SIGNIFIERS (PART 1)
In the same way that we use the Man and Woman to represent the reading, we can use any Lenormand card to represent a topic or a question. I call these cards "signifiers", and in this video, I want to tell you a few things about what signifiers are and how I think they're best used in Lenormand readings so stay tuned.
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If you've been on my channel for a while, you might have come across a video I recently did about the Man and Woman cards in the Lenormand deck. The Man and Woman are called "significators" and either one can be used to represent the readee in a Grand Tableau, or sometimes elsewhere. The other significator in a Grand Tableau typically represents our readee's partner, but this is optional.
I like to use a different word to represent topic cards in Lenormand readings. I use the word "signifier" instead of "significator".
Signifiers are basically topic cards. They represent a theme or a question and they can be consciously selected out of the deck for a reading.
This is a two-part video. In this first part, we'll dive into all the different ways we can select signifiers and how we can use them in readings. And in the second video about signifiers, we'll practice selecting them and interpreting them in readings, so it will be a practice.
WHAT ARE SIGNIFIERS?
Signifiers are topic cards which means that they represent a theme. The theme of the question we're asking or an area of life that we want to focus on. So what does this mean for how we choose a signifier? Well, it means that we look for the card that best represents our topic, our theme, or the question, and we read the cards around it for insights into this area.
For example, if our theme is communication, a good signifier is the Letter or maybe the Bird if it's more verbal than written. If our theme is about career, the Lily works well. If our question is about a relationship, then the Ring is probably best, but a person card can also work well here, like the Man, the Woman, the Dog, or the Rider.
So we choose a card as a signifier depending on its theme and this comes down to the main meaning we associate with the card - which brings me to my second point about how to choose a signifier.
SIGNIFIER’S MAIN MEANING
We normally choose a card as a signifier based on its main meaning not its correspondence meaning - not typically. I define correspondences as the meanings cards can take on in specific contexts and outside of their main theme.
So for example, the Fish is mainly about money, but in love, it can mean physical attraction. So for the purpose of selecting the Fish as a signifier, you would normally use it to represent a question about money. If you had a question about attraction you would typically choose a card whose theme is closer to relationships, like the Ring.
So it's normally the main theme of a card that we use as a guide when deciding on picking a signifier. But this said, there can be exceptions depending on how specific your reading or your question is. You might select a card based on a specific correspondence.
So for example, if you are concerned about a certain man's sexual health, you might pick the Fish, because its health correspondence is precisely to men's sexual health in addition to a few other possibilities.
So it really depends on the focus of your question but in general it's the main theme of a card that guides us in choosing it as a signifier.
SIGNIFIERS AS NEUTRAL CARDS
Another point to make about choosing a card as a signifier, is that we focus more on the neutral meaning of the card.
That's because themes and topics are neutral, whereas positive and negative cards tell us how well things go, and this is where card effects come in. Positive and negative cards affect neutral cards.
In other words, positive and negative cards don't represent a topic or an area of life as much as they tell us how well things go in that area, and this aligns well with reading signifiers. Our topic is neutral and the cards around it tell us how well things go in it - hopefully.
So how does this affect how we select a signifier?
Well, cards that are mainly positive or about a challenge aren't great signifiers unless we're focusing on a more specific aspect about them that works with a specific topic - just like we mentioned with the correspondences.
So for example, the Sun or Whip are not the best signifiers because they're not really associated with a specific theme - they're more positive and challenging energies. In fact, we're best not using these cards as signifiers because they might turn up around our signifier to tell us how well things go for the topic in question.
For example, if we're asking whether our financial affairs will be positive, we are best using the Fish to represent our finances, and then if the Sun or Whip turns up around it, we have a clear indication of how well things go. Does this make sense?
PIPS AS SIGNIFIERS
Before we turn to how signifiers are used in layouts, there are a couple more ways we can use or select a signifier.
The first is by referring to the pips associated with each card, which is the playing card that we associate with the card. And this is especially helpful when representing people.
The king, the queen, the jack cards all have different personalities and we might like to pick one based on the personality of the person we're asking about.
For example, the Heart has the Jack of Hearts as its pip, and so this card is ideal to represent our crush or someone we're attracted to - in addition to the heart symbol itself which is great for this question.
To represent a Woman who is independent but perhaps a little flaky and indecisive, the Road can be appropriate as it is the Queen of Spades. So the people pips can work really well to represent a specific person in our life.
