Intuiting Pictures in Lenormand and Reversals

Scan 2

There has been a great deal of debate in the USA about how Lenormand should be read and it has gotten ugly. There doesn’t seem to be as big a problem in Europe, where these cards originate. I don’t know why readers think they can re-define a deck already in use for nearly two centuries…two centuries of use, tradition and results. It pains me to write this because I was once a very avid fan of a blog whereby the author recently published a list of reversal meanings for Lenormand. I have been following it for two or more years and am shocked she would do such a thing. Did she drink the Guru kool-aid? I don’t know. She could well design her own deck using reversals, for sure, as she is very knowledgeable. This I could see being very good. Reversal meanings for Lenormand- not so good.

There is no known historical basis TO MY KNOWLEDGE THUS FAR that Lenormand has ever used reversals. The cards have an orientation that is left side/right side and up/down. One can read a GT diagonally also. (I tend NOT to employ this technique, however). There simply is no cultural or historic proof in the instructions outlined in the deck recently discovered by Mary K. Greer in the British Museum whereby the images are said to come from coffee reading and no hint of reversals in the original Lenormand Dondorf deck. To my knowledge at this point in time, coffee reading is oriented to the cup’s handle and how far away the images appear both up and down the sides and toward/away from the handle. I have never heard of coffee reading using reversals in the images found in the cup.

As for reading the pictures of traditional fortune telling decks without knowing the traditional meanings assigned to the cards, I pass on this to you:

When I began reading Lenormand I gave a deck of Gypsy cards bought by mistake to an acquaintance with the recommendation that she learn the traditional meanings first. Instead of listening to me, she decided to use them then and there using only her intuition, which was normally very good because she was the leader of a group working on developing intuition. She asked a question about the lover she was pursuing at the time, and flipped over the “Argument” card. Instead of looking up the meaning of the card in the book provided, she read it  using her “intuition.” Her interpretation was flowery, positive, and hopeful. In the end, and in just a few weeks, she would have deep irreconcilable differences with the person and what had been a hopeful relationship turned bitter and sour.

Now if someone has information to pass on to me that says otherwise, I am glad to listen. Until then, I am opposed to anymore confusion in reading Lenormand cards than has already been put into the public realm. These cards require enough focus and learning as it is and certainly, until someone can justify reversals and intuitive reading of pictures without knowing the meanings, I will be staunchly opposed these methods.


6 thoughts on “Intuiting Pictures in Lenormand and Reversals

  1. Reversals!!?? The thing is complex enough, for goodness sakes. I’m currently trying to write out a blog post on my first Grand Tableau and it’s hurting my head going through all the relationships among 36 different cards, with traditional meanings used. I don’t have any problem with the use of intuition in oracle card reading, but that’s not how Lenormand works. What I like about it is the way it’s different. No point in making it into a short-deck Tarot system. Makes no sense.

    • I totally agree, Joanne. I don’t understand why she did this. GT’s are tough enough- I agree…and granted some masters notoriously dislike reading GT’s for this reason, but adding reversals to this boggles my mind. And she is so knowledgable, to boot. ???

      I believe the more you train yourself to read GT’s the easier it is to do multi-card interpretations, so it is a good thing to do.

      • Right. It’s great practice, all in one spread. I can make 3X3’s around cards that represent different aspects of life (moon, heart, man, etc.), as well as coming up with small lines, or even mirroring and knighting (not ready for that yet!). I’m concentrating on AndybC’s distance method with this year-forecast draw that I’m analyzing right now, and that’s enough to scramble my brain…:)

  2. What I don’t think has helped is that they found out in her later books, Erna Droesbeke has proposed a few reversed card techniques. She didn’t do this in the books I have read, and as I don’t speak Dutch I’ve not been able to see the book – but I expert this follows on from Isis project.

    Nevertheless, this is totally “against the grain” for Lenormand in Belgium and the Netherlands. You do have a few of the older readers having utilised a form in their readings, but they were/are a minority as is pointed out by the expert Björn Meauris. Lenormand is a method of reading, not a deck or a set of meanings, but a whole methodology which is just doesn’t have room for reversals.

    Lots of people tend to propose Skat as a “prototype” for Lenormand. However, Klaverjas and Jass cartomancy bears more resemblance (and might explain why Belgian readers do appear to follow the older instructions more faithfully) where proximity and surrounding cards not reversals are most common.

    • Thanks for your reply, Andy.

      Yes, I have read that about Jass.

      Why not just create a separate deck using reversals and having its own specific layout? Decks are easy to do now and not expensive, either. Maybe Droesbeke drank the Guru- Kool-Aid first and my blog friend just followed suit…?? Anyway, I don’t see a reason for it as the cards have enough negativity/positivity/ and neutral energies in them as is.

      How do we go about joining the Traditional Lenormand Fortunetellers Guild, Andy? I don’t see where it is possible on the site. Congrats on doing Ciro’s instruction book. I am so glad it turned out well! The deck really is beautiful.

      • Thank you Michelle. I only did a chapter – others were done by Nefer and Rana. Mine was on the method of distance, but I was honoured to be included.

        I think a lot of people just struggle with the deck. It’s not for everyone – it’s very multilayered and requires more time and effort than they are prepared/can give. So they fall into “the tarot” trap: remember one card meaning and reverse it, or read it as they go along. So they see House as happy home, or domestic upheaval reversed. It means they don’t need to learn about distance, combination, and can do a GT based on “how they feel about it”. It’s lazy.

        Robert Place is making a deck “inspired” by Lenormand. I will await it – I like Place’s Alchemical Tarot, it’s very, very unique, and his level of research is always amazing. But I would have liked him to just make a “deck”. But it’s more easy to sell a deck now tagged “Lenormand” as it’s the craze.

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