When Variety Isn’t A Spice

The “Wanderer” Card from the Canadian TV show “Lost Girl”

Cartomancy is a big top circus tent which houses many systems. In each card system are a multitude of deck variations, from Tarot to playing cards, from European oracle decks to the five symbol Zener cards used to test psychics. All one needs is a card in Cartomancy with something written on it, or not.

However, each card system is different. It has been my experience in learning multiple systems that one fares best by concentrating or focusing on them – one at a time. The process is helped along by using one learning deck exclusively. Deck collecting is tempting, but is a distraction for the serious Cartomancy student.  

The idea of conversions or comparing one card to another in a different system is dangerous. It is best to drop all prior knowledge of other systems one has encountered when beginning to learn a new methodology.

Multiple courses taken at the same time also hinder the learning process.  One will wander throughout  the diverse systems of Cartomancy forever the dilettante if one cannot curb the impulse of the mind to chase “shiny new things” long enough to dig deep and go below the surface meaning or face values of the cards.

Immersion works best. If you are learning Lenormand which is labor intensive for Tarot readers, stick to it solo until you reach the intermediate stage. This is not judged by courses taken but by an ability to actually read the cards smoothly for oneself.   It took me five years to be comfortable in reading and speaking the Lenormand language.

Multiple courses juggled  at the same time for example Lenormand and Kipper or Kipper and Gypsy do not give one’s subconscious mind the selective repetition it needs to absorb the symbol language of a deck . Though some decks may be historically, culturally and geographically connected the skilled use of them requires some initial separation.

One will find readers  specialize in one particular system and generally will use one deck in said system. They are not Jacks of All Trades. However, Cartomancers do switch their primary reading system or deck over time because either the psychic environment or they themselves have changed.

*Second image is of the oil on canvas ” The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” painted by Caspar David Friedrich circa 1819 in Hamburg, Germany.  It is the source of “The Wanderer” card created for the TV series.

Welcome 2017!

A “Little Child” has been born. We put up the new calendar and we start fresh. Can you simply  look forward without carrying anything other than the prospect of new adventures on your back? The stork has landed and he wears boots.

Novelty is the trend. The element of the unexpected and the “jamais vu,” or the never seen are the predominant energies in the air.

Make some new different plans instead of those old 31 day resolutions. Okay?

Happy New Year!


Christmas Day 2016

The Mystical Kippers are great for notation of the function of cards in psychological and esoteric readings. In card 17, we find a Christmas tree is in the center with many gifts arranged beneath it. What is added is the feature of many open eyes in the background.

Perhaps this is a reference to the holidays themselves as being “observed” as often the tree is a gathering place for extended family.

The deeper message is one of being watched.  In this way of viewing the scene the gifts beneath the tree come with strings or cords which connect the recipient to their giver in ways not readily apparent. String and cords, ribbons and wrapping paper all have additional meanings in the “mystical” sense as boons. The archaic meaning of  a boon is a favor or a request. The gift is a favor or a request which is wrapped in or hidden under the paper.

So when “receiving a gift” beware the strings.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Part of the reason why the German oracles are so effective when they are used in the traditional way is that they are clear and to the point. The skilled reader uses the lenormand combinations or the Kipperkarten scenarios to answer the question. Simple as that!

In the dispersion of energy the Querent also plays a role. It is hard to get one focused question for a read. The question itself spreads over into two or three separate issues, a juggernaut which includes judgements, conclusions and accusations, a knot to be untied  before a wise reader spreads the cards.

The New Age tendency for readers to play the role of “Pollyanna” wearing rose tinted glasses is what defused Tarot rendering it practically useless! The mindset of the average 21st century card reader is one of intuitive meandering in a maze of tall hedges.

It is unfortunate but this attitude has already entered  full blown into the ranks of so-called Lenormand teachers and readers who say they “read intuitively” i.e. without taking the time to fully learn the method as they pluck  flowers in the garden of multiple decks not realizing each deck variation is a universe within the multiverse of  Lenormand or Kipperkarten-  a world within a world!

I am sure these ways will reach deep into Kipperkarten  before the attention of the online card community moves on to the next  trendy oracle deck to purchase, spread and posthaste dilute.


The Blue Owl deck is not the only Lenormand deck to show Owls but it is the European Standard Deck and has reached more hands than any other in this classification.

Owls are the quintessential night birds. In the lore of dark magic they are messengers with human like vocal intonations who sit, watch  and comment upon the nocturnal actions of  men and Spirits. Owls are predators, their night vision, sharp talons and quiet winged flight allows them to easily scoop up prey.

Owls in ancient times were a  totem of  Mother Wit or Feminine Wisdom, protectors and warners of  women who worked deep in the forests at night guided through the bush by the light of fireflies.

There is an element of shape shifting  associated with Owls, a mystery which blurs the line between feathers and skin under the Dark Moon.

In Dark Art combinations the Owls card brings a message of magic afoot and of masquerades, but beware how you treat these messengers – they are skilled assassins.

