Paired-Deck Reading #1: A Family Matter

A few of the Lenormand writers I follow have mentioned the practice of merging tarot or oracle cards with a Lenormand deck, usually by drawing a handful of cards from an alternate pack as a postscript to the Lenormand reading. I’ve never found this particularly useful, but lately I’ve been thinking how it might be done in a more creatively satisfying way. The Lenormand system is mainly situational and practical in nature, while the tarot can be more motivational and psychological. It’s not exactly a case of “oil-and-water” incompatibility, but they do typically present something of an “apples-and-oranges” duality.

The tarot Celtic Cross spread is similarly divided into two largely exclusive parts. The circular, six-card “cross” section, at least as I learned it from Eden Gray, is considered to be about the matter itself and its development over time, while the four-card vertical “staff” shows the querent’s active engagement with that evolution, as experienced through the events foretold by the “near future” card. In other words, everything between the “near future” and the “outcome” (that would be Positions #7, #8 and #9) portrays how the querent might grapple with the circumstances emerging from Position #6, interactively nudging them toward their eventual conclusion. I view the series as an opportunity for a mid-course correction. While some tarot writers insist on including psychological aspects of consciousness  in the “cross” section, I’ve always kept them in the “staff” because it is partly about the querent’s frame of mind (hopes, fears, etc.) and not about the mundane unfolding of the situation (which, conversely, is factual and does not adequately depict the querent’s mental state).

With this in mind, I decided to split the Celtic Cross into two distinct operations. The impersonal “cross” section and its focus on situational developments would be populated with Lenormand cards, and the manifestly personal “staff” section would be addressed using tarot cards. I did a test case with Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand and the Albano-Waite Tarot (two visual congruent Pamela Colman Smith decks), using a current family situation as the subject. An elderly relative of mine is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease (she is mentally gone and no longer communicates), and her daughters have been struggling with her slow decline. For the “cross” sub-reading I asked “What is her outlook for the near future?” and for the “staff” portion I wanted to know how her family will cope with that.

A Family Matter.JPG
All images copyright U.S. Games Systems, Inc, Stamford, CT

The Mountain “covering” and the Whip “crossing” tells me she is stubbornly and fiercely resisting moving on, although she gives no outward signs of it other than occasional bouts of anger and melancholy. If it’s up to her, she won’t be going anywhere. (The Whip could also suggest the “persuasions” of the care-giving staff in the face of her recalcitrance.)

The Sun in the “foundation” position shows that her best days are well behind her.

The Tower in the “recent past” reflects her growing mental isolation, and also the fact that she has been institutionalized.

The House in the “present” indicates her current placement in hospice care.

The Lilies in the “near future” intimates that she could linger for a good long while yet. (The Lilies can also be “funereal” but that doesn’t ring true for me here, unless it means she will pass at Easter.)

The three Swords in the “staff” section, with two of them reversed, clearly convey the anxiety her daughters have been feeling.

The 6 of Swords in the “fears”position (see Eden Gray’s CC model) suggests that her family is afraid she will remain “in transit” for some time and isn’t ready to “cross the River Jordan” just yet. (Do Catholics even use that expression?)

The King of Wands in the “external influences” position can only mean that she is under the care of the State government.

The 10 of Swords reversed in the “hopes” position implies that there is no chance of things getting better, and they are resigned to that.

The 2 of Swords reversed in the “outcome” position tells me there is nothing that can be done except wait.

This reading essentially says what everyone already knows, but what is remarkable is the precision with which the two decks meshed to tell the story. I will post other examples as I complete them.

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