HOW TO LEARN LENORMAND AND GROW INTO A LENORMAND READER
It’s an unfortunate fact that the Lenormand world is choppy - if not all over the place!
Because Lenormand is not as popular and widespread as the Tarot, end-to-end learning resources have never really been created for it. There are a few distinguished authors who have given it what it deserves, and we’ll honorably mention them in this blog post, but in general, most of the literature is partial and a little on the light side.
I completely understand if you’re feeling frustrated with your Lenormand journey.
This is why I created Lenormand Reader. I am so passionate about these cards that I’ve set out to learn everything I can about them throughout my 20-year career as a Lenormand Reader. I care to bring you my insights through my work in its different formats - and save you a whole lot of time and money!
I’m really keen on growing the community of Lenormand Readers too, and I hope you’re part of it!
So, let me offer you some tips on how to navigate the Lenormand world so you can sail smoothly through this amazing journey.
There’s quite a bit to cover here. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
GOOD QUALITY VS. AVERAGE QUALITY
Because Lenormand Readers are a much smaller group than other psychics, there aren’t as many books, blogs, and resources about Lenormand than there are about, say, the Tarot.
So the number of outstanding and high-quality products about Lenormand is smaller too - it’s a normal, statistical thing.
As a result, you’ll probably spend more time (and money) going through different sources of information to get to the bottom of an idea, and often enough, without really achieving the insight or acquiring the sound knowledge that you’re after.
The upside of this is that you end up being more creative and more self-reliant with building your Lenormand knowledge base. At the same time, it can be a little frustrating.
The only comprehensive guide to Lenormand that I’ve come across is Caitlin Matthews’ The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook.
It can be a little intimidating if you’re just starting out as it’s a really big book, and I would have organized a few of its components a little differently, but Matthews is a leading and distinguished author and researcher in this field and others including Celtic wisdom and western mysteries. I’m a big fan.
Other works are not as comprehensive as this one, but you’ll find some interesting pieces in different Lenormand authors’ manuals and card combinations dictionaries, which we’ll look at in the next section.
In the earlier stages of your Lenormand journey, it’s a good idea to remain detached. Try not think that you’ve landed on the right or only card meaning, or the right or only layout technique. Stay flexible and open-minded.
CONTRADICTIONS IN CARD AND COMBINATION MEANINGS
When learning about the cards and card combination meanings, you’ll invariably come across differences between different authors. But the differences aren’t as great when it comes to individual card meanings.
Lenormand’s card symbols come from our everyday world. Cards like the House, Letter, Key, Heart, or any other card really, are readily understood. There are only a few cards that we might need to look up at first. For me, these included the Tower, the Cross, and the Lily, when I first started out. It wasn’t immediately clear to me what they meant. You might have had doubts about different cards.
But apart from these few exceptions, the symbols on Lenormand’s cards are very easy to associate with meaning, feelings, and experiences. This is one reason why Lenormand feels so ‘practical’.
So it’s harder for authors to disagree about card meanings. We all agree that the Sun is positive. We all feel that the Coffin is associated with endings.
But authors don’t agree as much when it comes to card combination meanings, because here, there is much more room for interpretation.
Card combinations are not only a fun area for Lenormand Readers to express their uniqueness, but they’re also key to reading a Lenormand layout. Unlike other decks and methods where card combining is optional, with Lenormand, reading the cards in sentences is a must - it’s just the way it works.
And this amazing card combination feature of the cards is what drives how Lenormand layouts are designed and read - what’s known as Tableau style.
So card combination dictionaries are pretty common in the Lenormand literature.
There are 630 two-card combinations, or pairs, and 7,140 three-card combinations - or triplets!
(You can get these numbers by running a combination calculation - or what mathematicians call a nCr formula. Try this tool.)
Obviously, we’re not going to memorize all of these combinations. Not only is it impossible, but it’s somewhat useless because any card or card combination meaning will need to be adapted for the context or question anyway.
The purpose of coming up with all of these combination meanings is to flex your interpretive muscle. So when you get to this point of fitness, you might like to interpret all card combinations - just for the sake of seeing what you come up with!
Although this is a long exercise that will take many days, it’s actually quite fun. My Workbook is an excellent guide and template for it, if you’re feeling adventurous.
While you’ll find several combinations explained in the Matthews’ Handbook, or in deck guidebooks, like Titania’s Fortune Cards, as well as in Rana George’s Essential Lenormand, a few books cover all two-card combinations.
I find many of their suggestions interesting, but as you might expect, I have my own Card Combination Master, which is the product of my many years of practice and extensive exposure to the Lenormand literature.
Build your own card combination dictionary! Once you’re comfortable with individual card meanings, start building your card combination lexicon. I don’t think it’s ever too early. Use the Workbook to make this easy. And though it’s a long exercise that you’ll do over time, it’s actually a fun opportunity to flex your creative muscle. Your next step would be to interpret these combinations for a specific question or context. It’s also worth noting that your lexicon evolves over time.
CONTRADICTIONS IN LAYOUT TECHNIQUES
Once you’re comfortable with the cards and can combine many of them together in short two- or three-card combinations, you’ll naturally want to learn about the bigger spreads. The most notable ones are the magical nine-card portrait, and the Grand Tableau and its versions.
Because there are so many ways to combine the cards in these amazing layouts, it’s unlikely that you’ll find them all in a single volume.
And as with the Tarot, books and resources dedicated to Lenormand layouts are not as common as those focused on card meanings. Instead, we often find a discussion of layouts as part of the guidebook to a deck, and in smaller sections within card meaning books.
