An Open Letter To New Lenormand Readers

Old primer

So you’ve decided to try learning Lenormand. Welcome, and I hope you succeed. Some don’t, it’s not for everyone, but you really won’t know for sure if you don’t make an effort. Just keep in mind that the effort involves drudge work, rote memorization and repetitive practice.

I’ve posted bits about this before, all over this blog and elsewhere, about choosing a traditional deck, finding good mentors, and avoiding the pitfalls of study material created by people who have no clue what they’re talking about, who make ridiculous claims that the folk tradition doesn’t exist (a folk tradition is what Lenormand is BY DEFINITION), or who let insanely ridiculous misconceptions (like interpreting the Lady as “the goddess”) go unremarked. Paradoxically, most of the stuff out there is from people like that.

There’s a tendency these days online to say we should “respect all viewpoints and opinions”. This sounds good in theory, but Lenormand isn’t a religion. Nobody KNOWS how everything came to be or what happens when we die, so different cultures have evolved different religious beliefs about these things, and everybody needs to be tolerant. But Lenormand isn’t a religion, how to read the cards isn’t beyond what can be known in this life, and while there are some minor variations in it, it’s got definite boundaries. What falls outside of those boundaries is wrong. Period. It’s like an alphabet in some ways, so think of a kid learning to read and write. He has to work at it for a good while, and when he makes mistakes, the teacher corrects him. This isn’t disrespect, or a “personal attack”, it’s teaching.

I think part of the problem is that consumerism and binge culture is spreading. You know how people on the european continent have wine with meals, even the kids might have a little wine, too, and everything’s cool – but americans tend to binge and show their ass and puke all over the parking lots? Same with Lenormand, people think they can learn by purchasing PRODUCT/STUFF/THINGS, getting ALL THE BOOKS AND DECKS and joining ALL THE GROUPS (sadly, most of them suck). And the shysters are only too happy to accommodate them. Like the old saw says, there’s a sucker born every minute. Having a book, deck, group or a youtube channel under your belt doesn’t mean you know your ass from a hole in the ground.

(Book publishers aren’t Lenormand readers, BTW. They publish what looks to them like it will sell. And what sells is something that looks easy. The “LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT DIET OR EXERCISE!” approach.)

And then the noobs end up interpreting the Lady as “the goddess”.

So one antidote is quality product, but the problem is that quality product takes a long time and a lot of thought to create. You can’t FLOOD THE MARKET the way they do. So there’s not much good stuff out there.

It’s OK, though. All you need is one deck (which can be had for less than $10) and a few resources for learning (see my sidebar). A lot of them are free. The only learning material I actually had to purchase was Iris Treppner’s course, and that’s not pricey. And keep it at just a few quality sources – it’s easier to learn the right way from the beginning than it is to unlearn a lot of wrong stuff later.

It’s very little that we need. Think of Ariadne’s thread.
Just don’t start seeing Ariadne in your Lenormand readings. 😉

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19 responses »

    • Easiest cards in the deck. The woman is a woman, the man is a man, lol. There can be some bending if the person identifies as another gender, but basically that’s it. If they can’t get their head around THAT, they need to move on. 😉

  1. I read the Lenormand in a traditional way, but I just wonder why it is of such great concern that other people use the cards in different ways? If Lenormand isn’t a religion, why evangelize? If it isn’t a religion, why be dogmatic? What does it really matter, and how does it affect you, if some reader somewhere intereprets Lady as ‘Goddess’? I am not trying to start an argument, I just genuinely wonder why this is a big deal to you.

    I agree that newbies ought to look at traditional ways first, but even if they just pick up a deck of cards and start ‘reading intuitively’ (a phrase that gives me the willies), why do you care? For myself I just shrug. In fact, I even sometimes enjoy reading the results, even if they puzzle me.

    • Lenormand is a folk tradition by definition, not just a deck like these people seem to think. It’s worth preserving. You don’t preserve these things by “innovating” them or trying to twist them into “Doreen Virtue’s Healing With The Lenormand (no bad cards!!!!!)” People are, of course, free to use the cards any way they like, but when they do absurd things like interpret the Lady as “the goddess”, it’s not Lenormand – they’ve never bothered to LEARN Lenormand – and it shouldn’t be referred to as such.

      And we readers do have a professional reputation to protect, as well. I’ve seen doctors speak out against faith healers claiming to “practice medicine”. They’re not “evangelicizing”, or denying anyone their right to engage in those things, they’re pointing out a fact. They’re distancing what they do from from what the speaking-in-tongues crowd does. While NO card reading is hard science, Lenormand does require an investment of study and practice for some years in order to do it properly. It’s not “pull something airy-fairy out of your ass and call it ‘intuitive'” Nobody likes to be lumped in with flakes and bliss ninnies. 😉

      Maybe it’s all semantics and there needs to be a word for using Lenormand cards to do things that aren’t Lenormand, but as of this writing, the word doesn’t seem to exist. So we have to keep drawing the line in the sand.

    • Carla, if someone utilises something in professional manner and has invested a lot of time and study into it, I think we have a right to defend our craft. Especially when people who don’t consistently object to any form of criticism which they deliver freely enough (genuine examples: we’re forcing them to loose themselves, stifle themselves, or we’re u-nevolved souls working on the cards on a lower octave). I don’t object to people doing their own way; I just think they should be respectful enough to call a spade a spade.

