Having broken the ice with the LOTR reading, I’ve now done enough with the Lenormand to get a sense of how it feels when you work with it. I’ve heard that it takes five to seven years to become truly adept at it. But as with the other forms of divination that I’ve used, its flavor comes through from the beginning. I’ve been reading my way through what books I’ve been able to find, and most authors have assumed that their readers know how to read the tarot. So they mention features of tarot reading and of the tarot, presumably to give readers a point of reference for learning Lenormand.
Some of the differences between tarot and Lenormand seem negligible to me. For instance, tarot decks have 78 cards, while Lenormand decks have 36. And there are 24 runes in the Elder Futhark, 64 I Ching hexagrams, and 16 geomantic figures: systems have what they have. Another difference that isn’t an issue for me is using reversals in tarot but not in Lenormand. I haven’t used reversals in my tarot readings for a couple of years now, so reading Lenormand cards upright doesn’t seem unusual.
Other characteristics of Lenormand are going to take some getting used to on my part. The one I noticed first was gender distinctions, which are stronger in Lenormand than tarot. Certainly there are men and women, boys and girls depicted in most tarot decks. But I don’t feel obliged to insist that the Queen of Wands represents a woman in a particular reading just because that’s the image on the card of the deck that I’m using, not if there are strong hints that it indicates a man. With Lenormand, my understanding is that 29-Woman represents a woman, whether it’s a female querent, the female partner of a (usually assumed to be male) querent, or another woman important to the question. Ditto for 28-Man and a man. Several other cards have traditional male or female associations as well. This is an academic issue for me at the moment: I’m fine with using 29-Woman for myself and I almost never read for other people. But I might, and maybe their question or they themselves won’t comfortably fit into this binary. We’ll see. (This is the sort of thing that could take me five to seven years to work out.)
And then there are the differences that I’m enjoying learning about. This whole idea of reading cards for the keywords rather than the images is clicking with me. When I was learning tarot, it took a while to let go of the definitions in the LWB and trust that the images were relevant to the reading. Mechanically reciting Lenormand keywords isn’t the goal, but using those keywords to spark connections is exciting. It reminds me of using runes, where seeing the rune triggered associations, but the image of the rune itself didn’t provide a lot of meaning.
Reading cards without a fixed-position spread is also fascinating. I was intrigued to learn that card meanings can combine when the cards are next to each other, and it’s going to take a lot longer to figure out what those combinations mean, but the learning promises to be interesting as all get-out. I’m in no hurry to tackle the Grand Tableau: while I’ve read enough to know you do all sorts of things to interpret it that you wouldn’t do in a tarot spread, it looks enough like a spread that I’m not interested right now. Okay, I’m also not ready to face 36 cards at once. Something to look forward to!
Queen of Wands from Tarot of Dreams, 29-Woman from Gilded Reverie Lenormand by Ciro Marchetti