Gideon the Ninth through Lenormand

(Contains major spoilers for Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, so if you’re planning to read it, you may want to come back later. Also, this post will make more sense if you know what happened in the book.)

I’d been hearing positive buzz about Gideon the Ninth for several months before it came out. Although the descriptions were catchy—”Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!”—I was having a hard time figuring out what the book was actually about. And while the cover was dramatic, it didn’t give me much of a feeling for the book, except that there would be skeletons involved. But friends were singing ecstatic (spoiler-free) praises of it, so I decided to take a chance on it. And because it was obviously about death and skeletons, I saved it for October.

Reading the book was slightly more planned than doing a reading about it. I’d done a story reading a few years ago for The Lord of the Rings, and it worked so impressively, I’d pretty much never dared another one. I’ve also used this layout for stuff I was writing. But I’d never tried doing a reading on a book before reading it. When I did this reading, I only knew what I could glean from the dust jacket summary. But even though the reading was pretty “accurate,” it’s not the sort of thing you get spoilers from.

Deck: Seventh Sphere Lenormand by Tina Gong (click to enlarge).

I like the Seventh Sphere Lenormand, but the card titles can be difficult to read. Here is a text-only version of the layout:

18-Dog, 31-Sun29-Anima, 24-Heart1-Rider, 7-Snake
15-Bear, 12-Birds23-Mice, 27-Letter6-Clouds, 10-Scythe
14-Fox, 11-Whip28-Animus, 8-Coffin32-Moon, 17-Stork

The Card Pairs

18-Dog, 31-Sun: Common keywords for the Dog include loyal and friend. But in this deck, the dog pictured reminds me more of a guard dog than a household pet. Paired with the Sun, I read this as a good servant as well as a good friend, and with that, I think of the cavaliers generally. The idea of the good servant comes up again and again in Gideon the Ninth as we meet the necromancers and their cavaliers. Obviously, we see a lot of the prickly relationship between Harrow and Gideon. The Third and Eighth Houses also have tense relationships between their necromancers and cavaliers. But other Houses show more amicable (or at least less fraught) pairings: the military hierarchy of the Second House, the happily married couple of the Fifth House, strong friendships in the Fourth and Sixth Houses. There’s even the hint of the long-ago loyalty of the cavalier Loveday to then-necromancer Cyntherea. And at the end, Harrow agrees to serve the Emperor as a Lyctor, even though her world has just fallen apart.

29-Anima (Woman), 24-Heart: Our protagonist, Gideon Nav. And yes, that was my first thought upon seeing this combination, knowing only that Gideon was female. I figured the Heart showed that she was passionate about things, like, say, getting away from the Ninth House. That wasn’t wrong, but in reading the book, I realized that Muir specifically mentions Gideon’s heart:

  • Gideon had never confronted a broken heart before. She had never gotten far enough to have her heart broken.
  • Harrow’s dark eyes were on Gideon’s, past the blade pointed at her skull. “Oh, I have hurt your heart,” she said.
  • “Harrow,” said Gideon, “if my heart had a dick, you would kick it.”

Only at the end, do we hear of Harrow’s heart, after she has absorbed Gideon: “If it had been possible to die of desolation, she would have died then and there: as it was, all she could do was lie on the bed and observe the smoking wreck of her heart.”

1-Rider, 7-Snake: The Lenormand can be wonderfully efficient. I see two meanings for this pair. To begin with, the traditional meaning of the Snake is betrayal and deception, often by a beautiful and intelligent woman. So I see this primarily as Cyntherea, for pretty much all the reasons spelled out by the end of the book and her final confession. The Rider? Well, one definition of cavalier is “a gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship.”* Cyntherea is Cyntherea the First, suggesting that she’s a cavalier of the First House. So Rider + Snake—the cavalier who’s a clever, but untrustworthy woman.

The second meaning? Gideon the Ninth is not lacking in intelligent women. Consider Ianthe Tridentarius. Ianthe betrays (Snake) Naberius Tern, her cavalier (Rider), in order to become a Lyctor.

