Lenormand Cards ~ Q & A

The Original Lenormand, from Das Spiel der Hoffnung (The Game of Hope) by Johann Kaspar Hechtel

This is an ongoing experiment, and how well it works is going to depend largely on you. Leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer as best I know how.

The question can be anything about Lenormand cards, as long as you aren’t asking for a free reading.

If I don’t know the answer, I will try to find it for you. This way we all learn.

GO! 😀

125 responses »

  1. The meanings of the cards are similar in all the major Lenormand systems, but the Lenormand tradition bears no relation to Tarot. The core meaning of the Moon is “fame, recognition and honors”. Some use the Moon as a work card, but it’s still fame, recognition and honors. Many people achieve recognition through their work. Additionally, most people looking up at the night sky can name few, if any, stars, but everybody recognizes the moon. It’s nothing like the Tarot Moon except in the sense of “emotions” and the Lenormand Moon’s emotions are positive. There are no howling canines, nothing crawling out of the water.

    You can scroll down here at Andy’s blog and see the same thing. It’s the consensus of the major Lenormand traditions, whether they use the Moon as a work card or not: http://myfortunae.wordpress.com/card-theory-by-andybc/small-lenormand-theory/

    • Generally, people only pay attention to the Jack of Spades (Child) and the Kings and Queens, as a reminder that Lilies, Roads, etc. can be people cards. (Whips can be siblings in rare cases, but so can Birds.)

      One of the problem with reading the cartomantic meanings of the insets is that the cards don’t match the meanings commonly used today. In popular playing card methods, Spades are the trouble suit, but you’ll notice that in Lenormand, it’s Clubs. So reading the insets can muddy the water that way. They are worth a glance though – the preponderance of a particular suit can give some insights. Just remember that it’s based on a different system.

      • Thank you…yes it twisted my mind to see clubs (pentacles) associated negatively when it is spades (swords) generally associated with difficulties but we are not in Tarot land now are we? LOL

  2. Coming in late, as usual. Since Helen Riding’s site has gone private and inaccessible, can you please offer your insights to the common threads going through the suits in the Lenormand cards. (Is there any way a benign lurker can gain access to her site?)

  3. Hi I’m wondering about the playing card inserts as well. In The Game of Hope Hechtel had alternate ways of playing his game and in the instructions he said you could play an alternate game with the French or German playing card games with the inserts. Skat and Piquet? I’d also like to know why the ordering, why in that particular order and the order of the pictures as well. Why the Horseman first and the say, Coffin 8th. Thank you ahead.

    • The instructions state “In order to play any conceivable card game played with ordinary German and French playing cards with these 36 figure cards for further entertainment, the German and French card pictures have been included at the top of the cards. It is only sometimes necessary to leave the Sixes and the Sevens out of the game.”

      So, any game that uses a reduced deck. Skat wasn’t developed until about 1817, but he could have been referring to its predecessor, Schafkopf. A quick google for “18th century popular card games Germany” would get you more…

      As far as the ordering, that’s anybody’s guess since Hechtel never explained his reasons. It’s easy to imagine a kind of story there. News arrives, people wish the protagonist luck and he sets sail…there’s a series of adventures and at the end he drops anchor. But he has to know when to stop or he gets the Cross! Still, this is my conjecture, not anything Hechtel said. 😉

      • Love your Q&A! Great info. Marcus Katz commented that if you play the game (it’s like Snakes & Ladders) it seems that many of the difficult cards are near the beginning so that you are slowed down at first (landing on positions that lose a turn or send you back) and nearer the end you can speed ahead. I checked it out and I see what he means.

      • That’s fascinating, Mary! I’ve never actually played it…guess what I’m going to do this afternoon! 🙂

  4. i have been a reader of the tarot cards for over 16 years plus and just started over the last 2 years reading lenormand cards i have noticed if you read either the tarot or lenormand cards from right to left instead of left to right they make more sense,this method i have tried and tested time and time again and it works..when doing readings i will start from left to right a cross a row of say 5 cards if i hear the client saying sorry i dont understand what your telling me then i will revert to reading the lay out from right to left 9 times out of ten this method works and the clients reply during the reading changes from no i dont understand to yes thats now making sense.. this method of course wont work with the GT spread..but works with single lines of cards..Dermot..

    • That sounds like a personal quirk. I don’t think the cards “decide” to come out “backwards”, but some written languages are read right to left, including Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Yiddish.

      It’s not traditional with Lenormand, with the exception of the top right to bottom left diagonals – those are often read right to left. I’d suggest to beginners that if a line doesn’t make sense forwards, they note it down in a journal and come back to it later rather than trying it backwards. However, if you’re habituated to doing it that way and it works, then there’s no reason to change unless you’re posting spreads on discussion forums and the like.

  5. Hi Fennario
    Thank you for your explanation for the card inserts and I might make up a story like you did about the sequencing. Very Interesting. I know there is a German game with 36 cards called Jass. I looked that up on the Google as well. Also when did the timing come into Lenormand cards. Did the German or French people have a timing system with the cards? I know about Sylvie’s but what about before her. Surely they did. Probably more to do with the astrological times with the 4 elements, like Sun – Fire – Summertime or Leo, Sag and Aries. What do you think? I look at the numbers on the cards and see the cards as seasons as well.
    Cheers Kerry

    • It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when timing came into Lenormand. The oldest Lenormand literature is just LWB’s, after all, and the embellishments would have been oral traditions. But I imagine it’s been there all along, after all, it existed with Tarot and playing cards then, and people who come for readings always want to know WHEN something is going to happen, so the reader has to come up with some kind of answer.

