This article is about Ancient Astrology and Lenormand. It turns out that there are many similarities between Traditional Lenormand and Astrology for reading topics and predicting the future.
Ancient Astrology and Chinese Metaphysics: holistic systems of knowledge
Ancient and even Medieval Astrology has always been considered the queen of the sciences, just as Chinese Metaphysics (of which Astrology is a branch) has been the most powerful knowledge in the East. These are completely holistic systems; they were intended, “invented” and practised that way.
However, the oral tradition existed back then, as well as the teacher-student relationship. Textbooks were merely guides and not meant to substitute the teacher and their understanding. Unfortunately, with almost the complete loss of the oral tradition in the past few centuries, the textbooks have had to fill that gap.
They have, of course, failed for Yang can never dig deep as Yin. All is not lost though, as the surviving bits and pieces and hints can allow someone to restore at least to a certain extent, and with a lot of time consuming effort, what the lost oral tradition taught, namely holistic thinking, chart reading, and application.
That is one of the main reasons I was very drawn by Chinese Metaphysics, especially the Destiny/Life (Astrology) and Physiognomy/Appearance (Chinese Face and Palm Reading and Feng Shui) arts. It is virtually impossible not to have a holistic thinking when practicing these. Needless to say, I am talking about the classical ones, not the baseless and made up new age ones. I mean, you can’t read one feature of the face, palm, natal astrological chart or a part of the property without taking into account the whole face, the whole palm, the whole chart and the whole property and the surrounding environment/forms and period/energy. Тhe same holds true for the traditional Lenormand cards method.
Traditional Lenormand: holistic system of knowledge
The above holds true for the traditional Lenormand cards method. It is entirely holistic.
Calling it Lenormand is historically very incorrect though. I call it the Game of Hope Coffee Grounds Cartomancy – GHCGC. It could also be called just Game of Hope Cartomancy – GHC or 36 cards traditional cartomancy method. For the sake of ease, I will be writing it as Lenormand. By Lenormand, I mean the traditional method. It is a method, a system, NOT divination or an oracle as some would like to believe. Lenormand is different from Tarot. It is simple, direct, and also very powerful.
I had known about Lenormand but I was not interested in it. In fact, while talking to an acquaintance 5-6 years ago, with whom I share a different common interest, he said he was practicing “Lenormand” and started telling me about the method. I was not into Tarot back then but was doing I Ching cards and gypsy cards.
It is only on hindsight that I realize, again as with the Tarot, that it was not the right time for me to take up Lenormand card reading. The reason for this is I had to appreciate the holistic thinking and application. It was only years later after I started integrating Ancient Astrology and Chinese Metaphysics that I came across the Lenormand method, and this time there was no turning back. I have been studying the Traditional Lenormand for the last few months and have been very impressed.
I want to make it clear that by Lenormand I mean the Grand Tableau only, where all the 36 cards are laid. This is the way the method was devised to be used.
Traditional Lenormand: the Grand Tableau
Using the Grand Tableau only means no spreads and thus assigned meanings of the particular numbered position of the cards.
This also means little or no psychology, impartiality, following a method and having to make the effort to memorize rules and meanings and the principles behind them.
Just like in Ancient Astrology, while true intuition does have a part in narrowing down the significations, it is reserved for last. I mean, only after one has thoroughly followed the method and rules of delineation and prediction, can they allow some intuition.
Why it is crucial to study the traditional Lenormand method if one is to appreciate the power of this system
I come to a very important point. For one to appreciate how powerful, accurate and specific the Lenormand is, they must study the traditional method first. Or at least, in case they studied other methods, they must have a pure mind and heart. They must not carry baggage from the modern pseudo methods or from other similar predictive disciplines where rules, method and order do not reign supreme. I cannot emphasize that point enough!
What I am saying is that unless one studies the fundamentals and understands how the principles are derived, it will be very easy to get sidetracked into the modern, psychological, non-specific, no-negative-cards method. This runs the risk of turning (Traditional) Lenormand into what the Tarot has degenerated into. I mean hundreds of books, the vast, vast majority of which rehash card meanings and spreads and do not teach the reader how to think, understand and derive the meanings, let alone how to predict.