15-Bear, 12-Birds: I did have some trouble with this pair. I see the Bear as the Emperor, but how did the Birds fit in? My best guess is the short but pivotal conversation between Harrow and the Emperor which sets up the next book in the trilogy.

23-Mice, 27-Letter: Between Gideon and Harrowhark lies the summons (Letter) from the Emperor. It began nobly enough. The Emperor tells Harrow, “I intended for the new Lyctors to become Lyctors after thinking and contemplating and genuinely understanding their sacrifice—an act of bravery, not an act of fear and desperation. Nobody was meant to lose their lives unwillingly at Canaan House.” But the summons brings them to the decay (Mice) of Canaan House, and the Emperor’s plans are corrupted (Mice again) by Cyntherea. Many die unwillingly, and the Emperor’s two new Lyctors are created through an act of fear and desperation (Harrow) and a murder (Ianthe).

6-Clouds, 10-Scythe: Traditionally, what the Scythe points at, it cuts through: in this case, the confusion of the Clouds. This pair was fairly easy to interpret, although that doesn’t mean it was less important to the story. Gideon the Ninth is in great part a mystery, and Clouds + Scythe is the characters trying to solve the mysteries.

14-Fox, 11-Whip: Another pair that is proving challenging to interpret. I’m tempted to say it represents another aspect of Gideon. This would be more physical and less psychological: she’s red-haired (the Fox can represent redheads), she’s practicing deception on Harrow’s orders (pretending to have a vow of silence, pretending to be the cavalier primary of the Ninth House), and she has been training regularly with the longsword, and more recently with the rapier (the Whip can mean repeated activities, such as physical exercise). That would put her in the reading twice, but of course the book is called Gideon the Ninth.

28-Animus (Man), 8-Coffin: Harrowhark Nonagesimus. No, Harrow isn’t a man. But I’ve noticed that the Man and Woman cards don’t necessarily represent literal men and women. Here, with the Anima already in use for Gideon, I think the Animus means “significant other.” Animus + Coffin oppose Anima + Heart across the reading, as Harrow and Gideon are opponents for most of the book.

The Coffin has a couple of meaning in this reading. First off, this is closest the Lenormand gets to representing necromancy. Putting it next to one of the people cards means that that person is a necromancer. But also, the Coffin represents the deaths of the children and teenagers sacrificed by Harrow’s parents to ensure Harrow would be born a necromancer. As she puts it, “I am exactly two hundred sons and daughters of my House, Griddle—I am the whole generation of the Ninth. I came into this world a necromancer at the expense of Drearburh’s future—because there is no future without me.”

32-Moon, 17-Stork: Transformation, especially emotional. The Moon may be the second most emotional card after the Heart, and the Heart has already been used in this reading. Harrow is now physically a Lyctor, and immortal, but she’s also emotionally not the person she was at the beginning of the book. At another level, it’s also a change (Stork) in her “career” (Moon): she’s gone from being the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House to being Harrowhark the First.

The Lines

Unlike that first reading for The Lord of the Rings, I haven’t been able to find additional meanings in all the lines of this reading. But here are a few.

Center vertical: Gideon and Harrow are unwillingly paired and opposed in order to answer the summons to Canaan House.

Center horizontal (rearranged): The conversation with the Emperor clears up the final mysteries that came from the summons to Canaan House.

Upper left to lower right diagonal: The most powerful servants are summoned to Canaan House to win transformation.


31 Days of Tarot 2019: Days 20-22

Another multi-day post. We’re past the ⅔ point!

Day 20: What is your favorite Tarot Spread at the moment?

I’m interested in tableau spreads. In Lenormand, the Grand Tableau reigns, where you lay all 36 cards out, either in a 9 x 4 grid or in an 8 x 4 + 4 spread (an 8 x 4 grid with the final 4 cards in a line under the spread). I wanted to try that kind of spread with tarot cards, but laying all 78 of them out promised to be unmanageable. But then last year I read Untold Tarot by Caitlín Matthews. She describes how to do tableau layouts with 25 cards, and I’ve been enjoying trying that. I’ve also had good results with a 3 x 3 layout that Tom Benjamin talks about in Tarot on Earth.