      If you look at this list of German timing associations http://web.archive.org/web/20090619135057/http://36cards.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/lenormand-101-event-timing/ some of them are astrological, others are just common associations with the images and concepts: fall (harvest season) for Scythe, for instance. Lilies, rather than being associated with Easter and spring (spring is already taken by the Bouquet) are winter, since they’re white. And so on.

      Hope this helps!

      • Hi Fennario
        I went and had a look at the site and slightly alarmed at the yearly timing it was giving, there wasn’t too many for weeks or months. Did they ever associate the months with the 1 through to 12 numbers, January to December and then like you said seasons with the images perhaps. Being in Australia, we don’t have snow only on our mountain tops which aren’t near our cities. And Lilies flower in Spring right through past Summer, mainly summer. So I see Lily as Summer. If it’s winter then the Lily refers to June, July, August months in Australia. And I hate to sound dumb but is LWB?
        Thanks for your information.
        Cheers Kerry.

      • You don’t sound dumb. LWB is the Little White Book, the instruction pamphlet that usually comes with the deck. 🙂

        Ship, Tree, Clouds, Snake, Whips, Bear, Fish, and *possibly* Ring have a timing correspondence of more than a year. That’s only seven or eight cards out of 36. And of course you’d ramp your meanings down according to context. If you’re waiting on a package to arrive and your timing card is the Clouds, it’s obviously not going to literally be six years, but it could be delayed quite a bit longer than you expected.

        I wouldn’t recommend changing the meanings or the timing associations according to your location. The Lenormand comes from 19th century European culture. As Andybc once remarked, the Letter tends to be frivolous and superficial since it derives its meaning from calling cards and the like. We don’t leave calling cards anymore, but the Letter needs to retain the old meanings, otherwise you’d have to change something else to “frivolity”, and then something else, and so on. Then you wouldn’t be reading Lenormand anymore, you’d be using Lenormand cards to do something else.

        Lenormand is a language, and like any language, you have to learn it according to the way the natives speak. If I was speaking Spanish, I wouldn’t use “cerveza” for “serving” or “vase” because it sounds kind of like those english words. “Cerveza” is “beer”. 😉

        And where I live, Lilies grow in old cemeteries. I don’t interpret Lilies as “dead” though. It’s still sex, winter, family harmony, winter, social welfare, and maturity.

        The system works, and once you’ve learned it, you won’t want to make changes or “innovate”. As is, it’s the closest thing to perfection in card reading.

        Hope this helps. 😀

  6. Hi,for me at the moment i am using the clubs,as spring,hearts,summer,diamonds.autunm,spades,winter.You can also link the elements in as well.Thought’s on this would be helpfull. Clive…

    • If you’re habituated to that, it can work to a point. It’s too broad for a lot of questions, though. There’s a list of Lenormand meanings with Treppner style timing associations here http://36cards.wordpress.com/1640-2/

      Additionally, it makes some pretty Tarot-esque assumptions about suit associations. You have to remember that Lenormand is German, and the suits were thought of as Bells (Diamonds), Leaves (Spades), Hearts and Acorns (Clubs). Acorns, it seems to me, would be fall, not spring. The Bells look like sleigh bells and are likely winter.

      More on German suits here
      and here

      Helen’s research is similar (though not identical) to the correspondences a German lady sent me when I first started using the deck: Clubs, earth; Diamonds, air; Hearts, fire and Spades, water. She told me she got those from an older German Lenormand reader and didn’t know anything beyond that.

      In the end, information about Lenormand suits is debatable, but what we do know is that they work very differently than RWS Tarot-style playing card associations. 😉

      Hope this helps.

      • Hi and thank’s,yes i use the system that Helen has put forward for seasons.The other interperations you se on the internet,give such wide time diffrerences, and as far as i can se no explanation’s how they come to time periods as wide as 1 day to many years. Ok i know some cards show quick time,and some slow time,but appart from that there is nothing to show for a time from say 1yr. to 5yr’s.unless there may be a hidden code hidden in plain site?? Clive…

      • Whips 2 years
        Ship 3 years
        Fish 4 years

        It’s right there on the Freaky Fortune Teller link, it’s not hidden.
        If you’re using a lot of internet sources, it’s no wonder you find it confusing.
        I’d recommend using one set of traditional timing associations and sticking with it (adjusting for context on a case-by-case basis, of course). “Modern eclectic Lenormand” is a lot like modern eclectic Wicca, you’ll find a lot of know-nothings pretending to “teach”.

  7. Yes i did look,narrowing it down a bit,do you know how they came to a meaning of 2 years for whips,and not 2 weks.same with other cards.Or is it all lost in the distance past ? Clive…

    • Of course it’s lost, it’s a folk tradition. Nobody knows who “they” were.
      There’s only 36 cards, so they can’t spell out every possible time period, obviously, but you can infer “2 weeks” from the Child (“within a month”, so very possibly about two weeks), as well as the monthly/seasonal ones, if you’re getting close to the time indicated. Trad Lenormand is pure genius. 🙂

    • The copyright notice for Das Spiel der Hoffnung was taken out in 1799, and the cards published shortly after that.

      I’ve never had the good fortune to own anything actually published by Dondorf but Carreras cigarette cards, which don’t come with instructions, alas. The prices of antique decks have become horribly inflated – before everybody piled on Lenormand, you could get an antique deck on ebay for about $40!

      • OMG! The peeps who bought them must be very lucky to sell now- I saw on Ebay where an old pack of Dondorf that was dated (if I recall properly) 1876 (?) was going for about $300 and it was only 35 of the 36 cards- not a complete deck…the reason the seller gave was that people would remove the Coffin card to read for close family and friends. It was considered bad luck to leave it in. ??

