Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Joy of Gifting

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As the longest day finds us, it is time to think about the joy of gifting, a way to cheer us through these dark times.  That was the title our wrangler, Arwen Lynch, gave us for this Blog Hop.  She also suggested five questions to use as a spread to examine this:
  1. What gift would you give the world if you could?
  2. What gift would you want from the world?
  3. What gift have you gotten that has brought you joy?
  4. What gift have you given that has brought you joy?
  5. What is one last thing you would like to share about this season?
Now, I could just ramble on about how the Celtic Lenormand is a gift I'm giving to the world, and how glad I am that I'll be getting my hands on a copy within the next month or so, but that sounds pretty dull!  Instead, I thought I'd ask the cards their opinion on these questions.

Some people say that Lenormand cards are great because they give practical, down-to-earth answers, and this is certainly true.  Still, I think they can also be used for readings that are more spiritual and/or broader in scope.  We'll just have to wait and see what kind of answer they come up with here...

The next question was how to ask, given that you don't generally just draw a single card with Lenormand (though you can, and the answers can still be very helpful).  I decided to draw a nine square, with the intention that the top row would answer question 1, the bottom row question 2, the left column question 3, the right column question 4, and the central cross for the final question.  This combines traditional elements of reading a nine square with a positional aspect.  It's something I've done before with this spread, to good effect, as it relies on the cards having variable meanings depending on the question/context.  So, here goes:

1) What gift would you give the world if you could?  Ship, Dog, Mountain

The gift of staying loyal to my soul's journey, no matter the obstacles.  At a more mundane level, offering friendship to those who are far from me in either location or outlook.

2) What gift would you want from the world?  Man, Lady, Flowers

The ability to creatively unite practical rationality with spiritual intuition.  It's interesting that we have here the Man and the Lady, as opposed to the Lord or the Woman, as it gives an additional layer of differences to unite, and highlights the strength of the feminine.  More practically, this could also be read as a moment of grace for a man and woman - my partner and I enjoying the pleasures of the holiday season together.

3) What gift have you gotten that has brought you joy?  Ship, Moon, Man

The gift of sharing my life's journey with a man whose emotions run deep and true.
4) What gift have you given that has brought you joy?  Mountain, Paths, Flowers

Ha ha, the first thing I saw was the idea that "You can choose the easy way, or you can choose the hard way!"  Hmm, I do know someone who'd appreciate some film noir dvd's...  It also makes me think of my goddaughter.  She wants to learn piano, and so I am giving her a keyboard.  It's a long, hard path to become proficient, but there is much beauty along the way, and it is a path she has chosen for herself!

5) What is one last thing you would like to share about this season?  Anchor, Dog, Moon, Paths, Lady

An old meaning of the Anchor is that of hope.  While not often used in modern Lenormand readings, this is where the original Spiel der Hoffnung (Game of Hope) got its name from, as the point of the game was to reach the Anchor card (and go no further).  So, at the heart of this season is hope: hope that our friends will be with us through the cold, dark days of winter; hope that the sun and warmth will return after the longest night; hope that we will have time to ponder our choices, and make good ones moving forward; hope that we can be true to our best self...

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Friday, 31 October 2014

Tea With Mademoiselle

For this round of the Blog Hop, Louise of Priestess Tarot asked us to commune with someone from across the veils, which are said to be at their thinnest this time of year.  While she suggested coming up with cards that would describe them, I decided to try doing a reading to hear what they had to say.  And as this is a Lenormand blog, who better than Mademoiselle Lenormand herself?
Grand Tableau for Mademoiselle Lenormand
The first thing I notice is that the Lady stands in the bottom left corner, facing away from the rest of the cards.  Although some would throw a GT again if it came out like this, it seems appropriate.  For it is certainly true that Mlle Lenormand herself has no future, though the cards that carry her name may be a very different story.

The main theme of the throw is Snake, Anchor, Lady, Flowers.  Mademoiselle worked both intelligently and creatively.  Not only did she push her limits outward, using her gift for connecting with people socially, she also quickly grew her working reputation.  She was dedicated to building her own image, and didn't allow her gifts to be boxed in by religion or politics, even when imprisoned.

