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.
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.
I often see people using the terms “Lenormand community” or “cartomancy community”, with the implication that we shouldn’t fight, we should be in solidarity, i.e., unity or agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common interest, and mutual support within a group. Being in a community with someone doesn’t mean you have to do that. If you’ve ever had neighbors from hell, you can understand this.
And let’s look at the word “community” itself, shall we? from Merriam-Webster:
Pretty irrelevant to reading cards, isn’t it? All we have in common is cards. It’s like saying “the soap community” or “the makeup community”. Nobody says “You need to be nicer and more supportive of John Wayne Gacy, he used soap and makeup, too.”
Should we be supportive of Sylvie Steinbach just because the woman has written a crappy Lenormand book? She denies the Holocaust, FFS. Or Donnaleigh de la Rose, who equated being denied access to a facebook group to “perpetuating the Holocaust”, thereby trivializing the pointless suffering and deaths of millions? Or Christiana Gaudet, who writes hate blogs about the Roma? Why lower ourselves and give tacit endorsement to the hate by making nice with people like that?
Fuck antisemites and fuck racists. May they rot in hell.
As for the Rockwell painting at the beginning of this post, it’s a picture of what an actual community might look like. And I hope that soldier killed lots and lots of nazis.
Greetings from historic Ratchetville, Texas. Sometimes – nay, often – I need to close the doors on our scenic soiled-panty-and-beer-can lined streets and just lose myself online. When I do this, I find some cool stuff. So I’m here to let you know I’m still among the living – time is at a premium, but I’m doing phone readings occasionally, though email is out of the question. And I’m also here today to tell you about something everybody likes: that cool stuff and where to get it.
The Mercury Key
Firstly, there’s the Mercury Key from Professor Ames. You can read about it here: http://skullboneemporium.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/the-mercury-key/ and if you contact him, you can arrange for him to make one for you. It gets its name from the dimes – old “Mercury” dimes (actually Liberty in a winged hat, which I take to mean “free thought”, but the folk associations of Mercury with these dimes are ubiquitous.) You can read it according to geomancy, or alternately, a simple “strong yes/probable yes/probable no/strong no”. It reminds me a little bit of those Ifa divining chains – it alludes to several traditions, but it’s a new thing, Ames invented it. So it doesn’t come with a reading tradition like Lenormand, you’re free to experiment some. (And props to Ames and everyone who INVENTS an oracle – I’ve said enough here about the difference between that, and those awful Lenormand retreads. Googling images of a man, woman, tree, etc. and giving them a horrible color scheme is NOT “creativity”.) I suppose in a pinch, you could even disregard one of the four dimes and use it for I Ching, though I haven’t done that. You could take the direction the key points into account, in some contexts. And the bonus is that these are all leap year dimes, and therefore super lucky. Four leap year dimes and an old iron key – the Lenormand Key, the Master Key…so many positive associations. Dab it with a little Van Van and keep it draped on a lucky statue or image when you’re not carrying or using it.
In the late 90’s, you could google “scrying” and nothing came up. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. As of tonight, I got 1,310,000 results. But Sturgeon’s Revelation (commonly cited as “90% of everything is crap”) definitely applies here.
Let’s look at the word itself – dictionary definitions are generally along the lines of seeing visions in/telling the future with a crystal ball or other reflective surface. But new age marketing has expanded it to include, well – anything you look at that looks like something else to you. Jesus on a tortilla, clouds that look like kitties, that stain on the bathroom wall at work that looks like Ron Jeremy – all “scrying”, according to the “anyone can do this!” folks. Well, maybe anyone CAN do that, but what’s the point?
Consider the old texts on crystal gazing. It’s said that both those and the new age are influenced by the New Thought movement. The difference is that the old texts say something like “Practice self-discipline, be discriminating in what you eat, take plenty of outdoor exercise and cultivate a positive attitude, and you will greatly improve your chances of success.” The new age stuff says “Just see yourself getting what you want, and you will!”
New age rhetoric is a lot like those “Lose weight without diet or exercise!” ads, isn’t it?