        BTW, Madame Seaqueen gave a little recant for beginners on the subject of reversals, which I thought was very big of her. It is here:

      • She’s not a bad person, I’ve never had reason to throw down the gauntlet with her (though I’ve always disagreed on some things). She’s the same Madame Seaqueen she always was – this reversals thing just happened to get a LOT of attention. 😉

    • There’s no right or wrong way. Whatever you’re comfortable with, just be consistent.
      The method is all in the actual reading.

  8. hiya, if i may ask please…there were 4 lenormand cards that i laid in a relationship question that i did, they were dog, lily, key, man…i think, because im just learning lenormand and not certain of myself, but, to me it looks like it bluntly says that my man fancies some other, im just wanting to understand if the cards could nean something else i havent considered because of my lack of experience or the lack of faith in myself that im reading them right? Thanx in advance, x

    • I started with Treppner’s and picked up some Andy-isms over the years, lol.

      Briefly, 1. News, male lover, vehicle; 2. A little luck, short term; 3. Long distance travel, foreign, commerce, longing; 4. Home, domestic life, real estate; 5. Health, a long time, geneaology; 6. Trouble, obscuration, bad weather; 7. Woman (older), female lover, detours, things that are snake-like (roads, rivers, cables, etc.); 8. Endings, sickness. When describing a person, musical or artistic; 9. Pleasant surprise, gift, invitation; 10. Danger, aggressive, sudden, physical trauma;11. Strife,conversation, something that happens twice; writing/signature; 12. Phone calls, older couple, stress/hecticness, doubles, pregnancy; 13. Small, new, young, adored; 14. Wrong, rival, stealth, manipulation; 15. Personal strength, finances, etc., a bear-like man, possessiveness, hoarding; 16. Aspirations, guidance, clarity, science, many, night; 17. Change, movement; 18. Male friend, loyalty; 19. Isolation, borders, boundaries, authority; 20. Public, community, society, gathering; 21. Obstacle, barrier; 22. Decision, choice, two alternatives; 23. Loss, theft, wasting illnesses; 24. Love – romantic, platonic, etc.; 25. Contract/agreement, repeating cycles, chronic; 26. Secrets, what you don’t know, books/study; 27. Written messages, papers, superficiality; 28. Male consultant or important man to a female consultant; 29. Female consultant or important woman to a male consultant; 30. Sexuality, family, harmony, protection, social welfare; 31. Success, major luck, electricity; 32. Fame, recognition, positive emotions, evening; 33. Certainty, destiny, “yes”; 34. Money, abundance, “flow”, all liquids; 35. Work, stability, security; 36. Pain, suffering, full stop, difficulty, hardship, burdens, religion

  9. Hello Fennario,

    May I ask when you are doing same sex relationship question, how do you look into the significator? For example a gay asking a love question, you will look the card around man and woman, or man and dog? or other cards? Thanks!

  10. Hello Fennario, I am Sofie , I’m from Belgium. I am just starting to learn reading Lenormand cards since a few months now. I’ve done the online courses of Bjorn Meuris, the basic course and the grand tableau course and I’ve read several books about Lenormand. I find the books written in English so much better than the flemish ones, so much more details. I have some questions about the Grand Tableau. I find very few information about the cards that next to their core meaning also can represent people like children, a sister or brother, a grandmother,an ex husband,…When for example a woman has two children, one child can be respresented by the child card, which card represents the other child?? The heart card? The dog card? Or when the second child is a girl by the bouquet? And is correct to say that the youngest child is always represented by the child card and the oldest by another card. Is there a book or a site that you know about where the people cards are explained? How can you see /feel in a reading that there is a person meant by the card and not the normal core meaning? Is this your intuïtion or is there another explanation?
    And a second question: can it be that in the same reading of a GT the child is a person and in relation to other cards that lay around it , it can mean innocent, something small, something new??
    Excuse me for my bad english. Thanks in advance for reading my question!
    warm greetings, Sofie

    • Hi Sofie,
      Your english is much better than my Dutch, lol, no need for apologies.

      For more than one child, the vertical line that the Child card lies on can be talking about one, the diagonals others, and the horizontal yet another. And it’s normal for not all the children to show up – just the ones with things going on during the time covered by the reading. So some Child lines might be actual children, while others might be describing something new or small. Much easier than trying to decide which other cards they are, don’t you think? 🙂

      All of this was explained in Andy’s last course, which will be included in the expanded edition of his book coming out later this year. I see you know about that already! 😀 https://andyscards.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/lenormand-thirty-six-cards-2015/

  11. Not sure if this appropriate, but I’m new to Lenormand and am having difficulty interpreting a basic three-card spread I did for the following query: Will communication resume between myself and “y”? The spread came out TREE + BOOK + CHILD. I’m thinking the child card signifies new beginnings, fresh information or understanding after a time of being hidden, like a “closed book.” It’s unlikely this person is hiding a pregnancy or child from my awareness, but you never know! Thoughts?

    • While it’s not out of the question that you will resume communication (no Coffin, Mountain, etc.), pulling the Tree right off the bat could mean that it will take a long time, at best. Child is describing the Book (secret) as new. Additionally, if it’s a love interest you’re asking about, Child is the “younger woman” card.

      Treppner actually gives “this secret will not be revealed” for Tree + Book. Something (or someone) else has come into the picture and they’re not talking about it. So any potential communication with this person wouldn’t be on the level. While this isn’t Fox-level deception, it’s still rather dishonest. They’d chat with you, but there’s no substance.

      There are no communication cards in this spread (Rider, Letter, Birds…). In order to give a positive reading, I’d want to see something like Sun or Flowers as well.

      It’s up to you if you want to pursue that, or direct your energy elsewhere.

  12. Hello Stella, i really love your blog and all things you taught and share on this blog, i wonder if you can help me how to make the difference ( a + b is not the same as b+a) when in reading.

