This is the first of the long-anticipated new crop of english language Lenormand books to show up, the others being Andy Boroveshengra’s, Caitlin Matthews’ and Rana George’s upcoming works.
From my interactions online, I’ve seen plenty of extreme reactions to this book and its authors, ranging from virtual worship to a kind of seething resentment verging on pure black hate. I’d like to remind everyone of how quick Marcus was to replace their miscut and/or lost-in-the-mail greenies when the Original Lenormand was first published and there were all those problems with Gamecrafter. So I’m going to look at this book on its own merits or lack thereof and I’d like to remind people that Marcus and Tali are neither Hitler, the 1%, nor your corporate overlords. 😛
So be advised that this is about the BOOK, not my assessment of the authors on a personal level. It’s neither a personal bashfest nor a rave-up, and may well end up pissing off and/or alienating everyone on both sides. Oh, well.
The first part is a historical overview, and though I’m a little surprised there was no mention of emblem books, it’s solid. I’ve seen a good deal of the historical research before via Helen Riding, however. Of course Marcus and Tali did a lot of research as well, and could have uncovered much of the same info independently, but it was Helen who wrote the Wikipedia entry on Hechtel last year, found his portrait, etc. And there’s a short list of websites at the end with some VERY glaring omissions, like AndyBC’s course and blog, and Chanah’s blog. I think the best in the field are at least as worthy of acknowledgement as that lady who created a stick people deck.
The instructional part of the book has a lot of issues. The copy I have was gifted to me by a friend. From the beginning, there are key bits marked in highlighter pen. The last highlighted bit is on page 34, where the word “teamwork” is given for Mice and she apparently threw her hands in the air. Since then, I have had several other people offer to mail me THEIR copies. To be fair, one had several extras, but the others had a single copy that they purchased, and then decided that they just didn’t want it around anymore.
For me, it all starts to run off the rails sideways at the point where the historic stuff ends and the “how to read” stuff begins. They very clearly created their own reading method based on the Lenormand deck. I know how hard it is to write on Lenormand, since people have been after me to write a book for some time now, but I can’t think of a good way to do it without appearing to plagiarize my mentors. How many ways are there to say “The Rider brings news”, after all? All of us traditional readers read very similarly. And it’s possible that all the time and money they put into research came up drier than they had hoped, since Lenormand is essentially a folk tradition.
Of course they are free to create their own method, and people are free to follow it. I just wish this had been made more clear IN THE BOOK, since I now anticipate many years of explaining very simple, basic, vital things like the Clover being “fast luck” or “small luck” in traditional Lenormand, (like finding five dollars on the sidewalk or a decent parking spot) not any “deeper meaning” like “identity” the way this book says it is. I anticipate years of online headaches trying to clear things like this up.
There’s some jargon that’s peculiar to THIS book, that will probably end up in common usage a la Steinbach’s term “charged” cards for cards that signify a person or sphere of life ANYWAY. “L-space” (a Lenormand mode of thinking as opposed to a Tarot mode), and being told to “say ‘vignette’ not ‘layout’, and ‘sibyl’ not ‘reader'”.
(BTW, please don’t refer to me as a “sibyl”. “Fortune teller”, “cartomante” or “reader” will do nicely. Thanks.)
Strangely, not long before reading this, I was reading a discussion on slang vs. jargon on an internet forum. A couple of my favorite quotes from that discussion:
“Slang is shorthand, and a tribal marker. Jargon is a willful attempt to send bad signal, masked by obfuscation.”
“”I’ve done a lot more thinking about communication. I have come up with some conclusions that seem to be almost universal, at least with respect to the United States. Results may vary in other lands. First, some definitions/de-coded statements and words:
“But” –> Ignore every word that preceded this one.
“I understand” –> I didn’t listen to a single word you said.
“I feel your pain” –> Go spread your tale of woe elsewhere.
“I have some issues with that” –> I am butthurt and I’m done listening.
There’s more, but you get the idea. Language not used to directly convey information can be assumed to mean the exact opposite of what it seems to say. Contrast it with the following:
“This fucking thing is broken” –> This fucking thing is broken.
“I love you” –> I love you.
“We had to let Harry go this week” –> Harry doesn’t work here anymore.
Notice that the difference is that the first set of statements didn’t actually convey information, and the second set did. We can form a hypothesis here, and that is that humans will give you factual information and package it in factual statements. Humans will also feed you bullshit, and will package it in words that don’t actually say anything, but sound as if they do.
All jargon, I think, is based on this principle.”– Doktor Howl
I think (or at least I sincerely hope) that the made-up terms in this book may have been intended as tribal markers – like slang – and it should be very easy to pick out people using this method by their use of certain words. But it doesn’t have that informal, slang-y feel, IT READS LIKE JARGON and so, for me, sets off the same mental alarm bells that get triggered when I’m reading a credit card agreement or stuck in a bus station hearing Bill O’Reilly rant on FOX.
Some may argue that the jargon is intended to trigger the “L-Space”, but shouldn’t that be done by the sight of the cards themselves? Simply practice with them and your mind will automatically react to them. There’s a lot of unnecessary complication in this thing. And mistakes as well, like the statement that Kipperkarten have astrological signs on them. They seem to be describing the Mystiches Kipper, a contemporary deck that deviates a great deal from the traditional images (and I’m not even sure there’s astrological signs on THAT one), not the one that Frau Kipper is said to have designed, nor the traditional variations like the Salish and the Leidingkarten.
There’s a good amount of descriptive purple prose that reads almost like hypnotic induction, “…a ship sailing calm waters in a blissful winterless paradise”, etc. It’s all there but “deep cleansing breath…in…out…” The whole thing, for me, reads like someone trying to mess with my head.
There is a faction online who state that this book is what finally made Lenormand fall into place for them. But the usual response I’ve gotten from them when I question things in the book is shilling, to wit, “BUY THE BOOK! BUY THE COURSE!” rather than any clear explanation that shows they actually DID benefit from reading it. Again, I don’t think of Marcus as Jim Jones or L. Ron Hubbard, but the behavior of a lot of the people who have latched on to this thing is disturbingly cult-like.
There’s a smattering of solid Lennie information dispersed throughout the book, but the problem is that you have to be experienced to pick it out, and if you’re experienced, you already HAVE a method. What they’ve here is create their OWN method. I think that’s an important distinction to make.