But… what is Lenormand? you might ask. And how do I read the cards? Fear not! The Hurricane Mystic – creator of When Life Gives You Mangoes – is here to offer an accessible beginners’ guide to reading Lenormand cards, with illustrations from her own deck.
Hello all! The Hurricane Mystic here to bring a brief introduction to the world of Lenormand Divination.
I love Lenormand cards. They are a form of cartomancy (divining using cards) that has existed for the past few centuries after being popularized in France. Based off a much older French playing card game, the use of Lenormand cards as a means of divination was popularized by Marie Ann Adelaide Le Normand as she famously divined for Napoleon and predicted his loss in the war.
The unique thing about Lenormand that I have observed is the existence of various schools of thought. Germany, France and other parts of Europe expressed different meanings for the same cards or had different number of cards all together (pulled from the original 14th century card game).
As a West Indian Spiritualist whose island was colonized by the French (and then the British) the influence of French culture can be seen throughout my little island as the names of the villages, mountains, folklore and architecture; all have a distinctive French influence. I felt it was time for the Caribbean Lenormand School of Thought to be heard amongst the many interpretations.
This is why I created my deck When Life Gives you Mangoes – a Caribbean inspired Lenormand Oracle. Because while the influence of Britain and France wasn’t an a choice our ancestors had, it’s still a part of our history and our culture and our voice within the community deserves to be heard.
How to Read Lenormand: A Beginners’ Guide
There are a few ways to read Lenormand Oracle Cards. To start off I’ll list the various distinctions from tarot divination:
Lenormand Cards do not have reversals. While reading reversals in tarot is a choice for the individual reader. In Lenormand divination, the positive, negative and sometimes neutral meanings of the cards are embedded into the card’s meaning. There are some cards with more positive associations, while others can carry neutral or negative associations. For example, The Sun Card in Lenormand will always represent a positive outcome or favorable energy/environment while the sun in tarot if reversed can indicate a period of sadness or being overly enthusiastic.
Lenormand Cards are read as a sentence. Whilst tarot cards are read intuitively with order dictated by the reader. The most common way to read Lenormand is to treat the card meanings as words and read them in order (for example, as a three-card spread as shown below). This isn’t the only way to read Lenormand, but it is one very common method. Lenormand like any cartomancy deck can be read intuitively. However, the card meanings are a lot more literal than esoteric in comparison to tarot.
Lenormand card/word associations
Example three-card spreads
Traditional Lenormand: The Man, Snake, Bouquet, Woman
When Life Gives You Mangoes: Sugar Cane, The Obi, The Hibiscus, Passion Fruit
This spread can be interpreted a few ways as a sentence, but we can generally see the gist: Spirit is warning the person that an action or gift from another person that may not have the right intentions.
If we use the words “Action” “Temptation” “Gift” “Woman”, it could be a warning against indulging in vices which can be material or an action.
If you use the words “Man” “Hidden Wisdom” “Gift” “Woman”, it can be interpreted as a you’re about to learn some unsavory information about another person.
If you go for “Man” “Deception” “Gift” “Woman” – Beware of accepting gifts or that someone is lying about where they had received a gift. In a romance reading it could indicate potential cheating as one partner could be accepting gifts from another romantic interest.
Example spread 2:
Traditional Lenormand: The Rider, The Whip, The Dog
WLGYM: The Marble, The Slipper, The Puppy
If you use the words: “Quick” “Arguments” “Loyal”, this spread could indicate that the person in question has trust issues and quick to accuse people around them of being disloyal without any proof.
It can also indicate a relationship that is prone to conflicts or in romantic readings. Partners who may be quick to cause fights and someone in the dynamic is questioning their position and loyalty to the bond.
More Lenormand associations
Some Lenormand Cards can indicate speed/ time and is incredibly Literal: Lenormand cards are read a bit more literally than Tarot. The meanings and symbols are often direct which can make for straight forward answers; however, the imagery can also be used as an indicator for time. This is due to the fact Lenormand cards are often “read as a sentence” and some cards have verbs or actions associated with them.
- The Ship: We can infer that the inquired journey/question will move at a decent pace but will take a fairly long while to reach its destination. Can indicate a few weeks to a few months or can literally mean travelling or vacation from work.
- The Rider: We can infer due to the symbolism of the horse that this journey/energy is extremely fast paced movement but can also indicate the need to act quickly before the moment is over.
- The Stork: A standstill of pause, a period of stagnation.
- Mountain: Very little movement or change, while tectonic plates/earth moves it’s hardly noticeable.
- The House: A long process requiring heavy planning for future development. Deals heavily in the Future.
- The Tree: Already at the end of its growing and as such deals heavily with the past.
Cartomancy is as vast and individual as the world we live in. Every Lenormand deck creator has a different vision and interpretation for their own cards and every reader can interpret them differently. Lenormand also has planetary associations, links with numerology and even zodiac sign associations! Do not be afraid to add your own cultural ideas and to add to the word association meanings for each card based on your experiences.
Lenormand Playing Card Associations
Not mandatory to learn but can add unique messages to your readings! Combining suits and the numerology can allow for unique additional interpretations for your cards. Different cultures can interpret the suits in various ways. In Hoodoo and other ATR’s reading from playing cards is very common practice and if you are a part of these cultures, you can ascribe the meanings of the suits accordingly for additional messages and information.
The Lenormand System has 36 Cards (In the standard version, there can be versions that have 52 Cards due to playing card associations) while Tarot has 78 cards including the major and minor arcana (Wands, Pentacles, Cups, and Swords): The Lenormand system is based off an old 14th century playing card game and thus has associations with the suits clovers/clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades.
- Clovers/Clubs: Material, Physical, Home, Money, Family, Earth energy
- Hearts: Emotion, Feelings, Intuition, Relationships, Water energy
- Spades: Thoughts, Planning, Mental fortitude, Communication, Wind energy
- Diamonds: Inspiration, Energy, Creativity, Action, Fire energy
Example: 1 The Rider Card associated with the 9 of Hearts.
Last tip: have fun with it!
There are numerous ways to enjoy this fantastic system, but this is a beginner’s introduction, so I’ll stop here for today. I hope you enjoyed my brief introduction and feel comfortable to read from your very own deck.