the pure spiritual realms.  The process of stepping down from the spiritual to the physical would therefore involve going through four planes.”        
      “I’m sure there are some connections,” Robert replied.  “My experience has been that it’s important to understand each system on its own merit before you try to make comparisons, however.  For example, a lot of people who are astrologers, when they learn this system, try to make a direct connection, and when they can’t find it, they get a little frustrated.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Once you learn both systems, you can find a correlation between them.  If I know someone’s birthday, I can now calculate what their card is in my head, and then I can guess what you’ll find in their natal chart.  Every card has patterns that are represented in the natal chart.  When I do a reading for someone, I use both tools.  Astrology will tell me one thing, and the cards will tell me another.  Between the two, I have a complete picture of an individual.  They’re very complementary, once you’ve learned each on their own.  It’s when people try to mix them prematurely that they get all mixed up.”
      “Studying this system,” I commented, “I can’t help but be impressed by how limited we are.  I suppose that’s not a very positive attitude.  We live in a day and age in which we’re told that we can be anything we want to be, and I don’t exactly hold with that.  I think that we’re in this lifetime we’re dealt a hand of cards, so to speak, and we simply have a certain degree of freedom to operate within that framework, to make positive choices, and make the most of what we’re given.  That’s hard to sell to people who steeped in the ‘be what you want to be’ culture, however.”  
       An Interview with Robert Camp, 3“I agree with you,” Robert replied.  “In the Hindu culture, astrologers believe that everything is destined.  Not one thing happens to an individual that cannot be foretold using their astrology.  They also tell you, however, that you have to act.  Although your actions are predestined, you still have to follow your dharma.  Olney Richmond, who wrote the first book about the science of the cards, also said that life was completely destined, and that everything that happened to an individual followed strict mathematical law.  Still, the individual has to act on his or her own behalf.”
      “Do some cards have a higher spiritual potential than other cards?” I asked.  “Personally, I believe in liberation theory — that it’s possible to get off the cycle of karma and reincarnation, and that the potential exists for any individual, no matter what their card, to do that.  I’m sure that, under the influence of some cards, you could expect to have an easier time than under the influence of others.  On the other hand, I tend to think that each card offers the individual a path to spiritual liberation in this lifetime, even if some paths are more arduous than others.”
      “There’s this concept that some cards have a more difficult life path than other cards,” Robert replied.  “Your birth card (the Three of Spades) and my birth card (the Queen of Diamonds) are both in the Saturn line, so we both have a good deal of Saturn influence in our karmic makeup.  Saturn doesn’t usually show up as a strong influence unless we have something to correct.  Most people will say that that’s bad.  They look at Saturn as a negative thing.  They look at anyone with a strong Saturn influence as having a difficult life.  Yet, some of the most successful people in the world have been born under those influences.”
      “You suggest in one of your books that the lower number cards are the more immature — not in a negative sense, but simply in terms of having to go through more experiences to learn from them.”
      “Yes.  In astrology, you’ll find that people who are born in the early degrees of their sun sign tend to act out the qualities of that sun sign in a more intense way.  They tend to make all the mistakes.  Like a child, they tend to stumble and fall a lot.  They may actually end up walking better than anyone else, when they’re done.”
      “My mother’s card is the King of Diamonds, and on occasion she has asked me why I always repeat the same mistakes.  I can see that, from the perspective of a King, she would not understand why that would have to happen for me.”
      “Sure.  She’s accomplished in her suit, and she can see the big picture all the time.  Of course, it’s also difficult for parents to allow their children to make their own mistakes.”
      “One of the things I liked about the Love Cards book are the little boxes in which you highlight certain personalities.  For the Ten of Hearts, you had a little section on Michael Jackson, and just as I was reading that, he was on the news again, giving an interview.  In reading about the Ten of Hearts, it was easy to see how he exemplifies the qualities of his birth card.  At the same time, however, you can see how karma, the way he was brought up, his childhood experiences, and his personal choices in life must have had a huge influence.  I’m sure not everyone born under the Ten of Hearts will have Michael Jackson’s problems.  Just watching him being interviewed, you could see that he wasn’t telling the truth.  It must come from a lack of self-understanding.”
      “Or it comes from an approach to life that’s become ingrained in him.  The truth doesn’t really mean anything.  It’s what other people want to hear.”
      “I’m sure, however, that the most insincere people still feel that they’re being sincere, on some level.”
       An Interview with Robert Camp, 4“Only if they’ve lied so many times that they don’t know the truth from reality.  How could Michael Jackson admit to the world all that he is?  How could he still expect to be loved?  Every card has a gift, but there is always the potential to misuse that gift.”
