The Lenormand: Nutshell Summary of the Petite Lenormand, from History to Practice

lenormand1

The popularity of Lenormand cards seem to have been revived for contemporary times, at least here in the U.S. Lately it seems that every tarot enthusiast will go through a phase of intrigue for these Lenormands. Well the other day a student asked me to guide her studies of the Lenormands. From there, I decided to write this nutshell summary. For the tarot enthusiast who has now suddenly taken on an interest in Lenormand cards, this post will serve as an introduction.

Overview

They’re oracle cards, not tarot, and generally speaking, they’re sub-divided into 2 kinds: the Petit Lenormand, with 36 cards total, which is the more popular version here in the U.S., and the Grand Jeu Lenormand, with 54 cards. I have not yet dabbled with the Grand Jeu Lenormand due to difficulties in getting a deck where I live (that is, for an economically reasonable price…because, sure, you can buy anything via the Internet these days), so I’ll focus on the Petit Lenormand only.

The oracle cards are named after Marie Anne Lenormand, who is considered one of the greatest and most influential French cartomancers of all time. However, the cards were not conceived by her. They were conceived after her death and may or may not have even been based on any of the cards used by Marie Anne Lenormand. They’re called “Lenormand cards” pretty much for marketing purposes. In fact, they may not even be French. Johann Kaspar Hechtel, a German businessman and factory owner, is credited with designing the Petit Lenormand cartomancy deck, initially as a parlour game called “The Game of Hope.” So in many ways, the name “Lenormand cards” might be a bit misleading.

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The First Operation: Adapting a Traditional Method in the “Opening of the Key” to Contemporary Tarot Applications

The First Operation is the first step to an extensive divination method called the “Opening of the Key,” a method associated with the Golden Dawn approach to tarot reading. Paul Foster Case’s book, Oracle of the Tarot (1933) provides a great instructional on the First Operation. A PDF of the book can be downloaded HEREFor a recent publication on “Opening of the Key,” read “The Golden Dawn Opening of the Key Method” by Marcus Katz of Tarot Professionals, linked HERE.

Now I’ve extracted the First Operation method from the Opening of the Key to use contemporaneously with modern approaches to tarot reading.

Selecting the Signifier

There are many ways of selecting a signifier card, also known as the significator. A classic “old school” Golden Dawn approach is to use The Magician for a male and The High Priestess for a female. However, I was taught to use court cards. The following is my court card approach to selecting the signifier:

Astrol. Signs, Sun Sign Dates

Suit

Court Card Signifier
Aries, MAR 21 – APR 19

WANDS

PAGE for young female
Leo, JUL 23 – AUG 22 KNIGHT for young male
Sagittarius, NOV 22 – DEC 21 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Cancer, JUN 21 – JUL 22

CUPS

PAGE for young female
Scorpio, OCT 23 – NOV 21 KNIGHT for young male
Pisces, FEB 19 – MAR 20 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Libra, SEPT 23 – OCT 22

SWORDS

PAGE for young female
Aquarius, JAN 20 – FEB 18 KNIGHT for young male
Gemini, MAY 21 – JUN 20 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Capricorn, DEC 22 – JAN 19

PENTACLES

PAGE for young female
Taurus, APR 20 – MAY 20 KNIGHT for young male
Virgo, AUG 23 – SEPT 22 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male

Continue reading “The First Operation: Adapting a Traditional Method in the “Opening of the Key” to Contemporary Tarot Applications”