Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Basic Nine Square Reading

This week, I thought I'd take a look at a basic nine square reading.  These cards were drawn for a young man who has recently left home, and who is looking for general advice from the cards.

The move from the family home certainly seems to be on his mind, judging by the House, Sun, and Anchor combination at the top - home stability is at the forefront of his consciousness.  As for what he has control over, the Bardess (Female Rider), Chickens (Birds), and Paths suggests that incoming information and social chatter have led to him having decisions to make, which he feels he can do.  In fact, he says he is glad to have his own choices now, rather than having things being decided for him.

The centre row suggests where he is right now: Owls, Letter, Mice.  Written communication is causing a feeling of things having been spoilt.  When I say this his face falls.  He just received a letter that caused him a lot of distress, telling him that his student fees are being put up. 

Looking at the columns, House, Owls, Rider: information about his home situation being talked about.  The client confirms that he had a discussion with his landlady the day before.  The centre column is Sun, Letter, Chickens.  Happy written social talk sounds like the texts his friends have been sending him as they try to bolster his morale.  Finally, we have Anchor, Mice, Paths: stability being undermined by choices made.  The client confirms that several recent choices have left him feeling rather uncertain about things.

So much for the reading, and showing what is already known.  This is something that many people complain about with Lenormand readings: they show what is, what the client knows.  How about advice to draw from it?

The top row (House, Sun, Anchor) suggests putting energy into his home in order to create a greater sense of stability.  That could be in the form of feng shui, or simply by claiming the place he is now living more, through decorating it in some way.  The client admits that he has done little or nothing to make his new flat feel homely, and thinks that getting a desk and chair to work at would be a good first step, as he currently just goes out to the library all the time.  The bottom row (Rider, Chickens, Paths) as what he controls asks him to gather some more information around his choices, including asking people in his social group for their ideas.  This makes him think about a friend whose parents have been complaining about all the junk in their "spare room".  They might have some furniture they'd be happy for him to take off their hands. 

The centre row (Owls, Letter, Mice) suggests that talking about the letter he received will help reduce the impact of it - perhaps through useful suggestions friends might come up with, and the feeling of not being alone in decisions.  He has been keeping these issues from his friends, feeling embarassed about his current situation.  However, he recognises that if it were one of his friends, he'd be happy to help them out.  Taking this on board, he considers who he might feel most comfortable discussing this with.

As for the first column (House, Owls, Rider), once again talking about the information he has received from his landlady looks like it will help.  Sun, Letter, and Chickens also suggests he get involved in the text/facebook conversations with his friends, as they are trying to be supportive.  Finally, Anchor, Mice, and Paths asks if he could reduce his workload while he comes to terms with these decisions that have left him feeling uncertain.  He acknowledges that he has been burying himself in work, and that this may not be the most productive way of dealing with the situation.

My thanks to Y for allowing me to use this reading on the blog.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Highest Expression

Highest Expressions Spread
Following on with the theme of life coaching tools adapted to be used with Lenormand cards, this week I threw a Nine Square.  However, it is based on the mBraining concept of exploring the highest expression of each of your three brains, the head, heart and gut.  These highest expressions are Creativity (Head), Compassion (Heart) and Courage (Gut).

Taking the top line as the head, the middle line as the heart and the bottom line as the gut also fits with traditional ideas of how to interpret Lenormand spreads.  The cards above the person card (or the top row in a nine square), traditionally represents the person's thoughts.  The centre is the heart of the issue, and the bottom row is what the person can control, where they can take action.

Let's see how this works in a real example:

Highest Expressions Reading

Creativity and the head are represented by the Lord, the Scythe and the Man.  A lot of rational, logical energy there, combining feelings of responsibility with practicality.  At the centre, the Scythe is associated with the act of sorting.  This looks like advice to brainstorm creative ideas from a logical perspective, and then be willing to sort them according to how practical they are.  Also taking into consideration your responsibilities, and how these new ideas would fit with them.


Compassion in this reading is seen in the Meadow (Garden/Park), the Burial Mound (Coffin) and the Letter.  In light of the events in Paris recently, I see the need for the compassionate public writings about death.  An eye for an eye is not the way to bring peace to the world and prevent further pain, suffering and death.  Yet, we must also honour those deaths.


