Back in August I wrote a blog post comparing Lenormand and Tarot. I am very fond of Lenormand, and regularly give the decks a spotlight on my Instagram to peak people's interests and increase awareness about the alternative divination system. At the moment, I have six Lenormand decks in the boutique. If you feel that Lenormand might be right for you or have grown curious to try, this blog post covers a few ways you can read Lenormand.
The Original System
We already covered the Lenormand divination benefits, style and language. To recap, Lenormand cards are interpreted in pairs, combining simple, focused keywords, don't have reversals but do have positives and negatives. There's already a euro-centric set of keywords for each card. I will soon update this blog post with a guide of my own, but you can find these keywords online!
For example, The Book represents education, knowledge, information, research, all the things you typically associate with a library book. Perhaps even writing or publishing! If it makes you think about a diary, perhaps the topic is secrets. The Dog represents a loyal friendship, respect, a confidant, a follower, or sometimes literal pets!
Together these cards can create a multitude of possibilities like:
- knowledge about a friend
- an educated friend
- a friend witting a book
- a colleague or classmate at school or university
- confiding secrets in a friend, a friend keeping your secret
- a friend's secret
- a friend getting a degree
- someone being your follower / student
- a degree in biology, a veterinarian
- writing your biography, be written about in admiration
As you can see, it is truly up to intuition and interpretation, and heavily dependent on what you ask. We can appreciate the minimalism of keyword combination and to-the-point visuals is that it creates even more space for intuition that Tarot. Not only do we get a direct answer to your question, but you get it quickly!
To people who are used to every Tarot card having deep symbolical stories of their own, the minimalism of keyword pairing might leave you feel lost. The thing to always remember is that Lenormand is meant to be quick, direct and to the point. It's perfect for people with quick imagination and a short temper. There's very little story telling or soul-digging and a lot of directness.
This divination system doesn't really come with spreads, but it's flexible that way due to the cards being read in pairs. What I personally like to do is use focus cards, anchor cards, do a 'matrix' spread, or build a full conics sentence out of the cards laid out in a row.
Focus cards are the central subject of your spread. You can either shuffle and draw them, or decide what you want it to be (for example, The Book might represent your study life). In a three card spread or a cross spread, you would read the cards around the focus card in combination with it.
Anchor cards are locators that you search through the deck face-up to find. For example, you might be doing a reading about a man, in which case you shuffle the deck and search for The Man. The cards on either sides of it are your reading. Alternatively, when doing a 'grande tableu' and lay down many cards, you can locate your Anima or Animus and read the cards around it, like a cross.
Reading Lenormand cards as sentences is the traditional way to read them. You might lay down three, five, nine or many more cards. As you read the combinations in pairs, try to comprehend them all as a single unit, not separately. For example, The Rider, The Scythe and Mice might be read as: "Something bad will end quickly".
A matrix spread can also be read with two focus cards, or free-read as a single sentence. It's especially good for a reading that combines two different topics.
Once you learn more about Lenormand and will grow used to them, it will be easier to create your own spreads. I've also thought of ways we could use Lenormand in Moon Readings, and you can download my beginner's moon readings guide which includes Tarot and Lenormand spreads for soul-care!
The keywords associated with the Lenormand cards are, admittedly, euro-centric. Different cultures will have different associations with a certain symbol. More often that not, in our modern world of information, travel and cultural exchange, we're aware of these multitude of meanings!
For example, The Snake in original Lenormand has a more Christian connotation of temptation, forbidden knowledge, desire, deception, sexual attraction and so forth. But the snake also has a special symbolism in Buddhism, such as death and rebirth. Other cultures associate it with fertility and medicine. Sometimes, I agree with the cards in advance that I'll be using not western understanding of the symbols, but keeping an open mind and open ears to my intuition.
You, too, when learning Lenormand, could try journaling the many associations you have with each card and make your own alternative keywords. Because cartomancy is a visual language, if you agree with your cards, your higher self or whoever you're divinating or channeling with in mind beforehand about the rules, then the message should be laid out using symbols and associations that relate to your intuition.
The stronger your relationship with a deck, the more adaptable it is to your personal understandings of the cards and intuitive interpretations.
Don't forget to check out my Lenormand decks! It's still a rather niche cartomancy, with a large cult in France, now slowly but surely spreading internationally thanks to accessible translations, blogs like these, guides and of course available goodies for sale. I also believe they can work together with Tarot in a powerful way.
I do want to give them more spotlight and increase Lenormand awareness, so let me know any other ways I can do so! As always, you can DM me on Instagram, comment on a post, or comment right here on the blog. Sending you lots of love!