Spadillo/Ace of Spades: Usually the highest position in a deck of playing cards, the Ace of Spades, Spadillo or Spadille is also, more ominously known as the ‘death card’ – for reasons that are inextricably intertwined with folklore and mystery and the darkest depths of superstition. First interpreted as a symbol of a person’s potential demise as far back as the ancient Tarot decks and readings of Medieval Italy, media and literature soon caught on to the Ace’s morbid connotations. From functioning as a calling card for impending suicide in books such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Suicide Club, to finding a place in the Vietnam war as a psychological weapon – playing on the Vietnamese tradition of the spade bringing death and bad luck, scattering hundreds of the cards over the graves of the newly deceased – the Spadillo carries a nuance of the gruesome with it even into the present day.

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