Day 21: Do you use the Tarot for mediumship readings? Why or why not? If no, would you like to?

I don’t because I’m not interested, so I’m not likely to in the future either.

Day 22: Where is one place in the world you would love to read the Tarot and why? It could be a sacred site, event, mystical shop, anything.

bench cascade creek environment
Photo by Pixabay on

Hmm. Because most of the time I read for myself, as long as I’m comfortable, I’m happy to do a reading. I suppose it would be lovely to do a reading in a clearing in a forest on a nice warm-but-not-hot day, the sun filtering down through the leaves, maybe the sound of birdsong a few trees over. Oh, and the burbling water sound from a nearby creek. (No mosquitoes, though. No ticks. And a breeze would be nice, but not one strong enough to blow my cards away. Sorry—did I just get too realistic?)

Prompts: Ethony’s 31 Days of Tarot YouTube Community Challenge and 31 Days of Tarot 2019 * Prompt Walkthrough

31 Days of Tarot 2019: Days 18-19

A couple of lists.

Day 18: What cards relate to you personally. NOT just your astrology association or court cards. – Lizzie Bolton

  • Four of Swords: The peace, the quiet, the restfulness. Whether or not I’m successful, I’m always looking for these.
  • Nine of Swords: I am well-acquainted with being unwillingly awake in the night.
  • Four of Pentacles: I view this card as being about good boundaries and conserving your resources. The Rider-Waite-Smith depiction, suggesting greed and stinginess, is certainly a possibility, but I see this card as being healthier than that.
  • Nine of Pentacles: I want this life: independent, comfortable, yet with community within reach.

Four of Swords, Nine of Swords, Four of Pentacles, Nine of Pentacles

Day 19: If you were shipwrecked on an desert island, which five tarot or oracle decks would you want to have with you and why. – Lisa Sumiyoshi

  1. Sun and Moon Tarot: My go-to tarot deck. Also, it’s more of a Thoth-genre deck rather than RWS, and variety is good.
  2. Universal Waite Tarot: My favorite version of the RWS tarot. It’d be good to have one version of the classic deck at hand.
  3. Pagan Otherworlds Tarot: This deck pulls no punches with its readings. Not that the other two do, but somehow I feel the impact more with this deck. And I love the art.
  4. BYO Lenormand: The most personally-relevant Lenormand I own.
  5. Story in Color Lenormand: Pretty! And it conveys emotions more easily than many Lenormand decks do.

Although I should just grab the Seventh Sphere Tarot de Marseille and the Seventh Sphere Lenormand as I head for the lifeboat, as the cards are plastic and will survive a shipwreck better than paper cards.

Prompts: Ethony’s 31 Days of Tarot YouTube Community Challenge and 31 Days of Tarot 2019 * Prompt Walkthrough

31 Days of Tarot 2019: Days 14-15

Combined posts: the secret to my having made it to the halfway point!

Day 14: Which tarot decks give you the most insight by way of the imagery and symbology of the cards rather than intuition or basic tarot knowledge – Elizabeth Harkin

I turn to the classics here: the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and the Thoth Tarot. I don’t necessarily “like” the symbolism in these decks. The RWS deck is far more Christian in its orientation than I am, and…well, a great deal of the time, I’m not sure where the Thoth deck is even going. But for me to read using the imagery and symbology of the cards, a deck needs to have them in the first place, and both these decks exult in them. I respect these decks for that. Now, I don’t know as I get more from the imagery and the symbols than via my intuition or my grasp of the basic card meanings. They’re all mixed together for me.

Day 15: What is in your Tarot ‘to-go’ bag? Your Tarot travel bag. – Nya Thryce

Ooh, the prompt makes me think of an emergency tarot bag, packed and waiting by the front door, to be grabbed as I run out the door to a crisis. Except my life is not quite that interesting, and I don’t keep a bag ready to go. But when I do take tarot somewhere, it’s basically a tarot deck or two (lately, that would be the Sun and Moon Tarot and maybe the Happy Tarot) and a Lenormand deck (probably the Dondorf Lenormand). If I’m really prepared, I’ll throw in a notebook and pen as well, but I may just rely on getting a photo if I need a record of any reading.

