Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FAQ: How to phrase questions

Today, I wanted to address another question people often ask: how best to phrase a question to get a useful answer from a Lenormand reading.

Part of the answer is, it depends on what spread you plan to use.  If you are asking about a complex situation involving a lot of people, it may be best to use a Grand Tableau.  In that case, the exact phrasing of your question matters a bit less, and simply thinking about the situation is sufficient, as the cards will be able to look at lots of different aspects and people involved.

If you are looking for something quicker and simpler, though, phrasing becomes more relevant. 

Personally, I prefer to avoid questions that focus more on other people, or which imply that I have no agency in a matter.  While some things are unavoidable, and while we cannot control everything (or everyone), I choose to focus on what I can change or influence.  So, a general rule of thumb for me is to avoid "shoulds" and third-party focused questions. 

With that in mind, I tend to stick to empowering and clear questions, such as: what do I most need to know about this situation, what action will most help me?

Another thing to avoid is questions that are too convoluted or unclear.  As the saying goes, Keep It Simple, Sista'! 

For example, if you draw just one set of cards asking should I date person A or person B, how will you tell for sure which one is being indicated?  There might be a clear answer (if one card specifically calls to mind one person), but there might not.  Better to avoid the possibility of confusion before you start!

My suggestion would be to either use a spread specifically designed to help you choose (like the Choices spread in the Celtic Lenormand companion book, shown here), or else draw cards for each option.  With the choices spread, you can draw as many cards for each option as you like, though I wouldn't go above five.  I also find it helpful to draw cards for the wisdom you could use in making this decision, and also for a deciding factor, if two options both look good. 

Another route is to simply draw cards for each option, in whichever format you feel comfortable with (a line or a nine square, for instance).  Whatever you choose, make sure you have your question and your options clear before you start drawing cards.

Next week, I'll look at the topic of yes-no questions...

Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring Fling Ring-A-Ding-Ding

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The question for this round of the blog hop was how we would overhaul old oracle systems, if we could, or whether we'd leave them as is.  My answer may well surprise people, given how many changes I apparently made to the Lenormand system with the Celtic Lenormand and its nine extra cards.

As I was thinking about how the Lenormand oracle could be brought into the modern era, the first idea that came to mind was to put a telephone in place of the Birds.  Then I thought some more about that.  Why in place of the Birds?  While many readers see the Birds suggesting a phone conversation, the problem here lies not with the idea of a phone call, but with everything else that a phone can do, these days.

Will the real mobile phone please step forward?
Most of the news I get is online, be it from online papers, emails from friends, or comments on Facebook, all of which I read on my phone.  That's the Rider.  Even if you take his messages as being more personal and delivered, Messenger and email still fit the bill. 

And what of the Letter, a very old-fashioned form of communication?  Once again, email is on my phone, and I also get plenty of invoices, bills and receipts sent electronically.

Moving further afield, I read Books on my phone, as well as googling and otherwise searching for information.  I do much of my work on my phone, voice calls, emails, I even wrote this blog post on my phone.  That'd be the Anchor covered.

Thinking about buying, selling or renting a place to live?  At least 17 apps available for my phone to do that in London!  The House is covered, too.

And yes, I use an app for banking and shopping, so the Fish have splashed their way onto my phone.

An app for anything!
I often do a preliminary internet search on any health concern before ringing my doctor, two Tree activities.  Though admittedly googling symptoms can net you some pretty worrying and unclear results.  Clouds, anyone?

And how often have you had your phone die on you, Coffin-like?  And which fashionista wouldn't coordinate her phone and her clothes (Bouquet), while a city executive wouldn't be seen dead with anything less than a Blackberry, as it would ruin his reputation (Moon).

Of course, I'm being more than a little facetious yet the point stands.  Our phones do so much that they could represent almost anything in an oracle.

My choice, then, is to stick to the traditional Lenormand subjects.  They are sufficiently archetypal to cover modern situations, yet also not overburdened with our own assumptions.  Even when the Lenormand oracle originated, it would not have been an everyday occurence to see a Bear, and many people had few books, most did not even know how to write a letter.  These objects which seem so mundane were not overused in a way that would overload them with meaning, making them meaningless.  And while how we see them now may be somewhat different, they still speak to us in ways that are useful.

