• Erin

What are "Lenormand" cards??

So, you may have heard of Lenormand cards before. But what are they, exactly??

Full disclosure, I am not Lenormand expert and invite those who are to correct any of my misunderstandings that may be reflected below.

Lenormand cards are a bit smaller than traditional tarot cards and often include a number and corresponding playing card image.

Inspired by a Germanic game, Madame Lenormand developed her eponymous card system as a form of cartomancy, or reading playing cards for divination purposes. Each card has a very specific symbol depicted and may or may not have an associated playing card incorporated in the image, as well.

Unlike tarot or oracle cards, Lenormand decks have a very structured method of reading and interpreting the cards which involves the entire deck of 36 cards. The cards don’t follow a logical progression or story in their sequential ordering, like the tarot. As such, there is a bit of memorization involved in learning Lenormand. However, there are no reversed interpretations which limits the amount of rote memorization required somewhat as compared to tarot.

The meaning of each card is standardized and the process of reading the cards is quite linear. The spread may vary in terms of cards per row, but typically all 36 cards are used; this is called the “Grand Tableau.” Ultimately, it is the context of the card in the series or spread in which one obtains insight. This is where skill comes in to play and understanding how a card’s proximity to other cards or placement in a spread impacts the outcome of a given reading.

One thing I find interesting about Lenormand cards is the use of “houses.” As an astrology lover as well as tarot enthusiast, I am intrigued that this concept of domains has been seemingly coopted by Madame Lenormand. Each location in a Grand Tableau spread is associated with a specific domain. The card that lands in that domain in a given reading may be more or less comfortable in it; somewhat akin to planet exaltations and debilitations or fall based on houses in astrology.

For instance, the first house is “Rider,” which reflects messages you have or will receive. If during a spread, you end up pulling the “Letter” card in the “Rider” position, this may indicate that you will receive an actual communication or message. Essentially, the combination of house plus card gives you the meaning.

Similarly, in astrology, the first house is “Self,” and reflects our identity, ego and how we project ourselves. If a person has “Mercury,” the planet of communication, siblings and travel in their first house, they may be a very talkative or quick-thinking individual, or maybe they are a good brother or sister, or even like to take trips.

Of course, astrology is a bit more complex in that it relies on a synthesis of not only house and planet but also sign and aspect combinations. However, I think there are some very interesting overlaps in the concept of house placements between the two systems.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Lenormand and astrology!

In peace & love,


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