Prompts: Ethony’s 31 Days of Tarot YouTube Community Challenge and 31 Days of Tarot 2019 * Prompt Walkthrough

31 Days of Tarot 2019: Days 5-8

My answers to the next few prompts are so brief that it seems best to combine them into a single post.

Day 5: The card that stalked you in 2018

The Four of Swords. I name it because it showed up in several of my readings, but so did other cards, like the Seven of Pentacles. But one day, a friend was telling some of us about a reading she’d done for herself, and I knew, a moment before she said it, that the Four of Swords was one of the cards in that reading.
4 Four of Swords tarot cards

Day 6: The deck you finally crossed off your wish list in 2018

Two of them, actually. First, the Arcanum Tarot, because I acquired it. Second, the Kawaii Tarot, because I saw more pictures of it and decided not to get it after all.

Day 7: Most worked with Tarot deck in 2018 and why

The Sun and Moon Tarot, because it’s my current go-to deck. Sure, I spent serious time this year with the Orbifold Tarot and the Seventh Sphere Tarot de Marseille, and I had a major reading with the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot…but if I’m rushing out the door and need to grab a tarot deck on the way out, it’ll be the Sun and Moon Tarot.

Day 8: Top 5 decks on your wish list now

  • Scrying Ink Lenormand (Siolo Thompson)
  • Millennium Thoth Tarot (Renata Lechner)
  • Thelema Lenormand (Renata Lechner)
  • Tarot Grand Luxe (Ciro Marchetti)
  • Tarot Decoratif (Ciro Marchetti)

Prompts: Ethony’s 31 Days of Tarot YouTube Community Challenge and 31 Days of Tarot 2019 * Prompt Walkthrough

31 Days of Tarot 2019 – Day 3: Top oracle decks of 2018

More show and more tell.

Day 3: Top 5 Oracle Decks of 2018 (ones you purchased and/or released in 2018)

I only bought four oracle decks in 2018. (Five tarot decks, four oracle decks…okay, let’s stop there and not discuss how many books and how much yarn I bought last year!) Again, in order of acquisition:

Seventh Sphere Lenormand. Yep, by the same person who did the Seventh Sphere Tarot de Marseille. I was seduced by the color palette. Like the tarot deck, it’s plastic, although the smaller cards feel less flimsy. I realize that I’m going to end up saying the least about it of all these decks, and that may make it look like I care the least about it. Actually, I’ve used it more than any of these others. But with the exception of its names for the Man and Woman cards (Animus and Anima), it’s a standard Lenormand deck, and I just don’t have much to explain about it. Unless you want me to go on about how much I like the colors?

Seventh Sphere Lenormand: Mice, Book, Lily

Supra Oracle. A few years ago, I got the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot. That put me on the creators’ mailing list, so when they did a Kickstarter for a new oracle deck, I heard about it. (Note to self: STAY OFF KICKSTARTER.) I admire this deck. But I’m having trouble using it because I haven’t figured out what kinds of questions it would be good at answering. It doesn’t feel like a predictive deck, nor does it seem inclined to give advice. Insight, perhaps, or deeper spiritual meanings. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the guidebook to be of much help.

Supra Oracle: Unconscious, Everydayness, Reawaken

Lunar Nomad Oracle. I didn’t intend to get this deck. I’d seen it announced, but by the time it came out, I’d gotten how many tarot and oracle decks? It was striking, but not a priority purchase for me. And then it turned up at Half Price Books on a day I had a coupon for 20% off. If you haven’t guessed from the name, it’s a Lenormand deck, or maybe it’d be more accurate to call it a Lenormand+ deck. It has 43 cards: the standard 36 from the Lenormand, a second set of Man and Woman cards, and 5 cards of Shaheen Miro’s own invention. The cards are huge for Lenormand: to do the Grand Tableau, I’d have to lay the cards out on the floor, and I note that Miro doesn’t even mention this spread in the accompanying book. (How would you do the Grand Tableau with 43 cards, anyway?)

