Gong Hee Fot Choy (“greetings of riches”) is a divination-style board game inspired by various Chinese divination games. Created by adventurer and traveler Margarete Ward and originally published in 1948, this book pulls from a number of different oracle systems; some European, some Asian.  Although this oracle is inspired by Chinese philosophy it is not, by definition, solely of Chinese origin.  Gong Hee Fot Choy contains astrological signs from Western Astrology as well as some tarot influences as well, utilizing ordinary playing cards that were once derived from the Minor Arcana.

It also contains a healthy smattering of numerology, some of which, I suspect, isn’t Chinese at all, but derived from Tarot or maybe even the Kabala.  The game comes with a paper game board and a hardcover handbook that outlines the various houses and gives explanations for the cards.

You will need to purchase a pack of playing cards, remove the sixes, fives fours, threes twos and the joker. You will use the rest of the cards, which adds up to 32 cards, the same number of cards that equal the 32 houses on the board. The houses are aligned according to life themes, such as the compass, money, seasons, friends, undertakings, achievements and so forth.

The first few pages of the book is dedicated to the instructions, telling the reader how to divide up the cards, how to shuffle and how to distribute them. The directions also gives the reader numerological information on how the cards lay out. Such as having four tens indicate good luck in money, 3 then indicates a change of friends. I’ve done something similar myself using tarot and wonder if Ms. Ward pulled from that numerological system.

Pages 8-135 are dedicated to the houses.  These pages give interpretations for the card’s suit and the interpretation of the card itself as well as how it influences the house that it is in.  This section describes the houses themselves and how they interrelate with the querent.

Page 136 instructs the seeker in how to calculate one’s soul age using Numerology.  It’s pretty standard way of doing it; something almost all of us who are of Pagan persuasion knows how to do already.

Pages 138-150 gives a brief overview of Western Astrological sun signs. Why not Chinese sun signs? I have no idea.

Okay I have to admit. I couldn’t’ take this divination system seriously. Granted it was (and is) a lot of fun to play with, and maybe I’m a bit prejudiced, since I’ve been with studying the Tarot for over 30 years.  But I found the mixture of Western and Eastern philosophies made the system a bit bulky to handle.  It also didn’t come off as anything really serious due to its mixed nature.  Again, I might be a bit prejudiced. But I think the book would have been far better had Ward used Chinese elements instead of trying to graft them onto Western concepts. Granted, this book was originally published in 1949 and the audience then for spiritual items was different. Gong Hee Fot Choy at that time could have been easier to understand by a Western audience, and was just exotic enough to gain interest.  I strongly suspect, however, that my Asian friends wouldn’t recognize it.

I’d really love to see an updated 21st Century version of this book, rewritten with the Chinese elements intact. A Chinese Astrological chart would be awesome as well as perhaps substituting playing cards for tiles with Chinese characters.

But as it is, I’d say it’d be a fun Witchy kinda game to play for Pagan Night Out or other social gatherings. But as a divination tool, I personally couldn’t take it seriously.  Your spiritual and divination mileage, however, may vary.

~review by Patricia Snodgrass


Author: Margarete Ward

Celestial Arts, 1949, 3rd ed. 2009

pp. 153

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