Hello my friends, are you having a good day?
I have been playing around with some cards this morning and felt like sharing!With the popularity of Lenormand Oracle decks on the rise, I thought it might be good to have a closer look at this branch of divination cards.
I will give you a little history first (I am no expert though! Feel free to do your own research!):
When we talk about Lenormand cards we immediately connect them to Mademoiselle Le Normand, the French Fortune Teller who was famous as “Divinatrix to the Stars” in the first half of the 1800’s.
However, it is my understanding that Marie Anne Adelaide Le Normand was not actually the creator of this divination-system.
It is true that she was a very accomplished diviner, reading coffee-grounds and egg-whites, practising Cartomancy and Palmistry, Numerology, Scrying and Necromancy amongst others! But as far as I know, she used playing cards for her readings, not the cards we have come to know as Lenormand…
The naming of these cards seems to have more to do with 19th century publishers wanting to profit from Mademoiselle Le Normand’s fame – she had written around 14 books about her readings for- and dealings with- her famous (and infamous) contempories, including Robespierre and Empress Josephine! She was also believed to have predicted the rise and fall of Napoleon’s empire.
I think that it was later discovered that many of her accounts described in her books were, at the very least, exaggerated!
If you want to know more about the possible origens of today’s Lenormand Oracles, I suggest you turn to the experts who will be able to tell you so much more than I could: Mary K. Greer for one has done some excellent research I believe, as has Robert M. Place. I am sure there have been many others!
Now a little bit about the deck itself:
The first deck to have emerged with The Le Normand name attached was Le Grand Jeu de Mlle Lenormand, published 2 years after her death – this set consisted of 54 cards (52 related to normal playing cards plus 2 significators). My knowledge of this deck is severely lacking, hence I will move on to the most popular Lenormand Oracle that we use today.The Petit Lenormand is a 36 card oracle deck first published in 1846 in Germany and it was very different from the earlier French decks. This is the deck that modern Lenormand cards are based on.
The cards depict the following images:
1. The Rider
2. The Clover
3. The Ship
4. The House
5. The Tree
6. The Clouds
7. The Snake
8. The Coffin
9. The Bouquet
10. The Scythe
11. The Whip
12. The Birds
13. The Child
14. The Fox
15. The Bear
16. The Stars
17. The Stork
18. The Dog
19. The Tower
20. The Garden
21. The Mountain
22. The Path
23. The Mice
24. The Heart
25. The Ring
26. The Book
27. The Letter
28. The Man
29. The Woman
30. The Lily
31. The Sun
32. The Moon
33. The Key
34. The Fish
35. The Anchor
36. The Cross
A lot of decks (but not some of the more modern ones) also display a small playing card, or at least a particular suit of playing cards (hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades) – there are also decks that have an extra symbol relating to astrology.
You can use these decks on many different levels, from only working with the main imagery to including numerology and/or astrology.
Many of todays decks also include extra cards (from extra men and women to yes/no cards or to complete the full 52 playing card decks).
The main classic Lenormand Spreads used are the 3, – 5 or 9 card spreads or the Grand Tableau – which incorporates all 36 cards in a lay-out consisting of 4 rows of 8 cards each and one row of 4 cards. The cards are read according to their position in the spread.Of course you could just draw one or two cards if you want, there are also more modern Lenormand spreads available on top of the classics.
Although some of the cards found in a Lenormand deck also occur in a Tarot deck, I find that with Lenormand you take the cards more at face-value and the layering of interpretations does not go quite as deep as with Tarot.
The main similar cards are The Sun, The Moon, The Stars and The Tower (note the Tower is still standing here!) – but The Scythe could be related to the Death card in Tarot whilst The Heart card is easily connected to The Lovers. Other cards such as The Dog may not occur in Tarot, but because of it’s rich imagery and symbolism the meaning may be recognisable to those familiar with (in the example of The Dog) The Fool card, where often a faithful little dog is seen nipping at his master’s heels.This dog can also be found in tarot’s Moon card, alongside the wolf/fox/coyote often used to depict our “wild” side – Lenormand’s Fox may be related to this image as well. Personally I prefer my Lenormand deck to have small-sized cards, you would need a massive table to complete a Grand Tableau if you have oversized cards!
Some of my favourite decks are: The Dreaming Way Lenormand; The Claire de Lune Lenormand; Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Reverie Lenormand and The Scrying Ink Petit Lenormand. The latter is currently sold out but will hopefully be reprinted and in the mean time you can still enjoy it digitally by downloading the app, which will give you access to all of it’s beautiful watercolour images, the card interpretations and several spreads!
I find these apps from The Fool’s Dog very useful by the way, if you are unsure wether or not a particular Tarot or Lenormand deck is for you, then you can get to know it at a very reasonable price before committing to buying an actual deck.
The deck I was using this morning was the Alternate Realities Lenormand by Jae Larson Designs.
This is an oldfashioned-style deck that has the added benefit of having “cheat-words” printed unobtrusively in the background – very useful if you haven’t mastered the Lenormand system yet but want to start doing spreads without constantly referring to a guidebook!
I hope you found some of this explanation interesting or useful!