Lunar Nomad Oracle: Dog, Book, Man

Hedgewitch Botanical Oracle. I’d admired the art in Siolo Thompson’s Linestrider Tarot, but hadn’t been able to read with it. I’ve seen her Scrying Ink Lenormand deck, but haven’t made the commitment to buy it. And then she came out with this deck, and, well, flowers! (And other plants. And a mushroom.) I figured that either I’d be able to read with this deck or I wouldn’t, but it would be lovely to look at in any case. Plus, unlike tarot and Lenormand decks, I wouldn’t be comparing it to other decks. I’m sure there are other botanical oracles out there, but I don’t have them and I’m not going to have to unlearn a different system to use this deck. So far, I’ve gotten some spot-on readings with this deck, which is the best encouragement to keep using it. I admit, I’m a bit frustrated with the guidebook. There isn’t much information on how to use these cards for divination, and because this deck is unique, I can’t rely on other books as I could with tarot and Lenormand. On the positive side, it has the card illustrations in full color and larger than the cards, as well as additional illustrations, and it has interesting information about the plants themselves.

Hedgewitch Botanical Oracle: Ephemeral, Invigorate, Clarity

Prompts: Ethony’s 31 Days of Tarot YouTube Community Challenge and 31 Days of Tarot 2019 * Prompt Walkthrough

North Star Tarot Conference 2018

Two years ago, I went to my first North Star Tarot Conference and figured I’d be back the following year. That didn’t happen, but I was able to make it this year.

Structure- and schedule-wise, not much changed. The conference started on Friday evening and wrapped up on Sunday around lunchtime. I got there in that liminal period between when I could check into my hotel room and the beginning of the conference, and ended up watching vendors set up. Indeed, I bought my first tarot deck of the weekend (of two) before the conference even officially got going.

The Orbifold and Arcanum Tarots, with sample cards.
New decks! The deck on the left is the Orbifold Tarot; on the right is the Arcanum Tarot.

This year, knowing there’d be a swap table, I remembered to bring a few things for it. They mostly disappeared, and I feel much better about setting them free in the world rather than slipping them into a recycling bin. In return, I’ve acquired a laminated card of tarot keywords. Do I need one? Not particularly, but I’m interested in how other people summarize the cards, and it’s not like it takes up a lot of space. Perhaps I will set it free on another swap table someday.

It must be traditional for the conference to start with a beginners’ program and a session on tarocchi running concurrently. I still have minimal interest in tarocchi, so off to Nancy Antenucci’s beginners’ session I went. From a handout of statements, we chose ones that described our daily lives and the current themes in our lives. We then pulled the cards that were linked to those statements and read those cards to a partner. It was a flashback for me, because the statements were taken from Gail Fairfield’s Choice-Centered Tarot, which was one of my first tarot books back in the ’90s. The evening continued with the opening Imbolc ritual. Unlike two years ago, at least I managed to stay awake through it! I would dazzle you with stunning photos of the altar piled with blue cloths (to be blessed by Brighid), but I’d left my phone back in my room and was camera-less. After that was “Late Night Tarot Hoopla,” which I must leave up to your imagination as I went back to my room after the ritual.

Every year, the conference features one or two cards from the Major Arcana as its theme, and this year, the cards were Justice and the High Priestess: “Speak the Truth You Know.” On Saturday, Jeannette Roth from the Tarot Garden gave a talk on the evolution of the Justice card. I enjoyed the talk, and the pictures of how the design of the Justice card has changed over the centuries were fascinating, but, um, well, the card still doesn’t appeal much to me aesthetically. Still, the discussion brought up interesting points: should Justice have wings or sit between pillars? How about the name of the card? Is “Justice” good, or do you like Crowley’s “Adjustment” better, or maybe something else? Where does karma figure into this? (Does it at all?) After lunch, Michael Foster discussed ethics and tarot reading: what do you do when the cards say one thing, but you’d prefer to advise the querent to do something else? He shared a spread he’d created that evokes the essence of Justice to distinguish between the two. The third speaker of the day, James Wells, explored “How to Be a Priestess of Justice.” I’m glad this had handouts that I can review in my own time, because it involved some thinking and writing, and needed more time than the schedule allowed. Saturday night’s programming was a movie night with games, but again, I headed back to my room.

