This form of divination is named after Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand, a famous French cartomancer who lived in the 1800s. It is unlikely that she ever used Lenormand cards as they were introduced after her death. The name is more for marketing purposes than an anything else. In addition to this there are actually two forms of Lenormand. There’s the Petit Lenormand which I’ll cover here, and the Grand Jeu Lenormand which isn’t as well known. I won’t be covering Grand Jeu as I don’t actually know it nor have I ever had any way to access the cards at a reasonable cost.
From here on I’ll just be using the term Lenormand even though I’ll be dealing exclusively with the Petit Lenormand.
Just like Tarot you will notice that there are a variety of Lenormand decks available. Unlike Tarot, however, this really is just aesthetics when it comes to Lenormand. In a Lenormand deck there are 36 cards. The meanings of these cards are fairly static and not reliant upon the interpretation of the image. You see, in Tarot each card is a cubits narrative and story in and of itself. You can have a fairly in depth reading with significant making from a single Tarot card. This isn’t possible in Lenormand. A single Lenormand card has no meaning. Think of them as parts of a sentence whereas a Tarot is an entire story by itself.
Another difference is that Tarot gives very in depth readings from the point of view of the Querant whereas Lenormand gives more direct and blunt answers to simpler questions from a third person narrative.
To have even the most basic Lenormand reading you must have two cards. The first card is the “subject” and the second modifies it and tells you something about it. For example:
In addition to this, Lenormand spreads are much simpler than the more complex Tarot spreads and are always read in sentence form with each card being a piece of the sentence, their pairings rather than just their position, informing the meaning.
Today I did a simple spread asking if there was anything to know about today. This was the spread:
In this the combination of The Lady and The Bouquet suggests that a trustworthy woman will be sending or giving a gift of some type. The combination of The Bouquet and The Dog suggests the gift will be a sort of reliable or trustworthy companion. Come to find out, my dear cousin, who is a woman, is gifting me the Hermetic Tarot today for my birthday. So, a trusted woman is gifting me a reliable and trustworthy companion. At its simplest, that’s how Lenormand works.
At its most complex is the Grand Tableaux. This is a massive Lenormand spread using the entire deck. It’s a beast and is rather in intimidating. It can be seen below.
So, that’s the basics of Lenormand, a lesser known form of cartomancy. It isn’t as popular or as universally useful as Tarot, but it does have its place. It’s quick, blunt, and to the point. We all have that one friend who is just blunt with answers. We don’t always go to them for advice, but when we just need blunt simple answers without the fluff, they’re the ones we go to.