    I always worried that i had doubts getting what the cards actually wanted to say versus my own interpretation.

    • Hi Mike (and apologies for the lateness of this, I missed it somehow.)

      There’s really not one pat answer for card order. It really depends on which cards they are, and your reading style. It’s really not accurate to say that in a+b, b always modifies a, since there are many examples where a can modify b! If a is the Scythe, for instance, it traditionally cuts to the right and endangers b. (Unless you read using facing directions à la Malkiel Rouven Dietrich and your deck has the Scythe blade cutting to the left! That’s one of the reasons it’s important to decide exactly which method and meanings you’ll be using rather than trying to incorporate everything you see other people doing. 😉 ) But a good practice technique that Andy Boroveshengra taught in his courses is to look at a+b as noun + adjective. Or just b modifies a. As you gain skills, the nuances of the cards will open up to you and you eventually should stop doing this. But it’s a vital part of the learning process.

      As for getting what the cards actually wanted to say versus your own interpretation, do you have a good list of meanings that you’re sticking to? That’s usually enough to quash any wishful thinking you might bring to your interpretation. (I’ve even seen people online interpret Cross + Coffin positively! That one is a difficult ending, or a difficult illness! NOT troubles ending or being “transformed”! *smacks head* LOL) As long as you have a solid set of meanings that includes the good and the bad, you should be OK.

  13. I’m very confused about the shadow card. Why do people use it and how should it be applied to a reading? Also, do you always read left to right not taking into consideration the middle card as a focus card?

    • Hi Kim! Good to see you here.

      To be honest, I don’t use shadow cards. They weren’t a “thing” until the 80’s or so, I think. That’s when the psychological approach to Tarot became a trend, you even had readers saying “You can’t predict the future with cards”. They used it to psychoanalyze instead, which doesn’t seem very ethical to me if the reader has no training or credentials in that field.

      In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. So this carried over into Tarot, and eventually Lenormand and other systems. It’s the hidden stuff, the stuff the sitter isn’t conscious of.

      Generally (but not always) the shadow card is dealt off the bottom of the deck. But when you read the older cartomancy books, when there is a reference to a card being dealt off the bottom, it’s usually a “Surprise Card” (something unexpected that pertains to the reading) or a “Wish Card” (you tell the sitter to make a wish, leave the card face down while you do the reading, and then turn it over – it will tell you whether they will get their wish). There is no mention of “shadow cards”.

      So it’s really not my thing and I’m probably the wrong person to ask, if you want to incorporate them, lol.

      As for reading left to right, yes, generally (unless I’m reading Kippers, then there’s a lot of things going on with facing directions. And when reading a GT or a 3×3, top to bottom takes precedence over left to right. So top right to bottom left, diagonally.) and I do take the center card into account as a focus card, though I don’t place a great deal of importance on it. When I got into Lenormand, the most liberating thing about it was the emphasis on synthesis rather than named positions (remember your first Tarot deck and those CC’s? “This covers you, this crosses you…”) So while the center card is important, so are the others. Equally, I think.

      • Thank you for clearing up both questions. I seen others using a shadow card so I did too. Like sheep I guess. lol. However, I’m big believer in staying and sticking with tradition. I had a mentor from the UK tell me I needed to learn something for people to focus on when I conduct readings. She said it would make people feel more at ease and comfortable. (I am a psychic/medium.). So I bought a couple of Tarot decks but they did not resonate with me. Then I bought a deck of cards off the internet. I thought I was buying another Tarot deck. But it was a Lenormand deck and I thought, “Nothing happens by coincidence.” These must be the cards I am to learn and so it began approximately 3 years ago for me. It is such a strong desire. I almost feel addicted if that’s possible. Never went back to Tarot. At least not yet. Hahaha! I have so many more questions about these cards that not every author can possibly cover. I will definitely be reading the information you provide here and I hope it’s ok to ask a couple more questions You have a wealth of information. Again, thank you!

  14. Hi, I’m new to lenormand system and having hard time wrapping my head around the language. I did a reading to my self 3 days after I got the cards on the 23/09/16. Surprisingly i wasn’t able to Inturperade it then or now. I drew 7 cards and I can’t find any information that would help me read a 7 card reading. It’s really important for me to able to understand the cards I drew that day. Do you have advise how to read 7 cards lay out?

    • I use the same basic technique for lines of 3, 5, or 7.

      The middle card of the line (the 4th one in a Line of 7) is a kind of focus card. I read that first, it colors the whole – a positive card is a green light, a negative card can warn of lies, danger, etc.

      Then you start combining the cards: 1+2, 2+3, 3+4, etc. Each can modify the one before. So Man + Heart might be a loving man, or a man in love, but if the next card is the Fox, it’s false love.

      That’s the basic technique, and it’s usually all you need. But if you’d like some extra detail, you can do what’s called “Reflection” or “Mirroring”. 1 + 7, 2 + 6, 3 + 5.

      Make sure you’re using a quality resource for card meanings, and practice, practice, practice, of course. Hope this helps. 😉

    • From Andy Boroveshengra’s Thirty-Six Cards: an Introduction to Petit-Lenormand:

      “The Ring’s meaning is determined by which side of the querent’s card it falls on. To the left of the significator, it augurs the possibility of a separation that is more severe or inevitable the farther away the Ring is. To the right of the querent’s card it indicates a lasting relationship, or a new one, stronger the closer the Ring is.”

  15. hi!,could you tell me ,please,how do I know which is the focus card on a 3 or 5 cards a lenormand readings?. thanks. nora.

    • The middle card of the line is your focus card. In a reading this is your theme that is colored by the question’s context, i.e. with Anchor in a love question the theme is “commitment”, in work “job stability” or “steady work”.