I love Titania’s approach to the nine-card portrait and her amazing extended cross that builds on it. And there’s no shortage of layouts in Matthews’ work, though they tend to be discussed as part of broader Lenormand concepts.
When I was getting deeper into the big spreads, I wanted a manual of layouts, with the techniques and steps spelled out one by one. But I couldn’t find one.
That’s why I set out to compile these techniques and put them together into a coherent whole. In the process, I’ve added my own touch and approaches - as I’m sure you would if you took on this interesting task.
I’ve consolidated many techniques for a whole bunch of different spreads in Lenormand Reader’s Handbook Of Layouts, but I never tire of discovering more about them.
I invite you to compile your layout techniques. Choose a layout and identify the different card lines that you can read in it. You might also identify non-linear ways of combining the cards (for example, the four corner cards of a nine-card portrait). Decide if the different lines mean different things. For example, one line might represent the past, another the present, and another the future. One specific card or group of cards can indicate the outcome. And so on. Then practice your techniques and see if they help you make better sense of your readings. Rinse and repeat for other layouts.
THE ‘RIGHT’ WAY VS. YOUR WAY
As you navigate the Lenormand world and build a deeper relationship with your cards, you might start to wonder if there is a ‘right’ way of ‘doing’ Lenormand. The answer is not really, but it does have unique features that distinguish it from other methods (and make it so appealing) as well as a tradition of sorts that developed over time.
The keys to the Lenormand practice and its incredible uniqueness are (1) card combinations and (2) Tableau-style reading.
These two critical features of the Lenormand method are interrelated: It is because of the card-combining feature of the cards that they’re read in a Tableau. In other words, card combinations drive Tableau-style reading.
I would say that it is once you have a true appreciation for this dynamic that you’re ready to take your practice to the next level and work toward mastering Lenormand.
This is an exciting time because your unique Lenormand style is starting to form.
You’re past the discovery stage and you’re no longer in a dark room trying to get a feel for what’s in it. You know how to teach yourself and you take the freedom to judge if new ideas will fit into your practice or not.
In other words, you’re nurturing your preferences.
So you’ll start to come up with your own ways of doing things. You might create your own spreads, or find new ways of interpreting existing ones
One of the things I did when I crossed this path is devising different ways to group the cards. That’s because I felt the pips didn’t really cut it for me as a basis for grouping and combining the cards - especially in bigger spreads like the Grand Tableau.
I also started to disqualify certain techniques from my compendium because I felt they were prone to error. One such technique is the one where card numbers are summed up then reduced to find the number of the outcome card. This technique is prone to error because when reducing numbers (a numerology thing), you can keep reducing until you reach a single digit.
So for example, if you have the Fish (number 34) and the Ring (number 25), and you add them up to find the outcome card, you get 59. You can reduce 59 once to get 14 (5+9 = 14), which corresponds to the Fox, but then you can reduce it a second time to get 5 (1+4 = 5), which corresponds to the Tree. So, which card is the outcome card?
It’s a nice feeling when you’re empowered to analyse tools and techniques and judge whether you like them or not. But this doesn’t mean that you stop learning. On the contrary, that’s when you’re able to accelerate your learning because your foundations are now in place.
I’m always thinking up new ways of doing Lenormand and always giving new information a chance. I hope you too keep an open and inquisitive mind as you grow your Lenormand practice.
To grow your appreciation of how Lenormand works, I suggest you spend time learning the cards, resonating with their symbolism, and practicing combinations. Try your hand at any spread you like, but it makes sense to start with simple lines (like the easy 1- and 3-card lines I’ve talked about before, and also 5- and 7-card lines), and from there build your skills to read layouts that have rows and columns - and therefore diagonals and many other sentences and structures.
SHARING YOUR GIFT WITH OTHERS
In any field that you’re committed to learn about, there comes a time when you feel you want to put your skills to the test and share your gift with others.
With Lenormand, this can happen pretty much at any stage of your learning.
In the earlier phases, you read for others to put some techniques to the test. This is valuable because you realize that not all techniques work for every context or for everyone.
Reading for others also helps us be more objective. Anyone who practices any sort of divination knows that reading for others is easier than reading for oneself. When we read for ourselves, we’re invested in the issue and we know (more often than not!) what outcome we want. So it’s very easy to bias the reading.
But when we read for others, we’re more centered and are more balanced with interpreting the cards. In other words, we’re better behaved!
In later stages of our learning, reading for others takes on a more professional slant. We’re past putting techniques to the test and have much more experience with the cards. We would have also experienced the benefits of Lenormand more deeply and want others to experience them too.
And of course as a professional Lenormand Readers, we’re no longer focused on learning but more on giving. At this stage, we care about helping others with the cards, so it becomes priority to interpret them in ways that encourage growth and insight in our clients, all while remaining faithful to their essence and message.
This is where I feel it becomes critical to use the meaning of the cards as a basis for true wisdom.
This often translates into looking for the positive and actionable elements in each card. As you’ve heard me say a million times: If we can’t do anything about a reading, then what good is it?
As such, the big questions of free will and destiny come into play. And so at this stage, you will most likely start to tackle your philosophy of life - and a whole new journey begins!
Regardless of which stage you feel you’re at in your Lenormand practice, reading for others can be really valuable. My suggestion is that you’re always honest with your client about your intentions. If you need to get some practice or test a technique, let them know and be sure you admit that the reading might not be accurate at all. Needless to say, if they don’t wish to proceed, accept wholeheartedly. And if you’re reading professionally, then you’ve got much higher expectations to meet, so be sure you stand behind your practice and work with others to help them grow. In time, you’ll have a style and ethic, and you can explain that to your clients too so they know how you work and what they’re getting from you.
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