The cards within the cards

In which our heroine, having learned more about the Lenormand, finds new meaning in an old reading. (I discuss that old reading in my post “Lenormand and LOTR“).

Almost a year ago, I did my first Lenormand reading: an analysis of The Lord of the Rings. (I start boldly.) In that reading, pairs of cards represented characters and situations in the book. I could make sense of most of them right away, but I had trouble with 34-Fish + 32-Moon. I eventually worked out that they referred to Saruman, not from those two cards themselves, but from figuring out that no one else fit the description that the reading as a whole was presenting.

Thrilled as all get-out that I’d had a mostly successful reading, I moved on, did more readings, and read just about every book on the Lenormand that I could get my hands on. Along the way, I learned that there was another way that Fish + Moon represented Saruman: through the card inserts.

Deck: Fish and Moon cards from the Lenormand Oracle
Deck: Lenormand Oracle, which puts its inserts front and center

Each Lenormand card corresponds to a playing card. Since there are 52 playing cards, but only 36 Lenormand cards, many of the former are left out; Lenormand cards are only paired with the 6’s through aces. Most Lenormand decks show the playing cards, although to save space, many decks only have notations instead of pictures (6♥, Q♠, 9♣, etc.).

The books I read referred to the playing card inserts, but most of the discussion went over my beginner’s head. I was having enough of a challenge trying to remember the meaning of 20-Garden without also trying to learn the meaning of its insert, the 8 of Spades. And honestly, many books glossed over them. There are playing card inserts. They’re historically part of the Lenormand’s development. You don’t really need them to do a reading.

I don’t pretend to understand the inserts by any means, and I don’t feel comfortable yet using them in readings. But I’ve learned a little bit about them, namely that the cards with face card inserts on them—the King, Queen, and Jack of each suit—can represent people in a reading. The Kings and Jacks are masculine and the Queens are feminine. Kings are mature, Jacks, not so much. The suits are still fuzzy to me, although often the Clubs correspond with the more negative Lenormand cards—and there are exceptions to that as well.

Back to Fish + Moon. The inserts on these cards are the King of Diamonds (Fish) and the 8 of Hearts (Moon). The King of Diamonds suggests that this pair represents a person—since the reading was about a book, this would be a character. Of my two candidates for Fish + Moon, Saruman and Gollum, Saruman seems a lot more kingly than Gollum. I think this description of the King of Diamonds fits Saruman quite well: “He is usually depicted as bearded, with a scepter in one hand and a globe in the other. He is a powerful man with substantial resources who controls important decisions.”* Imagine Saruman with his staff and palantír. So not Gollum.

Obviously I made sense of the reading without using the playing card inserts (and my skills aren’t up to interpreting the 8 of Hearts on the Moon card yet). But it was interesting to see how the King of Diamonds added to the meaning of that card combination, and it’s encouraging me not to just glance at the inserts when I read the cards, but to try to make sense of them.


*The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling by Rana George.

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