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Meditation Archive - THE VOICE OF THE LENORMAND ORACLE by Caitlín Matthews
Throughout the last three years or more, I’ve been studying ancient cartomancy, working out how and why people divined not just with tarot but with playing cards. Along the way, I started to learn the Lenormand cards. This 36 card deck has both pictorial emblems and playing cards images upon them, as you can see above. They offer an oracle that is neither complex nor esoteric, but which works pragmatically in everyday situations.

So what is it with this 200 year old oracle that makes it so intriguing now? Before it came along, diviners were using a reduced playing card deck of 32 cards called a piquet deck, from which all the cards numbered 2-6 had been removed, for divination by cartomancers. It was normal to lay out cards in rows called tableau, and read the results from their juxtaposition with the Significator card, which represented the querent. These old methods of cartomancy were applied to Lenormand Cards. Although Lenormand cards are named after the French celebrity diviner Mlle. Marie Anne Lenormand (1772-1843) whose life was an extraordinary adventure, she was not its originator. They were the creation of a German game-maker, Johann Kasper Hechtel, whose Game of Hope combined a piquet pack of playing cards with 36 ordinary images like Tree, Key, Letter etc. This oracle has been largely used in Europe, but this year sees a great explosion of interest as the first tuitional books in English appear in UK and USA.

Each Lenormand card has specific key-words that enable you to read the spread as a series of statements. The reading style is quite unlike the way you read tarot. These cards are always read upright and are never reversed, since each already has multi-level meanings. It is normal to learn the keywords that accompany each card before you start to divine: being ‘intuitive’ is not required here, but rather learning to form statements that cards make, for a clear oracle. Once you have even three words per card, you are beginning to divine.

Let’s look at the Child card: this could be read as something new, a baby, a young person, a naïve way of doing things, immaturity, trust or spontaneity. Each card can represent a person, a thing, a way of life, or an action to take, depending on the context of the issue for which you are reading. Cards work together in combination much more than with tarot. The first thing we learn is that card-pairing makes the cards react differently. Just as in many Latin languages where the adjective comes after the noun (une robe vert, rather than a green dress) so when you place one card beside another, you create a noun + adjective combination. Man + Star can denote ‘a scientific man, a man who is very clear or an inspirational man,’ among many other things.’ But if we reverse these cards and draw Star + Man, it can denote ‘a male scientist, a virile intelligence or a masculine innovator,’ among many other definitions.

When you place three cards together, you can read across them in forward narration: here are some examples, keeping the same three cards to make different sentences. The possibilities I’ve given below may seem diverse, but you quickly learn to interpret the appropriate scale of each card by relating it to the question that is asked by the client.

Path + Broom + Lily I decide + to clean up my act + and behave with maturity OR The decision + to rebel + leads ultimately to peace. OR The choices + are argued about + by the elders Broom + Lily + Path I sweep away + the old influences + and choose a new direction OR The disputants + peacefully + find alternative ways. OR The conflict + is an old one + about the way forward Lily + Path + Broom As an elder + I choose my own way +and speak my mind. OR The winter + routes + need clearing. OR The widower + decides +to agitate things.

When cards are laid in tableau, you read by seeing where the Man or Woman cards have fallen. Here the Man card lands in the centre and the other cards are read in association with him.

The client wants to move beyond his current state of stagnation. The cards drawn are:

Bouquet, Stork, Letter

Ship, Man, Coffin

Bear, Birds, Tree

Four Corners: Awarding health, contract of power

Central Cross: Changes that help the man move on from stagnation are discussed.

Rows –The gift of a changed contract. Moving man’s stagnation. Powerful talks about health.

Columns – Enjoying the move to power; mother and son reconciled. The ancestral contract is generational

See how the cards talk about his empowerment after things moves on; a change that works for his own health and that of his descendants!

I’ve just shown a few reading methods here, but you can also look at how cards knight (the move in chess or two to the side, one up or down) or mirror each other. In this spread we see how Tree, the health & generational card, knights to both Ship, the card of movement & travel and to Stork, card of change. See also how the dynamic of movement in Ship mirrors Coffin, the card of stoppage! Stork knights to Bear and Tree: finding his power as a man will restore healthful changes for him!

There are many ways of spreading the cards but, as you can see, the oracle results are exact, succinct and very pleasing. Please join me in Glastonbury 5 October, when I launch Enchanted Lenormand Oracle, and learn from the new cards that Virginia Lee has painted so beautifully!


Caitlín is now offering Lenormand Readings with her new pack. Spreads range from 5- 36 card readings with prices from £20 for 5 card reading to £65 for 36 card spread. Please email her on for her readings sheet. If you would prefer readings with Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine, or indeed, one of our other tarots, please apply the same way and let us know which deck you’d like her to use. Her DVD of two webinars Petit Lenormand Past and Future Cartomancy is on the booklist.

© – John and Caitlín Matthews Site design by Ocelot Solutions

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