Ancient Astrology and Lenormand: the lost (oral) tradition
When reading about the fundamentals of this card reading method, I immediately noticed so many similarities between Ancient Astrology and Lenormand. In fact that is one of the main reasons why I decided to learn the method and add it to my arsenal. Lenormand helps and forces one to think holistically and to examine the big picture.
Speaking of the lost (oral) tradition, it is possible to revive a significant part of the full system from the ancient astrological textbooks, but not so from those written after the year 1000 or even 700 AD. So it is any type of Western Astrology after this period that needs to take a page from the book of Lenormand.
I don’t want to digress, but were it not for the translators of the ancient astrological books over the past 25 years, one versed in both Ancient Astrology and Lenormand would have wondered whether traditional cartomancy or Astrology came first. This shows perfectly how huge the loss of the oral tradition is.
Just think about it for a second please: how is it possible for a traditional cartomancy method, that is merely about 200 years old, to contain techniques which in essence are extremely similar to astrological techniques from 2000 years ago, written in different countries and languages? The reason is the oral tradition and the teaching the correct way to study, understand and derive the fundamentals – something missing in almost all astrological textbooks or courses.
Ancient Astrology and Lenormand: many similarities in chart/card reading
In regards to the similarities between Ancient Astrology and Lenormand, I would like to share some of what I have discovered. I think it will be very valuable, particularly to those who are into Ancient or Medieval or traditional Astrology and are considering another method of prediction. Obviously horary Astrology can be used, but not for a general reading. I have in mind, astrologers who do not like what the Tarot has degenerated into, or simply do not feel like spending time deciphering obscure symbolism and the various attempts by secret societies to mislead.
Two approaches to delineation of topics in Ancient Astrology and Lenormand
One major similarity between Ancient Astrology and Lenormand is the delineation of various topics, like relationships, career, wealth, health, travel, etc. As in Ancient Astrology’s universal and topical approach, there are two approaches in Lenormand.
The first one also does not use the places/houses, and the second one uses both the significators of the various topics and the houses.
Just as in Ancient Astrology, where one can read the whole chart without resorting to fully delineating all or any of the houses, it is the same in Lenormand.
The importance of significators in Ancient Astrology and Lenormand
Another similarity, which is connected with the first one, is the central importance of significators. Just like in Ancient Astrology, where the Ascendant and the Lot of Fortune are the places around which all planets and points are placed and judged against, it is the same with Lenormand, where the siginificator card is the central point.
It is from this central point that special places or cards become significant. In Ancient Astrology, these are the stakes – the 1st 4th 7th and 10th places from the Asc, Fortune, or even another significator, counting inclusively. In Lenormand, there are various methods of counting, but the fundamental principle is the same. Also, the 4 corners in Traditional Lenormand are a very telling similarity.
Antiscia and zoidia relationships vs mirroring and reflecting
Another similarity is the concept of antiscia and the various relationships between the zoidia/images (same domicile lord, seeing, hearing, equally rising, etc) in Ancient Astrology and the concept of mirroring/reflecting in Lenormand.
Overcoming and superior position vs above and below
Another similarity is the concept of overcoming – 10 or 9 places from a place or planet, and the concept of above and below. Cards above are more powerful than those below in Lenormand, which is precisely the same in ancient Astrology.
Accidental malefics and the South Node vs cards being spoiled by the malefic card the Clouds
Another similarity is the concept of tampering with a planet’s intensity, even its intrinsic essence. In Lenormand, while negative cards spoil or reduce the goodness of positive ones, card 6 the Clouds is the only one that can cloud and really mess up a given card.
Likewise in Ancient Astrology the benefic planets Jupiter and Venus can be significantly weakened and turn into accidental malefics too. Although, I have to say they do not harm intentionally as the malefics. There are also the South and North Node of the Moon (the Tail and Head of the Dragon), which reduce or increase the intensity of a planet that is bodily within 12 portions of it.
The left/sinister side is the bad side
Another similarity, at least in some traditional decks, is that the left, sinister side is generally the bad one, just as in ancient Greek thought. For instance, in card 6 the Clouds, it is the left side that is the darker and malefic one. Also, and that is valid for all decks, having card 25 the Ring to the left of the significator card shows a possible separation. While when on the right, it indicates a lasting relationship, or a new one, depending on how near or far it is.