On Sunday, we were back to two options in programming, with Chuck Boe doing an introduction to Lenormand cards and Melani Weber doing something that sounded artsy-craftsy. Since I know Chuck and I wanted to see his presentation, that second track remains a mystery to me. Chuck started with the story of Marie Lenormand and the invention of the cards. He then led everyone through a brief introduction to the Grand Tableau.* I assume the presentation was a success: at least one person at my table sounded interested in learning more, and perhaps acquiring a deck. (Plus I hear the Tarot Garden sold lots of Lenormand decks.) After that, there was a reading practice session from Nancy Antenucci and Michael Foster, and a final ceremony that closed the Imbolc ritual from Friday night.

Besides the tarot decks, I got a nice door prize. It was a two-parter: a blank book with a Temperance card printed on the front cover, and Your Tarot Your Way: Learn to Read with Any Deck by Barbara Moore. A book by Barbara Moore I haven’t read yet: cool!

A blank book with the tarot card Temperance on the front cover, and the book Your Tarot Your Way.

*The Grand Tableau is a layout that uses all 36 cards in the deck. (This is less scary than it sounds.) If you’ve studied tarot, you know that the Celtic Cross spread is included in almost every introductory guide, even though it’s not the easiest spread for a beginner. Well, it’s the same thing with the Grand Tableau and introductory Lenormand guides.

Trying the Kipper cards

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.

FdSKipperLate 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.

Lost and gone forever

It is satisfying as all get-out to interpret a Lenormand reading and/or a horary chart that accurately describes the location of a lost item, and then find the item. But sometimes a lost item stays lost. So when you ask where a lost item is, are you asking only for a description of its location? Or are you also asking if you’ll find it, even if you don’t say that in so many words? A reading I did a few months ago suggests the latter.

My friend J. has a friend who had lost a set of keys to a home safe. J. asked me about the keys on her friend’s behalf. The Lenormand reading and the horary chart both gave meaningful answers, but as of this writing, the keys haven’t been found. And even if they do turn up someday, for all practical purposes, it’ll be too late. J’s friend was going to have new keys made. Once that was done, the original keys may as well stay lost.

The Lenormand reading

I took my “usual” approach to doing a lost items reading. (“Usual” meaning I’ve done this maybe three or four times now: so much experience!) I choose a card ahead of time as the significator of the lost item, shuffle the deck, look for it in the deck, and lay out the card before it, the significator itself, and the two cards after it. The one card before would show the past; it’s the equivalent of “When did you last see the keys?” The two cards afterwards should show the present/future location of the lost item. Choosing the significator was easy: lost keys cry out to be represented by 33-Key.

It never occurred to me that the Key might be the last card in the deck. Which it was.

Garden and Key Lenormand cards

Here’s that issue I was talking about. I’d asked where the keys were. The most straightforward reading of this was that the keys had no present or future location. (The past location, 20-Garden, which suggested they might’ve been in the garden or at a gathering, didn’t help any.) It was possible that the keys had been destroyed, and that would answer the explicit question Where can she find her missing safe keys?. But the keys only needed to be permanently lost, nothing as dramatic as utterly obliterated, if the reading was answering the implicit question Will she find her lost keys? No “future” for the keys: the answer is No.

I admit I didn’t trust my intuition. And I hadn’t realized that there were two questions involved; I was only thinking of the explicit one. Since it seemed unlikely that the keys had been destroyed, they should be somewhere, so I took the first two cards from the top of the deck to find out what that somewhere was. The first card was 23-Mice. One interpretation of the Mice is that the keys had been stolen; another was that they were permanently lost.

Garden, Key, Mice, and Fish Lenormand cards

Eventually, I do figure these things out. Especially when the cards are practically hitting me over the head with an answer. 🙄

The second card was 34-Fish. It suggests the keys were near J’s friend’s financial materials, which makes sense given that they were the keys to one of her home safes. But as they do seem to be permanently lost, we’ll never know. The Mice may have been the absolute end of the reading (“Look,” the cards grumbled, “we told you they had no future, and then we told you—again—that they were lost. How much more of an answer do you need?!”), and it wouldn’t matter what the next card was.