As for the heart of the reading: Tower, Bear, Dog, Storks.  Strong people in positions of authority called her friend and helped her progress.  She certainly had a talent for getting in with the cream of society, and they all wanted to know about what would help them move onward and upward, too.  So, a strong affinity in life focus helped her get where she went.
I wanted to look at her reputation, as it was what led to these cards being named after her, despite her never actually using them.  So, I started with the House of the Moon and followed the cards around til the Moon card: Anchor in Moon, Letter in Anchor, Lily in Letter, Cross in Lily, Fish in Cross, Moon in Fish.  Two readings of this sprang to mind.

Firstly, Mademoiselle worked on her reputation through her written works.  She found peace through writing, yet that sense of harmony was burdened by the need to make money, for which she had a reputation.  Secondly, her reputation worked to bring about the publishing of Lenormand cards, using also the work of an older man (Johann Hechtel, who created the Game of Hope, the direct precursor of the modern Petit Lenormand deck).  The ethics of this were ignored in favour of making money from her reputation by the publishers who combined his deck and her name after both their deaths.

What did she love?  I look to the cards around the Heart and find: being socially connected and secure, in the thick of what was going on (Rider in House); in the know about gossip and seeing both sides of some situations (Birds in Clouds).  She also loved having insight into what was being done on the sly (Stars in Fox), constantly finding new mentors/supporters (Bear in Child) though her emotions were also impacted by worries around institutions (Tower in Birds).  Well, as someone who was imprisoned several times over the course of her life, being wary of Towers sounds pretty common-sensical!

Asking what was she committed to, I look to the House of the Ring and find the Lady: she was first and foremost committed to herself.  The trail from there involves her own public persona, being the bearer of messages, deception and secrecy, creativity and painful endings, and a love for her adopted home (Paris),

Looking to the final line, the destiny four as some people call them: Book in Key, Moon in Fish, Letter in Anchor, Fish in Cross.  What it says to me is that her reputation for being able to navigate the emotional waters of esoteric secrets gave her a solid grounding for her authorhood.  It directed her to her destiny, to write copiously and make money from it.  It is doing the same for the cards that hold her name, and I think she would like that!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lenormand Leaps

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For this season's blog hop (follow the links to discover other blogs from around the world), our wrangler decided to go with a non-seasonal topic.  What, he asked, has helped us make a quantum leap in our readings?

In terms of Lenormand readings, my answer is clear: creating the Celtic Lenormand!  In Mary K. Greer's book 21 Ways To Read A Tarot Card (Llewellyn, 2006), she suggests drawing cards, even if simply reproducing RWS imagery in sketch form, as a way to explore a card and its meanings.  While I did that with my Kindergarten Lenormand (2nd Edition, 2014), it was the actual designing, without drawing, of the Celtic Lenormand that made the biggest difference to me as a reader.

In the process, I really thought about how I read each image: which keywords I associate with each card; and how those keywords relate to the animal, object or person involved.  For instance, I connect the Dog with friendship and reliability.  By putting a stick at his feet, ready to play fetch, I subtly pointed towards those two aspects: you play with a friend, and a dog can be relied on to fetch a stick when thrown.

Or consider the Moon: two keywords for it are emotion and reputation.  Placing the Moon above dark waters suggests the aspect of emotion, while the Moon's reflection in the water hints at the idea of how we are seen by others, through their emotional perspective.  Of course, the Moon only shines because it reflects the sun's light, but that is an extra layer that remains implicit. 

While in reading Lenormand cards, these kinds of visual cues are not important, as the cards act more like pictographs pointing to keywords, I still felt it would be handy to have clues towards those keywords subtly in the images.  Also, in Lenormand readings the biggest factor is how the cards combine.  Even so, connecting with each card more profoundly makes such connections easier, too.  When Dog and Moon combine, for instance, we might have an emotional friend, be aware of a friend's reputation, or see a need for emotional reliability.  And when Moon and Dog combine, we may be able to rely on our reputation, have a reputation for friendliness, or be loyal in our emotions.

As for what a Lenormand leap would look like, perhaps the joy and enlightenment of the Sun coming after the delays and obstacles of the Mountain, or finding the Key to those mysteries held in the Book...

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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...