Benefic and malefic planets and cards
Another similarity in Traditional Lenormand is the classification of the different natures of the cards, just like with the planets and fixed stars. Some are:
- Very benefic
- Mildly benefic
- Neutral in expression and depend who they are configured with
- Very malefic
It is impossible to practise, delineate, and predict accurately, unless you distinguish between benefic and malefic planets in Ancient Astrology, or positive and negative cards in Lenormand. Disease, injury, losses, bankruptcy, divorce, ending of friendships, depression, enemies and death take as much part in life as do health, gains, wealth, marriage, new friendships, enthusiasm, allies etc. In fact, just as in Ancient Astrology where the malefics are in fact stronger, it is very similar if not exactly the same in Lenormand, and the reason for this is because life itself is such.
Lenormand can be more specific than Astrology
I want to reiterate how impressed I am with Lenormand. As you can see it is a like a sister to Ancient Astrology. Even though Lenormand cannot be compared to Ancient Astrology in terms of its scope, it most definitely can compete with it and even win over it, in terms of specifics.
To those that are versed in Astrology, the results of Lenormand can be like a combination of the natal branch + horary for even closer specifics. At the same time, Lenormand deals with almost all areas of the life of the native, though just for a period of time. Each reading covers up to 1 year or 6 months at most. But one can always do another traditional Grand Tableau reading provided there is a sincere need to know.
The benefits of using the Grand Tableau only
However, I want to repeat again that by Lenormand I mean only the Grand Tableau. I mean, using all the 36 cards at all times.
Yes, 5, 7 and 9 card layouts do have value, but the problem I have with any layout is the weight of the cards. That is especially evident with daily draws up to 3 cards. The cards simply cannot give their full weight meaning when the time period is so short. I mean, one can generally have just 1-2-3 events of note, if any, for a very short period like 1 week, 2 weeks or 4 weeks, not to mention 1 or 3 days.
Needless to say, everyone is free to practise Lenormand in whatever way they wish, but the point of my article and mentioning natal Astrology (which studies the whole life and 1 year of life as the shortest span of time) is to emphasize why I consider Traditional Lenormand to be so valuable. It is so damn accurate and valuable when using all the 36 cards. In this way it takes 3-4-6 months to 1 year of time for the events and probabilities shown in the cards to happen.
I realize that one must practise in order to learn the method and not wait until they learn all the cards and enough of the techniques to do their first Grand Tableau. Unfortunately, there is another similarity between Ancient Astrology and Traditional Lenormand: there are just a few valuable books, if any on the subject which are written by contemporary authors.
Andy Boroveshengra’s “Lenormand 36 Cards”: the only book on authentic Traditional Lenormand in English
In regards to Traditional Lenormand, no matter what some authors or practitioners claim, there is only one book that really teaches the Traditional Grand Tableau. It is written by Andy Boroveshengra and is called “Lenormand 36 Cards”. Make sure you get that 2nd edition.
Andy’s book is truly traditional and the only book I know of in English that, after explaining the meanings of the cards, starts teaching the Grand Tableau. In other words, he does not start teaching the numerous card layouts where the weight of the cards’ meanings is so light that it is questionable whether it is worth bothering.
Moreover, the author practices Medieval Astrology, among other disciplines. In other words, Andy Boroveshengra exemplifies the structured, disciplined, impartial, rules-based, approach. He shows readers how to delineate, judge, and predict accurately by using Lenormand. I don’t expect that a book as valuable as this one will be published in the near future.
The only other book worth getting is by Anthony Louis called “Lenormand Symbols: Exploring the Origins of the Images on the Cards”. Its purpose is not to teach readers how to practise; it is all about the history and traditional meanings of the 36 cards. What is also valuable is that Tony Louis went to the trouble of giving their meanings in 4-5 European languages.
As with Astrology, it is crucial to read the primary meanings of the planets and stars. Thus Tony Louis’s book is indispensable. I am also writing this to warn my readers, because had I known what I now know, I would not have wasted money and time on other books in English, which claim that they are traditional but are really not. This is something to watch out for, because if you want to learn traditional Lenormand method, you will have to unlearn what you know from the modern one.
