Fat Ronald Mcdonald

Some people aren’t going to like this, but it needs to be said:

Lenormand is lean.

Let me explain:
It’s stripped down. Each card consists of a single symbol (Rider, Clover, etc.), a playing card association and a number. That’s it. And it isn’t read pictorially, but like Kipperkarten, it’s a language with keywords for each card that you string together according to the context of the question. Some people are so purely visual that they just can’t pick this up, and if Lenormand isn’t your thing, I can respect that.

When you add to the symbols – when you add anything – it can throw the whole thing off. You’re “clogging the tubes”, the same way bad food clogs the intestines. Admittedly, I sometimes use decks with a bit of additional imagery, but I ignore it. It’s “there for looks”. And when there’s too much additional stuff, when it dominates, the deck becomes useless. Imagine trying to quickly locate a card in a Grand Tableau when the cards are crammed with imagery. I suppose some americanization is inevitable, it’s just a shame to see it happening to Lenormand. There’s a glut of such decks now, and new ones appearing almost daily. Some are attractive, if useless as Lenormands. Others look like they were done with crayons. It’s a bandwagon. Newsflash: This isn’t “innovating”. It’s broadcasting the fact that the deck creator is a noob, no more.

It’s been said by many that Lenormand is like learning a language. You don’t become fluent overnight, it takes 5-7 years. Of course you’re free to make a deck that’s been “supersized” with Wicca, US holidays, power animals, gimmicks, medicine wheels, and other distortions – just don’t forget that the experienced readers are also free to criticize. There seems to be some kind of taboo against publicly criticizing this trend. It’s a Honey Boo Boo mentality, exercising the right to not learn anything and shouting it from the rooftops. But bear in mind that “freedom of expression” cuts both ways. (Some tend get their panties in a horrible knot when you criticize this stuff. There are some who will take ANY traditionalist statement as RUDE and NARROW and THE PERSON MAKING THE STATEMENT IS A MEAN OLD POOPY HEAD. LMAO. Deal with it.)

Lenormand is a very no-bullshit, to-the-point German concept and this is something to keep in mind. Some say they create these decks in order to better understand the system, but the ONLY thing that actually helps one understand is study and practice. You don’t “learn” Lenormand by drawing, or googling for public domain images. You’re reinforcing your own misconceptions when you do this. And while the deck may be “Lenormand inspired”, it’s no longer a Lenormand.


10 responses »

  1. Whether people like what is said, I am applauding each word! It needs saying. And Stella, you are saying it in a true Lenormand way: no BS! I hope people get the crap from their eyes and read this. If not we will soon be getting a BigMac card and the Gent will soon be a creepy clown!

  2. Pingback: Lenormand Wisdom |

  3. You are right Stella (needless to add – as always ;)) While i am buying new decks, and like some of them, i still read with Piatnik mostly or with other traditional decks; i can’t be bothered to use ‘abstract art’ Lennie decks, no time for that.

  4. Your perspective is beautifully illustrated in my morning draws. With Shadowscapes Tarot at the top of the cloth telling me what’s up inside my cosmic soul, and the Druid Craft a bit more down to earth in the middle (all three-card draws), and the Lennie at the bottom, which is all about my very mundane post office box crisis, which I will have to solve tomorrow (Scythe-Cavalier-Cross). Confirms my belief in reading the cards from the deck or specific tradition’s way of seeing the world.

    Five-to-seven years? I’ll keep that in mind, and i can see it. “Translating” the syntax of Lenormand is a challenge and should take the time any other language takes to learn. It’s not about the pretty pictures, that’s the difference from post-Golden Dawn Tarot. It’s about words, sentences, and stories. That’s why I like it. 🙂

    PS: But I still like reading from my new Glided Reverie deck, mainly because the main Lenormand symbol is big and clear. Although I do love my original White Owl, discerning Star from Moon always takes extra time. So, old is not necessarily “better” for reading, but “unbusy” would be.

  5. I’ve been out of the internet loop for a while, and I’m not American, so I’m still having culture shock (and sticker shock) over this phenomenon. There’s the commercial aspect, of course. And if you buy into all of this stuff – power animals, mobile homes (?? – sorry, my comprehension of this one is still at the WTF? stage), and the rest of the nonsense – you will manage to avoid learning how to read the actual cards – that may be the point of it.

    I’ve spoken before about how Lenormand isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay. But I think the same thing is happening here as happened to astrology and tarot. The myths got rewritten and technique was almost completely lost, so there was no way to use astrological or tarot divination to predict (uhh…guys…this is One Of The Biggest Things about divination, maybe the Whole Point of divining when you come right down to it). Today you can learn modern astrology or tarot in an afternoon. You won’t be able to predict the future, but you can spend an hour saying nice (and unverifiable) things to people, and they’ll probably appreciate it. And, of course, everyone can get in on it.

    It saddens me that the world is in such a state that someone would go to a fortune teller for that, but they do.

    Boy, is this screwed up.

    Lenormand is a predictive tool. One that many people find useful, and like other predictive tools, one that takes a good bit of work to learn. If you like the pictures, but want to shake off the predictive associations, please don’t call it Lenormand. It isn’t. It’s something else.

  6. The plainess of Lenormand is not about Puritanical oversight but about clarity of reading. Once the QBL, astrology and esoteric annotation starts accreting like guano, we can no longer climb the slope of divination. The metaphors that symbology evoke in the brain lead us not by a short cut but by the scenic route and divination comes in late.

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