Wednesday, 3 September 2014

All I Want For Christmas...

About ten days ago, U.S. Games sent me through the final proofs for the Celtic Lenormand companion book, as well as the box and cardbacks.  They've changed the cardbacks in a way which I think looks gorgeous: intricate, yet soft and glowing.  As for the companion book, they picked out my very favourite image from the whole deck to illustrate it, which made me dance with delight!

The best news, though, is that after working through a few minor corrections, the final proofs are now with the printers.  They'll take about three months to produce everything, and then there's the time to put it all together.  Still, it means the decks should be ready in time for Christmas!  Definitely the best Yule gift I will be getting...

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lammas Blog Hop - Who is the Queen of Pentacles?

Meadow (Garden), Fish, House, Ring, Woman, Anchor, Clover, Dog, Bear
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For this round of the Tarot Blog Hop, Joanna Ash, the divine Sun Goddess, asked us to write about the Queen of Pentacles.  Which is a lovely topic, but this is a Lenormand blog...  Worry not, I decided to look at how Lenormand cards might describe a Queen of Pentacles woman!

One way of reading a 3x3 (nine square) in Lenormand is to read each card in the round as related to the centre card.  So, placing the Woman card at the centre, we build a description of the Queen of Pentacles.

The choices made here are based on the keywords I use for cards.  For instance, I see in the Bear the wise use of resources (it's the "manager" card), and I also relate it to mothers.  Although the Queen of Pentacles likes to spend money (Fish), she does know how to make the most of what she buys, and is very motherly.  Likewise, the Garden (Meadow in the Celtic Lenormand) is related to social events, and so to hospitality, a definite trait of this tarot Queen.  The Queen of Pentacles is also loyal (Dog), focused on her home and family (House) and doesn't shirk her commitments (Ring).  She is hard-working (Anchor), and makes the most of the opportunities (Clover) that present themselves. 

Some people are sure to choose different keywords for these cards.  So, which cards would you choose to describe the Queen of Pentacles?

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P.S. If you enjoy these blog hops, you can join the Blog Hop Community page to be informed when they take place and have your say in future topics etc.  And if you want to join the hop yourself, just ask!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Joy in Life and in the Cards

Child, Bear, Dog, Storks, Sun, Birds, Garden, Anchor, Stars
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Last year, for the Litha blog hop I looked at the making of the Sun card, which I associate with this time of year, and which in Lenormand terms represents joy, energy and success.  So, while that would have been very appropriate for the topic of this hop "joy", I knew I'd have to do something different.

What, I wondered, can the Celtic Lenormand tell us about joy?  Well, the cards can be used to look at life, and many people like using them in a very practical, everyday way.  What, then, are everyday expressions of joy?  Here are some combinations that might represent different kinds of joy:

Joy in expressing creativity: Flowers + Sun
A joyful date: Garden + Sun + Wo/Man
Enjoying a conversation with a friend: Birds + Dog + Sun
Joy at your child winning a prize at the science fair: Child + Flowers + Sun + Stars + Garden
Celebrating the completion of a work project: Anchor + Coffin + Sun + Garden + Flowers
Happiness that the baby is eating well: Child + Bear + Sun
Gladness at receiving a job promotion: Anchor + Sun + Storks
Seeking joy! - Stars + Sun

What joys are you experiencing, and how would you express them in Lenormand cards?

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Card Design Complete

On Monday, I heard from US Games.  They sent me through card images to okay, as they have now finished designing the card layout and elements.  There were a few tweaks needed, which should be fairly quick to do.  And while they have completed editing the companion book, they still have to finalise the packaging and card backs (will update here when I hear about those).  Overall, things are definitely getting closer, though there is still no official publication date. 

One great bit of news is that the cards will be borderless!  I think their designers have done a wonderful job translating my idea of golden torques to hold the Lenormand numbering.  What do you think?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Uniting Opposites: The Making of the Flowers

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For this round of the Tarot Blog Hop, we were invited to write about the union of opposites.  The first thing I thought of was how the very urban, eighteenth century divination system of Lenormand cards is combined in the Celtic Lenormand with both a rural aesthetic and a modern pagan perspective.  Some may find this a strange union, while others will hopefully feel it brings something new to each.

Certainly, as Ronald Hutton indicates in his book Triumph of the Moon, historically these elements are strongly interlinked.  Modern paganism grew from the urbanisation of Europe, and Britain in particular.  And a large part of its draw is precisely because of the way that urban life distances us from, and allows us to romanticise, nature and the countryside.  In a similar way, we also romanticise the past, for example the glamour of eighteenth century France!