      “Another box in the book highlighted the card for the United States, which is the Jack of Diamonds.  I also noticed that the Planetary Ruling Card for that date, July 4th, is the King of Clubs, and wondered if the King of Clubs influence has something to do with the kind of unbridled authority that we tend to express, as a nation.”
      “Negatively expressed, the King energy is arrogance.  We go around trying to make the world into what we are, or at least we use that as an excuse for the things we do.  We’re trying to save other countries and turn them into democracies, as if our democracy was so perfect.  When a power card, like a King or an Eight, is the Planetary Ruling Card, the qualities of the Birth Card tend to get exaggerated in the individual.  The King of Cards is a good card.  It encourages a person to be responsible, to be a leader.  In the hands of a Jack of Diamonds, however, it can just translate into arrogance.  People who have Kings as Planetary Ruling Cards tend to end up being bossy.
      “It’s unfortunate, but the Jack of Diamonds represents the nature of the country we live in.  The Jack of Diamonds is a creative card, an entrepreneurial card, but it can also be a liar.  We’re living in a country in which lying is considered to be part of the program.  We can speculate on why the President is doing what he’s doing, but we just don’t have all the facts.  What that does to me personally is that I don’t have any power in the world, or over our government.  I only have power over a certain small sphere in my life, which includes my degree of happiness, my degree of prosperity, what I’m doing day in and day out, and my satisfaction with life.  I have to focus on that, because that’s all I have any control over.  I used to get so upset about politics, but finally I decided that it was all beyond my control.  I was sitting and reading the news every day, but why wasn’t I making any news?  What was the news about Robert Camp?  It helped me to get back to a place where I could really make a difference.”
      “Since we’re talking about the Jack of Diamonds, it’s an important card for me.  It’s both my second Karma Card and my Cosmic Lesson Card.  For me, the Jack of Diamonds represents an entrepreneurial ability that I feel I possess, yet at the same time is hard for me to develop.
      “Well, our second Karma card is always a gift, and therefore is meant to be interpreted positively.  The quality of the card can be used negatively, however.  The individual always has the freedom to choose.  
      "Let's go back to your Jack of Diamonds card, because it fulfils two functions for you.  Your Birth Card, the Three of Spades, is an artist’s card.  As a Three of Spades, your life gets scattered in many directions.  The Jack of Diamonds, however, gives you the ability to promote what you create.  This is what allows the Three of Spades to become a successful artist.  There are artists, and then there are successful artists.  The successful artists are the ones who learn how to market themselves.  The Jack of Diamonds gives you an innate ability in that respect.”
      "So far, I haven’t been able to do that,” I confessed, “but I’m aware that I have to learn how to do that.  Part of the reason that I haven’t been able to do that so far has to do with my family background.  My parents were professional people who didn’t have to sell themselves or their services.  Entrepreneurial ability wasn’t part of our family ethic.  I spent a long time following the path of my family ethic, rather than my own path.  As my second Karma Card, I can see that the Jack of Diamonds gives me the ability.  I can sense that I have that ability.  As my Cosmic Lesson card, however, I can also sense urgency in this matter.  This is something that I have to do in order to fulfill my destiny.  Perhaps this is why those who have the Three of Spades as a Birth Card are so artistically motivated.  As you said, it’s not just a matter of having artistic ability, but also of being driven to see that ability recognized and appreciated.”
       An Interview with Robert Camp, 5“Well, I’m telling you, you don’t really have to learn how to promote yourself.  You already know.  I think that once you begin to do any promotion work, it’ll be as if you’ve been doing it your whole life.  The reasons that you’re not promoting yourself have to do with other reasons you’ve mentioned, such as your family.  Your Planetary Ruling Card may be the key to this.  It’s the Nine of Hearts.  You also have to consider that.  It’s very important.  We often tend to identify more strongly with our Planetary Ruling Card than with our Birth Card.  The Nine of Hearts is compassionate.  People under the influence of the Nine of Hearts think about other people in their decision making.  They have a soft heart for other people’s suffering.  If you feel other people’s pain so much, you may not choose to do things that you feel would hurt others, although it would be the best thing for you.  So, if striking out on your own artistic or entrepreneurial career is something that would cause consternation to your family, you may choose not to do that because of the discomfort that you would feel with their discomfort.”
      "That’s true.  I sacrificed many years taking care of my parents.  On the other hand, I suppose you could say that if I had been more successful, they would have been even happier.  What can I say?  I made that choice.”
      "You made a choice to take care of them, and do the things that you thought they wanted you to do.  Maybe that wasn’t the best thing for you.  It didn’t really help you get a sense of your own strength or power, but it’s not too late for you to try something new, at this point in your life.”
