Lenormand Reversals are not a “Thing”


Andy explains why in detail here: http://boroveshengra.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/lenormand-theory-reversals/
It’s a disturbing trend, and it needs to be nipped in the bud.


30 responses »

  1. Yeah, nice synopsis from Andy. Michelle of michellelenormand started this thread over on her blog today. Excellent points made all around. I’m currently trying to interpret my first GT. Damned if I’m going to add reversals into the mix. Too complex already, and plenty of information to be had just using the traditional meanings and combinations. People are crazy to add stuff into this. And like Andy keeps trying to get across, petit-Lenormand is a system of reading more than the cards themselves. I’ve actually applied the Lenormand principles to put Tarot combinations together. Works nicely for that. Gives more of a story rather than focusing on single card interpretations. But the other way around, no. Just use your Tarot cards, since the traditional meanings for them have often been long forgotten.

    • I think the reversals idea has seen its recent revival because Madame Seaqueen blogged a list of reversed meanings recently, so people are seizing on that. What you have to remember is that she’d done over 300 blog posts on Lenormand already and was probably thinking in terms of “What haven’t I written about yet?”, and that she doesn’t actually use reversals, at least in the posts I’ve seen.

      Context. 😉

  2. I saw that blog a few days ago. Funny how such a huge misstep can call into question her previous work. Certainly let her write about reversals. About how, except perhaps for a small fringe, they are just not part of the Lenormand tradition. I hope she steps back and examines the disservice she may be doing to people who truly want to learn how to read Lenormand .

    • She posted this at her facebook group:

      “The reversals topics are “food for thought” in the event a card comes up reversed or falls out of the deck when shuffled. You are correct there is no historical basis for Lenormand reversals.”

      I’m guessing that things are different in Kočevje, and she wasn’t thinking in terms of authentic vs. faux Lenormand. She probably just thought it would be an interesting tidbit to throw out there.

      The problems come in when people latch onto it and dig their heels in: “But Madame Seaqueen uses them!” That’s something we’re constantly having to battle in the US. Slovenia is probably saner, or at least less confrontational, lol.

      • Agree with your impression here, Stella. I would imagine these “issues” are not really issues so much in non-English speaking Europe where the Lenormand system has been practiced as is in parallel to Tarot and other oracles for many years.

        We are definitely suffering with a number of misunderstandings between the art of card-making and the reading system itself over here because the former has become such a fad with indie publishing. I have to remember that back in the day, it would have been well-nigh impossible to build a commercial fortune-telling card deck without major publisher involvement. If that were still the case, I think many of the Lenormand decks available now would be left as home-made experiments for their creators, and the traditional decks and reading system would still reign supreme. So, the method suffers from the association with fad deck creation (although, to be fair, I do like a couple of the new decks, Marchetti’s and Matthews’s).

      • Caitlin researched before creating a deck. Even Ciro opened himself to criticism while creating the images (and he HATES criticism, lol, so it was a bit of a sacrifice on his part). A lot of these people making decks don’t do that, and if you point out that simple images are best, or that there’s no reason on earth to put a squid on the Stars card (and every reason NOT to), the usual reply is “It’s MY deck and I won’t let you squash my creativity!” *rolls eyes*

  3. Hi Stella,
    Yes, I opened the can of worms but it needed to be said. I think everyone was too surprised she would do such a thing to say anything about it. This was my response to her this evening:
    “With students needing to learn the meanings and spreads, it is very, very confusing to throw reversals at them, especially when there is not real basis for it. It is YOUR thing, not a Lenormand thing and as a teacher it is hard enough getting the students to understand they need to memorize traditional meanings if they want to learn traditional Lenormand. Throwing reversals at them is not helpful. Perhaps more advanced students can find something in it.”

    And you are right, now they will say, “But Madame Seaqueen does spreads with reversals.” And frankly, I thought her first post with the meanings list for reversals was if a card fell from the deck or something. It wasn’t until she posted a layout and left a card within the layout reversed that I felt the need to really say something. I am no longer recommending her blog for beginning Lenormand students.

    • Your first impression seems to be correct, today she stated, “I do not read Lenormand reversed but I do explore the possibility of “a reversed meanings” if I am staring at a reversed card which happened to be drawn from the shuffled deck I don’t turn it upright.”

      She’s never really been 100% traditional, if you go through her old posts, you’ll see personally assigned meanings, etc. Nothing has changed, this just happened to draw a lot of attention.

      • Really? I always thought her approach was French-ish…not sure what Lenormand follows in Slovenia, or of there is a Slovenian school. ?? I will watch for more personalized meanings.

      • There aren’t any “schools”, really, there’s just Lenormand with variations in dialect. A lot like the way a purse is a “pocketbook” in Massachusetts, but it’s still english.

        Occasionally you see little pockets of idiosyncratic practices. I think Andy commented someplace yesterday that this tends to be due to isolation in certain countries due to post-1920 politics. And he mentioned that Lenormand reversals aren’t seen at all until the late 20th century – in other words, after Lenormand books started appearing and writers felt pressured to come up with more material, and scraped the Tarot barrel.

        Seaqueen has a solid foundation, but she’s always kind of done her own thing beyond that. I enjoy reading her from time to time, but I’ve never recommended her blog to beginners, as it could be confusing since they don’t have the frame of reference to tell when she’s doing Lenormand and when she’s doing Madame Seaqueen, lol.

  4. The rest of the comment:
    “Madame Seaqueen, I really don’t understand why you don’t just design a new deck entirely- you are very knowledgable and well respected by many people in the card reading community. If you are writing about reversals just to write about something, it isn’t really a reason to mess with a deck that has been successfully used for years in a certain way- without reversals. New people wanting to learn look up to you for guidance and you are telling them something that is not necessarily true about reading Lenormand. I, for one, would definitely buy a deck you designed. Just leave Lenormand alone, please.”

