Review: The English Lenormand by Marcus Katz, Tali Goodwin, and Mary K. Greer

I purchased this e-book during the holidays and am just getting around to writing about it. I wanted to include an image of this e-book’s cover, but since the copyright clearly states no portion of it shall be reproduced in any way, I decided I better not. Anyway, having not cared much for Katz’s and Goodwin’s maiden voyage into the Lenormand Oracle, “Learning Lenormand,” I thought I would give them a second chance, particularly since Mary K. Greer, who was in the same Lenormand learning forum as myself (AndyBc), had taken a role in the e-book. I have a deep respect for Ms. Greer as an author, and as of late, as an historian with her discovery of the Viennese coffee deck from 1796, “Les Amusements des Allemandes…” in the British Museum. That deck is clearly the pre-cursor to our modern Petit Lenormand and gives a treasure-trove of clues as to its earliest origins.

I was pleasantly surprised by this e-book: there was no weird phrases like “L-space” (What is an L-space? Do I have one? If not, where do I find one? Is the L-space like the internet? Or is it the little gap in my teeth where all the spinach sticks?) It is clear that Katz and Goodwin tried hard to stick with the historical information as it appears in the cards’ instructions and within the boundaries of historical proof. I can say it is a much better effort than their “Learning Lenormand” and I very much like the fact that they compiled both the Game of Hope and the Viennese coffee deck together with a list of old coffee reading symbols. There’s some good information in the English Lenormand, especially if you want it compiled into a nice e-book for easy retrieval and reference. It is easy to understand and has limited esoteric phrasing. Mind you, all the information is historic in nature, so there is very little for someone looking for a “How-To” book. And it doesn’t pretend to be anything but an historic venture, which is refreshing.

My main complaint about the “Learning Lenormand” book is that it is so clearly done by someone who comes from Tarot but hasn’t been reading Lenormand long enough to drop their Tarot habits, while it proclaims to teach people Lenormand. For my money, I get more out of Caitlin Matthews and Mario Dos Ventos, who has been reading Lenormand for years. I have in the past considered my lack of Tarot knowledge burdensome, but because the only deck I read is Lenormand, I think the lack of that background is beneficial: I do not have that Tarot baggage to check. In teaching students who come from Tarot, I can say it takes them a while to drop their preconceptions about it in relation to Lenormand. And here we meet a gaff in “The English Lenormand.” In the description of it on Amazon.com, it states that they have found evidence for using reversals. Now, anyone who has been reading my blog lately knows I cannot stand it when people say that using reversals is okay in Lenormand. The reason I bought the e-book was to see exactly what evidence was there (I could have passed it on to Madame Seaqueen, who has been an absolute gem in putting up with me and who I admire as a blogger) and for which deck. There was no evidence for reversals in Petite Lenormand, they instead give a list of coffee reading symbols that used reversals for the Key symbol only. Reading grounds and tea are totally different things! There is no evidence to support anyone used reversals in reading those card decks. If they mean to relate it via the Viennese deck, the deck clearly states that the symbols came from sherbet reading, not coffee, and swirling grounds in a cup is innately different than throwing a spread. I don’t know when they plan on getting rid of their Tarot baggage but it really needs to happen soon. Using reversals and intuiting symbols ceases to be Lenormand and becomes something else.

The other unfortunate thing about this e-book is that the numbers for the Grand Tableaus do not line up well, making it near impossible to follow on the Kindle reader. I had to copy the numbers down on a separate sheet of paper, which kinda’ makes owning a Kindle redundant. I also wish they had included the instructions for the original Game of Hope, as they allude to in the description online.

All in all, if you want a compiled and well translated list of coffee meanings and the instructions to the “Les Amusements des Allemandes” for your Lenormand study, get it. It won’t break your bank and keeps with history pretty well. Just please don’t think reversals have a provenance in Lenormand until there is some solid proof as such.

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One thought on “Review: The English Lenormand by Marcus Katz, Tali Goodwin, and Mary K. Greer

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