The Birch Rod

Shown is an image from The Game of Hope or the Primal Lenormand of Card 11. The Birch Rod is also titled as the Broom or the Whip. The Dondorf  image shows the Broom and the Whip. We will look at the original image for this discussion.

Of course the Birch Tree or Mama Betula as an Elder Tree has inherent magical qualities. It is the staff and  besom of the Wise Woman.  The gathered pieces of birch branches are decorated by red thread. It is not coincidence that the Birch rod on the Game of Hope card shows red flowers. A sturdy limb of Birch made into a staff can be effectively used by an Elder for purposes of exorcism or the banishing of storms. The parchment made from a birch tree is good for writing out sigils of protection.

The besom is hearth tool and broom a way to  sweep out and away accumulated negativity, and to disperse parasites which cling to the human aura. The most iconic image of the Birch Rod is of the Witch’s Broom. It is a symbol of nocturnal flight by the dark body of the Seer.

The metaphysical meaning of the Birch Rod is: CONTROL, FORCE OR DOMINATION. It represents actions which are repeated, over and over such as exercises, training and rituals. Its appearance in certain combinations with the Dark Art Cards alerts a reader -practitioner of Work being done against a Querent or Work needing to be done on the Querent’s behalf.

Dark Art Cards

The Serpent’s Door

We will begin to look towards the darker meanings of the lenormand cards. These meanings can alert a reader to  energetic disturbances and imbalances in and around the client.

In the Lenormand deck there are traditionally seven cards which in certain combinations  can be interpreted as dealing with the interference or manipulation of energies aka negative magic.

We will look at each of these cards in turn to discuss their symbolic and folkloric values before forming  the pairs or combinations of warning.

08- The Coffin

11- The Whip

14- The Fox

18- The Dog

17- The Stars

26- The Book

32- The Moon

When using the standard European Blue Owl deck, card 12 The Owls is added to the list. Practitioners will include card 07 The Serpent at the top of the list bringing the number of Dark Art cards to nine.

Oracle Reading as Skill

I see a lot of readers their queries and interpretations in short spreads posted to Lenormand forums.  What I continue to observe is that most people have not “studied” the cards, having rushed past the introductory phase in their haste to get into the Game. This is recognized by the use of single card meanings or keywords in an interpretation. Lenormand is read by combinations only. The basic meaning of any card is geared towards the making of a pair.

As a self-taught German school lenormand reader I started when there were few English written resources and only standard Lenormand decks available by order in the US.

By way of German data bases, websites and online translators in conjunction with the faithful practice of daily draws and journaling, I slowly began to tune into the energy of the Lenormand method. It wasn’t easy and it surely wasn’t fast. I will say things didn’t click for me until around the 3 year mark.

When lenormand method is learned as a skill there is no need for “feelings” when examining a line of cards. One reads the symbols, follows the directions of the signs and uses the formula for pairs to get an answer from the cards. This is the root of clear interpretation- never guessing, never rote meanings lifted from a book or assumptions colored by personal experiences or opinions. The disciplined development of learning a deck from the bottom up, from rank to rating to pairs by way of a daily 3 card draw eliminates any need for fill in the gap supposition. When one chooses the number of cards to be spread whether it be a 5, 7, or 9 card line, one is setting an intention. Context, skill and intention eliminate the need for the false support of pulling extra cards, i.e. shadow or clarifying cards.

It is best to steer away from complications in the beginning stage such as mirroring and knighting.  Bringing in playing card meanings is also a bad idea for a beginner. It is best to use the inserts as “people” indicators and not mix the methods of playing cards divination such as counting the number of red and black suits to evaluate whether the read is positive or negative.

Why? The German method rates the 36 cards themselves as positive, negative or neutral/a balanced mix.  This is something most Lenormand readers seem to skip altogether in the learning process. The card ratings help the beginner in working out the meanings of paired combinations in a daily 3 card draw. Neutral’s balance takes on the tone of the positive or negative cards in proximity. Two neutral rated cards with a positive are a yes. Two neutrals with a negative rated card is a no.

I started with the German school and  have stuck with it. I am aware of the Belgian, French and Brazilian variations of lenormand card meanings but do not chose to incorporate those meanings in my general client interpretations. Card sums or the adding of the values of the numbers on the cards is a Tarot tool and is not traditional to lenormand. Mixing systems and inventions result in confusion, while simplicity brings clarity.

The Anatomy of the Lenormand Key Card

The Lenormand card 33 The Key is a positive rated card often read as a confirmation or a yes in a small spread. This is much too simple and vague. The meaning of the Key as a topic card involves security and by extension what is accessible or available.

Let us look closely  at the horizontal  illustration of the parts of a key shown below. The left side or the bow of the Key can say that the card falling on the left or before it is protected or secure, i.e. locked or closed. The card to the right or in front of the business end of the key as shown would be unlocked, open or accessible.

In the vertical style of Card 33 one would read the image as the card on the shaft or pin side being closed or protected and the card on the bit side as opened up or accessible.

Lenormand cards are directional as one moves forward in interpretation. In a linear read of 5, 7 or 9 cards, The Key can be used  based on direction whether vertical or horizontal to shed more light on the cards which it pairs with or touches.