The old texts are not without issues, at least one of them would have you carving your table up with Enochian symbols. And there was plagiarism in those days, too. There’s a good bit of conjecture and pseudoscience presented as absolute fact, as well. But for the most part, for the purpose of learning to actually see crystal visions, they’ll give you good, solid, practical advice. There’s a list of them here, compiled by Cat Yronwode, and several of these are in the public domain and can be downloaded at no cost from sites like Project Gutenberg: http://www.yronwode.org/crystal-gazing-bibliography.html
While we’re on the subject, Miss Cat also sells crystal balls on her site. A three-inch clear glass crystal is perfect (it’s large enough not to strain the eyes, without being so big that it’s hard to block the reflections, or too heavy to hold in your hands, and there’s no inclusions to distract you) and you can get one here for $20 (yes, you read that right!) But they have all kinds, all sizes. http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatdivination.html#scrying And they come with their own little boxes and stands.
Not only that, but you get a free membership in the Crystal Silence League for the year http://www.crystalsilenceleague.org/
and a copy “Personal Lessons, Codes, and Instructions for Members of The Crystal Silence League” by C. Alexander. The book is published by Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, and Lucky Mojo distributes it free when you buy any crystal ball of any size from them. It’s not a Lucky Mojo publication. Lucky Mojo acts as a distributor, including the book with sales of crystal balls, and underwrites the cost of the book, as a service to the church.
Best deal ever, isn’t it?
AND LENORMAND NEWS, OF COURSE
I’ve been considering getting Carrie Paris’s Lenormand Lodestones (actually magnets, not lodestones)- these would be useful as a kind of secret code to put on the refrigerator and other metallic surfaces (ex: “Birds – Woman – Moon: call me this evening”) The possibilities for sneaky hijinx are endless! http://carrieparis.com/shop/lenormand-lodestones/
Karla Souza has a very unique deck called the Esmeralda Lenormand – while I don’t use the chakras and elements, it does have proper hints and memory joggers as to the card meanings down in the bottom corners, so it’s great for beginners. I know Karla, she’s a good reader. At some point, I mean to give this one its own blog post, but in the meantime, you can get it here: http://www.sensoriall.com/#!shop/c1tc8
And of course, Lauren Forestell continues to make quality reproductions, and more great decks are always showing up on her site. Check out the four jokers on the mini Alte Deutsch! And she’s got a Brepols now – it’s like a Carta Mundi, but with restored color, gorgeous backs, better stock and no verses. http://gameofhopelenormand.bigcartel.com/
Just to let people know what’s been happening – a fortuneteller’s income is fickle. One month you’re buying electronics and jade and real ladies hats from milliners, but the next may find you couch surfing. So when family circumstances dictated that I find a more dependable – if excruciatingly boring – source of income for awhile, I took a job making and testing automotive computer parts, and cut way back on my readings, due to the crazy long hours. (Email readings are especially difficult with all this going on, so I’ve temporarily stopped offering them at Etsy, but not to worry – I don’t intend to do this forever! And phone readings are still available.)
Now I want to tell you about a deck, the only one I’ve purchased in quite some time, and I don’t see anyone talking about it – which is a shame, really! You guys are missing out. It’s the Paris Primitive, aka Didot, available from Lauren Forestell’s Game of Hope site here: http://gameofhopelenormand.bigcartel.com/product/paris-primitive
I needed yet another Lenormand like I needed a hole in the head, but this one sang a siren song with its peachy borders and quirkiness, and I was sucked in. While it was originally produced in France, it seems to be targeting the German market, as the verses are in that old-style German (you know, the kind that google translate can’t *quite* handle. We’ve all been nine rounds with that. 😀 ) The banners across the top give some old keywords, and the rhymes are on the bottom. No playing card insets, but that shouldn’t present a problem if you know your people cards. This one is very readable, the images pop nicely in a GT.
The following list is for those who like to use visual cues – and remember, there are NO perfect Lenormands, this one is about as good as it gets:
The Rider faces left – perfect, since he can be the same sex lover or the other man. (Ideally, male cards would face right and female left, but the Rider is the logical exception.)
The Ship sails to the right, the future.
The dark side of the Clouds is very plainly on the right.
The Snake faces right, so remember your rules. 😉
The Coffin is drawn from a perspective where the left looks slightly larger, so it’s a hint that it ends what’s to its left.
The Scythe tip faces right. Perfect.
There is only one Birchrod bundle, so remember it can be something happening twice.
There are three Birds instead of two, so remember your “couple” meaning.
The Child faces forward, but she’s obviously female, so no problem.
The Fox faces left, so just keep in mind that they got the Snake the wrong way around.
I love the Bear. It’s standing, facing slightly away, arms crossed. Grrr. 😀
The Stork is on a rooftop. Old school!
