What is Lenormand?
Lenormand is the common name for this type of card divination, which uses a particular set of cards for it and it is also read differently than other common types of divination (but well talk about this in the second class). There are two types, the Petit Lenormand and the Grand Jeu Lenormand. Well concentrate on the Petit type because its the most common.
History of Lenormand
This form of divination is named after Marie Anne Lenormand, a very famous card reader and fortune teller from the XVIII century. She divined for a lot of famous people, including Empress Josephine and the Tsar Alexander I. She wrote a lot of books and kept lots of occult paraphernalia in her home. The funny thing about this is she didnt use the cards that are so famously named after her; they only used her name to be able to sell the deck successfully, as with her name went all her fame.
Two years after her death, in 1845, a deck came out, called the Grand jeu de Mlle Lenormand (published in France), a deck consisting of 54 cards, with 2 of them being the significator of the querent (man or woman at that time). The deck is has depictions of common situations or scenes in the middle (as well as Greek Mythology), a playing card on one corner, a bold letter on the other, a constellation, a flower, some items which can be seen alongside the flowers, and some alchemical connotations. They are a lot bigger than the traditional cards you see today too. You can see some of the cards in the link pasted below.
Link to Grand Jeu Lenormand cards: https://goo.gl/XNEjAU
It is said that this deck is the closest thing to what Mlle Lenormand would have created herself, given the complexity and extravagance of it. You wont see much information about it or widespread across the internet because this deck is so complex that most people opt for other simpler options. Im not going to explain here all the aspects of the card, because of the reason I already stated, but if you wish to learn more about how to read it and the anatomy of the card, you can go to the following link to check it outand read through the 3 articles linked (at the bottom/end of it). --> https://goo.gl/1Vyhms
One year after that, in 1846, another deck came out in Germany that used her name: the Petit Lenormand . Now, this deck has nothing to do with the Grand Jeu Lenormand , as this consisted of only 36 cards, which is the base of almost all the cute Lenormand decks we see around today. This deck only had depictions of common items in the household, like a ring, a scythe and a book, and a playing card on top. Youll see it has less items and things on the cards, and rather than scenes, its just objects or people. People who practice cartomancy and have experience with interpreting playing cards can use the addition on them to help come to a deeper interpretation, but it is certainly not needed as a lot of decks dont come with the playing cards.
Link to Petit Lenormand cards: https://goo.gl/ynZEiF
Of course, today, there are lots of Lenormand decks from which to choose, with aesthetically pleasing images and even without the playing card addition to them. It seems to be growing more and more each day, and it has its followers who use it daily.
LENORMAND COMPARED TO OTHER CARD DIVINATION SYSTEMS
So, most likely you already know. Tarot decks have 78 cards, divided into 2 main suits: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards going 0 to 21, and the Minor Arcana consists of 4 other suits (pentacles, swords, wands and cups) that each go from 1 to 10 and have 4 court cards (Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings).
The meanings in most decks are aligned with those of the traditional Rider Waite deck, as well as their symbology, and apply to all decks that follow the RW, despite of the different styles they might have. However, the main thing that stands out about tarot is that it is read intuitively, looking at how the card makes you feel and what you can say about it rather than the book meanings (which can be used as a reinforcement). You can also read the cards individually or in a spread with many cards. These cards are also open to interpretation but can also be read "by the book", although it's not as rewarding.
Oracle decks are very free and different from each other. They all vary in styles, shapes, number of cards, etc. Oracle decks can have 20 cards, 44, 50, 100 cards or more, it really doesnt matter, and they dont have a guideline to follow unlike tarot decks. Each oracle deck is its own thing. As they are mostly different from each other, there isnt much to explain, besides the fact that are very well read intuitively. Like tarot, you can also read the cards individually and add more for clarification.
Now, where we wanted to be. Lenormand decks, like tarot, can be different from each other in style, but follow the same guidelines throughout the decks. But also, unlike tarot decks, the meaning of the cards does not change with a different deck. You see, probably, the Moon card from a tarot deck might make you feel something, and the Moon from another deck might make you feel something else, but for the lenormand, the house card will always mean home, security and safety, no matter the deck. The only thing that changes is the aesthetic. Also, lenormand cards arent designed to be read individually. Youd need at least 2 cards to successfully start to read lenormand.
Wait, what? Explain again
For these examples, well leave oracle out of the situation. Lets say you ask the tarot if youll get the job you applied to, and you get the 5 of Cups. The sadness implied and felt in the card leads us to believe you didnt get the job, and that youll feel sad about it (see, this is a psychological aspect of the situation). For the same reading, you might ask the lenormand and get Coffin + Rider telling you that the thing is over and that you move on (Coffin means death and termination and the Rider is movement basically), see how this is more situational and not very much about feelings? As the divine whispers site says:
Tarot predicts from within the psyche.
The Lenormand seems to predict more objectively,
showing the external circumstances
rather than the internal experience.
STARTING OUT WITH LENORMAND READING
Dont you worry much about the deck if youre just starting and cant get one right now. You can write the names of the cards on paper and use that, because, after all, the imagery doesnt really make a difference other than purely aesthetic.
If you do get a deck, I recommend one that has the name of the card written in it and not just the number (at least if the drawings arent easily recognizable). Why? Well, I got the Art Nouveau Lenormand, and its beautiful and all, but some cards are complicated to understand (in terms of art) and the only reference you have is the number on top. Id greatly appreciate if the cards had the names because I dont really relate the number with the name of the card at first sight (only a few cards are easily understandable, such as the Fox, House, Mountains and Tree; but for example, the Ring card could be confused with Woman, and lots of cards have human figures in addition to the item, so that confuses too).
What to do first
A lot of places recommend that you learn the meanings of the cards first and then start reading. This is entirely optional, but its something you can do when you cant get your hands on a physical deck all the time. I used a flipcards app (Tiny Cards) that had some decks for lenormand meanings (which you can search within the app as "lenormand"). I tried to remember the meanings and train my memory when I was at work waiting for lunch or things like that, and it has really helped.
Anatomy of a simple lenormand reading
As we saw, lenormand cant be read alone, so the minimum amount of cards in a reading is 2. This is because the cards require the context of other cards in order to be understood. The placement of the cards determines which interpretation applies. In a basic 2 card spread, the first card is the noun or subject, and the second card is the adjective or modifier, and any extra cards continue to add more context and data to the reading.
This is extracted from my little booklet that came with my lenormand deck. In this example, the question is whats bothering sally?. The first card is The Man. This card simply means a man, and because we asked for information, not advice or guidance, this card doesnt mean consult a man or something similar. It just says that whats bothering Sally is a man. Now the second card This one is The Snake. This card is about complications, among other things. Man + Snake mean the man has complications. This is still a little vague, so we draw another card. This third card is The Ring. Man + Snake + Ring = A treacherous married man! The Snake card can also mean an unpleasant woman, so he may actually want to get out of his marriage, but still, now you know whats bothering Sally.
A good idea besides learning the meanings of the cards is to do sample readings. Just shuffle the cards and lay them out in pairs. Practice reading those 2 card combinations, with the left card as the subject and the right card as the modifier; then switch them and read them again to see the different meanings. Heres an example of that:
- Anchor + Ship: Could mean setting out to sea, as the Ship is modifying the Anchor.
- Ship + Anchor: Could mean settling down and coming home (the Anchor is modifying the Ship).
Be creative with coming out with meanings and interpretations! With training, youll start to see more and more things and it will be easier to read for situations :)
Hope this helps some of you start this form of divination :)
~~ wiccanery ~~