Many Fish Bites

Although I prefer the Grand Tableau when working with the Lenormand cards, I’m always looking for opportunities to explore more single-pointed themes using smaller spreads. This was a good one.

My brother and our nephew, who flew in from California, are embarking on an epic Atlantic salmon fishing trip to New Brunswick. For those who are interested in such things, this used to be the “Mecca” of northeastern fresh-water fishing destinations, although some of the luster has gone off it with the decline of the salmon population. They are headed to the Northwest Miramichi River, where our clan originated before heading south to the US. Their prospects for success formed the subject of my reading.

I decided to use a five-card line in order to explore the “focus” or “hinge” card approach to reading it. I usually read a line of cards as a narrative progression, with each card in the series interacting with and modifying the next. (I’m not a fan of reading it as a sentence using a “leading noun and string of modifiers” structure.) The center card in the row is treated as the focus of the reading, with the other cards supplying insights on how it should be interpreted.

The hinge card can be allowed to fall randomly or it can be pre-selected by topic. I chose the Fish card not so much for its obvious imagery (I tend not to free-associate from the pictures) but for its suggestion of “abundance.” My question was “How successful will they be at catching fish?”

All images copyright Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy

I looked first at the two cards immediately flanking the Fish: the Sun and the Anchor. Those of you who were listening to rock music back in the ’70s most likely heard Taj Mahal’s version of the Chris Smith/Henry Thomas song, “Fishin’ Blues,” with its refrain “Many fish bites if you got good bait.” To me, the Sun – the main “good luck” card in the deck – with the Fish looks like the “many fish” of the song, while the Anchor – signifying something that is solid and substantial – with the Fish could be read as “heavy fish” (or, more likely, they will have to fish very deep to catch them and may have trouble coaxing them to bite). This strikes me as an excellent augury for a happy outcome (note that this is a “catch-and-release” fishery so I consciously avoided the term “harvest”). In a more traditional sense, it could also mean “money well-spent,” especially with the Ring at the end.

That left the more distant Fox and Ring. My first impression was that the Fox could show that they will have some trouble outsmarting the fish at first, probably because they can’t come up with “good bait’ – the right flies for this fly-fishing-only environment. Their plan is to go to a commercial fly shop near the river (the Ring could reflect this connection) for advice in this regard and purchase of recommended flies. In the big picture, I was thinking that the Ring also shows that they will accomplish what they went for; at the very least it shows satisfactory closure.

But then I considered the mirroring of the Fox and the Ring at either end of the row. Non-resident sport fishermen on the Miramichi watershed (anywhere that spawning salmon can reach) are required to hire a professional guide, so the Ring implies that contract. The Fox can indicate a shady person; I advised my brother to hire his guide with care. I told him to beware of “Slippery Cecil” (an historically common first name in Anglophone New Brunswick). There is very little high-paying work (and persistent alcoholism) in that remote region of the Province, so the guiding profession may not attract the steadiest of practitioners. (We have distant relatives who demonstrate that fact.)

Consideration of the playing-card insets offers a slightly different perspective, although I often find them to be incompatible with the standard card meanings:

Fox – 9 of Clubs: Luck, travel and achievement. (Not a good fit for the Fox at all, just the opposite of what I would expect. The two Nines together do look promising.)

Sun – Ace of Diamonds: Something new, a new beginning, fresh start, new phase. (The idea seems to be optimism; the “written communication” angle didn’t make any sense here.)

Fish – King of Diamonds: Dynamic, restless, energetic. (Sounds like fish to me)

Anchor – 9 of Spades: Adversity, failure, suffering, a disappointment. (Not a good fit here either; Anchor doesn’t seem this negative. See above.)

Ring – Ace of Clubs: Focus, direction, singleness of purpose (no “business” aspect here at all unless it means the guide’s professional capabilities). If I was spending a lot of money to fish, I would be this dedicated too.

Two Nines: Attainment; travel industry

Two Aces: Leadership, authority (maybe the guide will be a master of his trade)

Ace of Clubs + 9 of Clubs: Passport (Canada now requires one; Fox may show some passport problems)

Face card + 9 of Clubs: Going on a journey (Nice convergence here!)

Ace of Clubs + Face card: Photograph ( maybe a passport photo? My brother just radically changed his appearance)

Overall, I warned him about possible passport complications but told him that prospects looked bright for a successful adventure.

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