The Dog faces left, so just keep in mind its a man.
The Crossroads have a very plain wide and narrow way to go.
The Mouse faces left.
There are several Books, but one obviously opens to the right.
Lauren has included, as always, extra Man and Woman cards. I use the right facing Man and the left facing Woman.
The Lilies are blue, but they’re very obviously lilies and distinct from the other botanical cards, so it’s not an issue.
There are trees shown on the Park card, but not the Roads, Sun, or Moon, so again, remember your “many trees” rule.
The cards are plainly numbered. There are astrological and planetary glyphs in the verse area, something I’d suggest ignoring (People have been trying to forcefit astrology to Lenormand forever. It just doesn’t work.) but they add a nice touch visually, a bit like the glyphs surrounding the images on Malkiel’s Lenormand. The backs are curling french vines surrounding an interlock pattern, all in beige and burgundy, very nice. And there’s a cover card with a repro pic of a suitably grotesque and dessicated Mlle. Lenormand, wrapped in a shawl and sitting before a grand tableau. I want it on a t shirt. 😀
The deck comes in a plush brown velvet bag, but I ordered the Wahrsagekarten tin. I’m going to use the bag for a change purse, lol, since I sometimes stow money in the bag with my purse deck (also one of Lauren’s – the Purple Dragon).
If you’re looking for a change from your usual reading deck but you want a real Lenormand and not one of those wack contemporary things, I can fully recommend this one. It’s readable, it’s fun to look at, and it’s got that linen finish and Game of Hope quality! 🙂
If you want a solid foundation in Lenormand reading (and not a lot of misinformation that you’ll only have to unlearn later), don’t miss Andy Boroveshengra’s Thirty-Six Cards: An Introduction to the petit-Lenormand. It gives you clear explanations of card meanings, attendance, distance, spreads (up to and including the Grand Tableau) and exercises. It’s geared towards beginners and intermediate students, but there’s so much solid information here that it would be worthwhile for even the most seasoned reader to keep a copy close at hand.
You can get the Kindle edition here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JHO7X8M
Or in pdf format directly from Andy here: http://boroveshengra.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/thirty-six-cards-introduction-to-lenormand/
Some things Lenormand isn’t:
1. New Age
Merriam Webster defines “new age” as “an eclectic group of cultural attitudes arising in late 20th century Western society that are adapted from those of a variety of ancient and modern cultures, that emphasize beliefs (as reincarnation, holism, pantheism, and occultism) outside the mainstream, and that advance alternative approaches to spirituality, right living, and health
Lenormand is not an “eclectic group of cultural attitudes arising in (the) late 20th century”, nor does it emphasize alternative spirituality. It’s a purely secular pursuit from 19th century Christian Europe and has nothing to do with channeling, chakras, reincarnation, crystals, or happy unicorn farts.
Merriam Webster defines “occult” as: “matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them”
The Lenormand system is not “supernatural”, although it’s such a genius system that it can APPEAR to be. But there’s nothing at play here outside of the natural world. As for “secret knowledge”:
Merriam Webster defines “esoteric” as: “designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone”
The Lenormand system has never been secret or required initiatory degrees.
Merriam Webster defines “pagan” as “a follower of a polytheistic religion” and “neopagan” as “a person who practices a contemporary form of paganism (as Wicca)”.
Lenormand a secular activity that comes from a Christian culture, hence the Cross card. It doesn’t promote Christianity, but it does use a Christian symbol to express fate and burdens. Additionally, you’ll notice that the Sun and Moon aren’t the “god and goddess” (in a reputable deck, anyway).
The bulk of the misuderstandings about Lenormand seem to come from these quarters, and many of them are perpetrated intentionally. A lot of people in these fields like to pose as knowledgeable on all things cartomantic, for their own profit and self-aggrandizement (see the picture above). But their research is Margaret Murray-sloppy, and their rhetoric littered with logical fallacies, up to the point where one actually makes the specious claim that the Lenormand tradition doesn’t exist! So when you see writing about Lenormand and it’s flavored with any of this stuff, it pays to take it with a big grain of salt.
Learning Lenormand requires sifting through a lot of information, and most of it is very flawed, to say the least. So to (hopefully) save a few people from making these common mistakes, I’m going to list a few things people are prone to falling into.
Everything the cat dragged in
In the very early days, I walked right into this one. I collected meanings from various websites and countries. My early readings were mud, and I had to unlearn a lot of stuff. So…don’t.
