Lenormand and Tarot – same approach?

Mae West and Nigel De Brulier in “I’m No Angel” 1933

Lenormand and Tarot. You can turn up many, many group discussions on this, and some great blog posts as well, which is why I never blogged on it before…it’s already been done. And done well, I might add. But it just keeps coming up, and not all fortune tellers are alike, not all our methods are alike, so here’s my take on it:

Lenormand and Tarot – how are they alike?

The format. They’re cards. And people use them for fortunetelling, but that’s about as far as the similarity goes. People use the CD format to store music and listen to it. If you have a Ramones CD and a Billie Holiday CD and they’re both good to dance to, do you dance to them the same way?

How are they different?

The best advice I can give you, when approaching Lenormand, is to leave all Tarot modes of thought in the Tarot box. Depth psychology, astrology, archetypes, the hero’s/fool’s journey, Kaballah, elemental dignities, magickal orders and hermetic knowledge only muddy the water.

Tarot is visual, Lenormand is verbal. With Tarot you look, with Lenormand you recall keywords. Think of each card as a little rolodex of keywords (thanks to Claudia Parda Bauman for this analogy) and find the ones that combine well to fit the context of the question. Make a phrase.

“I think what makes the Lenormand so special is that it’s iconic. Other types of oracle cards have entire scenes – they can be translated as paragraphs, or even essays – a card makes a full statement on its own. In Lenormand, each card bears one basic symbol. As an analogy, each card can be taken as a single word, but like many words, the nuances are different in different contexts, which allows for the creation of whole new sentences and paragraphs each time you throw the cards – the combinations are nearly infinite. 36 cards that can combine in myriad ways; endlessly fascinating.”
Chanah (author of “Confessions of a Freaky Fortune Teller”)

The following is a quote about reading playing cards from the old Hedgewytchery site (listed on the sidebar here as “The Wise and Subtle Art of Reading Cards”) but I think it applies to Lenormand too. Lenormand will tell you whatever you ask about. If you want gossip, you’ll get gossip and not moralizing about how you shouldn’t concern yourself with gossip. It’s beyond compare for predictive readings. It’s blunt.

“It is true, of course, that the regular playing card pack is not so charming or erudite as her mother, the Tarot. Nonetheless, we have often found ourselves willing to trade the mother’s unvoiced, wisdom-filled glances for the child’s forthright and honest speech. Thus, it is well worth bearing in mind that finery and age are not inevitably marks of wisdom and knowledge, nor plainness and youth marks of foolishness and ignorance. It all depends on what you want to know. If you wish to discuss philosophy, approach the front door and ask for the philosopher. But should you wish to know what transpires in the philosopher’s house, approach the back door and ask for the scullery maid.”

Disclaimer: There is absolutely no tie between the illustration and this blog post, other than “fortune telling”. I posted it because I recently acquired five old Mae West movies and I’m on a huge Mae kick. Not a racist or homophobic bone in her, and independent and assertive as hell, even in the 1930’s. Into health, sexuality…and hanging out at Lily Dale! Even aging didn’t get her down, even though she’d traded on the sex symbol trope her whole life. She was the first choice to play Norman Desmond, the lead in Sunset Boulevard but rejected the part because she considered herself just as hot and fabulous at 57 as she’d ever been. Never even had a facelift – in her 80’s she would often lift her wig and say to reporters, “See? No scars!” Amazing woman. Do check out her work, if you haven’t already. 😉


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