The Golden Venetian Lenormand is a sister deck to Eugene Vinitski’s Venetian Tarot, which I’ve reviewed before here. Vinitski has teamed up with author, philologist, and art historian Elsa Khapatnukovski to produce a masterpiece of a Grand Jeu Lenormand, which consists of 54 cards (rather than the popularized Petit Lenormand or Petit Jeu Lenormand, which consists of only 36).
However, you can also select out the 35 Petit Lenormand cards and work with this deck as a Petit Lenormand. So in essence, you’re getting two decks in one. You’ll definitely want to purchase your copy of the Golden Venetian Lenormand via Vinitski’s Etsy shop here.
Like Vinitski’s Venetian Tarot, the Golden Venetian Lenormand is crafted in a High Renaissance style with a design focus on classical humanism.
The Lenormand oracle is a predictive fortune-telling system from the late 18th century based on the Game of Hope by Johann Kasper Hechtel, an illustrated edifying card game steeped in Christian allegories. In the 19th century, 16 more cards were taken from other well-known European cartomancy systems of the time and the 36-card Petit Lenormand was expanded into a 52-card fortune-telling deck, plus the additional 2 jokers.
By the way I love the little details of insight from Khapatnukovski. For example, the Fox card, No. 14, Khapatnukovski acknowledges that you’re not likely to come by a fox in Venice, but because it’s common symbolism in the Lenormand system, here it is. This particular fox is running over a canal holding a seagull in its mouth. The seagull, symbolic of freedom and a desire to dream, locked in the jaws of a fox, show the anguish of mind of a trapped individual.
The Venetian decks by Vinitski are inspired by the beauty, culture, and history of Venice, Queen of the Adriatic, City of Water, City of Masks, and the City of Bridges. The locus of the Italian Renaissance was Venice and all of that glory has been commemorated in The Golden Venetian Lenormand.
Vinitski’s Golden Venetian Lenormand gives new life to that history of the Venetian Carnival and just like its namesake, this Lenormand deck is one of beauty and one of love.
Khapatnukovski then brings her expertise in linguistics, literary criticism, and history to give us a wondrous little Grand Jeu Lenormand guidebook that you will treasure.
I love what Khapatnukovski says about the Mirror card: “Its appearance in a spread signifies that this is the point where the situation can be changed through magic.” However, the Mirror card in the Grand Jeu has other purposes. It can be used as the signifier card in a spread if the goal is to reveal and see what’s really going on behind a particular event or situation.
The card appearing to the right of the Mirror will reveal negative matters of the situation and those on the left will give a prediction of the eventual outcome. I love that little reading tip for working with this deck!
The symbolism of mirrors is featured prominently throughout the deck. Here you see it in No. 29, the Woman card, which is just really captivating imagery. In the Petit Lenormand, this is the second signifier after the Man card. This card depicts a lady in a very expensive, beautiful dress, standing with her back to the onlooker, in front of a mirror, where we see the reflection of her nakedness. Noted in the guidebook: “The young woman resembles an ancient goddess who has suddenly seen her reflection in a crystal stream and is petrified in proud admiration of her beauty.”
I love the inclusion of East Asian iconography here, which really hearkens to the long history of trade between Venice and the Far East. There was a treaty between Venice and the Mongol Empire in the 13th century that established trade routes and then, of course, there’s the reference to Marco Polo.
The card pictured above at the bottom right, with the Four of Diamonds, is the Doge. The doge is a governor appointed for life, often from one of the prominent, powerful families resident in Venice, who held nearly unlimited authority in state, military, and church affairs. So this is a powerful card in the deck, generally indicative of positive outcomes, though in romantic relations, might be more indicative of a power couple or marriage arranged for strategic reasons rather than sincere sentiments.
I hope the photo above is good enough for you to see “Pallas” printed on the playing card, here the Queen of Spades. This card No. 9, Bouquet. In the court cards pictured, there are titles, such as “Alexander” for the King of Clubs (No. 6), “Charles” on the King of Hearts (No. 4), “Argine” on the Queen of Clubs (No. 7), “Hector” on the Jack of Diamonds (No. 10), “Lancelot” on the Jack of Clubs (No. 11), “Rachel” on the Queen of Diamonds (No. 22), or “Judith” on the Queen of Hearts (No. 17), etc.
I love that little detailing and fold the personality traits and character attributed to those figures into my readings when such cards show up.
Peculiar to the Venetian Lenormand are the two jokers, one male and one female. These are characters from the Comedia del Arte, Harlequin and Columbine, the guidebook tells us. When one of the jokers appears in a reading, they denote a changeable situation, something malleable under the querent’s will.
Another way to work with the jokers is, when they appear in a reading, the fortuneteller then returns to the remaining deck of cards in hand, sifts through them, and extracts the most desirable outcome for the querent. Replace the joker card with that intentionally selected card and a moment of magic will come to be. The fortuneteller is in fact casting new fortunes for the querent and changing the fate of that querent.
By the way I love card No. 46, the Time card, which features the clock from St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. This is not just present time, but the clock also denotes epochs and histories.
The detailing on every card is impressive. Each pixel of scintillating light, the lines of shading in the stained glass window panes, even the subtle use of darkening and lightening bring so much magic and a mythic power to these cards. They’re simply enchanting.
Here’s another example, No. 49, the City card, depicting an antique map of Venice. The mask in the foreground appears to be deep in contemplation.
I mean the detailing here is a wonder. In No. 59, for example, I love the Persian-inspired wallpapering, and how the the Fortuneteller card (pictured above) shows a woman reading playing cards, which appears to be the same deck of playing cards featured in the top right corners of the Golden Venetian Lenormand.
Even which cards are visible tell a story here– this is a reading for the King of Diamonds, and opposite in confrontation to him is the Queen of Spades. The woman pictured in the Fortuneteller card a legendary Venetian fortuneteller named Clara, and Khapatnukovski tells us all about her in the guidebook.
The guidebook features several signature reading spreads for working with the Grand Jeu Lenormand and I’ve immensely enjoyed trying them all.
This is a gilded deck printed on sturdy, high-end cardstock with a high-gloss finish. The gold foil box it comes in is delightful extravagance.
When you fan the cards out across your reading table, they glide smoothly. I love the diamond-checkered card backs with an antique aged edging. Readings with this deck are succinct, reliable, and accurate. For those who enjoy predictive readings and fortune-telling, you are going to love the Golden Venetian Lenormand. It delivers, it’s magical, and it’s potent.
My favorite approach is to simply say to the cards, “Read me.” I like simple three-card readings, read in a narrative style right to left, so I’ll then fan the cards out across my table and draw three cards. The left-most card is always about the future and predicted outcome. When I get the Joker card, I note whether it’s masculine or feminine.
Then I turn over the remaining face-down cards in the deck and choose a card to create and manifest my own future.
If you’re a professional Lenormand reader, you’re going to love reading with this deck and your clients will love it, too. It was almost as if the prescient Eugene Vinitski knew I had been feeling blah about the Lenormand. This 54-card deck has gotten me excited about Lenormand again. Truly one of the most beautiful Lenormand decks on the market right now, and the way it’s designed, you can use it as either the 36-card Petit Lenormand most people today are used to or work with the full Grand Jeu deck! How cool is that!
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the Golden Venetian Lenormand from the deck creator for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.