That's my take on the question of overhauling our divination systems, now let's go see what creative ideas other people have on the subject...

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Following A Thread

Starting top right with one card, then carrying on around
When writing about throwing a Grand Tableau a few weeks back, I wanted to demonstrate an interesting extra reading technique.  The idea is that you follow the thread of cards from the House of a theme that particularly interests you, to gain more insight into it.

As the demonstration didn't work very clearly that time, I thought to try again with a different variation on this idea.  Here, instead of throwing the whole GT from the start, you use a cloth or piece of paper marked with the names or numbers of the Houses.  Then you pull a card to place on the House that interests you.  In this case I chose the Letter.

Having drawn Flowers, the next card goes on the House of Flowers, and for that I pulled Meadow.  Card number three then went on the House of Meadow, and it was the Letter.  So, that completed this rather short thread.

As for reading the thread: the gift of writing (Flowers/Letter) in a creative group (Meadow/Flowers) makes tangible the sense of community (Letter/Meadow).  Which reminds me to say that next week's post will be on Friday instead of Wednesday, as it forms part of the Tarot Blog Hop Spring Fling.  I love being part of the community of bloggers writing about divination, and there's still time to sign up for this hop, if you'd like to be a part of it, too...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Using Affirmations

Last week's post on using the deity attributions in the Celtic Lenormand leads on nicely to using affirmations.  Affirmations help adapt your mindset to achieve what you want.  Repeating a positive affirmation over the course of the day, or over a longer period, can influence your thought patterns.

There are some suggested affirmations for each card in the deck.  It's also great to come up with your own.  These will be better tailored to your specific situation and the way you think about the world.

One way of working with affirmations and these cards is to simply pick a card and use an affirmation that fits it.  For example, the Tree might lend itself to something like: "I feel healthy and well."  Or you might say "I communicate effectively and harmoniously," if you draw the Songbirds.

Another way of using this aspect of the deck is to throw a reading, and pick one or two cards that feel most relevant.  Here, I threw a line of five:

Clover, Key, Hill Fort/Tower, Meadow/Garden, House.
These might be read as follows: problem-solving opportunities (Clover/Key) require the insight of isolation (Key/Tower).  Community hierarchy (Tower/Meadow) can make for a secure group (Meadow/House).

I see this saying that although the comfort of being in a group with clear structures can be appealing, sometimes we need isolation if we're going to have an 'aha' moment of inspiration.  With the Tower at the centre, and this reading, I might use the affirmation: "I gain perspective through time alone."

You can also create one or two affirmations from the reading itself.  For instance, here I might say: "I take the opportunity to solve problems by myself." (Clover/Key/Tower)  And: "I use these insights to feel more comfortable within group structures." (Key/Tower/Meadow/House)

You can stick to a simple one card draw and using an affirmation from the book, or create more personal affirmations for yourself from a reading.  Either way, this practice can help strengthen your resolve and bring you greater clarity.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Calling On Deity

After three weeks of looking at the full 45-card Grand Tableau (find that here, here and here), this week I wanted to focus on a different, smaller scale option offered by the Celtic Lenormand.  Something particular to this deck, with its pagan theme.

While the two Tree cards and the three Birds cards are most specifically God and Goddess cards respectively, every card in the Celtic Lenormand has some suggestions for accompanying deities.  There are several ways to make use of this pagan aspect to the cards.  One way is to draw a card, choose one of the associated deities, and meditate on that card and deity's energy for the day.

Another way is to draw cards as you normally would, and then use one or more of the cards from your reading as a focus for spirit.  I decided to use this method for today's post.

Drawing three cards gave me the following line:

Oak Tree, Fish, Chickens
At a mundane level, these cards speak to financial health (Oak Tree/Fish) through the flow of social communication (Fish/Chickens).  Yeah, okay: I ought to do more social networking and marketing!  I don't check in on Facebook every day, ignore my LinkedIn Profile, have most of my tweets automated, and only pin to Pinterest sporadically.  Right, today I shall make this my focus...

At a more spiritual level, it's hilarious that one of the God and Goddess cards have come up to frame this reading!  My intention writ large.  And also a reminder to balance both aspects, honour both the male and female, in order to truly find abundance and flow in life.

