divination, life

Reading Lenormand and Tarot — Together.

The end of October marks the beginning of a new year for me, and that means taking stock. I like to do this with something I jokingly call “the whole hog,” a single reading that uses tarot, Lenormand cards, Ogham, and oracle cards to give me as complete a picture as possible. It’s fun, interesting, accurate, and, once you’re used to it, surprisingly easy.

There’s really no reason not to combine whatever forms of cartomancy or sortilege you like best. I’m not suggesting you shuffle all of your cards together, of course (I mean, the differences in size and texture would turn that into a nightmare). There’s only one thing you have to keep in mind:

Each type of card is best suited to a certain type of question.

For example, you wouldn’t want to ask a Lenormand deck what energies you need to focus on for the coming year. (Coffin + Birds + Woman + Lilies + Bear will tell you a lot, but not that.) Similarly, you don’t want to ask an oracle deck what will happen if you make a specific decision, because drawing a card that tells you, “Remember, you are enough” isn’t going to be… well, enough. Combining decks is more of a holistic approach to a question or problem, allowing you to explore it across multiple dimensions.

What’s the difference between tarot reading and reading Lenormand cards?

Lenormand is very specific and concrete. A basic reading might entail asking something like, “What will happen if I accept this job offer?” You then shuffle the deck, then fan it out and look for the signifier relating either to yourself, or the question at hand. (Personally, I usually choose a signifier related to my question.) The two cards in front of it, the card itself, and the two cards behind it are the reply. They’re able to give you very detailed information, like, “A woman will deliver you a message related to your career, which will result in a social engagement and creative opportunity.”

Tarot, I’ve found, is better suited for describing the energies around a situation. If you ask your tarot deck the same question, you may draw cards indicating celebration, growth, female energies, and even communication. It won’t necessarily indicate a specific situation that you may anticipate, but it will tell you how you’ll feel about it.

Tarot also has a lot of psychological and spiritual overtones, where Lenormand is all practical. Many tarot readers would bristle at the idea of tarot reading as fortune telling, but that’s pretty much exactly what Lenormand cards purport to be — a tool for telling fortunes.

This is a mixed blessing. Reading Lenormand is simple, though not necessarily easy. There are only a few spreads, and cards are always read the same way: in pairs, with their own set of grammar, the way one might read a sentence. For people used to the fluidity of tarot, where there are millions of different spreads, multiple interpretations of the same card, reversals, and a heavy emphasis on intuition, Lenormand can feel rigid. On the other hand, for people used to reading Lenormand cards, tarot can feel too vague and subjective.

So how do you put them together?

The trick is to choose your subject matter carefully. Remember, Lenormand is best suited for concrete answers to questions. (Think “What-ifs,” and things of that sort.) Tarot is best for exploring the energies, archetypes, and other less concrete aspects of a situation.

Combining the two goes something like this:

  1. Consider the situation you want answers about. What ways are there to approach it? Do you have a certain approach you favor? What specific steps are you planning to take in order to address it? Keep this in mind, or write it down.
  2. Next, consider how this situation extends beyond the physical world. Imagine that you have questions about a romantic relationship. Outside of this relationship’s impact on your daily life, what kind of effect will it have on your highest good and spiritual growth? What’s do you need to know about what’s happening beneath the surface?
  3. Formulate a set of questions based on this information. One should be a straightforward “What-if” based on the approach you plan to take. Another should be related to how this situation will impact you spiritually and mentally.
  4. Choose a signifier in your Lenormand deck. If you identify as a man or woman, this can be the Man or Lady cards. If you don’t identify as either, feel that another card is more appropriate, or are reading for someone else, choose a signifier that relates to the situation. (For example, the Tree card is often used as a signifier in health-related readings.)
  5. Shuffle the deck. Keep your “What-if” question in mind.
  6. Fan the deck out, face up. Look for the signifier you chose.
  7. Read the two cards in front of it, the card itself, and the two cards behind it. This will describe a chain of events. (Remember: No future is set in stone. This tells you the outcome if all of the people, energies, and other factors remain the same as they are right now.)
  8. Write your interpretation down.
  9. Next, shuffle your tarot deck. Keep your second question in mind.
  10. Read your tarot cards using a spread of your choice (or draw the top card, top three cards, and so on).
  11. Write this interpretation down.

You now have answers that cover two different aspects of your question. One tells you what will happen purely in the physical realm, the other tells you the mental, emotional, and spiritual impact it will have. Put together, you can develop a pretty accurate (and very helpful) picture.

This isn’t limited to Lenormand and tarot cards, either. As I mentioned, I’ve done something similar with Ogham staves, oracle cards, and more. The only thing to keep in mind is that each type of divination has its strengths and weaknesses. None are inherently superior or inferior, they’re just different. Think of them like cardiologists and plumbers — both are professionals in their fields, but you don’t necessarily want them to have to do each other’s jobs!

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