      • How do you handle the lady/man when they are at one of the edges in a GT reading? When there are not enough cards surrounding them? Thanks

      • Hi Kim –
        On the edge of the tableau, they are touching five cards. In a corner, they are touching three. Additionally, there are techiques like knighting, counting, reflection, etc that can show you more combos. And in a distance reading, you can consider most of the cards on the table. So there are always enough cards aspecting the significator to give you plenty of information,

  16. Stella, do you most generally use the center card as the focus? Say in a 5 card reading and a 9 card reading etc. Is that where you look first to get an overview of the reading. I find for me that has always been the most accurate in readings. What is your view? Thanks.

    • Yes, always the one in the middle.
      People have different names for it: focus card, theme card, hinge card, key card, etc., but it’s all the same thing, it shows the theme of the reading. It’s an established practice, and yes, it works well! 😀

  17. Hello again Stella,
    I wanted to get you opinion on directional cards. Do you take into consideration all the cards and the direction they face or just a few? I see some readers do and some don’t. Not sure which cards I should or shouldn’t. For example ship, rider, snake, bear just to name a few. Thanks again!

    • Just a few.
      Using a lot of directionality seems to be a very German thing, I know Malkiel and some others use it a lot, and Kipper reading is almost entirely dependent on it. I’m not saying all of Germany does it, but it seems to be fairly common there.

      I’ve done it, and it works well. The problem comes in when you get a weird deck – and even the old traditional ones can have an aberrant card or two. I actually have one with two crossed scythes pointing in opposite directions. Even a pretty normal deck can have equally sized mice facing in different directions, the Ship coming straight at you, the Book opening evenly in the center of the card, it can have the Clouds dark all over, all kinds of issues.

      So I adopted some rules to fall back on, like “The Scythe cuts to the right” and “The Mice take what’s on the left.” It’s worthwhile to do that.

      • As for which ones, generally the main ones are Rider (what he faces can be considered what the news is about), Book, Crossroads (the wider road goes to the card showing the best option), Clouds, and Scythe.

        But these are by no means mandatory – you have to find what works, both for you and with the deck you’re using.

  18. hi stella,if I add the numbers of a 5 cards lenormand spread,how I use the number I get,could you please give me example?. thank you.

    • What you’re talking about is a quintessence card – I experimented with them some years ago, but I stopped – let me explain why:

      Let’s say you got Birds – Bear – Sun – Man – Clouds
      12+15+31+28+6 = 92
      Reduce that to 36 or below:
      9+2 = 11
      Your quintessence would be the Whips.

      With this technique, you have much higher probability of getting certain cards than you do others. (I have a list of the mathematical odds in my notes someplace, I’ll post it here if I can find it.) So it’s more of a “stacked deck” than a “random draw”.

      People don’t agree on how to use quintessence cards. Some use them as the theme of the reading (but that’s what the focus or hinge card is for), others use them as “advice” cards…the list goes on.

      Lenormand cards are not read singly. So Whips floating all by itself, neither combining with anything nor distant, might be heated conversation, strife, writing/signature, dancing, a pair of something, something that happens twice…you don’t really have enough context to make a clear call.

      So you already have a focus card, and advice can be inferred from the original five cards. If it’s talking about danger, be careful. If it’s talking about opportunities, watch for them. Alternately, you could do a second, small spread for advice. I really don’t see a point in adding numbers and reducing them in order to get a single card.

  19. Hi Stella, For some reason I can’t seem to wrap my head around the near/far in a GT. For example if the key is far away in a spread it means failure. But failure in what? I look at the cards touching the key to see what the failure is in. How do I know which card to apply the failure to? Or do I apply it to all of the cards touching? Another example would be fish. Let’s say fish is close. Therefore there will be financial prosperity/success. But again, how do I know in what? I think my confusion comes in where I believe cards are read in pairs so the near/far is really screwing me up. Thanks!

    • Hi Kim –
      You’re correct – for practice, try doing JUST Distance GTs. Don’t worry about combos, knighting, houses, etc.
      Do that until you get the hang of it. (You can still do GTs the other way if you need to, but separately.) Synthesizing everything comes with a lot of time and practice, and the Method of Distance is pretty complete in itself anyway.
      The Fish card stands for your income, be it it a paycheck, business profit, or pension. Fish close just means your income is safe, it’s in “easy reach”. The Key, according to the PL sheet, “…if near, means the certain success of a wish or a plan; if distant, the contrary.” I would read a distant Key as “uncertain” rather than “failure”. “No guarantees”, in other words.
      Do you have Andy’s book? If not, I do recommend getting it and working through the Distance parts step by step, it’s very helpful.

      • Thanks again Stella. Yes I have Andy’s book. Actually getting very worn on the edges. lol. Trying to learn the near/far technique. That’s a great idea to do just a distance spread. I’ll give it a go. 😊

  20. hi Stella,my problem is that I can not understand the scythe card, in a 3 cards reading which is the meaning of scythe as first card, also in the middle position or last one?,could you please help me?,gracias.

    • There are a couple of ways to look at it. Scythe is very basically “danger”, with the greater danger being to the card that the blade faces, if you use visual directions. If not, you can use the rule that “the Scythe cuts to the right”, which I prefer – you’ll see why in a bit.

      It’s a little tricky since a lot depends on context – of both the cards in attendance, and the context of your question. Scythe can also be cutting, aggression, suddenness, tooth ailments, and metal. Sun + Scythe has always been the electrical/computer combo…there’s a lot of nuance to the cards.

      But basically, for learning purposes, don’t try to take everything in at once. Two main meanings per card is best in the beginning. Think of Scythe as just “danger/cutting”.

