Divination through Mah-jonng

Mahjong Readings

Divination through Mah-jonng

I cannot recall a time when I have not had a Mah-jongg game set on my desktop. Since I first played a PC Mah-jongg game, I was mesmerized by the images on the tiles and found them most alluring. The more I learned about the Mah-jongg, the more I found intrinsic similarities between them and the Tarot.

When I found an antique set of Mah-jongg at our local thrift store, I was over the moon! I knew then that I would hardly use my set for playing Mah-jongg, but rather that this set would be for divination purposes.

The first thing about the Mah-jongg set is it has 144 tiles and thereby needs a lot of space to set up, not like the Tarot that you can pull a card anywhere. What I do love about the Mah-jongg is they speak. The tiles chatter when you shuffle them around. The sound stirs me as if waiting on birds to reveal a story. It must be mentioned that it is only much later that I discovered Mah-jongg means “The Sparrows”

The similarities and structures between Tarot and Mah-jongg are uncanny. Both are structured for “gaming purposes”, yet both are used for divination purposes. There is no clear origin to either Mah-jongg or Tarot. They both have their “Trumps”, the Major Arcana and their “Pips” or Minor Arcana, which in turn are then again divided into their “suits”.

Mah-jongg’s Structure

Mah-jongg Structure- Divination through MAH-JONGG GAME BY HPG (H P GIBSON) VINTAGE SET

144 tiles are divided into 3 suits, Wheels, Bamboo and Characters, which align with the Chinese concept of “The Trinity of Lucks”

Heaven Luck is the suit of Wheels

Mah-jongg Suit of Wheels
Mah-jongg Suit of Wheels

Wheels represent that which is beyond your control, your genealogy, and the social standards into which you were born. Heaven luck also encompasses your traits, talents, that which makes you unique from the rest. However, Wheels can also be serendipitous, that change of fate, moments that change your life. One can think of the Wheel of Fortune.

  1. Pearl: Luxury, abundance, refinement. Older woman is significant
  2. Pine: Firm and strength allow for a breakthrough. Inner strength over force. Older woman or younger man.
  3. Phoenix: Good tidings arriving. Happiness and victory.
  4. Jade: Hard work pays off. Values and friendships. Justice.
  5. Dragon: Good Fortune arrives in unexpected ways.
  6. Peach: Fine arts. Aim for beauty. Avoid extravagance. Important young lady.
  7. Insect: Industrious. Craft. Skill. Manual labour. Business brings short term results.
  8. Tiger: Issues regarding authority. Issue with an older man
  9. Unicorn: Able to See. See through people.

Earth Luck is the house of Bamboo

Mah-jongg Suit of Bamboo
Mah-jongg Suit of Bamboo

Bamboo represents you within your environment. Like Bamboo, it encompasses how you bend and grow according to your physical surrounding circumstances. Thereby Bamboo is about your geographic adaptations, but also finances, security, and stability.

  1. Peacock: Success, caution of vanity
  2. Duck: Partnership, loyalty, devotion
  3. Toad: Health. Caution of over-extending yourself.
  4. Carp Peace and longevity
  5. Lotus, Rejuvenation, renewal, new vision, awakening, new baby, start over.
  6. Water: Travel, journey, correspondence
  7. Tortoise: Gradual progress, study, illegitimacy. Delay is seen
  8. Mushroom: Unexpected news
  9. Willow: Tact and diplomacy is essential, try not to force the issue.



Mah-jongg Suit of Characters
Mah-jongg Suit of Characters

Man Luck is the house of Characters

Characters represent you, as man with free will and how you use your free will to shape your life’s path. Characters thereby include your mundane choices, your education, your drive, ambition, etc

  1. Open Door New opportunities. Clear path
  2. Sword Balance is found, but a decision is pending. Duality – Twins.
  3. Earth. Stability is seen. Relocation may be an issue.
  4. Lute. Time of relaxation, Arts, Music and Leisure.
  5. House. Issues surrounding real estate or property
  6. Fire: Caution. Loss or danger. Burning up resources. (mental, physical, financial)  Intelligence and Inspiration.
  7. Seven Stars. Dreams, hopes, ambitions
  8. Knot: Tying or untying.
  9. Heaven End of cycle, completion, fulfillment. Spiritual matters, ceremony.


Each suit has four sets of pip tiles numbered one to nine. Thereby there are 108 pip tiles in a Mah-jongg set.

Honors and Supreme Honors

These 36 tiles are what we would see as the Trumps of the Tarot. As with the Tarot Trumps, these tiles are indicative of the spiritual development of man more than the mundane day-to-day life choices we make.


The Honors are then subdivided

Directions represent the Four Guardians

Mah-jongg Honors

North: Difficulties, lack what is needed. Patience needed. Winter, black, tortoise (7 Bamboo) WATER,

South: Good Fortune, growth and abundance. Summer. Red. Phoenix (3 Circles) FIRE,

East: Self/Querent New Beginning. Spring, newness, green, Dragon (5 circles) element of WOOD

 and West: Goal-oriented issues. Issues with a partner. Autumn, white, tiger (8 Circles) and METAL.


Three Dragons

White dragon

The White Dragon is indicated by a clear tile, and this relates to that before anything. It encompasses the mysterious unknown. Thereby it is indicative of the Divine and Spiritual presence. This tile often indicates that of the supernatural, the otherworldly realms. Here we also see that documents are important.

Red Dragon

The Red Dragon is seen as social structure and social order. This then includes the government, social standing, and monopolies. Thereby, the Red Dragon indicates success and achieving goals, achieving your greatest ambition.

Green Dragon

The Green is indicative of abundant success and major achievements. This Dragon is all about breaking through, prospering, flourishing, victory and overcoming. Starting fresh.

There are four sets of each. Thereby there are 28 Honor tiles in a Mah-jongg set.

Supreme Honors

Mah-jongg Supreme Honors
Mah-jongg Supreme Honors

There is only one set of each of the Supreme Honors.


There are four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. These denote time in all senses of the term. Meaning that winter could imply “in winter”, but also that development has been frozen. Spring could imply a new idea that is flourishing. So seasons give insight to stages of progression, not only set timing per se.

Four Virtues

These four plants are subsections of the Supreme Honors


The Plums are that of pushing one’s limits, of extending yourself for a cause. Plums indicate perseverance, albeit financial or physical. New Luck. Rejuvenation. East Wind. Spring.


Orchids are, as the plant suggests, about beauty and grace. This then can be extended into social standards, allowing for refinement, the aristocrats of social circles. This tile could also, however, be indicative of someone climbing the social ladders, improving their circumstances, reaching their goals. South Wind. Summer


Chrysanthemum refers to hardiness, fulfillment, stability, and overcoming difficulties. Social Leisure West Wind. Autumn.


Bamboo refers to how we adapt to our surroundings and thereby includes our research, education, our focus on goals, persistence. Thereby, also covering career orientation, work ethics, and how we “bend” in societies workforce. North Wind. Winter.

Thanking my beautiful daughter Julia for taking these stunning photos to share with you! You can find her at Helping Writers Write For a Living

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