For all my love of divination, I’m a bit limited when it comes to reading cards. Tarot was my first love, and it was the only sort of cards I read for decades. I wasn’t interested in learning cartomancy, and the oracle decks I tried usually didn’t work for me. Not that I’ve felt restricted, given how deep and meaningful the tarot is. I probably could’ve stuck with it forever, but a few years ago, I discovered I could read Lenormand cards as well. Now I’m trying a third kind: the Kipper cards.
Late last year, I learned that Ciro Marchetti had done a Kipper deck. I’d heard of Kipperkarten, but the few pictures I’d seen hadn’t attracted me, and most of the material I’d found on them was in German, so I didn’t know how I’d learn them even if I got a deck. What I saw of Marchetti’s Fin de Siècle Kipper did appeal to me—no surprise there—and I figured there’d be a little white book or the equivalent, so I got it. Yes, there was a book (neither white nor all that little), and yes, I can read them (!).
First impressions? Like the Lenormand, Kipper cards feel better suited to practical, “mundane” readings, rather than the more psychological readings I get from the tarot. It feels like doing a reading with a deck that’s mostly Court Cards. Which is a slight exaggeration on my part: the people cards make up only about a third of the deck. It’s hard to tell with the Fin de Siècle deck, though, because some cards that were people cards in German have become situations in English (30-Gerichtsperson (“court person”) became Judication—given the awkwardness of the literal translation, I see why) or vice versa (24-Diebstahl (“theft”) became Thief). People cards appear to be both people and representations of the situations they’re in, i.e. 8-False Person is both a deceitful person and the qualities of deception and treachery.
Unlike Lenormand cards, Kipper cards don’t have playing card inserts. Can’t say as I miss them. Many Kipper cards also have more literal names. I suppose you could have a Lenormand reading in which 2-Clover referred to a patch of Trifolium repens, the white clover, but it usually means luck. For this to make sense, you have to know about four-leaf clovers and how finding one is supposed to be lucky. On a similar theme, the Kipper card 26-Great Fortune means…great fortune.
A standard Kipper deck has 36 cards, like the Lenormand. Marchetti has added three cards and I’ve kept them in the deck.* When I try to think how the same idea might’ve been shown if I’d left them out, it seems like the idea could be misunderstood. With 36 cards trying to cover most of human experience, there’ll be some thin spots in coverage, if not outright gaps, but these look like they’ll help. They add some balance. For instance, there are three Kipper cards that touch on financial gain: 11-Sudden Wealth, 26-Great Fortune, and 27-Unexpected Income (13-Wealthy Man may also count). Certainly cards like 24-Thief and 32-Despair can hint at financial strain, but Marchetti’s 37-Poverty tackles it straight on. I’m not sure that 38-Toil & Labour is needed when the deck already has 34-Occupation, but I’m willing to wait and see if there’s a clear difference between them in readings. And Marchetti has a point: there’s no traditional Kipper card that overlaps with 39-Community.
I’m delighted to see a range of ages represented: the very young (18-Child), young adults (12-Privileged Lady, 13-Wealthy Man), older adults (5-Mature Man, 6-Mature Woman), and whatever age the querent is, I suppose, for 1-Main Male and 2-Main Female. Age representation doesn’t bother me much with the Lenormand because 28-Man and 29-Woman are generic as all get-out, but I’ve wished some of my tarot decks had better age diversity.
You can do a Grand Tableau with Kipper cards, same as you can with the Lenormand. I haven’t dared try yet. Mind you, I rarely do the Grand Tableau with the Lenormand. I have my favorite Lenormand spreads, but I haven’t found ones I like for Kipper yet, even though they can probably use the same ones.
The decks are not identical, but they have several similar cards between them. Sometimes this is obvious: 13-Child (Lenormand) is pretty darn close to 18-Child (Kipper). Sometimes it needs a bit of thought: 17-Stork (Lenormand) looks to have a lot in common with 9-Change (Kipper). And there are cards like 33-Key (Lenormand) and 25-High Honor (Kipper) which appear to have no equivalents in the other deck.
I don’t know if I’ll stick with the Kipper cards. The Lenormand complements the tarot nicely, what with one giving me pragmatic readings and the other more psychological ones, but do I need two pragmatic decks? But there could very well be differences between Lenormand and Kipper cards that I’m not aware of yet, simply because I’m still at the very beginning stages of learning how to read Kipper cards. So, we’ll see.
*Marchetti also added cards to the Lenormand deck, but they weren’t included in the first edition of his deck. I have the revised edition, but haven’t tried reading with the new cards. By now I’m used to the standard set of 36; I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to others.