Category Archives: cartomancy

Needful Things: Tarot Talismans, Hallowstones, & Fin de Siécle


(A nod to Mr. Stephen King for the title – tis the season!)
Just checking in with a quick mention of Carrie Paris’s Tarot Talismans, Professional Dreamer’s Hallowstones, and Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siécle Kipperkarten deck. I will be blogging more on each separately as time allows, they’re all fabulous.

The Tarot Talismans are pure genius. There is a charm for each Trump, and the rest of the deck has been reduced – you can determine the rest via four suit charms, a ten sided die, and four chess charms that represent the Courts. It’s all explained thoroughly in the free PDF download available here. The tin is beautiful and large enough to hold a few extra things, the charms themselves are in a small organza bag and more portable than all but the tiniest mini deck. You can toss it in a little sling pouch along with your keys, wallet, phone and a little makeup and be ready for anything. :D


When it first arrived, I made a game of guessing which charms represented which card, and it was very easy. The meditating Kuan Yin makes a perfect High Priestess/Papess, the ballerina is obviously the dancing lady from The World. And a lot of them are literal, like the Sun, Moon, Star and Tower.
It can be purchased here, along with other Needful Things:

The Hallowstones are Halloween/Samhain-themed, but I’m going to use mine year round – it’s my favorite holiday, after all! ;) They’re somewhat like those wonderful Crowstones, but distilled down to twelve symbols that still manage to give a nuanced reading. Robyn is just really, really good at coming up with these things, they always work well. Even the pickiest of us love the Crowstones, and the Hallowstones are equally good, I think. It’s another very, very portable casting oracle. And it comes with a laminated casting sheet:


The whole thing is very cheery and playful-looking, but it will dish the dirt, too, if you need it to do that. ;) It’s available here, also with other Needful Things:

Now to get away from casting for a bit and talk about a deck. Ciro Marchetti has done a Kipper, not “Kipper inspired” or any of that, it just IS a Kipper, as much or moreso than Leidingkarten or Mystiches. It’s called the Fin de Siécle (pronounced “fon duh see-ECK-luh”) Yes, there have been changes – the cards are slightly larger to show the art, and the images have been done in a way that’s less ambiguous in many cases, and easier for beginners to understand. Compare the Original “Getting A Gift” and Ciro’s Gift card:


It’s a lovely deck, somewhat more shadowy than other Marchetti decks, both in color values and subject matter – it has cards that convey some extremely gritty elements of life. The deck balances the Gilded Age lifestyle with the Dickensian poverty that went along with it and makes for a great spot-on reading deck that’s relevant today.

The stock is good, flexible and lightly coated. It comes with a printed satin bag and a personally autographed card. When you purchase, you’re sent a link to a downloadable Companion PDF that I’m honored to be a part of, along with Susanne Zitzl, Fortune Buchholtz, and Mr. Marchetti. The Companion Document contains cards descriptions, meanings, spreads, and Ciro’s commentary on the creation of the deck and the rationale behind the changes he implemented. At sixty-odd pages, it’s substantial. There’s also instructions for downloading a free app that’s a lot of fun – you point your phone at a card and it becomes animated – sound and movement! – and it shows you the card meaning (or, in the case of the Courthouse, the judge tells you!)

So it’s good value for the money. I’m told that US Games and Königsfurt-Urania Verlag have already licensed the deck, and we’ll be seeing that in a year or so, but I like these less-coated cards with all the bells and whistles. :)


It’s available here (and you can also see a sample of the app in action):!kipper/c1irz

And here is a teaser video that gives you a good idea of the art:

And because some of the cards reminded me of this movie, here’s the incomparable Lon Chaney Sr. and little Jackie Coogan (who grew up to be our beloved Uncle Fester!) in 1922’s Oliver Twist:

Deck Review: Black Hand Lenormand


Who is Shelley Barnes?
Was she in Andy’s course under a screen name? Or has she been outside the online community quietly soaking up books – the good ones, Andy’s, Rana’s, and Caitlyn’s?

I’m asking because she seems to know what she’s doing. This is actually a great little deck.

The art is wonderful. The tuckbox reminds me of title cards on silent movies – the kind of thing you’d see with Lon Chaney Sr. or early Clara Bow. The whole thing seems to have a 20’s-through-Noir feel, possibly the most modern feature of the deck is the Bettie Page bangs on the Lady.

But good art doesn’t often translate to a good reading deck, the reason being that the artist lets their vision override reading conventions and practical concerns. This is the part of the reason I stick with antique reproductions as a rule, (the other reason is godawful bad art) and tune out 99.999% of the new Lenormands that are constantly coming out. Lots of competent artists have made unreadable pretties. Not Shelley.