Start with ONE set of meanings, any set that makes sense to you – French, Dutch, German – and stick with it. Get a SOLID foundation. After a few years when you’re familiar with the symmetry of the system, you can expand it a bit, add more secondary meanings, more nuance.
Borrowing a meaning from a region other than the one you’re using can throw the whole thing off. For instance, I use German, where the Bear tends to be male. Other variants see it as female. But if I go so far as to call the Bear “mom” and I already use the Snake for that, where is mom in the GT? It would be like jamming extra, incompatible parts into a car. The only way to make it work would be to totally switch over to those meanings and scrap mine.
Lenormand is perfectly balanced. It’s genius – don’t screw it up. 😀
You have all the meanings inside you
That one makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Images of dogs and houses and fish may evoke ideas, but that’s not the Lenormand method. PAMs (personally assigned meanings) will ruin your accuracy. I see this every day in groups, a lot of people INSIST on PAMs. They get their interpretations from “intuition” or “guides” and they “don’t rely on canned meanings”, but their readings SUCK.
The thing is, Lenormand will work if you stand back and let it, and don’t get in the way. Accuracy comes in inverse proportion to PAMs!
There are no Lenormand “schools”. There’s a Lenormand METHOD, with regional variations, like dialects. Where I live, a Coke is a “soda water”, but in Massachusetts it’s a “tonic”, and I think it’s “pop” in the midwest, but that’s all considered “english”. Not “schools”. And not every living soul in a region uses the regional term. Same with Lenormand. The work cards might vary a bit from place to place, or there might be more or less use of Distance, but there’s not enough difference to say there’s different “schools”, nor does everybody in France use the Fox for “work”, or everybody in the Netherlands and Belgium use the Moon. This has been explained 1000 times, at least.
Not learning the Method of Distance
I fell into this one. When I started with Lenormand, I had a Blue Owl with a LWB and those horrible english poems, lol. And I went online and found a yahoo group in english, with a german lady who had taken some courses. So I started asking things like “How far is ‘far’?” and she said “Oh, nobody pays attention to that” and introduced me to combo reading. It made sense at the time – aren’t Tarot LWB’s a joke? Nobody uses LWB’s. And she wasn’t trying to mislead me. Distance reading isn’t that common in Germany. She answered the question to the best of her knowledge.
The years went by and I found more sources, all combo readers. I eventually started doing paid readings. I ‘knew’ Lenormand. And it worked, I predicted stuff, it was right, I got paid.
Then Andy got me interested in Distance, and I’m liking it more and more, it’s decisive. Often, with combo readings, I have to sit and consider various meanings and how best to combine them, and sometimes, even after all these years, there’s a bit of “uhhhhh…”, lol. Distance reading is sharp and precise, like a scalpel. Sometimes it actually makes combo reading feel clunky. I wish I’d learned a long time ago. 😀
This is from the Tarotholics group on facebook, but they’re by no means the only ones – Aeclectic Tarot, Lenormand Cards Study Group, and numerous smaller places all follow a predictable pattern. Here is a classic example. (I’ve blacked out all the names for privacy reasons, but I’m the one with the yellow Benny Lava profile pic.) Observe:
First of all, a noob posts a seemingly innocuous question. In this case, it was “What crystals will greatly assist learning the Tarot?”
This is generally answered with common sense – in this case, several of us said that none of them do, you can only learn things through study and practice.
Then the new agers predictably start to roll up and express butthurt that anyone dare suggest that rocks can’t teach people how to read cards. At this point, if you don’t allow them to cow you, banning is probably a matter of minutes, so have fun with it and go down in a blaze of glory:
Here comes the “MEAN” and “RUDE” accusations. PM’s are flying by now. “THEY QUESTIONED MY DELUSIONS!” You can’t see it, but they’re PM’img their friends to come dogpile you, they’re PMimg admin saying how you hurt their widdle fee-fees.
Often, their lingo needs a bit of translating:
If you haven’t noticed, no one has shown any substantial evidence that Tarot can be learned from rocks. All I’ve seen is insistence that there’s “no right or wrong” and variations on “If you don’t agree, STFU.” 😆
Oh, wait, here comes the “LALALALALA NOT LISTENING” ploy!
