Friday, 21 December 2012

Yule Blog Hop

©McCracken & Worthington
Hello and welcome to the first Tarot Blog Hop post by the Celtic Lenormand.  Whether you've just hopped in from Beauty, History, Magic, or gotten here any other way, welcome!  And if you should get lost in your Blog Hop travels, you can always check out the Master List :)

Our wrangler, the fabulous Alison Cross, decreed we should write about "Christmas Present", and I thought that fitted in well with one of the spreads I talk about in the companion book to this deck.  The Celtic Lenormand is a pagan-themed Lenormand deck, and one of the "pagan" aspects is that the eight sabbats most often celebrated in modern pagan tradition each have a card to represent them.

So, for this Yule Blog Hop, I would like to share a spread I recommend doing on each sabbat, to look at the energy around you at the present time.  It is a basic nine card square (3x3), using the card for the particular sabbat as the key card in the centre, and interpreting the cards around it.  How you interpret it is up to you (and there are several different ways possible).  However, it’s a good idea to decide before you begin how you will interpret it and then stick to that.  In card reading, as in many other aspects of life and spirituality, intent is extremely important.

As the actual cards for this deck are not yet finished, I drew my own version as a teaching tool and so that I could practice with the Celtic Lenormand system.  Please excuse my limited drawing skills: I call it my Kindergarten Lenormand :)

©Chloe McCracken
I laid out the Moon card (as Yule is the longest night of the year) at the centre, and randomly drew eight other cards.  Using one traditional reading system, the corners count as the main theme of the reading, and the central cross provides additional information.

What I see here is that over this Yule season there is a need for me to communicate well (Birds) with my partner (Lord), so that our home (House) does not feel like an obstacle course (Mountain).  We sent out invitations (Letter) to family, wanting to share in giving and receiving (Fish) over the holidays (Moon).  There is some ambivalence (Clouds), though, some split emotions about doing this.  However, overall it will be a successful (Key) holiday time.

Knighting tells us a bit more.  It is the invitations that are causing the barriers in the home (Letter/House/Mountain), but the key to resolving this successfully is to help my partner talk about it (Key/Lord/Birds).  As a back note to this, my partner is not very close to some of the family he felt obliged to invite.  Looking at the diagonals, my partner (Lord) feels particularly burdened (Mountain) this Yule (Moon), so helping talk him through any unpleasantness (Birds), is vital to the sense of us enjoying a happy home (House) over the holidays (Moon). 

Some of the pairs in the reading give useful suggestions.  To perhaps remind him of the reasons behind us sending the invites (Letter/Key).  And that there are two sides (Clouds) to this enduring issue (Mountain), as he'd also be burdened with guilt if he hadn't invited this person.  Finally, to remind him that an abundant home full of gratitude and generosity (Fish/House), is the key to everyone really feeling like family (House/Key). 

©McCracken & Worthington
The Celtic Lenormand has nine additional cards, though these can be left out and the numbering remains unaffected.  So, the deck can be used following any traditional system.  In particular, it has three Bird cards, as I mentioned in a previous post.  The card drawn here, the Songbirds, has the subsidiary meaning of healing, particularly through talk (for example, counselling).  That’s why I see talk as both helpful and necessary in the reading above.  Looking at the column that card falls in, it also suggests that part of the healing conversation (Songbirds) may be to remind my partner that feeling conflicted (Clouds) about someone he finds a burden (Mountain) is quite natural. 

Another aspect of the Celtic Lenormand, with its pagan theme, is that there are affirmations for all the cards.  While I might not use these for everyday readings, for a reading of this kind I would choose between one and three affirmations to act as a support around the Yule holidays.  For example, Songbirds has the affirmation “I create healing through my words”, and Mountain has the affirmation “I overcome obstacles in my path”.

I hope you found this spread and the insight into the Celtic Lenormand deck interesting.  Next up on the hop is the amazing Ania, why not take a look?  Happy Yule to one and all!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


©McCracken & Worthington
This whole business of choice is complicated.  First, we have to assess our options, which paths we can take.  Then we have to actually choose, take action, and move in the direction we have determined.  Finally, we have to live with where that path, that choice, takes us.

Hopefully, though, divination tools like Lenormand cards can help us in assessing our choices, and deciding what path to follow.  And perhaps even with reconciling us to the consequences...

Certainly, I threw down the cards several times before making a decision.  The path I have chosen is to accept the contract offered to me by U.S. Games to publish the Celtic Lenormand.  It means I lose some of the control I would have had if I'd taken the self-publishing route.  Hopefully, though, it means that a quality deck will be available worldwide, probably in 2014...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hill Fort or Tower

©Chloe McCracken & Will Worthington
When designing this deck, there were a few cards which caused me to pause.  They were ones where the Celts had no equivalent to the object named on the card.  One of those is the Tower.