The horary chart

To make this post easier to read, I’ve separated the Lenormand reading from the horary chart reading. But at the time, I was going back and forth between them, so I hadn’t reached that conclusion about the Lenormand reading before I’d started working on the horary chart.

Astrological chart.
“Where can [J’s friend] find her missing safe keys?”

Choosing the significator

This was one of the times I went with intuition when choosing the significator. I could have used derivative houses, but it was turning into a long chain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the best I can say here is that it didn’t feel right. Mercury is the natural ruler of keys, and like choosing 33-Key in the Lenormand, it seemed much more reasonable to use it as the significator of these keys.

The considerations before judgment

First off, let’s see the general condition of the chart:

  1. Radical Ascendant? Check.
  2. Void-of-course Moon? Yes. Hmm.
  3. Saturn in the 7th house and/or the ruler of the 7th house afflicted? Yes to the latter: Mars is the ruler, and isn’t comfortable in Taurus.
  4. Moon in the Via Combusta? No.

Void-of-course means that the Moon (or a planet) will not make an exact aspect with any other planet before it moves into the next sign. It may still be in aspect to one or more planets, approaching and separating, but nothing else will match it exactly before it goes into the next sign. The tag line for the void-of-course Moon is “nothing will come of it.” Whether that’s helpful or not depends on the question asked. I wouldn’t say it’s all that encouraging in a lost items question, not unless you wanted the item to stay lost.

Among other things, the 7th house represents the astrologer who’s interpreting the horary chart. (That’s me.) Saturn in the 7th house or an afflicted ruler of the 7th suggests the astrologer will have problems with the chart or suffer a delay in understanding it. Or, in my case, be a bit oblivious to her own intuition.

And the chart says…

Mercury is at 29° 49′ Aries. That’s right at the end of Aries (each sign has 30º), and horary texts have explanations for significators that are right at the end of signs and what that means for lost items. But in this chart, Mercury is also void-of-course. See everything above about about the VOC Moon, and apply it to the keys themselves. Mercury isn’t connected to anything, symbolically, so the keys aren’t connected to anything or anyone, including J’s friend. They’re in a void somewhere, not to be found.


No keys. No future for them, according to the Lenormand reading. No ties between them and anything else according to the horary chart. It’s good to know that these readings can tell you if you’re ever going to find a lost item, but I wish the problem had had a happier answer.

Finding Mouse the Elder

Every now and then, my friend Suncat will send along a lost item question. I get to practice horary, and there’s always the hope that the answer will help Suncat find the missing item. Since she and her husband have two cats, often what’s missing is a cat toy. This was true this past summer, when Gray Princess lost a toy mouse. There are several toy mice in the household, but “Mouse the Elder,” an unusually durable toy, had earned his name by having lasted for decades. Looking around the house for MtE wasn’t working. Suncat reported that he’d last been seen in the living room, but that was weeks earlier, and he hadn’t been found. Meanwhile, Princess wanted her favorite toy back. It was time for divination.

So Suncat asked, “Where is Mouse the Elder?” and I cast the chart for the time when I received and understood the question.But I’d also heard that you can use Lenormand cards to look for lost items, and this seemed like a good time to try that. And since it’s faster for me to look over a few cards than to interpret a horary chart, I looked at the cards first.

The Lenormand reading

I didn’t have much experience at using the Lenormand this way, so I kept things simple. I decided to choose a card to represent MtE, then find the card in the deck and read a few cards around it to see what was going on. At least choosing the significator was easy: when you’re looking for a toy mouse called Mouse the Elder, what better card could there be than 23-Mice? When I found the Mice in the deck, I laid it out along with the card before it and the two cards that followed it.Four Lenormand cards: Child, Mouse, Book, CoffinThe Child “jumped out” at me as a card to pay attention to. Generally, the pictures on Lenormand cards aren’t all that meaningful in themselves. They’re mainly there to identify the card. But in this deck, 13-Child shows a child playing with a toy—in most of my decks, the Child is simply a picture of a child. This felt significant. I looked up the Child in Caitlín Matthews’s book, the only one I know of that talks about using the Lenormand to find lost items, and read, “your child has it; used for play; in a new place you’ve not looked yet!” (emphasis mine).