      • OMG…ummmm…software engineer and vice principal? They are supposed to be smart. The Snake is a paleolithic symbol that has absolutely NOTHING to do with Judeo/Christian beliefs. The Whip is also ancient. I am dumbfounded.

        You know- they are just misguided people who happened to pick up a poorly written book or take a not-so-well thought out Lenormand course. I feel bad for them. They got duped.

      • Actually, Michellelenormand, I have never used reversals, for the reason you state. I learned well from Andy, too. And Iris Treppner and the Blogger of whom we were speaking. And the cards, for me, have also never come up reversed because, unlike Stella, I am a bit more meticulous about putting my cards back together. 😉 But, then again, if that Key, Clover and Star ever … LOL!

    • So, what do you do when you get a reversed card? I don’t read reversals but when one appears I may give more weight to its meaning. Like the Divine is calling my attention to it, as figurative exclamation point.

      • I just turn them right side up.
        When I get them, it’s because I slapped my deck together carelessly after the last reading, lol.

      • Hi Lenormandchimera,
        Thanks of your comment.
        Reversals have NEVER been used in Lenormand. You are just supposed to turn it right-side up. No exclamation points with reversals. Lenormand is a fortunetelling deck so the Divine element really only comes into play when you ask a specific spiritual question, and many other readers swear by Tarot for that.

        Reversals are a TAROT technique and Tarot has nothing to do with Lenormand other than it being printed on a card in a deck with other cards, as are business cards and library cards, and a bevy of other cards.

      • I tend to think of actual “divining” as obtaining an answer from a deity – you see this with a lot of Asian oracles like the Kuan Yin, Manjushri, etc. Generally you’re required to light incense, recite mantras, etc. before stating your question.

        Some, like the Jiaobei and I Ching, aren’t necessarily dedicated to a particular deity, but the incense and bowing rules still hold.

        It’s not something I associate with Tarot. Even Jodorowsky, who considers the deck very pan-spiritual, doesn’t do anything of this nature. He simply mixes the cards and draws.

        Of course new agers are prone to considering card reading a “religious ritual”, but I suspect this is a ploy they use so they can cry “persecution!” when they’re corrected on something, lol.

      • Nah, I don’t see Lenormand as being “divining.” I loosely use ‘the Divine’ as a designation for that mysterious unknown that some assign to an entity/diety, call it nature, guardian angels, guides, wtf knows? I simply use “Divine” as a general label. It’s whatever-it-is that guides my hands to choose or arranges the cards in the proper order to deliver messages to me that I can hopefully interpret. No incense, incantations or prayers required.

  5. Ahh- sorry, Stella. I am not technologically adept! This comment came up on my comment feed in wordpress and I commented thinking it was my blog. (I had reblogged this). Duh.

    Americans have trouble comprehending the different “schools, ” I think. Being that I learned Lenormand from Sylvie first, and then had to re-learn it from Andy as a consequence of that uninformed newbie mistake, I became accustomed to the different schools. I tend NOT to use them and I teach a different way of following the traditional meanings that my American students seem to understand better than “Belgium meanings.” They look back at me with blank stares when I say stuff like that, and don’t get why following a certain set of meanings is best while learning. Teaching astrophysics seems easier at times.

    Andy is a treasure trove of cartomancy history!

    • Tell them a list of meanings is like the parts in a fine Swiss watch. They work together perfectly.

      But the parts aren’t necessarily compatible with the parts in a different, equally fine Swiss watch. If you try to “transplant” them, you’ll break it.

      I learned with German meanings, and the Bear is seen as male. Andy uses the Bear as female, and it works with his meanings. I use a lot of his material, where it’s a progression of my own meanings (compatible). But if I adopted the female Bear idea, and I was looking for “mom” in a GT, how would I know if she was the Bear or the Snake? In other words, if you change one meaning, you have to change others, or it won’t work.

    • It’s not the end if we can help it, lol.

      A lot of online card reading communities operate the same way (the motto for that one is “Live And Let Lenormand”), that’s been the norm since AT, maybe longer, maybe they were doing it on Usenet. It usually works like this:

      Post a card, spread, or combo. Everybody chimes in with what they think it means. Most of these people are just guessing, or making things up – but that’s protected, under the guise of “tolerance”, “respect” or some other buzzword. What’s NOT protected is correcting people. That’s considered “rude”, “intolerant”, or whatever. What you end up with is the blind leading the blind.

      I’m aware of that group, but there are MANY others like it and there always has been – they’ve become the standard, and that’s the problem on a far larger scale than reversals. Look what’s happened to Tarot, predictive Tarot has become buried under a thick layer of new age sludge. Same with astrology and a lot of other subjects. The best we can do is to offer alternatives where people are actually able to LEARN things.

      • actually reversed cards where an invention of etteilla.he reversed his name and reversed cards also.in traditional tarot reversals were not used at all.if lenormand cards work why add complication.leave it simple and accurate.be carefull reversals are not traditional.i asked sherryl smith a nort american taro researcher about reversed cards and she said that the old bookabout tarot from italy and france.older than etteila do not mention reversed cards at all.

  6. I have always thought that 78 cards could be enough to apply to a multitude of things, that there was really no need for reversals. Using combinations of cards, like Lenormand, would seem to be able to address most any problem or occasion. Any ideas when reversals appeared in tarot?

    • Both Etteilla, and, if I’m not mistaken, Court de Gébelin wrote about reversals in the 18th century. It’s a carryover from playing card reading. Etteilla claimed to have learned his system from an Italian, so it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact date.

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