      “Since we’re talking about my family, I might as well give you a brief rundown on my family members.  I’m the Three of Spades, my father was the Eight of Spades, my sister is the Nine of Diamonds, and my mother is the King of Diamonds.  Now, if you look at the Life Spread, there’s an interesting pattern there.  The Three of Spades is sandwiched on a diagonal line between the Eight of Spades and the Nine of Spades.  That yields a mutual Mercury connection between me and my father and between me and my sister, as well as a mutual Venus connection between my father and sister and, on the other diagonal, between me and my mother.  I wonder if you run into that a lot.”
      “There’s always a significant pattern like that with every family.  It varies, however.  There are many families in which everyone is the same number, such as all Sixes or all Nines.  Even more commonly, they all belong to the same suit.  That’s very common.”
      “Well, in my family, if you take all our Birth Cards and all our Planetary Ruling Cards—eight cards in all—they are all Spades or Diamonds with one exception, that being my Planetary Ruling Card, which is that Nine of Hearts.  It’s the only Heart, or emotional, element in the whole family, and I’m sandwiched right between them all.  In some way, things are really concentrated on me, in this family.”
      “Yes.  To a certain extent, you’re the focal point in the family.  Was your father an Aquarius?”
      “That’s right.  My mother, as well.”
      “That means his Planetary Ruling Card was the Three of Spades.”
      “You’re correct.”
       An Interview with Robert Camp, 6“There you have the karmic transfer from the father to son.  You’re just like your father in many ways.  At the same time, your mother’s Planetary Ruling Card is the Six of Diamonds, and that’s your first Karma Card.  You’re all very strongly connected.  One of the great things about this system is that you can go into a situation in which there are all these connections, and really tell the story of the dynamics between all the members of the family.  You can see the karmic links that really explain what happened in your childhood.  With this system, you can use these cards to tell the story of your childhood so that it all makes sense in a new way.  You ended up being the caretaker, because the Nine of Hearts is your Planetary Ruling Card.  Your sister, as the Nine of Diamonds, is probably doing some care taking, too.”  
      “That’s true.  Right now, my mother has a new boyfriend, and a Jack of Spades, which is on the same diagonal.  If you look at the Life Spread, the Three of Spades, King of Diamonds, and Jack of Spades form a perfect triangle, so there’s a whole new dynamic that has apparently formed there.  He wants to get to know me, but I don’t want to get to know him.  I’m happy that he’s with my mom, but I just want them to keep it to themselves.  I don’t want to be drawn into it at all.”
      “Well, the good thing is that we can choose our relationships.  The books that I write may say that you’re compatible or not compatible with a given person, but ultimately you get to make the choices.  When I meet someone whose Birth Card is my Karma Card, the card that I owe something to, I always decide consciously if I’m going to invest myself in that.  I don’t just assume I have to, just because of the Karma Card connection.  That’s a common misconception.  When people read my books, they think that even if the person is abusive, they have to be with them because of the Karma Card connection.  Your mother might want you to approve of her boyfriend, but that’s not really your business.  You need to let her know that you’re not doing that for her.  You’re no longer six years old.”
      “Yes, but it’s hard.  She’s that King of Diamonds, and I feel she exercises a lot of power over me.”
      “It’s hard because you always want people to feel good.  That’s the real problem.  That Nine of Hearts has a kind of tendency toward co-dependency, trying to keep everybody happy.  Maybe you need to divorce your family for five years, go somewhere where they don’t even know where you are, and get your artistic career off the ground.  That would be good therapy for you.”
      I asked Robert to what extent anyone had ever tried to apply this system to a dating service.  “Is that an unreasonable proposition?” I wanted to know.
      “Oh, no,” he replied.  “We’ve had the idea of setting up a dating service based on this for a long time.  It hasn’t gone anywhere yet, but I don’t doubt that it will happen one day.  I use it in all my relationships.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will choose differently, but at least I know what I’m choosing.  A dating service based on this model would require considerable thought and investment, however.”
      “The potential to do some good for people is also there, I would think.  Let’s face it.  Not that many people will take the time to study these books, and when you think about how difficult it is for some people to form relationships, a system like this could definitely help.”  
      “Well, I can relate to what you’re saying.  I wouldn’t be doing this work if I didn’t feel I was helping people.  I like the money part of it, but money has never been enough for me.  The fact that this work is helping others is what makes it possible for me to continue doing it.  It’s for me to think that people are getting a positive benefit from it every day.”
      I ended my phone conversation with Robert Camp on that note.  Looking back on it, I was impressed with what he had said about the influence of my Planetary Ruling Card, the Nine of Hearts, on my role in my family.  For him, it had most likely been a matte-of-fact observation, based simply on years of experience in studying the cards and understanding their effects on individuals.  For me, however, it had given me a little extra bit of insight into my nature, and that was indeed, a benefit.
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Copyright The Spiritual Traveler, 2003