Since Child + Mouse was an accurate description of MtE—a toy (Child) mouse (Mice)—I hoped that the next two cards, the Book and the Coffin, would be an accurate description of its situation. Quoting again from Matthews:

  • 26-Book: in the library, school, or training place; in a book or folder
  • 8-Coffin: in a box, drawer, or cupboard; forgotten and left behind

Putting those together, I thought that MtE had been left in a box, drawer, or cupboard near Suncat’s books. By extension, that could mean an enclosed space, like between two groups of books or something like that, the sort of place a cat could knock a toy into and not be able to retrieve it. And it was likely that Princess had forgotten where MtE was and left it behind.

The horary chart

So, was the chart going to support the Lenormand reading or give a different answer entirely?

astrology chart for lost mouse toy horary
Where is Mouse the Elder?

The considerations before judgment weren’t significant, so I moved on to finding the significators, the most important one being the one for Mouse the Elder:

  1. Suncat asked the question, so her significator is the ruler of the 1st house: Mercury.
  2. The 6th house is associated with small animals. Aquarius is on the cusp, so Saturn is Princess’s significator.
  3. Mouse the Elder is a possession, and possessions are associated with the 2nd house. If I were looking for something Suncat had lost, I’d look at the ruler of the 2nd house. But MtE is Princess’s toy, not Suncat’s, so we need to look at Princess’s 2nd house. Having just said that Princess is represented by the ruler of the 6th house, it’s like the 6th house is Princess’s 1st house. So the 7th house is like her 2nd house. Pisces is on the cusp of the 7th house, so Jupiter represents Mouse the Elder.

Does the significator fit? On its own, Jupiter seems a bit grandiose for a decades-old cat toy. But Suncat had told me that MtE was of better quality than many modern cat toys, larger and plumper than your run-of-the-mill toy mouse. And Jupiter is in Virgo, the sign of its detriment. Being in detriment suggests that the planet isn’t at its best. I figured, after years of kitty love, MtE was probably starting to look a little worn, even if generally it was a sturdy toy. (And although I’m using 23-Mice to represent MtE because, well, mice, the usual meaning of this card is slow destruction and deterioration; the illustration often shows mice gnawing on something.)

Incidentally, there’s another possible significator for MtE: Venus, the natural ruler of toys. In this chart, Venus conjuncts Jupiter, so it’s also in Virgo and the 1st house. Venus is in fall in Virgo, so like Jupiter, it’s not at its best. Basically, it’s pretty much the same interpretation whether you use Jupiter or Venus. Cool.

So whether the significator is Jupiter or Venus, Virgo and the 1st house should describe where MtE is. Virgo indicates that the lost object may be “inside something like a pocket or container…closets, desks, cabinets, where things are filed and stored, home offices, studies…” (Anthony Louis). Which sounds like what the Lenormand reading is saying: MtE was inside something. Virgo is an earth sign, which suggests that MtE is on the ground or near the floor. The 1st house is an angular house, which traditionally means that the object should be easy to find. (I’ve wondered about that—if the object is so easy to find, why hasn’t it been found already?) The 1st house also suggests that the lost object is where the querent spends the most time. I wasn’t sure if that meant Suncat or Princess in this case.


A shipping box had been left in the living room for the cats to play with, and Mouse the Elder was inside it. The box was close to a bookcase. So there were the Lenormand elements: the toy mouse inside a box near books. As for the horary chart, MtE was inside something near where things are filed and stored (books), and the box was on the ground. I don’t know if either Suncat or Princess spends most of their time in the living room, but Suncat said that she’d only ever seen Princess playing with MtE in the living room, so that’s where she started her search.

Of course, the most important bit is that Princess has her favorite toy back. 😀 But I’m also fascinated with how both the Lenormand and horary answered the question.


  • The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook by Caitlín Matthews
  • Horary Astrology Plain & Simple: Fast & Accurate Answers to Real World Questions by Anthony Lewis