Ah, here comes the censorship board to stifle the voice of reason, lol:
After that, she attempted to turn it around by saying “DID YOU JUST TELL ME TO STFU?” (This is the person who was just bragging about their reading comprehension). I saw it in my notifications, but when I tried to click back over to the group, I already had my cool ban jacket:
And that, my friends, is why you can’t learn anything at most of these online forums. They’re OK for sport if you’re bored, but people who are functionally sane and actually know how to read cards are usually long gone from these venues. 😆
I like decks made by readers.
There’s reasons for this. You’ve probably heard it said many times that beginners should learn Lenormand with a traditional deck. But as the years go by, you’ll find yourself relying on certain conventions. You’ll probably find yourself preferring a deck with workable facing directions, and you’ll certainly find it easier to locate a card in the Grand Tableau if the images are uncluttered. Maybe you’ll want the playing card insets long after you’ve learned which are the people cards, because sometimes you feel like using Etteilla’s multiples. I still prefer traditional decks. I always will.
Most of the people making self-published decks aren’t really readers, and so they can’t produce a deck that functions as a reading tool. It’s all about THEIR “innovation” and “creativity”, i.e., their own little ego time, and this, coupled with the fact that most of them are novices (and will remain novices, due to willful ignorance) makes for some extremely dysfunctional decks. The big publishers aren’t immune to it either. People on amazon are saying that Lo Scarabeo’s latest Dondorf reproduction has roughly the same dimensions as a Tarot deck. I won’t be seating clients on the floor in order to read their Grand Tableaus, and so won’t be purchasing that one. Ever.
The older Lenormands are small and for the most part, very readable. I love reproductions, and I’m starting to see them with those wonderful linen (cambric) finishes that make them handle like my beloved Bulldog Squeezers. The first linen repro I got was the Vintage Altenburger. I like it, but it’s kind of murky, and the whole deck has a nicotine yellow tint like the walls in those downtown saloons where the old farts play dominoes. I much prefer it to the saccharine-twee crap that’s vogue these days, but the images don’t really pop. It’s a lot better than those collage things, but it still takes a couple of extra beats to locate a card in a GT.
I’ve always liked Dondorf. I’ve worn out a couple of copies of “French” Cartomancy and a Königsfurt, and my current purse deck is Lauren Forestell’s Purple Dragon. (For months, I resisted it, until I was sure there were no licensing issues with her Game of Hope Lenormand. And I’d like to publicly redact and apologize for anything I may have written during that time. The rumor started when some clown at the British Museum who was not involved the transaction fueled Katz’s attack on her. I have since been satisfied that she DID purchase the rights. I’ve also been informed that Katz never apologized. He’s apparently content to smear someone’s rep KNOWING that it’s bullshit, and make an ass out of everyone who gives him the benefit of the doubt. Well, I won’t be falling into that one again. Kamp Katz, take note.
I like my Purple Dragon a lot. But I’ve been lusting for after a linen finish Dondorf since 2005 or so – if only somebody would print it!
Le Fanu’s Lilac Dondorf Lenormand by Lauren Forestell delivered the goods and more. It’s standard Lenormand size, and the print quality is so good that you can make out the dark side of the Clouds. Prior to Lauren’s repros, you needed an actual antique Dondorf to see that. Dondorf lithography is the stuff of legend. The Lady has been flipped so that she can face the Man (or not), it’s a copy of the FIRST Dondorf with the old color scheme – Rider on a grey horse, etc., and the backs are just stunning. It even comes in a tin printed with the back design:
The only nod to “new” Lenormand would be the extra Man and Woman cards, which of course can be removed if you use the Rider and Snake as the male and female lover cards, respectively. And it’s a small gesture of support in a backwards era that still denies gay people basic civil rights, so this is the one modernization you’ll never hear me griping about.
There’s a story behind this deck, it all started when Le Fanu (who has some kind of amazing juju, or an eagle eye that brings him the most awesome things from virtual junkyards like ebay and flea markets) acquired a Lilac Dondorf, Variation #1.
Later (probably when the shock wore off, lol) Lauren tweaked the images and printed a small run of decks. She has a great instinct for what needs to be fixed, and what needs to be left as is.
She READS LENORMAND, so she understands that form can be beautiful, but it has to follow function.
The Lilac is a limited edition, and alas and alack, it’s sold out now. But her next one will be the C.L. Wüst, and she’s taking pre-orders. You can also find other great decks, all repros, some in both standard and mini sizes, and some ace tins. Her online store is HERE. And it rocks. 😀