12 Jul 2013 Leave a Comment
Ten Ways to Go About Learning Lenormand
1. Read Books. The more the better, and the more in different languages that you can, the better. Many readers across Europe learnt from books, or books have written down what other readers have used in their readings. In writing Learning Lenormand, we spent two years purchasing and reading French, German, Portuguese and Brazilian books. Although it can be initially complex, dealing with ambiguities of language and contradictions (sometimes within the same book, never mind between different authors), it soon pays off – your readings will be deeper, more flexible and fluent as you create your own accent of the literal Lenormand language.
2. Study the History. The Lenormand has developed over a shorter period of time, and in a more constrained way, than Tarot, for example, until recently. It makes it far easier to trace the development of the lexicon and grammar of the card meanings, starting with the Game of Hope. We can then range through cartomantic meanings and associations, and symbolic systems such as dream interpretation and coffee-grind readings, etc. This will again widen your ability to appreciate the symbols and create readings.
3. Practice. There are many online venues, such as our own LEARNING LENORMAND study group on Facebook, where you can practice with others. All will be dependent on the people creating, joining and contributing to the group, so find the best place for you to practice.
4. Read what experienced readers have to say on their craft. Whether they learnt from their “grandmother”, or picked it up over four decades of reading from their home, making it up from what worked, everyone has an opportunity to share their methods and styles.
5. To start, don’t get too carried away with deck-purchasing unless you are a collector or enthusiast for different decks. Whilst we promote the innovative and beautiful new decks now appearing on a weekly basis, for a beginner, we recommend the Piatnik, Dondorf, Blue Owl, our own “Original Lenormand” (from the original 1800 game of Hope by J. K. Hechtel), or whichever deck appeals most to you. Once you have got reasonably confident in one deck out of maybe three or four you have purchased, then dive into the cartomantic ocean waiting for you with many possible new decks!
6. Take Courses. As with any subject, you will learn differently with different teachers, no matter what the content. It is important you find someone who teaches in a way that works for you. There’s nothing more frustrating than good content presented badly, or in a confusing manner. If you are paying for a course, then check whether you are getting value compared to “free” content online. A paid course should be so because it features an experienced teacher in the subject, high quality research or material, or high production values – or a combination of those things, which cost money to produce.
7. Ignore anything you might read about “tradition”. Stating that there is a definitive singular tradition (whether based on language, geography or teacher) is a very difficult thing to prove. There is a lot of ongoing research into this, and until it is published, there will be a lot of “noise” about “THE German tradition” or “THE French tradition”. It would be fantastic if we could get ten different (and isolated from each other) readers in Germany, speaking German only, each of whom we could demonstrate learnt from several generations back. We could then interview them, and their parents and grandparents. We could then compare their lexicon (card meanings, i.e. FISH = MONEY), and grammar (card combinations, i.e. FISH + CLOVER = Luck in Money). We could then check that all 36 meanings and any combinations were IDENTICAL across all ten readers, and their parents and grandparents. We could then ensure that they were NOT identical to anything published, or had consistent variations. THEN we could begin to suspect an entirely separate oral tradition, belonging to a particular language or geography – and we could then look to trace any written source, such as cartomantic manuals in old German dating back to the last several centuries. A big job …
8. Stick to one set of “rules” or meanings. Read left to right, or right to left, read the Bear as Money, a job or mothers, but only one of those things (meaning you’ll need another card for the other things), and so on. But stick to one set. Read, practice, and over time you’ll calibrate that to your experience. As an example, one reader (in tarot) always read the 5 of Pentacles as “poverty”, but consistently got financially comfortable people for whom that card was coming up. He started to ask them about their situations, and soon discovered that the card was more about “deferred comfort”, that’s to say, people investing for the long-term, going on an expensive course so they couldn’t enjoy the comforts of life, etc., planning for the long-term. So now, for him, that card means that, rather than “poverty” as he started using. Just test one set of meanings until it snaps into place.
9. Use as many cards as you can. In Lenormand, I feel, I learnt best by starting with the Grand Tableau, even though I only read a few cards in it to begin with. I then branched out, rather than got frustrated with trying to make sense out of two or three cards. It was avoiding what I see often with beginners, “Oh, I am doing two cards for my daily draw, and I got “CLOVER + FISH”, lucky money, or money bringing luck, any other ideas?” Well, that’s it, really! I’d be more interested then to know where that was coming from, how I could recognise – or indeed – encourage this situation. And I’d need more cards to tell me; where’s the Fox, the Bear – is it an opportunity at work? Where’s the Mountain, the Snake, the Cross – anything to stop it happening? And so on. At least with starting with the Grand Tableau you have the opportunity to read outwards as and when you can, and with context.
10. Have fun, explore, take your time, and bring your own voice to the cards. We feel the Lenormand has a unique “literal Lenormand” language in the world of cartomancy. It will be a while before the current interest settles into longer-term usage in a wider audience. Some things will re-surface and be taken up by a lot of people, other things will remain peculiar to just one reader. Some teachers and decks will flourish, others will falter. There are still new discoveries and insights to be made, and this will take time. Don’t waste it by doing anything other than enjoying your own personal studying and reading of the cards.