      The petit-Lenormand is not actually the deck opr just the deck, but is actually the methodology (the implementation of distance and combination), and that’s why we can read it with an ordinary Bésigue or Skat deck with the sixes added in. If they’re coming to the conclusion that the Lady is a Goddess, and the Cross is not there, they are by definition not reading Lenormand. If they are not using the system, then it’s not Lenormand.

      That not being evangelical. That’s just being truthful. Something clients, as we’re professional readers, deserve.

      • Well said, Andy.
        Often, they really don’t even bother to see what it’s all about before they throw down the gauntlet. Just last night I had a new ager tell me that all forms of “devonation” “psychanalyze” and if you don’t, you’re unethical and can be replaced by a machine, lol.

        They can’t be reasoned with, have no desire to learn, and will end up giving us a bad name if we let it happen.

      • I see. I hadn’t looked at it that way. Perhaps that is why I myself am rubbed slightly up the wrong way when I see Lenormand decks altered, or read ‘intuitive’ readings. I can see why traditionalists (of which I count myself one) have the right to say something. But it is hard to find a way to do it without sounding completely judgemental. I have never heard anyone say that traditional Lenormand readers are unevolved souls! That’s shocking. I have to admit, I have steered clear of the debate, because I feel that traditional is best with Lenormand. It wasn’t broke, no need to fix it. So I really don’t know how much vitriole has been hurled at traditionalists. I don’t see a need for extra cards, and I like traditional layouts and reading methods. Honestly, I don’t see how Lady can be Goddess or how the Cross can not be there, but I guess because I do not identify myself fully with Lenormand (it is not a family tradition of mine, nor is it my main divination tool), I don’t feel as deeply affronted. I just feel puzzled and slightly annoyed.

        Thanks for helping me see why this is important to you.

      • Well, yes, Carla. On a personal level, it’s my primary go-to system, and it’s saved me from being utterly dependent on a series of horrible dead-end jobs. On a less personal level, what we have in Lenormand is a living, intact folk tradition that’s been passed along orally from the beginning until people started writing about it in the 80’s or so. There’s plenty of lore that hasn’t been documented, and needs to be saved before it’s utterly polluted and replaced with new age spew.

        You can see the same thing happening with American Hoodoo, if you go on the Lucky Mojo forums you’ll see people trying to mix it with wicca, etc. and Miss Cat and the others have to constantly remind people that it’s a tradition from Christian African Americans. If you want to empower your Nation Sack with Brighid, go ahead, but don’t call it Hoodoo or try to pass it off as authentic.

        The new age tries to assume ownership of whatever they can profit from. This is why there’s nonsense like kundalini sweat lodges. I’d much rather see things preserved and passed on intact than replaced with an inferior, fake, new age version.

  2. I do sympathise Stella, I’ve recently had a run with astrologers telling me you cannot delineate a chart without intuiting Chiron.

    My personal views on Lenormand are perhaps a little entrenched, but that’s only because I bothered to do my homework. We actually bothered to listen to our teachers, and if people don’t like that, they can go elsewhere; we should not be silent. There are plenty other systems, or better yet, let them design one that will work to the extent Lenormand done properly can.

    There can be no excuse for calling something X if it’s not X and you don’t even know what X is. Whether X is astrology or petit-Lenormand, our clients deserve to know what they are paying for. Calling the travesty we are seeing Lenormand is fraud.

    • “…you cannot delineate a chart without intuiting Chiron”? *sputters*

      I’ve completely given up on reasoning with them, I wash my hands. I don’t mind explaining things to a new person, or someone who’s a little slow on the uptake, but at the first sign of this moronic new age hubris, I’m done. I probably could have written several fat books in the time that I’ve spent trying to cram simple concepts into a space that doesn’t even seem to exist.

      • Yep, it was on the topic of synthesis. In classical astrology, no attempt was made to synthesis the chart save going from house one to two to three, et cetera. So when I said that… apparently, this is because they didn’t intuit Chiron (who know rules Virgo you know!), which indicates the individual’s soul wounds. Without knowing those wounds we cannot do anything.

        You cannot reason with that sort of rot so I just deleted the person.

        But that’s how I feel. I have no interest anymore, because you cannot have a two-way debate, because you’re a) patriarchal b) an un-evolved soul c) starving them of their inner creativity/development/karmic work. The list grows. I’m happy, or at least was, to answer why we do some stuff or how to, but you cannot with people who are so ingrained in their pseudo-analysis or convictions even before they’ve started. So I just don’t anymore. It’s sad because the real practitioners are just stepping back now.

  3. Excellent post, Stella!
    I love your no-nonsense, no bullshit style. You are one of the few Lenormand readers I admire and being quite the n00b I learn a lot from you (3 yrs and still consider myself a n00b).
    Also, I am really glad my coffee mug was empty otherwise my screen would have been splattered from “the woman is the goddess” stuff. 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on michellelenormand and commented:
    Here is a very realistic, honest, common sense, down to earth viewpoint about learning the cards. If you like and use the Doreen Virtue style, New Age cards, stick with those- do not take up Lenormand unless you have a knack for languages and a thirst to learn, because that is what it takes. It DOES NOT take psychic ability or a heightened intuition to read them! In fact, this is the deck of EVERY MAN- anyone who wants to learn a visual language can learn these cards. The Coffin is not death; the Lady is not the Goddess; the Snake is not Asclepius! Just read the damn cards. It might not stroke your need to feel spiritually superior, but do we really need anymore freakin’ gurus??!!! I think not.

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