Deck shown is the Graphite Moon Lenormand by Magenta School of Magick. Photo by Magenta
Lenormand cards are a deck of 36 cards with simplistic pictures on them which represent a keyword which has some very finite, very simple noun or adjective associations.
With Lenormand things mean exactly what they say they mean. This is not a place for getting all interpretive. If Tarot is the wise mother, Lenormand is the straight talking Aunt. Lenormand tells it like it is.
So because Lenormand is so specific, with Lenormand it’s better to work in the world of language, not abstract pictures, and this is because Lenormand relies on the reader’s ability to combine nouns, verbs and adjectives, using a primary school level of language, to make little sentences. Hopefully nothing too hard so far!
Now. How to read them. Or rather…how we read them.
6 Steps To Reading Lenormand
So firstly, everyone has their own way of reading the cards…so our way is not the only way, and to be honest it might not be the “right” way for you. But we’ll share what we know and you can take it forward if this fits with you. We will share some thoughts at the end about how you can develop the right way for yourself.
Secondly, questions, questions, questions! Lenormand cards are very definitely “positive” or “negative” or “neutral”, which means Lenormand is great for asking those ‘yes’ or ‘no’ types of closed questions, questions where a direct answer is needed and follow up questions when a decision has already been made. Questions like “When will I…?” or “What will happen when I do X?” they’re all welcome with Lenormand. Bring them all….No fluff with Lenormand. Leave the fluff to Tarot!
Which brings us to our third step, thinking about the spread after our questions have been thought about help guides us in terms of how detailed an answer we want to get, or how far into the future we’re reading for.
For example, the more cards we lay out the more detail we’ll get, obviously! Bigger spreads of 9 or more cards, could indicate a longer term view or allow us to understand the issues at hand with more clarity. Future casting using all 36 cards tends to give a view of about 9 months compared to a two card spread, which might be better for a reading about what we might do that afternoon. Its common for spreads to make use of two or more cards, often building from two card spreads to three. From three card spreads to five. From five card spreads up to nine. It’s not often a one-card pull is used, unless we want a quick “yes” or “no”.
Fourth, signifier cards are a useful tool in Lenormand, so its something we make use of a lot. So once we have our question and we’ve thought about the number of cards we’re going to lay out, we have a good old think about whether there is a signifier card in the deck we can place in our spread. For example, if it’s a question about work, we might choose Bear. If it’s a question about love, we might choose Heart and so on. By the way, it’s ok to not use a signifier, shuffling and literally seeing what you’re dealt is totally normal and fine! Placing signifier cards in your spread may depend on the direction you want to read in. So put in a pin in that thought and we’ll push onwards to…..
Number five…..nouns, adjectives and verbs. Oh my. We mentioned that Lenormand relies on the reader’s ability to combine nouns, verbs and adjectives to make little sentences. For us, when to use the card’s keyword as a noun and when to use the keyword as a verb comes from both the question being asked, but also by using our intuition about the situation.
For us, most of the time, signifier cards are read as nouns wherever they are in a spread. The card that represents that theme or focus of the spread is also read as a noun. The focus card might be the card at the start of a card row or the card in the middle of a row. But not always. So now we’re down the rabbit hole people. Buckle up because now it’s all about playing with the sentences being made, and which way round the words go. This is because depending on your choice of spread, which cards you will combine and in what order, the sentence structure can and will change.
Finally number six. The most complicated probably. Number six is how are we reading the cards and in what combination? Well. This goes back to our first point that everyone will have a preferred way of reading.
Ok, let’s unpack number six a little bit because now we’re bringing lots of steps together and we don’t want to lose people at this crucial moment. So we mentioned spreads that might have three or five or even nine cards in them. We mentioned that reading Lenormand is like building a sentence out of the keywords. We mentioned signifier cards and popping them in the spread somewhere. We mentioned nouns and verbs and stuff like that. There are lots of directions to read cards in. Horizontality. Vertically (if you’re using 5 cards as a cross shape perhaps). Diagonally (if you’re using 9 cards in a box formation). Even these directions come with an assortment of choices. We’ll just talk about horizontally for now. And we’ll just look at three cards. We can always add to the Blog with more pearls of wisdom after you have laid down in dark room for a bit.
Three Card Lenormand Reading
So one approach to reading three Lenormand cards horizontally is ‘comic book style’. We read the cards from left to right. The first card is the theme, the focus for the reading (or the signifier) and this is often a noun. Then randomly pull two other cards that are then read as verbs or adjectives that describe the noun (eg that first card).
Let’s practice a tiny bit. Let’s ask Lenormand “How can I better connect to my family?”
Using the comic book style reading, going left to right, let’s imagine we’re using a signifier card. Let’s use House for family and we’ll pop House at the beginning of our little spread and two randomly pulled cards of Cross and Child follow after House in the order we pulled them in. Voila….
Keywords to look for the Cross card might be burdensome or dutiful and childlike or innocent for the Child card. Notice that we’re using adjectives and verbs now for these two cards, not more nouns.
Our sentence reading comic book style using the keywords now looks like “family. dutiful. childlike”. Which makes no sense, until we look again at our question. Which was “How can I better connect to my family?” So we add in some little connectives to make our sentences make more sense and connect more to our questions. So if we do that in our example, our little sentence now reads “Family feels dutiful, instead make things childlike” which answers the question about how I can better connect to my family. They would like it if things were more childlike, more fun.
We can also read the cards horizontally by using the middle card in the comic strip as the focus of the reading, the “noun” card. The cards that flank the middle one bring meaning to it by being read as either verbs or adjectives.
So our sentence above where the middle card is House, flanked on the left by Cross and on the right by Child could also be read as “To be dutiful to family, be childlike”, which answers the question of how to better connect to family. Notice the sentence is slightly different, depending on how the cards have been combined. This way it sounds like a command to be childlike!
So that’s how we read Lenormand as a very brief overture, and of course many people will have disagreed and that’s totally fine. The most important thing is to figure out your relationship to Lenormand cards, because that will bring you closer to the “right” way to read Lenormand for you. For us it was definitely all about the order we pull cards, deciding how to combine them and remembering that not everything is a noun!
So start by choosing a deck you like the look of. For us, we designed our own. But when we first started learning, we just cut out 36 bits of paper and wrote words on the backs so that’s an option!
Another thing you could do to help build a relationship with Lenormand is play about with what the keywords mean as nouns and verbs. Our Lenormand meanings page is totally free and you can dive into the meanings. We invite you to spot the subtle differences the little sentences we use have when a card is first and it’s a noun and when that same card goes second and it’s a verb or adjective.
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