      Now remember how control cards work: the first card is in control of the next one. For example, Scythe + Lady, the Scythe is in control of the Lady. The Lady is a woman, and since she’s controlled by Scythe, she’s in danger. If it was Lady + Scythe, the Lady would control the danger, she’d be a dangerous woman. See how it works? (And why I prefer the “cuts to the right” rule – it could get confusing with a left-facing Scythe, lol.)

      Another thing to consider is that the center card is the theme card in a line of 3, 5, 7, or 9 spread. Some people call it the focus card, the hinge card, the key card…there’s a lot of names, but it’s still the theme of the spread. So Scythe in the middle means the theme or focus is danger/cutting, but it’s still controlled by the card before it.

      Hope this helps. 😉

  21. Hello again Stella,
    Can you explain why the work card is not always the same when different readers look at work. I have used the moon for career. Fox as 9-5 and today I seen someone use the anchor. What??? lol And she also uses the ship as wishes and desires. Also, I seen her use directional cards as well. The way the fox was looking, the direction of the rider. I have only ever used the scythe as a directional card other than using actual attendance. What is your take? Thanks!

    • Hi Kim –
      See my answer below about the various dialects.

      Let’s look at the Anchor – the PL sheet says “The Anchor is a sign of successful enterprise at sea, of great advantage in commerce, and of faithful love; but distant, it means total error in your ideas, and a love that proves fickle.”

      So the essence of the Anchor is stability – good, steady income and a solid relationship. It makes sense as a work card.

      Now the Moon – “The Moon is a sign of great honor, if the card is located next to the person; on the contrary, if it is at a distance, it announces misfortune.”

      So it’s a card of fame and adulation, and people are known by their professions.

      And the Fox: “The Fox, if near, you must beware of those with whom you are connected, because some seek to deceive you; otherwise there is no danger.”

      Well, THAT’S virtually every workplace, ever. LOL.

      Personally, I do mainly use the Anchor, as I started learning Lenormand from German readers, and it’s pretty universal in Germany. It works well, and I never saw any reason to change it. Moon is Dutch/Belgian, and I do look at it for people whose career hinges on public recognition (performers, writers, etc.) but I still look at Anchor for their steady employment, for example, if a musician will be getting enough good gigs. I don’t use Fox for work, though many do – my reasoning is that it’s confusing trying to decide between “employment” and “deceit”. Too easy to spin into a false positive, I like my Fox to be a warning. Besides, French and German meanings don’t mix well.

      I would say that the Stars are “wishes and desires” as one of their meanings is “aspirations”. The Ship can be “longing”, but I’ve never seen it as “wishes”.

      As for the directional stuff, it seems to be something that a lot of German readers do – if you ever get into Kippers, they’re read that way, and I guess some German readers carried it over to Lenormand. I know Malkiel uses a lot of that, but it can be unnecessarily confusing in many instances.

  22. Hi Stella,
    I would like your explanation and clarification on the different methods (meanings) of the cards and how they became different from the actual Game of Hope. There seems to be a German method, French method, Dutch method, etc. Thanks!

    • Hi Kim ~
      The Game of Hope meanings were the basis for the Philippe Lenormand sheet, which expanded them and made them better adapted for fortune telling. For the first 140 years or so that the deck was being sold as “Lenormand”, there were no written instructions being printed except for the Philippe Lenormand sheet, which contains core distance meanings. These were fleshed out slightly differently in Germany, Belgium, and France, and you see even more differences further away, like in Russia and Brazil. But the core meanings are still retained.

      There is really only one Lenormand method (and no “schools”), but with various regional dialects – much like in Massachusetts Coke or Pepsi is called “tonic”, in the midwest, it might be “pop”, and in Texas it’s “soda water” – but it’s all english. So I think “dialects” is a more precise word for the differences in the card interpretations, even if it hasn’t been absorbed into popular usage.

      What amazes me is not that there are minor differences, but that the meanings are consistent for the most part – remember, there was nothing but the PL sheet, snail mail, and face-to-face in those days!

      • Thanks. It is truly amazing how many of the cards do have the same core meanings based on the snail mail concept. So if I am to understand you, in the beginning they were only used in a game and not as fortune telling at all until Mille Lenormand herself used them as such???

      • Hi Kim (and thank you!)
        The Game of Hope instructions do give some guidelines for using the cards for fortune telling, but they were primarily a game.
        There is no evidence that Mlle. Lenormand ever used, or even saw the deck. After her death, everybody was scrambling to be considered heir to her method, and the Game of Hope was renamed “Lenormand” as a marketing gimmick. (Most 19th century fortune telling decks and books are falsely tied to either “Mlle. Lenormand” or “gypsies”.) We don’t even know who really wrote the PL sheet, since “Philippe Lenormand” didn’t exist!

  23. Hi,

    I’m curious about your thoughts on something.

    I learned Lenormand with what I believe are the French definitions. Along the lines of what Rana teaches.

    The Birds are simply communication, a neutral card and subject to other cards close that can affect it positively or negatively.

    Wanting to go much further, I have begun studying Andy’s work and looking at Near and Far and Attendance.

    He uses somewhat different meanings. Where Birds for example is more negative. How do I deal with that? It seems simple but it is quite profound. For example, it connects to the suits and more.

    Do I need to adjust my meanings to use this or what do you suggest.

    I adjusted willy nilly when I first began, so am not excited about doing that if I don’t need to.


    • Doesn’t Rana read it as “gossip?”
      The original instructions state that Birds, when near, are troubles of short duration. Far from the person card, it portends a happy journey.
      Gossip is certainly “troubles of short duration”. As long as your meanings are legitimate progressions of the PL sheet I see no reason to change them.

