If you have been lurking in the divination space for any length of time, you would have come across different types of cartomancy (divination or fortune telling with cards) decks.
Most shops will stock the standard Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards, however there are in fact other forms of cards used for divination. One such example is a small set of cards known as the Lenormand deck.
What is a Lenormand Deck?
Lenormand cards are a cartomancy deck (deck of cards used for fortune telling) originally consisting of 36 cards (however modern extended editions can have more).
These illustrated cards are known as the Petit Lenormand, or simply "Lenormand cards" and are commonly used today especially in France & other European countries. However they are also used in other regions of the world.
Lenormand cards were named after Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772–1843), a woman considered by the French to be one of the greatest cartomancers of all time. A French bookseller, cartomancer & fortune teller, Marie was famous during the Napoleonic era and had a career spanning 40 years. After her death in 1843, the Lenormand cards were developed, based upon a German card game published circa 1799, known as “The Game Of Hope” (Das Spiel der Hoffnung).
How are Lenormand Cards Read?
Lenormand readings often use simple, linear spreads, where cards are read in pairs or lines to form a narrative. The cards contain straightforward imagery that is often literal (such as objects or people), making them easy to interpret.
Laying Out Lenormand Cards
There are different methods of laying out the Lenormand cards.
One method is laying them in a spread of 3 or 5 cards- laid from left to right.
Another method is laying them out in a grid of 9 cards with the centre card on the second row representing the topic. The cards around the centre are then interpreted in relation to the centre card.
A more complex version of reading the Lenormand cards involves using the entire deck of cards. This spread is called the “Great Scene” (Grande Tableau) and involves either 4 rows (4x 9 cards) or 5 rows (4 x 8 cards and 1 x 4 cards) of cards. The pattern of the cards laid out are interpreted by the reader in relation to the topic posed by the querant.
Main Differences between Lenormand Decks and Tarot Decks
Because they are cards, you may be wondering if you can use them in place of your standard tarot cards. If you are thinking this, think again. There are numerous differences between the Lenormand and standard Tarot Cards and we have listed the main differences below.
Number of cards:
Lenormand Decks: A standard Lenormand deck consists of 36 cards, numbered from 1 to 36, with each card having a specific name and image.
Tarot Decks: A standard Tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into Major Arcana (22 cards) and Minor Arcana (56 cards). The Minor Arcana is further divided into four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.
Card Design and Symbolism:
Lenormand Decks: Lenormand cards feature straightforward images that are meant to be easily interpreted. The images are often literal representations of objects, people, or concepts. The meanings of the cards are relatively fixed and rely less on symbolism.
Tarot Decks: Tarot cards are rich in symbolism and often depict allegorical or mystical scenes. The images on Tarot cards can be more abstract, and their meanings often require interpretation and intuition. A good example of this are the Rider Waite Tarot Cards pictured on the left.
Card Meanings and Reading Style
Lenormand Decks: Lenormand readings are typically more direct and focus on practical matters, everyday situations, and specific details. The meanings of the cards often combine to form sentences or phrases that provide straightforward answers. No Lenormand card has a stand alone meaning- the cards must be read together to form a sentence.
Tarot Decks: Tarot readings tend to be more in-depth and exploratory, delving into psychological, spiritual, and symbolic aspects of a situation. Tarot cards are often read in spreads, and their meanings can vary depending on their position in the spread and the reader's interpretation. Tarot cards due to their complex nature can stand alone, such as in a card a day tarot reading. Their meanings, unlike the Lenormand cards are not dependent upon what is around them.
Layouts and Spreads
Tarot Decks: Tarot readings use a wide variety of spreads, ranging from simple three-card spreads to more complex layouts like the Celtic Cross. The choice of spread can influence the depth and focus of the reading.
Lenormand Decks: Lenormand readings give blunt, concise answers to the question posed. They leave little to interpretation as is their literal nature.
Tarot Decks: Tarot readings give responses that can be quite complex, and the Tarot reader often needs to tap into their own intuition to interpret the scenes laid out by the cards.
As you can probably tell, while both Lenormand and Tarot decks are used for divination, they each have distinct characteristics in terms of card design, symbolism, meanings, and reading styles.
Lenormand cards tend to be more straightforward and focused on practical matters, while Tarot cards offer deeper exploration of psychological and spiritual aspects.
The choice between the two often depends on your individual preference and your experience with the different systems. If you are a practical person who wants simple answers to everyday problems, you may wish to try a Lenormand Deck. On the other hand, if your problems are complex or you wish to explore the psychological, spiritual or symbolic aspects of a particular situation, Tarot could be a better fit for you.
The best way to pick a deck that resonates with you is to try a few decks and see which you prefer.
Do you use Lenormand Decks? Oracle Decks? Or Tarot Decks? Let us know in the comments section!
If you are looking for Tarot decks, check out our collection of Tarot and Oracle Cards here.