So, I chose a male and female deity from the list associated with the Fish, as the central card, and the one framed by the God and Goddess in this reading.  Lugh is an Irish God of Commerce, and Lakshmi a Hindu Goddess of Abundance.  Good energies to call on when seeking financial health :D

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

45 Card Grand Tableau - Part Three

Last week, I looked at some of the basics for reading a Grand Tableau.  Today, I want to look at the question of Houses.

Houses are used to add additional information to your interpretations.  They are also used to follow a thread around the spread, from one card to its House, and on.  For either of these, you need to decide how you're going to define the Houses.  My preferred method numbers the Houses as shown here. 

Basically, the first four lines of nine follow the standard Grand Tableau numbering, making it easy to remember, and it's only the last nine cards that are different.  These are numbered the same as the extra cards: 1, 5, 7, 12, 12, 13, 18, 28, 29. 

That's all you need for reading Houses with this deck's extra cards!

However, if you're going to chain read Houses, then you also need to decide which cards are your basics, and which the extras.  I've laid out my extras in a line here:


So, when you come to a card that has duplicates, you see if it is your "standard" card or a duplicate, so you know where on the GT to find its house: in the first four rows or in the last.  For example, from the Woman card in position 2 on the GT, we go all the way down to the last card of the last row, as the Woman is my duplicate 29.

Now, you decide what subject you want to read about: I choose work, and started at the House of the Anchor, my go-to work card.  Owl in the House of Anchor (35) led me to Mice in the House of Owl (12), and Paths in the House of Mice (23).  As you can see from the crazy network of arrows, this turned out to be a very long thread, incorporating 42 cards!

Often in a 36 card GT you might get 4-6 threads, and in a 45 card GT it wouldn't be that unusual to get 5-7 threads, so having basically one thread is uncommon.  I guess that just shows that at the moment my work is spreading into every area of my life!

I won't go through interpreting the whole thread, but just give a very, very brief example with the mini-thread that remains outside it.

Around the time I threw this GT, I also laid a smaller spread, which showed that there were some Mountains in my path.  Here, the House of the Mountain contains the Shedding Snake, and the House of the Shedding Snake contains the Mountain.

This can be interpreted as transformative obstacles that emphasise mountain-sized boundaries.  The obstacles I was coming across did lead to completely reconsidering a few things, and pointed up that a large part of the issue was my not creating strong enough boundaries.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

45 Card Grand Tableau - Part Two

Last week, as it was just after Brigid's Day, I looked at how to read a spiritual message for that pagan festival (or any other) from a Grand Tableau thrown with all 45 of the Celtic Lenormand cards.

This week, let's get back to basics.  When faced with a Grand Tableau, where to start?  And does it make a difference if there are 45 cards, rather than 36?

An oft-used system, especially if there is no specific question for the throw, is to start by reading the theme from the four corner cards, to look at the message of the first three cards, and to take a look at the heart of the throw.  The simplest way to do those with this 45 card GT are shown here in blue.

From there, many readers look to the people cards, the Man and Woman or Lord and Lady, to assess what is going on around them, and possibly the relationship between them.  Having two people cards can complicate this, as you might ask which you should look to.  The two easiest answers are: a) either pick the one that you feel most connected to, or b) look to each for different aspects of your life. 

One approach is to see the cards above the "people" cards as representing their thoughts or what they are aware of, and the cards below them as either what they are unaware of, or what they are "on top of", in control of.

Some people seek out particular cards to assess where trouble may lie (cards such as the Snake, Fox, Mountain, Clouds and Cross).

Others look to "signpost" cards such as the Clover for what will happen shortly, the Scythe for what is sudden and unexpected, the Cross for the current life lesson, the Key for what is certain and the Mice for what will be lost/reduced.

Another approach is to look around specific cards representing areas in life of interest, such as the Anchor for work (or whatever you choose as your work card), the Tree for health, and so on.

Like last week's reading, you can read the cards that border the card you are focusing on, as you would with a nine square.  You can also look at the diagonals leading to and from it, often considered causes and consequences (yellow arrows show the diagonals around the Man).   You can look at the cards that mirror it (green circles for the mirrors to the Lady), and those connected by knighting (red circles from the Man).

Having extra cards in the deck does not affect any of these common techniques for reading a Grand Tableau.  However, it will affect how you read Houses, and that will be the subject of next week's post...