Courage to act is shown through the Shedding Snake, the Chickens (Birds) and the Dog. What I see here is the need for boundaries around social chatter, and the suggestion to stay faithful to those boundaries.  Practically, it tells me to be very aware of my own boundaries when confronted with other people's talk, and to stick to my own beliefs.

This takes me back to the head section - I need to do clear sorting for myself at a rational level in order to know what I want those boundaries to look like.  And I need to check with my heart to make sure that those boundaries are compassionate, to both myself and others.

Confronted with so many highly emotional views on social media, it is important for me to assess how these things lie with my own heart, and to sort through my responses rationally, too.  With that clarity at an emotional and logical level, I can then put in place the boundaries that will help me move through this time with a greater sense of wholeness.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What's the Lenormand Score?

Once again this week, I decided to try out a life coaching spread, Lenormand style.  This time it's a line of five, based on the acronym SCORE: Symptom, Cause, Outcome, Resources, Ecology.  The spread is designed to look at an issue or problem and what you can do about it to reach a favorable outcome.  It's nice that the centre card acts as the fulcrum of the spread, which fits well with a Lenormand reading style...  


Symptom: the Woman

My first thought was 'working like a drudge'. I know that's not a traditional reading of the Woman card, but sometimes you have to trust your intuition.  There's something about it being the Woman rather than the Lady, added to the positional meaning.

Cause: the Letter

Ha, yes, I have been writing a lot, and also worrying about how much I need to write.  I have a business trip next week to prepare for, and which will take time away from my other pursuits.

Outcome: the Book

Exactly, I have some project deadlines that I need to reach, at least one on an esoteric subject ��

Resources: the Child

If I can find a sense of playfulness, that will combat the feeling of drudgery.  I need to be open to the joy of these projects, rather than focusing on the time constraints.  After all, worrying won't get them done any faster.

Ecology: the Sun

How does this situation fit in my life (is it ecological)?  I read this as having the required energy for this, I just need to tap into it by focusing on the fun side. 

Reading the line more traditionally gives me: written intuition (Woman, Letter - this blog) around a project involving study/ing materials (Letter, Book) allows me to open up the project (Book, Child) by bringing new energy to it (Child, Sun).  This woman has energy (mirroring Woman, Sun), if she writes playfully (mirroring Letter, Child) to put into the projects at the heart of this reading (Book).

I really like how this reading worked!  The positional meanings added to the interpretation, though just reading the line traditionally brought most of the same ideas.  Hope you'll let me know if you give it a go ��

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Three Brain Reading

This week, I decided to try something a little different.  On Monday I posted a tarot reading using a Three Brain Spread based on ideas from neuroscience and life coaching, and I thought it would be interesting to do a version with the Celtic Lenormand.  Drawing three cards, I interpret them as what our head, heart and gut are saying.  Then, reading them all together is the overall message.

Head - The Lord

Unsurprisingly, the Head card is all about rationality, logic and thinking you're in charge: the things our head-based ego normally talks to us about! 

Heart - The Rider

The Heart tells us to listen to the messages around us, to be open to hearing what others have to say and what the Universe wants us to hear.

Image courtesy of
Gut - The Man

The Man is more practical and down-to-earth than the Lord, more focused on how to get things done than on being in control.  He is more about doing than thinking.  This fits beautifully with an image I found, shown here courtesy of,  regarding the realm of each brain!

Overall Message

Moving forward rationally is aided by listening to the more practical messages of heart and gut.

The cards absolutely agree - we mustn't think just with our head, but bring in our heart and gut, too, to have a well-balanced understanding of the world, ourselves and others.  I like the imagery, as well.  The head and gut cards look in different directions, it is only the Rider as messenger that links them together.  And it's fascinating to have received both the "Male" cards - to emphasise both how this "thinking" by our gut and head is different and the same.  

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Communing with Johann

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For last year's Samhain Blog Hop, I spoke with Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand through the cards, using a Grand Tableau.  This year, our blog hop wrangler, Arwen, asked us to commune/communicate with, and commemorate someone from the past.  My thoughts were drawn to the other main person involved in the creation of these 36 cards we know as the Petit Lenormand deck: Johann Kaspar Hechtel (1771-1799).