Does this deck have aberrations? A few, yes, but no more that you see in some of the old decks that have things like two scythes on the Scythe card. And in no way do they make the deck unworkable. Let’s have a look at them:


The mouse appears to be dead or sleeping. Well, if you’re killing mice, it’s because they’ve infested. Or maybe he’s just taking a nap after he gorged on your food. Either way, it’s still loss. And very clearly a mouse. The Tree is a palm tree. Still a tree, still recognizable, same meaning. The Clover is encased in a glass pendant with a chain, but it still pops out at you right away. The Park has a statue of a naked woman predominating, but you can see the pedestal, you know it’s not the Lady. It’s a statue. Statues are in Parks and Gardens. The Cross is more symmetrical than usual, a little less churchy – so what? And the Tower, rather than an old structure guarding a border from invaders, is more modern. It reminds me of that famous shot in Baby Face, where the camera pans up the Gotham Trust tower to indicate that Barbara Stanwyck is screwing her way to the top, lol. OK, that has nothing to do with the card meaning. But I like it and it’s a readable Tower card, you can tell what it is right away.

Another oddity is that the playing card 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s have been added. Would I shuffle the whole thing together and do a Lenormand/playing card reading? No, because Lenormand is based on Alemannic cartomancy, it’s a different system. Doing things like that will throw the whole thing off balance by giving you more than one card that means the same thing, or something very similar.

But I would shuffle it all together and do a playing card reading, ignoring the Lenormand symbols.

I would also use it as a gaming deck. (The Jokers double as extra Man and Woman cards. I don’t use those, since Rider and Snake are the Male and Female lover cards, but I won’t be storing these Jokers away to lie in state in the “extra Man and Woman card box”. since I enjoy playing games with wild cards.) So you have three uses in one – Lenormand, playing cards for reading, and playing cards for gaming. And it’s a mini. Keep it in your purse or pocket for spur of the moment readings, and quick poker hands to see who pays for lunch.


I went ahead and ordered the deck with the palmistry card, because it just looks cool. I really, really like the way this woman draws, I’m even keeping the business card. I’m going to find a little frame for the hand. It has meanings printed on the back, some perfectly sound, some a little sketchy. But all in all, if you don’t want to use this deck’s version of the “LWB”, just do like me and frame the hand. Or get the deck alone. Or the deck and the pendulum.

Everything else is perfectly traditional. Check this out:


Clearly split Crossroads with both a wide and a narrow branch. (Has she been watching Malkiel Rouven Dietrich’s videos? :D ) Male Rider, blowing his horn and clearly hurrying along to announce something important. Two hectic, chattering birds.

And this:


“The Snake biting the Fox’s tail.” Maybe she doesn’t know about that particular reading convention and it’s just a happy accident, but I wonder… :)

You can order the Black Hand HERE, (for not very much money! The price is surprisingly low.) It will arrive quickly, in a well-padded envelope with doodley things on it in Shelley’s own hand. And yes, it’s good linen stock and shuffles easily.


This is such a great deck. It may start a trend where people include playing cards to make 52 card Lenormands, but that’s missing the point entirely. It’s a great deck because it’s a good, readable Lenormand, and because it’ll make you feel like Joan Blondell on the midway in Nightmare Alley. Can’t beat that!

Andy’s Book: Revised & Expanded


If you read this blog at all, you’ve probably heard of Lenormand Thirty Six Cards by now. It was intended as an introductory book, though it was quite detailed – I got a lot of benefit from it, and I’d been reading Lenormand for years already. Andy did a great job of filling in the gaps left by Treppner and the handful of others who had published information in english.

Since then, he re-opened his Cabinet course for awhile, including information that wasn’t available in the first edition of the book, and paying careful attention to the areas where people were having problems and how to explain things more clearly. (There is a human tendency to misinterpret certain statements and run with it – this is what he was mainly trying to remedy, I think. The man is infinitely more patient and accommodating than I am.) All of this – the course material and the teaching approach, have been added to the original book. Certain parts have been revised. And what came of all this is a book with roughly twice the word count, yet with the fat trimmed.

This appears, for all intents and purposes, to be the definitive Lenormand book. There’s really not much else you can say about the subject, the answers to virtually all of the questions one commonly sees are answered in this book. (Andy says it’s “intermediate”, I’m curious as to what he considers “advanced” – work through this book and internalize the information, and you’ve got Lenormand nailed.) Card and suit meanings, history, attendance, proximity, exercises, combos and more.

You can get more information here:

Order from Amazon here:

Or, if you prefer, from Createspace here:

The Roots of Idiocy

(No, not the things in the photo…read on!)