This combining of urban and rural was also a factor in the creation of the Flowers, the card that in this deck represents Beltane, this spoke on the Wheel of the Year.   I am a thorough urbanite, and when designing the card chose spring flowers based on colours I thought would work well together (inspired by the photo above).  I wanted to represent the idea of the gift of spring blooming, and an invitation to enjoy the budding wonder of nature, notions that play into the Lenormand meanings of this card - beauty, creativity, a gift, an invitation.

Fortunately, though, Will Worthington acted as more than simply an artist in the creation of this deck, instead being a true partner.  Will is a keen gardener, living far closer to nature than I do, and having created a garden that visitors flock to admire every year.  He queried my flower choices, telling me that they wouldn't all be in bloom at the same time.  And when I told him that these should be flowers blooming at Beltane, he came up with suggestions of more appropriate choices, and then brought them beautifully to life!

In these Flowers, then, is a union of pagan and traditional meanings for the Lenormand Bouquet.  And also a combination of the rural understanding of real flowers with the divinatory understanding of the Lenormand system.  I hope that it is the better for bringing these different aspects together.

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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ostara Blog Hop: Lily Renewed

Final card - Martagon Lily

For those who don't yet know, the Celtic Lenormand is a 45 card deck due to be published by US Games later this summer.  While it is a standard Lenormand which can be read following that deck's tradition, it also has pagan influences.  For instance, there are associations between the cards and the eight sabbats on the Wheel of the Year.  These can be used for timing questions, or as a focus for readings around the sabbats.

Last year, I posted about the Lily card as part of that Ostara blog hop.  The responses I received to that post led to the card being overhauled.  So, I'd like to share those changes with you all, as part of this blog hop focused on renewal.

Lily of the Valley version
Originally, I thought to have a Lily of the Valley on this card.  White lilies are fairly common in Lenormand decks, and the Lily of the Valley also has connections to the Goddess Eostre, linked to this pagan celebration.  However, it turns out that the Lily of the Valley is no longer considered a true lily (it used to be, but botanists changed their minds!)  Combining that with the fact that traditionally the Lenormand Lily is associated with the King of France in particular (linked through the Fleur de Lys), and wise, older men in general (through the King of Spades playing card association), I decided to choose a different, true lily for this depiction. 

The Martagon Lily combines the purple of royalty (and spiritual enlightenment) with the more masculine protruding stamen you now see in the card.  I placed it at the foot of a great oak, to suggest the wisdom of age, and the commanding, masculine virtues of the Greenman/King of Spades.  As well as the association to an older man, the card can also be linked to sexuality (those protruding stamen and its pink/purple colour), and to harmony and balance (the wisdom brought by experience, and the purple of the crown chakra).  These associations connect well with this time of year, too, a time of renewal.  After all, you can get that feeling of renewed energy and vigour both from finding a better harmony and balance in your life and from enjoying your sexuality!


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Imbolc Blog Hop: The Making of the Songbirds

Final image

Our wrangler on this blog hop is the delightful Christiana Gaudet.  As someone inspired by the Goddess Brigid, whose festival this is, she suggested we talk about divination, healing and creativity, and that fits just perfectly with the card I chose to represent this spoke on the Wheel of the Year.

The card is one variant on the Birds: there are three in this deck (including the Owls, which you can see here).  You can use all three, or pick the one you prefer to stick to the traditional number of Lenormand cards.  This one is the Songbirds, and shows three songbirds sitting on a branch, looking out over a frosty winter's morning.

When thinking about timing for the Celtic Lenormand, I considered nature-based ways of connecting with the seasons.  The old saying "one swallow does not make a spring" emphasises the idea that when songbirds migrate back to more northerly climes, it does not mean that the warmer weather has actually arrived.  So, while it is still chilly, we may yet see some of these lovely, colourful creatures.

Original "Cliodna" birds
Another association I had with the Birds was a connection to the Goddess.  And researching Celtic Goddesses, I found Cliodna.  As one source describes, she had three birds, one blue with a crimson head, one crimson with a green head, and one golden with a speckled head.  However, when Will painted the card that way, the contrast between the songbirds and the misty morning landscape just didn't work.  We tried a couple of variants, before agreeing to the finished card, which no longer respects the myth, but is more true to real-life birds you might see in the British Isles.

Another facet of the Cliodna story is that the birds could heal the sick with their song, a theme often found in myth and fairytale.  And of course, with the connection to Brigid and her power of healing, that also seemed to fit well with this sabbat.

Birds are also often associated with being messengers.  We see this in ideas around divination, be it watching the flight patterns of birds or looking at their entrails.  And we also find it in traditional Lenormand meanings for the Birds card, which include conversations and telephone calls.  The Birds can also represent nervous energy and anxiety, which would then call for the healing these Songbirds offer - finding the solution in the issue that the darker side of the card portrays.

Now, onwards to more thoughts and ideas around divination, healing and creativity...