After a bit of research, I decided that a Hill Fort would do the job.  Like the Tower, it has implications of hierarchy (villagers and non-villagers, villagers and chieftains, villagers and warriors), and institutions (which goes alongside the hierarchy aspect).  It also suggests protection (a hill fort was equipped to withstand attacks), isolation (the barricades can lock us in, as well as shutting others out), and perspective (being on a hill!).  Even the notion of education could, perhaps, be read into it, as in the Hill Fort people would probably have united in educating their children, as well as in training the warriors.

I love what Will has done with this card - the path winding upward giving a sense of size and awe, the earthworks before you even get to the palisades, the imposing gate!  And then the roundhouses tucked away inside, smaller cogs within the gears of the Hill Fort... 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Man's Best Friend

Although I am personally more of a cat person, I do have a soft spot for dogs, too.  Precisely the qualities normally emphasised in Lenormand understandings of the Dog card are those that most appeal.  Loyalty, dependability, companionship, a friend.

Even the idea of someone being a known entity is quite positive - you know what to expect of a dog, it's true.  Not only that, though, dogs are dependable in the sense that they have long helped humans, both in hunting and in herding.

I love what Will has done with this card!  Doesn't this Dog look alert and happy, ready to get involved?

What else do you associate with the Dog?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


©Chloe McCracken & Will Worthington
In the Lenormand tradition, the Birds card is one where there is some discrepancy in imagery.  Often, we see songbirds like those here.  Other times, though, the birds are owls, which for me have a very different feel to them, despite the keywords being the same.  In the Celtic Lenormand, I take this a step further, and there is a third Birds card, can you guess which bird it might be?

So, how to interpret this card?  The connection to the element of air is clear, and seems to affect how the card is seen.  Some people associate it with things that are exciting or which make us nervous - getting us all aflutter, so to speak.  Many people connect the Birds with verbal communication and chatter or gossip.  They can also be seen as thoughts, those strange things which flit here and there unless we calm them by finding our own inner wisdom. 

That wisdom is something I associate more with owls than with these colourful songbirds.  Still, each interpretation is possible, depending on which keywords you choose for the card.  And if you want a broader spread of options, you can include all three bird cards, for different perspectives on thought and communication.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


This card is sometimes called Whip or Whips, occasionally Broom, and other times Rod or Birch.  I decided to go with Birch, as it has the connotations of Whip - in England you can still use birch as a verb - but with a bit more openness to its meaning. 

When I was researching this deck, I could find no evidence of early Celts using whips.  There are Roman depictions of men with whips aplenty, but nothing of the sort on Celtic pottery or other art.  There are plenty of spears, tools of war, but not whips, which are more about punishment.  Of course, this isn't enough evidence in itself that the Celts didn't beat their own people, but it was enough for me not to want to limit this card.

Birch twigs can also be used as a broom, which fits nicely with pagan ideas about making a clean sweep.  And fitting in with possible interpretations of the Lenormand Birch card, we often need that cleansing precisely because of arguments and strife.  Both as a broom and a whip, the symbol suggests repetitive actions, another interpretation of the card.  The wheel in the background reminds us of the Wheel of the Year, and the fact that time moves on and life changes.  While there may be unpleasantness now, that too will change.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Under The Knife

©McCracken & Worthington
Skipping ahead a few cards, at number ten in the Lenormand system we find the Scythe.  This is often taken to mean something painful, cutting, or shocking, though a few people do ask what harvest will come from this.

And that question is certainly relevant for the more spiritual and pagan side of this deck.  In terms of timing, this card would indicate Lammas - the first harvest at the start of August in the Northern Hemisphere.  There is also the notion of the Summer King, in the form of corn and other vegetation that is harvested and stored, being sacrificed for people to live through the winter.  So, a reminder to think of the spiritual lessons to be learned from painful situations, and of the long-term effects of short-term unpleasantness.

I said that in this deck, the Scythe represents August Eve and the time around it.  Obviously, some people already have a particular system for calculating timings.  Personally, my favourite is Treppner's (general link, the info is in her German books and in her course, which is also available in English).  I find her system logical and clear, however it is a little complex and not very intuitive.

Given that most readers agree the fundamental factor in reading Lenormand is to choose a system before undertaking a reading and then stick with that intent in the reading, the two systems are not in conflict.  They can be used at different times, for different readings.  If you are performing a more spiritual reading, or one based around the year to come, the sabbat cards and timings may prove useful.  The eight sabbats of modern Pagan culture will each have a card which can also be taken as the key card (like a significator) in a reading for the appropriate sabbat.