It was Johann Kaspar Hechtel who expanded on the Coffee Grounds cards, adding extra cards to make the deck up to 36 cards.  He chose some different emblems - for example excluding the Lion and Worms found in the Coffee Grounds cards and adding in the Bear.  And he added in playing card inserts - originally both the French suits (the suits used in most playing cards today) and the less well-known German suits (Hearts, Bells, Acorns and Leaves).

Some writers suggest that he added in the playing card inserts so that the deck could be used for a large number of different games, as well as the board game he originally intended (similar to snakes and ladders, with a gaming pot of cash as the prize).  Certainly, he doesn't seem to have paid any attention to their divinatory meanings, as they do not match the Lenormand emblem interpretations.  Of course, that would have been a big ask, in any case, as different countries, different towns, and different readers, interpreted playing cards differently.

Johann Kaspar Hechtel was a man of science (writing articles on physics), and a business man who enjoyed creating parlour games.  For this communication, I decided to use a more conversational approach, asking questions and drawing three cards as an answer.  For yes-no questions, I'm using the method of looking at the colours of the playing card suits - red for yes and black for no - and then interpreting the cards further.

My first question was: Did you include the playing cards just to make your deck multi-purpose, the only deck anyone would ever need for gaming?

Storks, Burial Mound (Coffin), Holly (Tree)
Based on the playing cards, that's a big fat yes (2 hearts and a diamond) :D  Looking deeper, this brought progress (Storks) to completion (Burial Mound), in a lasting way (Holly).  Okay, he's not shy about thinking he did a good job!  Though the two different card inserts are hardly ever included today.  Then again, it's only the Germans who ever read with the German system, and they use the French system equally these days...  And the deck/system he created has held true for over 215 years now!

Second question: Given your original intent to create a gaming deck, how do you feel about these cards being used specifically (and almost exclusively) for divination?

Clouds, Oak (Tree), Sun
Seems to me that he was a little uncertain about this at the outset (Clouds), but has come to see it for the area of growth and energy it is (Oak, Sun).  If this is what it takes to be an enduring success (Oak, Sun), he's all for it :)

Third question: Do you wish the deck carried your original name?

Girl (Child), House, Meadow (Garden/Park)
Two spades and a heart suggest the answer is no, not really.  As to why, the deck has achieved a new, comfortable position (Girl, House) in the public eye (Meadow), which it probably would not have reached without Mademoiselle Lenormand's name.

Lastly, then: What is your hope for the deck's future?

Boy (Child), Mountain, Moon
Seems to me that Herr Hechtel would like the deck to reach new (Boy) peaks (Mountain) of renown (Moon)!  And you could say that playing/gaming (Boy) was an obstacle (Mountain) to that fame (Moon).  Hence why he's happy with how it has developed :)

It's interesting to think about how Johann would have responded to this deck, given he died before his first version was even printed (1800), and long before the deck was rebranded in 1849.  Perhaps if he had lived, none of this would have been possible.  In any case, I like to think that he is glad his game has become such an enduring success.

Now, let's hop on round and see who else is joining the conversation this Samhain!

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lenormand Schools?

There's lots of talk in various places about different 'schools' of Lenormand reading.  There are also those who say no schools exist, that the real distinction is whether you read using the near and far method or with combinations.  Personally, I feel neither statement is an absolute, nor are they mutually exclusive.

In terms of schools, it's certainly fair to say that every teacher, and even every reader, develops their own style.  Yet, it's also true that there are tendencies among different language groups.  For example, most German readers use the Anchor as a card for work, while the French are more likely to use the Moon card.  Likewise, German readers tend to see exercise in the Rider, while French readers more often attribute it to the Whips. 

Moving further afield, many readers will tell you that 'Lenormand cards are never read reversed.'  However, it is traditional to read with reversals in Russia, where they even have a number of decks designed specifically for this.  And looking across the Pond to Brazil, traditionally the Cross card was seen as being positive (well, what do you expect in a country with a 38m high Jesus the Redeemer statue above one of their biggest cities?), while the Clover is replaced at number 2 with the Logs, representing small obstacles along your path.

As for the near and far versus combinations debate, there are definite differences.  Reading using the near and far method is the oldest known method of using Lenormand cards.  It originated from the cards' history in tasseomancy: reading the images in coffee grounds.  There, near and far referred to the distance of the image from the rim of the cup!  In addition, you find here a very traditional approach to interpretation that is generally about fortune telling.