      I ran into the same thing, Andy does use a few meanings that are different from mine – he would consider “phone calls” a Letter meaning, I learned it as a Birds meaning. But this doesn’t clash with “troubles of short duration”. It’s best not to change your core meanings – if you change one, it throws the whole thing off balance and you have to change others.

  24. Thanks, Stella.

    It is one of her definitions. Here is her basic definitions for Birds:

    The Birds card is about news, messages, information, phone gossip, calls, verbal communications, discussion, meetings, negotiations, small get-togethers, dating and companionship, and any and all types of communication spread verbally and now electronically (as it is still being transmitted through the air). Television (in our home, giving information), radio (chatterbox), and the Internet fall under this card as well.

    It is in general a positive card. More neutral-positive I think.

    But my question still burns. For example, Fox is cunning, sneaky, entrepreneurial, a salaried employee etc. So in a daily for myself, I can interpret it. But if I were looking at someone else’s I would know if I were looking at an entrepreneur or an employee. A conniving person or a job to be done. LOL

    How would you suggest I deal with these issues? I think I’m at a crossroads and need to add some specifics somehow.

    Where might I find the PL sheet you reference.

    Thank you for your help. I initially read your, Oops common mistakes article and it felt like you were speaking right to me. 🙂

    • I’m probably the wrong one to ask about that – I don’t use Fox as “entrepreneurial” or “a salaried employee”. I only have to choose between “deceit” and “cleverness”, and I can get that from placement.

      I do run into this with other cards, though. I’ve seen the Coffin describe a musician (it can refer to a hollow-bodied instrument) – not the first thing that comes to mind when you see Person Card + Coffin! But I had context, both from the person I was reading for, and from other nearby cards.

      If you can’t *quite* make the call, just say so: “It could be this, but it might also be that..” Don’t guess, just say what you see on the table. 😉

      The PL sheet can be downloaded here http://gameofhopelenormand.bigcartel.com/philippe-le-normand-lwb

  25. Hello Stella! I am so grateful I found your blog!
    I flubbed a wellness reading yesterday. My friend’s husband wanted to ask how his health and well-being is doing so I got Snake Heart Stork Sun Letter. I interpreted this as a problem (Snake) with his (Heart) that can be changed (Stork) if he got a doctor’s appointment (Sun Letter).

    And oohh boy. I was wrong. He got that check up and nothing was wrong with his heart. Where did I go wrong? Can you help me?

    With gratitude,

    • That’s a tricky one, and an easy mistake to make. Even if you don’t read read the Snake as a particularly treacherous card, it can still stand for things like complications, detours, and delays. I certainly don’t like to see it next to the Heart in a love reading!

      But context is key, and this is a health reading. In a health context, the Snake is “intestines” (though it can add complications and uncertainty to preexisting health problems.) Two very common problems that are potentially serious are issues with the colon, and issues with the heart. Doctors tend to look for signs of those. They check this stuff, so it shows up in the cards.

      Stork here is the focus, or hinge card. In a health reading, it’s improvement. It’s also movement, mobility. It looks like your friend’s husband is active and this helps keep him in good health.

      Sun (vitality) + Letter, a clean bill of health.

      If you don’t already have Andy Boroveshengra’s Lenormand Thirty Six Cards, it’s very helpful with these kinds of readings.

      Hope this helps!

  26. Hi,
    I was told that French readers often use only 2 cards for daily Lenormand readings. Can you help me understand how this works? Is the tirage a 2 cartes simply a normal pairing or is there added technique involved? Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

      • I had a question in regards to my cards I pulled for a question.
        I man that I was seeing suddenly disappeared on me and then slowly and I mean very slowly we have kinda been talking again but it’s because I’ve been keeping a distance because I don’t know where we currently are with each other. He had apologized and explained why he had disappeared. But anyway my question was if we had met our end. This was to try and see if there was still potential. I pulled the heart, lady, snake, sun, anchor.
        My first thought is if there was love for another woman due to the snake being the center card and the woman to the right. Or is it that the lady represents me and that there is love and desire or craving for me and that the love is stable. Mind you before we stopped talking he did express to me that he loved me. I’m just trying to get a better understanding so that I can make a better decision. Sorry for the novel! But thank you so much for your time

      • Allison, Snake here is probably detours. You can get him back, but it’s a “twisty road”.
        A lot of people see Snake and jump to conclusions, but when it’s a woman, it’s usually an older one. And the surrounding cards are good. Maybe he has an old auntie or somebody who can put in a good word for you. 😉

      • One last question 😊
        What’s your take on yes or no questions with Lenormand where more positive cards stand for yes and more negatives stand for no. Do you find that it works for you?

      • For a yes or no question, I like to use three cards. Phrase the question so you get an unambiguous answer, for instance, “Will X remain in good health?” rather than “Will X get sick?” That way, good cards are both “yes” and “good health”.

        I find that it works very well, but all three cards should be good or neutral for a “yes” answer. With Lenormand, one bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch.

      • So if you have 2 positives and 1 negative it’s best to read into the cards to see the true answer?

      • My question was if I would here from someone and my cards were ship, cross, rider. I took it as some sort of suffering farewell or a fateful farewell that is coming soon. But sometimes I don’t always see the cross as a negative at times.

    • If you phrased your question in a way that clearly asks about the future, then the events will take place in the future, whether they’ve happened before or not. Context! 😉

      • I’ve been having trouble trying to figure out the interpretation for fish. Besides it meaning money or gain or even the value of something. But can it also mean something that’s easy in the sense of something flowing?

  27. Hi, can you explain the fate line – the last four cards – in the Grand Tableau? Are they advice or something that will happen? I did a reading and the last four were Mice + Man + Ring + Whip.