They're especially helpful in multi-question readings where we are asking about several people and we need more than just the Man or the Woman to represent them.
SIGNIFIERS AS PERSONAL SYMBOLS
Another basis for selecting a signifier, is when a card appeals to us in a very personal way.
Sometimes cards mean to us something that is not necessarily associated with the main meaning or even the correspondences of the card.
For example, one student in the Certification Program is a writer, so the Book often represents her writing projects. But she also uses other cards to represent specific writing projects.
For example, she uses the Child to represent one project where the story is about a child, so in this case, the Child doesn't represent beginnings as it normally would. For her, it represents a specific writing project.
It's also possible that you associate the card in even more specific ways. For example, if there is someone in your community who calls himself "the crow" - maybe it's his social media handle - then you might associate him with the Bird.
Of course, you wouldn't always associate the Book and Child with your writing projects, or the Bird with a person who calls himself "the crow", but in specific contexts or when the question calls for it, then these cards can jump out for you in these really specific and personal ways.
And of course, you wouldn't interpret the cards in these ways when you're reading for someone else. These are just very personal associations you have with the cards.
So to recap, we've covered quite a few different ways. We might select a card to use as a signifier based on:
- Its theme, its main theme
- A more specific meanings, or what I call the correspondence
- Its pip especially the people pip
- Just a personal association we make with the cards.
We also said that it's best for the signifier to be a neutral topic card as opposed to a mainly positive or mainly challenging card.
Now, before we look at some ways we use signifiers, please tell me if there are other ways you might select a signifier, and tell me how you use them in your practice.
CONSCIOUSLY CHOSEN SIGNIFIERS
Now, signifiers can be deliberately selected out of the deck and placed within a reading to represent the topic we're reading about.
Typically, we place it in a central position, like at the center of a portrait, or at the center of a cross. The cards around the signifier are then read to tell us about it.
Multi-question readings are also a type of layout that use signifiers. If you'd been on my private reading menu page, you might have noticed that I offer the three and five multi-question formats of the multi-question reading.
In these layouts, you can ask three or five questions as part of one reading. Each question is represented by one signifier that is consciously selected out of the deck, and then each question is answered by a line of five that is placed along the same line as the signifier.
So for each question, there is one consciously selected signifier and then five randomly selected cards to answer the question that is represented by that signifier.
Notice that in this format, the signifier card is laid out at the very beginning of the line on the far left. This means that the card is not really part of the line of five. The line of five has its own middle card, but it's not the signifier like it would be in a portrait or a cross.
So the first way signifiers are used is when we consciously select them out of the deck and place them somewhere in a layout.
RANDOMLY SELECTED SIGNIFIERS
The second way signifiers are used in readings is when we don't consciously select them out of the deck. They figure randomly like all the other cards.
This is a technique that is mainly used in Tableau-style layouts including the portrait. In a portrait, the central card would represent the theme in focus.
Of course, if we're asking a specific question then the question would bring the theme to the reading, and then the central card would represent the key to focus on in order to answer this question.
But in a Tableau, whether it's a Grand Tableau or a mini Tableau, there are many cards that can be taken as topic signifiers.
It's in fact a Tableau technique to look for the different topic cards that figure in it, and read the portrait around them. This way we get an overview of all the different life areas and what's going on in them.
In a Grand Tableau, all cards figure so all life areas covered by Lenormand's cards will figure as well. In a Grand Tableau, we get a nearly complete overview of all the different areas of life and what's going on in them.
In a mini Tableau or in an extended portrait, not all the cards are used, so not all life areas or topics are going to come up. But whether you're reading a Grand Tableau or a mini Tableau, it's really fun to pay attention to the different topics and read the portrait around them.
And I want to highlight that even if you're doing a Grand Tableau, this technique is easy because you're reading a portrait around the topic cards, and that means just reading several three card lines.
In other words, you can have fun practicing your three-card readings by doing a Tableau, even a Grand Tableau, and you can forget about reading the much longer lines for now, and just immerse yourself in the different topics by focusing on these three-card lines around the different topic cards. So here is another way you can dip your toes in the Tableau without feeling overwhelmed by it.
So this is what signifiers are about, how we can select them and use them in readings.
In the next video, about signifiers we'll do some reading practices to test the ideas that we went through in this video. So be sure to stay tuned for it.
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