Comments are welcome, because I’m really, REALLY trying to find the root of this – so I can douse it with gasoline and enjoy the bonfire.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you’ve seen many, many posts about learning Lenormand rather than pulling meanings out of your ass. And “new thought” vs. “new age” (AKA “sewerage”).

Now I’ve found this old thread (pardon me if I don’t keep up with the purple shithole – also, profound props to you, Scion, whoever you are – eloquent and well put) on AT where some are defending a book by Arrien Angeles that is purportedly an instruction on the Crowley Thoth – with the caveat that she suggests ignoring Crowley (WUT) and goes on to give made-up interpretations of the images on the cards. (Crowley’s pelican, according to this dribble-of-misapprehended-symbols-by-someone-who-couldn’t-be-bothered-to-research, is a “swan” and “the ugly duckling”, the venom is “tears of the spirit”)

Look, if you want to learn the Thoth, read Crowley. The Book of Thoth, 777, and The Book of the Law at the very least. If you still can’t make sense of it, read Duquette. But not this Angeles fuckwittery.

The same goes for anything else. Read the real stuff, not the fake stuff. Jeez.

None of this is news, it’s been all too common since the 80’s. But what broadsided me and led me to mention it here, is that this execrable Angeles book came out in the late 70’s. The shitting down the throat of Lenormand – and all things cartomantic – has a precedent going back further than I previously realized. New age BS predates the 80’s. It snuck in when I was unaware of it, blithely shuffling my battered University Press RWS with Trapeze or BOC playing in the background. A lifetime ago.

Maybe Crowley was right (and not just yanking our chains) and we’re really in for another 500 years of Dark Ages. Say what you will about him, he was still a brilliant SOB.

ETA: Further digging has shown me that apparently, the pulling-meanings-out-of-your-wazoo school of reading goes ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1969 and the publication of “The New Tarot: The Tarot for the Aquarian Age”. The premise of this dribble is that just looking at the magic pasteboard unlocks wisdom in your subconscious, and is probably what set off this whole “learning is bad!” trope. It claims any idiot’s “insights” are just as valid as Waite’s, Crowley’s, Wirth’s, or anyone else who actually learned the cards. It was allegedly channeled with a Ouija board and published along with a hideous deck.

I can only conclude that the new agers and the Pat Robertson type wacky evangelicals are two sides of the same coin and we’ve gotten ourselves back to the Dark Ages.

Andy’s Book

The expanded edition of Lenormand Thirty Six Cards will be available soon. This one goes a good way beyond the first edition’s comprehensive-yet-basic Lenormand 101, with material that was included in Andy’s last course. I’m hoping for a hardcover copy, after all, it’s a reference work and will get tons of use. My Book.

Resurrecting the Zauberkarten

Die Zauberkarten is a deck first published in Vienna in 1855. It’s one of the Sibilla types that overspread the Continent in the 19th century and includes Italian Sibillas, French Sibyl decks (Sibylle des Salons, Petit Cartomancien, Jeu du Destin, Livre du Destin, etc.), Petit Lenormand, Petit Oracle des Dames…all of the old decks with an image and a playing card inset. There are different systems for reading each.

The difference between these cards and the more familiar Sibillas is that the other decks were continuously, or near-continuously, published, but the Zauberkarten seem to have died out, at least as far as I can tell. Caitlin Matthews acquired an antique copy in 2013, complete with the box and book, and sent scans to Lauren Forestell, who offered them for awhile, along with a slim volume by Caitlin, at her Game of Hope site.

It has images in common with Lenormand, like the Coffin, Snake, Ship, etc., but the meanings tend to be variant. There are some images I’ve seen in other decks, like the Merit Cross and Clasped Hands – but don’t relate it to your Whitman and Gypsy Witch decks just yet – the Pig, for instance, is disreputable rather than lucky. And there are other images that I’ve not seen anyplace else, like the Lightning Struck Tree, Overridden Horse, and Man Heaving Rock Uphill.

In other words, it takes some getting used to, and I haven’t had proper time for it. But the solution to “not having time” is to make time, so I did manage a series of dailies, a couple of which I’m posting here. My object was to see how viable the method, which gives different meanings to the cards depending if they’re on the right or left, is. Did the Zauberkarten die out because of the method? Or not – did the publisher simply fold? The cards do look very readable. Let’s test drive them.

DAY 1:
zaub1Man Clenching Fist, Chains, Sun

For the Man Clenching Fist, the book gives a general meaning of “Apparent reconciliation between enemies accompanied by falsehood. Inconvenience, annoyance.” But on the left, “folly”. Chains in the middle would carry the general meaning of “Loss of freedom. Scheming.” The General meaning of the Sun is “Honor and glory. Gift” and the right-hand meanings are “Gift, winning at games. Lucky in love.”