Combinations are a more modern approach, which developed as the cards were used more as an oracle in their own right.  While the Dutch-Belgian school maintains the near and far system, most other schools focus more on combinations.  However, the two aren't totally separate.  For instance, you generally combine cards that are close together (near).  And cards that are distant (far) may still be read as influencing one another (combining in different ways) depending on whether they connect to the person or topic via mirroring, diagonals, knighting, or houses. 

What about the Celtic Lenormand?  While I chose to locate the images in Celtic Brittany as a homage to the French ancestry of Mademoiselle Lenormand, the interpretations and reading styles expressed in the companion book are far closer to the German school.  Not surprising, as the majority of books I read at the start of my love affair with this system were by German writers :) 

Overall, many readers draw from different teachers, and every reader develops their own meanings and interpretations as they go along, based on their own experience and interests.  And that's as it should be - we are all unique, and we each read the cards in the way that makes most sense to us.  We read according to our clients and ourselves.  For instance, Caitlín Matthews reads for a lot of actors, and so has developed combination meanings based on stage fright, voice projection, acting agencies etc.  Others read in different milieux, and that affects their reading style.  My advice, learn what makes sense to you, wherever it comes from!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

What Time Is Love?

Okay, borrowing shamelessly from musical lyrics for the title, but today's post is all about timing.  And just as KLF's What Time Is Love? may now seem very dated, I find the most traditional Lenormand timing systems to be pretty irrelevant to how I read.

Here is an image of a traditional approach to finding the timing of a reading.  The idea with the Lenormand timing board is that after you have completed a Grand Tableau reading, you scoop up and re-shuffle the cards, and then lay them out in this pattern (basically the GT again, but with a timing focus).  Where a particular card falls that was most relevant to your reading (for example the Heart for finding love), tells you the timing of that event foreseen in the Grand Tableau.

Imagine, then, that you've just read a GT, and it suggested that the person's perfect partner is out there, a studious, red-haired man (framed by the Book and the Fox).  You then deal the timing board, and find the Heart on the House of the Snake - 7 years until this event is set to take place!  Now, I don't know about you, but if I received a reading and was told that I'd think, what was the point of that whole reading?!  Worse yet, it could land on the House of the Bear: not destined to happen for 10 to 20 years!!!

On top of that, there's the question of memorising these mostly random seeming timings.  The Rider and Clover being fast, and the Scythe being sudden, make sense, as does the night for Stars and the Sun for summer.  But why should the Heart be August and the Key November, with the Whips being two years and the Fish being four years?

In designing the Celtic Lenormand, I thought about timings that would make sense within a time frame of a maximum of a year (the most I would consider it useful to read ahead).  I've written many times before about the cards associated with the Wheel of the Year sabats - shown in order from Imbolc here.

Another aspect I included in these images was the idea of the time of day - relevant for when to perform a ritual or spell, for instance.  So, the Songbirds can represent Imbolc (February Eve), and also the pre-dawn twilight.  The Lily represents Ostara (Easter, Spring Equinox) and also early morning, while Beltane (May Eve) and mid-morning are shown in the Flowers.  Litha and noon are indicated by the Sun, and early afternoon and Lughnasadh (August Eve) are the Scythe.  The Autumn Equinox and late afternoon are found in the Meadow (Garden), and nightfall and Samhain are found in the Burial Mound (Coffin).  Finally, Yule is represented by the Moon and midnight.

Alternately, a system which makes sense to me both in terms of time frame and in terms of practicality, is to see the cards 1-31 as potentially representing the day of the month when something is to happen.  Likewise, the cards 1-12 can represent the months of the year.  A little trickier is the fact that readers also associate the cards with hours, days, and weeks.  So, the Tree represents something that is quite long-lasting (in terms of its main interpretation).  Yet, it could also indicate 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months, or the fifth month (May).  How do you decide which of those is indicated?

One possibility is that the answer will seem intuitively right.  Another answer may be in how you frame the question at the outset. That is probably the simplest way to get clarity: defining how long you intend to read for before you begin.  And of course you can combine both of these, setting your intended time frame and also accepting the message if something jumps out at you intuitively.

How about you, what timing system/s do you use?