Shootout: Tarot vs. Lenormand

One of the advantages of having more than one arrow in your cartomantic quiver is that you have choices as to which one to bring to the target. The disadvantage is that you have to choose. My main reading tool from 1972 until 2012 was the tarot, and specifically the Thoth deck. But when I discovered Lenormand, I found a system that is much more in tune with my predominantly analytical reading style. I noticed early on that Lenormand is far more literal and situational than tarot, and it doesn’t really have an intuitive or psychological dimension to it (despite efforts by some “tarot transplants” to force those modes upon it). In my experience, it is unparalleled for answering simple questions of a practical nature, but for convoluted matters tarot offers a more nuanced interpretive palette with several layers of meaning available in each card. Now I’m exploring the Kipper cards, which seem to come down on the side of Lenormand as far as encouraging a “nuts-and-bolts” reading style.

I recently had the opportunity to do both a Lenormand Grand Tableau and a tarot Celtic Cross for two people. For each of them, both readings were valuable but the GT provided more of the “what” (and the “how”) in their circumstances while the CC offered insights into the “why.” It struck me that, when time permits, it may be useful as a preliminary step to do both a short tarot spread and a brief Lenormand layout for any question in order to approach it from more than one angle. I’m thinking that a line of five cards in each case would be sufficient to start, and if one seems to give more relevant results than the other, an in-depth reading could be performed using that method. This is obviously not something that would be done for “walk-in” clients or 15-minute sessions, and it runs the risk of getting conflicting signals and perhaps too much information, but any reader who has spent years dealing with such disparities between “good” and “bad” cards in a single system should have little trouble navigating smoothly between the two. Think of it as a three-dimensional rather than a two-dimensional perspective, with a literal vantage point on the surface and a more abstract one beneath: in essence, the “what” and the “why.”

As a test case, I decided to do just that for an upcoming situation in my own life. I’m in the process of arranging for a primary health-care provider in my new hometown, with the aim of having my first full-scale physical exam in several years. I asked both my Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand and my Albano-Waite Tarot (both Pamela Colman Smith decks), what the outcome of the exam will be and whether there will be any need for follow-up action. I framed it as a single question: “What will be the consequences of my physical exam?” I used reversals with the tarot deck but not with the Lenormand.

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I’m a bit puzzled by the appearance of the Lady as the first card in the Lenormand line, unless it means I will be examined by a female physician or nurse practitioner. The series Scythe-Letter-Book suggests the results of the blood work (which involves getting stabbed with a needle): Letter is the preliminary report and Book is the final verdict, and it may be necessary to have a second sample drawn for more complex, in-depth tests. Although I don’t use free-association much with Lenormand, the image on the Letter implies the female physician reading the results. The Key at the end bodes well for a clean bill of health.

It was interesting to note that, although I don’t use “jumpers,” the Sun card fell out of the Lenormand deck while I was shuffling, and the first card in the tarot line was the Sun. Both indicate that getting the examination at this particular time is the right thing to do. The Page of Cups seems to reflect my generally youthful (for my age) constitution, and Cups may show that my initial blood work will be unremarkable. The 7 of Swords, however, brings in a more complicated perspective that implies the need for a more thorough analysis. I don’t much like the World reversed here because it could be showing the “rug being pulled out from under me,” but – with its Saturn association – it could just mean the need for an x-ray. The Moon at the end shows an uncertain prognosis. If I were to do a more detailed reading for this situation, it would be with the tarot and the Celtic Cross spread.

I decided to run the quintessence calculation for the tarot line due to the ambivalent verdict given by the Moon. I use the court cards as 11 through 14 for this purpose, and I subtract the value of any reversed cards. Here are the numbers: 19 + 11 + 7 – 21 + 18 = 44; 4 + 4 = 8: Strength. The Strength card is associated with Leo, the sign of the Sun’s rulership, which echoes the Sun at the beginning. I’m thinking that any uncertainties will pass and the outcome will be fortunate.

2 thoughts on “Shootout: Tarot vs. Lenormand

  1. Thank you for sharing this!

    You’ve convinced me to be a little more proactive in learning Lenormand, as I accidentally bought a deck years ago now. Just wanted to wish you well in your medical endeavors, though it looks quite promising for you.

    Some observations you have noticed already and just not mentioned, are the striking similarities between The Moon and The Key cards. Both share an “eclipse” theme and both feature what I assume to be Yods. There is also the subtle (maybe not so subtle?) use of the Caduceus in The Book, which while used incorrectly by us Americans, is linked to the medical field besides. Also the pomegranates in The Book also seem to allude to the Page of Cups in the tarot line. Lastly, I really love the offsetting reds theme of the Lenormand with the heavy blues of the Tarot.

    I know Lenormand isn’t meant to be read so liberally, but I thought I’d take some liberties to share even though I’m learning. Since you inspired me to learn though, I thought it’d be alright. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed the Sun-Moon symbolism in the tarot line right away, but wasn’t thinking “eclipse.” Since they’re at opposite ends of the line, it would probably mean a Full Moon and therefore a lunar rather than solar eclipse. I think Smith went a bit overboard with the symbolism on the Key, with the Yods and the lunar-phase crescents, but the correlation is certainly interesting. Regarding colors, I was thinking I probably should have used the Centennial Edition of the RWS, which is much closer in tone to the Pixie Lenormand; I need to get the pocket size in a tin for this.

      Liked by 1 person

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