The synthesis for the left/right meanings, if you didn’t have any context, might be something like a silly attachment to optimism, either material or romantic.
But for general meanings, being unpleasantly bound to people who have an agenda, in hopes of improvement. “Making nice”.

What happened: I’m a day sleeper, but plumbers came to the house at 8 AM. We needed them, but they’re so annoying. Three loud, filthy plumbers. Of course they made a big mess taking everything apart before they figured out that the problem was OUTSIDE – which I could have told them, since it was EVERYTHING that had suddenly clogged.

So I think “folly” applies, but the general meaning is more specific. Plumbers virtually always fib about things in order to make more money, and it WAS inconvenient and annoying. Chains fits – I couldn’t escape, either by leaving or going to sleep. The “gift” of the Sun was me finally being able to sleep after they left and I washed everything down with Clorox. Even though it was only a temporary fix – they left a big trench in the yard with a main pipe draining into it and promised to return the next day.

On this day, the general meanings win hands down. In the case of the Man Clenching Fist, the general meaning overshadowed the left hand meaning (though folly was obviously at play, too.)

DAY 2:
zaub2Coffin, Anchor, Beggar

Well, ramping down for a daily, but the general meaning for Coffin is “Carelessness, recklessness, insurmountable obstacles, misfortune, death”. And the left hand meaning is “severe illness, danger, death”. Anchor gives “Hope, friendship with a woman” for the general meaning. Beggar is “Bad business, suffering of all kinds. Changes” generally, and “embarrassments” on the right.

What happened: The plumbers came back, right on time. They didn’t have to come inside this time. I was asleep but my daughter was up. While they were working on the pipe, somebody with the city was driving by and stopped and told them the landlord needed to get a permit in order for them to do that. Work stopped.

So: carelessness and recklessness in that they didn’t finish the first day (a Sunday) when the city employees wouldn’t have been out looking for opportunities to run their idiotic $60 extortion racket. As for illness, my daughter had a little stomach bug and I was working too close to the potting (a sealant) station, so my eyes got kind of raw. (With dailies, ramp down, ramp down…) The general meaning seems a lot more relevant for the day.

The Beggar’s “Embarrassments” fits because the trench looks trashy and Third World as hell, but this is small town Texas so it blends right in, and there is probably no one within a fifty mile radius that I care to impress. But we need to stay away from it as much as possible since the cards warned of illness. I have “Hope” it will eventually get fixed and filled in. Probably over the weekend, lol. None of the interactions I had with female friends that day stand out. Again, the general meanings seem more accurate and specific than the left/right meanings, but I can’t totally discount left/right.

Tentative conclusion: Learn all the meanings. Retain left/right, but only as a secondary consideration. It adds nuance, and it’s not totally unique to this deck (you see it with the Ring in Lenormand, and card order can be viewed as essentially the same thing, or at least similar). There is no need for modernization, only perspective.

This is why


A good Lenormand practice group will limit the decks you can post to things like the Blue Owl, Carta Mundi, Dondorf, Glück, Mertz, Piatnik, and other reproductions of decks first published prior to 1950. To understand why, we need look no further than the very first card: the Rider.

The Rider is a well dressed man on a spirited horse. He looks well-to-do, and he’s hurrying to deliver some news himself, instead of sending a hired man, so it’s fairly important. His period clothing tips you off that the horse is his usual mode of transportation. What better to express the meanings of news, something tangible, a vehicle, speed, an athletic young man, a male lover, feet, knees, and ligaments?

In too many contemporary decks, this gets lost. Any person riding something will do, and you see jockeys, women, cowboys, polo ponies, people on bikes – some of the meanings are always lost, and in some instances the card isn’t even recognizable. I saw a deck recently that used a child on a rocking horse – it looked like a Child card. If you’re asking people to help you with a spread, at least use readable cards. And a kid on a rocking horse isn’t coming down the road to see you. A jockey isn’t going to leave the track on a million dollar racehorse to deliver your package or tell you Auntie Edna’s gall bladder surgery went well.

“But the Rider is fine in such-and-such deck” you say. And maybe it is. But if you go through the whole deck, there’s overwhelming odds that you’ll find some hinky cards. It’s not JUST the Rider! A lot of the new decks are cray-cray all the way through. And even if they get it right (there are a few that do), imagine the fallout when “Marilyn’s Lenormand” is allowed and “Carolyn’s Lenormand” isn’t. So best to keep it to old decks by deceased artists, lol.

Are all these old decks perfect? No, they’re not. I actually have one that shows a tank of goldfish on the Fish card. And that Mice card in the Glück – where are the Mice? But on the whole, old decks are a pretty safe bet for group discussion.