Once again, this is an aspect of the deck which you can take or leave.  I hope to offer an intuitive timing aspect based around the pagan calendar, but there's nothing on the cards that says they have to be read that way :)

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Originally, I was thinking of having two snake cards for people to choose between.  However, since then I've had what I think is a better idea.  So, now I have two possible snake cards and a tough choice to make, as both are pretty powerful.  I'd love to hear what others think - which would you prefer to see in this deck?

For me, I would go for the snake shedding its skin.  It still has the aspect of winding, and a creature that sheds its skin could, in some ways, be seen as deceptive.  Yet, it also allows a more positive take on this reptile which is often associated with healing and with the Goddess...

Update: both cards will go in, as well as another extra, taking the deck up to 45 cards.  The first snake is more traditional, but then, this isn't meant to be an entirely traditional deck, even if it can be used as such :)

Thursday, 8 November 2012


©McCracken & Worthington
The sixth card in the Lenormand deck is sometimes seen as negative - Clouds.  It warns of foggy thinking, confusion, ambiguity, or even bad weather ;)  It's one of the few cards where many readers are influenced by the actual imagery - which side of the Clouds is dark and which is light...

This deck is set in Celtic Brittany, and so we have clouds over the sea and a rocky shore.  The image is still hopefully clear for those who choose to read this according to traditional Lenormand notions.  And for those who want to add in pagan ideas, we have here a combination of water, earth and air.  Our thoughts obscure our emotions, sometimes even from ourselves.  And how practical are our thoughts?  Should they even be, if the question is one of love?

With this, I don't mean to change the basic meaning of the card, simply to add nuances to a reading if wanted.  As with all things, you can take or leave it :)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Great Oak

©McCracken & Worthington

I adore trees: they give me such a sense of connection with the land, and with the past.  A big, old oak like this one would be hundreds of years old!  And yet, it still connects with the future, too, through its acorns.  So, for me, the association of this card with duration and growth (following Treppner) rings true.  Other associations are with health, and with feeling a sense of connection with place - having put down your roots, so to speak.  At a more spiritual level, the tree is a way to connect with other dimensions, as recognised in many traditions.  Some writers also associate it with karma, though I don't see that myself.

What do you associate with the Tree?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Home Sweet Home

©McCracken & Worthington

Being based in Iron Age Brittany among the La Tène Celts, this may not be what most of us today would consider a luxurious home.  Still, I hope the feeling of this House is still clear - a place of family, shelter, and a nice bit of real estate :)

The shields outside suggest protection, and perhaps also the willingness of many to defend each other - an aspect of security and family.  I was going to say "brotherhood", but of course the celtic women were well known warriors, too!

The trough shows that, to the degree possible, they are making this a comfortable as well as safe place to live.  Not exactly all mod cons, but having water without needing to leave the safety of the village was worth something!

So, welcome to the Celtic Lenormand House...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Surging forward over cresting waves, this Celtic Boat plows through the water, on a mission.  Are these sailors going in search of trading opportunities?  Or are they on a more bellicose path?  Are they simply exploring for the delight of it, or trying to get somewhere quickly?  Or might this be a spiritual quest?

Although these days we don't travel by boat as often, the notion of movement and the reasons why we might leave home are still similar.  Be it an expansion of work opportunities, a pleasure trip, or more metaphorical movement, the boat is still relevant in our lives.

What else might the Boat represent...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Beautiful, but...

I've received a few more roughs from Will Worthington, preliminary sketches before he starts the amazing work of bringing these images to life in full colour.  One which I got today is over on the right.  Can you figure out which card it is meant to be?

©McCracken & Worthington
I think the image is absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately, I don't think it's clear enough what it represents - it could be two or three different things at first glance. So, don't expect to see this image in the final deck.  Still, I couldn't resist sharing it, as there will be something similar, and it is so stunning!

Thursday, 18 October 2012


... the Celtic Lenormand Oracle!

This deck, with illustrations by Will Worthington of DruidCraft and Wildwood fame, will be published in Autumn 2013.  In the meantime, here I will show you the background to the creative process, posting images and sections from the companion book, as well as readings, once more cards are ready.

So, welcome to the world of the Celtic Lenormand...

©McCracken & Worthington
To start us off, here is a preliminary sketch of the Rider.  He is a bard, who rides helter-skelter down a coastal path.  At his side is his harp, the tool he uses to help spread news far and wide.  Despite his intent focus on getting where he's going, and his look of being in a hurry, the sea behind him is calm.  Although he is desperate to spread the news, the world isn't too fussed about what he has to say.

Still, the Rider will carry on, enthusiastically spreading his message - the Celtic Lenormand is on its way :)