How I Read, and the Ship As “Inheritance” Part 2

I have received several emails asking questions about my last post, “How I Read.” So I am writing a follow up to explain certain things I do and do not do.

First, I try to use the concept of near and far in both larger lines (of nine), coupled with predominance. Now, predominance is a concept that is not outrightly expressed in the earliest known copy of the Lenormand instructions by Phillipe Lenormand in 1850.  (Thanks to AndyBc). However, because the concept of near and far is very clear in the instructions, predominance must play a role. Taking notice of the kind of cards around the significator is the key to using predominance, and it may not even be a factor in someone’s reading. The key is to notice if the cards share a common theme around the significator or not, then see how close the cards are to the significator. If for example, there are a  cluster of fast cards  far away, the reader can assume events will be happening very slowly over the course of time, but once they begin, they will be a series of very fast, tumultuous circumstances. A significator card that is surrounded equally by fast and slow cards, (say the Horseman and the Tree) might give an idea as to the timing of the events in question, but there is no predominant speed for the reader in this instance. Predominance isn’t useful in this case.  You will not have a case to use it all the time.

The other query was about my “personalized” use of the essence of cards. It is not outside of the bounds of traditional Lenormand, because cards like Clover, can mean “green.” Lily can mean “white.” Clouds can be “gray.” There is precedence for reading them in this way and is greatly aided by the Piatnik deck because of the way the images are depicted. Mind you, I don’t teach this as traditional Lenormand to my beginning students. This is a concept that came because I had been asked to describe people, places, buildings, or pets. It works very well, and is only in this capacity that I use the “essence” of the symbol. I used the example of a sunburn as describing the kind of illness a fair skinned woman could have on her sunny vacation.

If a client asks me to describe the man she will meet in six months, I recommend doing a line of five. Five cards give a good amount of information about someone. Let’s say the cards were the following:


The new guy she will meet (Cavalier) is most likely from overseas (Ship) or travels a lot to Celtic places (Clover). He could be of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or Brittanic (as in Brittany) heritage, or have a name that is from those areas, like O’Hara. He is older, or perhaps has premature white hair, (Lily), and is tall (Tower). He may also work or travel for an international company, such as an airlines or an international body of government like the WHO commission on AIDS research  (Lily Tower). It is also possible he goes abroad frequently because of family ties, or is stationed in one of the aforementioned countries. He might have blue (Cavalier) or green eyes (Clover+ Lily) and be physically fit (Cavalier) or wears a uniform for a branch of armed services or the police (Cavalier+ Tower). It is possible that if he is older, he once had very dark hair (Cavalier).

Taking the essence of the symbol is not a stretch from ALL from the meanings of the symbols, by any means. The times that this might be different would be in a case like the Sun vs. the Whip. The Sun is by nature warm. The Whip is known in Lenormand to be a hotter, ramped up card. The Sun in Lenormand is “Victory” and “Happiness” and “Success.”  However, if I wanted to see what could go wrong on my client’s sunny vacation that she has saved for ten years for, and I see the Tree Whip together in close proximity, with the Sun and Bear not far way from her, I will definitely read the Sun as being very hot and strong- being exposed to it repeatedly (Whip) will cause her to be ill (Tree). Wear good sunscreen. If I got the Sun describing a piece of paper (Letter), I might be inclined to think it is yellowed ( the Sun is the color yellow, like the Clover is the color green) because that is what the Sun is in essence. If I got the same piece of paper being described by the Whip, it could be that it is all marked up in highlighter pen, or maybe the page is folded many times, or perhaps it is torn at the bottom…it wouldn’t necessarily be yellowed (Sun). This is a bit nit-picky, for sure, but I like to be as precise as I can. If the Moon described the Letter, it could be a reflective (Moon) or treated paper with a dedication (Moon: recognition) made to someone, such that we see in honorary occasions, retirements, weddings, and funerals.

The other thing that came up via email was my example of the lost will and inheritance. “Why didn’t I look at the Ship?” is a very valid question. The reason I didn’t look at the Ship, which is the symbol for inheritance, is because my client already knew what exactly the inheritance was- it had been spelled out to her and her husband while he was alive. The problem was the lost Will- the document itself, which was multi-page (Book). Soon after the reading of the Will, the executor of the estate died, without giving the inheritance to the heirs. It was not fully known whether the estate was settled, had filed the appropriate papers, and if the inheritance was still intact in an unknown bank account. (Tower: bank and Coffin: loss of money). Under normal circumstances, I would have probably just done a line of nine. However, being that the physical copy of the Will was in question, I chose to do a Full Board with the Book as the significator (because it stands for a multi-page document) and then read the cards immediately around it. Ironically the Mice card figured prominently. The only real thing to do with the Ship card is to see how close to the Book it was. And if memory serves me correctly, because the Mice and Book were side by side with the Ship not too far away, if my client tried to track down the documents related to the settled estate, she could probably recoup her husband’s lost inheritance. Had the Mice been far away from her, she would have had to face the loss of the inheritance for a very long time. I also do not see any issue with checking the condition of a significator card (here it is the Book) to see its condition in a Full Board if the subject is lost. I might also do the same thing for a missing pet or object, as what is around it can give clues as to where it may be found.

The last issue is why I don’t read diagonals. In no way am I saying reading diagonals is wrong! It is not. My choice for NOT reading the diagonals (and this could change over time), is because the Viennese Coffee Deck, “Les Amusments des Allemandes…,” which we currently know to be the oldest relative of the modern Lenormand published in 1796, did not read any diagonals. The other reason I do not read diagonals at this point in time is because Lenormand is read using a cartomantic system, which is simply from left to right and from up to down. I do not consider myself to be the world’s foremost authority on the history of cartomancy, but in a deck that can confuse even the most seasoned reader, I see no use in adding more complexity. I do, however, knight, because it keeps within the tradition of rows and columns. The Cavalier, as we now know him to be, is referred to as “The Knight”in the 1850 instructions by Phillipe Lenormand. Therefore, I do not see any issue knighting, and have gleaned very good information doing so in the past. I have another reason for not using diagonals which I will not go into here but will reveal in the future. When it comes to a 3X3 spread, I WILL read the diagonals. I don’t use that particular spread much, though. And when I do a GT, I will read the corners left to right and then diagonally because Mlle. Lenormand is said to have read her cards in this fashion.

I hope this helps clarify things.


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