There are fifty-two cards in the shuffle-worn deck, which are in turn divided into four suits: hearts, eyes, bones, and teeth. After a quick prayer to the god of probability, the oracle draws the cards in pairs, one atop the other, in a sequence that curls around the perimeter of her table. Each of these twenty-six couplings reflects a significant trait within the body being analyzed.
These cards mean nothing on their own, for only through tension between forces can the flesh be understood. A high-numbered card atop a low-number boasts of an inner struggle being won; the opposite admits a weakness that can never be overcome. The magnitude of the difference between these numbers determines the degree to which this trait is expressed, and their position in the sequence determines the precise manner of its expression.
Most learn how to interpret this deck by first memorizing its thirty-two standard traits:
- High bones atop low eyes suggest willpower.
- Low bones atop high eyes suggest cowardice.
- High bones atop low hearts suggest chastity.
- Low bones atop high hearts suggest lustfulness.
- High bones atop low teeth suggest immunity to disease.
- Low bones atop high teeth suggest sickliness.
- High bones atop low bones suggest strength of sinew.
- Low bones atop high bones suggest frailty.
- High eyes atop low bones suggest perceptiveness.
- Low eyes atop high bones suggest impaired senses.
- High eyes atop low hearts suggest wisdom.
- Low eyes atop high hearts suggest ignorance.
- High eyes atop low teeth suggest sanity.
- Low eyes atop high teeth suggest propensity for madness.
- High eyes atop low eyes suggest intellect.
- Low eyes atop high eyes suggest idiocy.
- High hearts atop low bones suggest stamina.
- Low hearts atop high bones suggest laziness.
- High hearts atop low eyes suggest passion.
- Low hearts atop high eyes suggest coldness.
- High hearts atop low teeth suggest virility.
- Low hearts atop high teeth suggest impotence.
- High hearts atop low hearts suggest righteousness.
- Low hearts atop high hearts suggest a sinful nature.
- High teeth atop low bones suggest tolerance to pain.
- Low teeth atop high bones suggest pliability to pain.
- High teeth atop low hearts suggest fearlessness.
- Low teeth atop high hearts suggest phobia.
- High teeth atop low eyes suggest prudence.
- Low teeth atop high eyes suggest gluttony and avarice.
- High teeth atop low teeth suggest a long lifespan.
- Low teeth atop high teeth suggest an early death.
Knowing these rules only constitutes a novice understanding of the genetic tarot, however. The position of the trumps also plays a significant role in its reading: The distance between the Knave of Eyes and Queen of Hearts determines the length of the transition to adulthood, for instance, and that which pairs with the King of Teeth tells what the cause of death will be, should it be allowed to happen naturally. Numeric ties require context to understand; the oracle must defer to the pairing on the left to determine what these duets represent. Only true masters of the art have the skill required to perform readings for sets of twins.
It is said that exactly one shuffle exists for every possible person that could ever exist, and that through it, every last detail of their anatomy can be deduced. If ever, by some astronomical coincidence, the cards were drawn the same way twice, it would signify that somehow, the same exact person had been born again.