  28. Thanks for another wonderful post. The place else may anyone get that type of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such info.

  29. Hello! I’ve had my cards for a couple years, but I’m still so confused about the Lily. I understand that it has multiple meanings, but I keep pulling it for myself. I can’t seem to understand why it keeps coming up.

  30. How would you read the essence line of a Grand Tableau if the last 4 cards were Mice, Man, Ring, and Whip? I read it as a sick man in a troubled, possibly abusive relationship?

    • He’s “out of the tableau” and weighted down by it. The Gentleman or Lady in the fate line means that something he does soon (within a month, anyway) is important.
      Coming AFTER Mice, he’s lost importance, lost status somehow. Could be personal, social or professional (I don’t have the context, just doing this on the fly) and there’s a repeating cycle (Ring) of strife (Whips).

      I don’t rule out physical abuse, but it could also be strife at work, etc.

      I’m a little curious where you got the term “essence line”? I don’t think I know anyone who reads it as the essence.

      • Thank you for the reply! I read somewhere that the last four cards are the “essence” or fate line. I can’t recall where exactly. Sorry if it’s not correct. I am learning.
        This was regarding a relationship so I think the Whip pertains to his relationship, not work.

      • Hi Stella! I had a question about the coffin card. I asked if I would ever be invited again to a persons home. I drew garden/key/coffin/house/bouquet. Being that the coffin is the central card, I read that the coffin can sometimes mean to be patient or to let it go. Do you find that the case sometimes?

      • The Coffin is about endings, plain and simple. What you want to look at here is the function of the Key card. The Garden (public, maybe this particular social group) is unlocked – in other words, not secured. There are no guarantees with these people. What IS locked/secured is the Coffin. “What comes after the Key is certain.” And what ends? Home invitations (House – Bouquet).

        So no, at least for the time period covered by four cards.

      • Ok thank you! Another question do you find that when you’re anxious or worried about a certain outcome that your reading will be affected? Like example if I ask that if a lover is talking to another woman or will I lose my job etc. and low and behold there’s the answer that I feared. Is it possible that the cards are playing off of my fears, worries, and anxiety?

        Many thanks for your time!🙏🏾

  31. I’m just learning Lenormand. My question is after shuffling the cards what is the proper way of dealing the cards? Watching YouTube I’ve seen readers fan the cards and draw one at a time and others go one by one from the top of the deck. I’m confused and would like to know the proper way of laying down the cards.

    • That’s a matter of personal preference, there’s no hard and fast rule for dealing the cards. 😉

    • Since it’s talking about stability, it can certainly feel that way. Things like jobs can get tiresome, we want to quit but we can’t.
      But I wouldn’t use that for a primary interpretation. In other words, if the Anchor was talking about someone’s relationship, I’d say it was stable, not that they felt stuck. The only exceptions would be if there were several negative cards in attendance, or, if you were using the Method of Distance, if it was far.

      The Anchor is generally considered a very positive card, though. In the Game of Hope, it’s the winning space that you want to land on. Similarly, the PL Sheet relates it to success, on the condition that it’s near. https://marygreer.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/evening-worlds-magazine-tell-fortunes-1903-version-21.jpg

  32. Hello, I’m thrilled to learn more about my new Kipper Deck by Ciro M. There were a couple of spreads at the end of the booklet that the deck came with and one of which was yours. I have a couple of questions. 1) Are there any other spreads you can recommend? 2) There was a lot of talk about cards 1 and 2 being significator cards, but there was no mention of where they should be placed within the spread. Can you please clarify? Thank you!

    • Hi AK,
      The most-used spreads for Kippers are odd-numbered lines of cards, box spreads like the 3×3, and tableaus.
      I don’t purposely place the significators, I let them fall as (or if) they will. Their position in a spread can tell you a lot.

      • Thank you, Stella! I found a websited (Cafe Lenormand) that talks about the different spreads you’ve mentioned. I shalll give them a try. If you have other suggestions, I would be most appreciative.

  33. Dear Stella,
    Thank you for providing such a wonderful source of valuable insights.
    I have a question regarding the position of the 28.Gentleman, and the 29. Lady in a line. If a cartomante sees the querent’s significator located at the end of the line, with no cards following up, is it a sign of “a dead end’?
    To illustrate my question, I’d like to post a recent 3 card draw with the question “Is the washing machine fixed?” I got Heart-House-Gentleman, with my significator finishing the line.
    I thought the message was positive, since no negative cards were around, and I got the House in the middle affirming my questions. However, when I checked, the machine was still broke. This left me perplexed.
    Could the position of my significator ending the line shows that my wish of housing improvements will come to a dead end? If so, does a cartomante always interpret a main significator in such a location in the same manner?
    I hope my post isn’t too long or tedious to read.
    Thank you for your time. May you enjoy many bright blessings in your life.

    • Hi and no, it isn’t a dead end.
      The thing is that you asked if the washing machine was fixed. Since you aren’t the one fixing it, the Gentleman isn’t you. He’s the repairman. And he’s apparently spending some quality time at home. 😉

      Hope this helps.

      • Dear Stella,
        Thank you for your reply. It really helps.
        It’s true the repairman is probably chilling at home lol. It’s either the landlord of my homestay (where he literally lives), or someone he calls who will fix it, so your interpretation is really on spot.
        Your interpretation of the significator reminds me of one of Andy’s blog explaining how the Gentleman and the Lady don’t always represent the querent in love readings. I guess this applies to a wider range of circumstances. Gonna re-read that blog again lol.
        I’m fairly new to the German traditional way of reading, guess it will take more practice to figure out how this lenormand accent speaks. Your informative blog is really helpful for a newbie like me.
        Thank you again for your patient and kind reply.
        Best Wishes

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