Practising the Lenormand for the Grand Tableau
If you choose to do as I suggest, so that you get the most out of Lenormand, then when you start learning the method, do not use daily draws or 5, 7 or 9 cards layouts.
Instead, learn combinations and get comfortable with them. Keep in mind not to overdo this, as it can mislead you when the Grand Tableau comes. This is because context will be different there and you will have to collect testimonies and synthesize.
Another, even better way, is to read newspapers or magazines or internet articles and do combinations and sentences with the Lenormand cards for some of the headlines.
The best way is to study Grand Tableaus by other traditional Lenormand readers. Unfortunately, the only truly traditional one, when it comes to books in English at least, is Andy Boroveshengra. Studying the 2 examples in his book over and over again will reward you a lot.
There are some articles and videos on the internet on the Grand Tableau, and the techniques used there are to a large extent traditional, but the overall approach is not. As such, they can mislead you into psychology or blurring the distinction between positive and negative cards or minimizing the malice of the negative cards among other things.
I really understand that by doing as I suggest entails (only Grand Tableus in terms of actual predictions) it will take years to fully master the Lenormand, if that is even possible with all the nuances and variations. However, at least in this way you will truly appreciate how powerful the method is.
I don’t want to digress or underestimate the Tarot, where I have also had good, specific predictions, but Lenormand is different as I said. If I want a daily draw, or the moral of a movie or a story or a fairytale, or need to “feel” the cards, I would us the Tarot.
Lenormand and Horary Astrology and the sincere need to know the answers
Lenormand is akin to horary Astrology, though it can encompass all areas of one’s life. Horary Astrology is to be used sparingly as the ancient astrologers advise, and Lenormand is very much like that.
Of course, you can always do Grand Tableaus for other people when you are learning, but let me warn you. A potential problem could arise. It is not about not charging money, as you are not experienced enough yet and it is natural not to be at this stage. It is about the level of seriousness of the querent.
- In other words, are they appreciating what you are doing for them?
- Is the person, looking for a Grand Tableau reading, asking in earnest about something important?
- Does he/she want to have a general reading because they have had a rough period?
- Or does he/she just want to see a demonstration without being committed and respecting the amount of work it will take? Doing a full and written Traditional Grand Tableau takes about 2 or more hours.
Are you seeing the connection between Lenormand and horary Astrology and the rooting of the question of the asking party?
It is not that strict, but I definitely advise a certain amount of effort by the querent. After all, remember that when someone gets paid to read the cards, the client is the active, initiating party. And that is my point here – the person has to have a genuine interest in and need of the reading.
I will illustrate what I mean. When I did my first Grand Tableau, after about 2 months of intense studying and practicing, I was (and still am of course as it is not over) very excited and enthusiastic when laying the cards. It is this feeling, this authentic appreciation that is important.
Some specific correct predictions from my first Grand Tableau
Here are some specific predictions that I made and have come to pass:
- the sickness of a friend
- betrayal by a person from my social circle
- the injury of a female person (who turned out to be my mother and the cards even showed the nature of the injury)
- changes in my business activities
- some secret/unknown ways or techniques through which to make money.
As you can see, the method is very accurate and specific, and I am still waiting on other predictions to come to pass. Yes, I have a lot of experience from other disciplines and it does help me. However, to achieve such a level of specificity on the first Grand Tableau is truly humbling for me. It is not so unexpected though, because I know how powerful the traditional Lenormand method is.
The importance of using a simple, traditional Lenormand deck
Finally, I want to emphasize how important it is to use a simple deck. A traditional one, of course. A very important rule in Traditional Lenormand is less is more, which is also true for this deck.
You will need enough space to lay all the 36 cards and be able to easily recognize every single one of them. Thus they need to be smaller than Tarot cards. There are over 10 traditional decks, so there is plenty to choose from.
After checking them all online I decided to buy the Bernd A. Mertz Lenormand deck. I am extremely pleased with it. The image of my article is from a sample Grand Tableau (8X4+4) with this deck, so you can see how all its cards look like.
I owe big thanks to La Fanu, for it is largely from their blog post that I decided that this was the perfect deck for me.