Sunday, April 8, 2012

Importance of imagery on deck

I have seen many decks, like 5-8 till now and they each try to portray a different side of each card in their imagery. I will give an example of the these two cards:

Deck: Lilac Twilight
This is the beautiful and really beautiful deck Lilac Twilight. In this card we can see a ship which is probably facing some rough times in a rough sea. The wave is high, the ocean looks scary, the Ship looks like barely keeping its balance and I don't know how it will survive the angry ocean.

Isabel's Dream Lenormand
what comes to my mind is, a difficult journey, facing troubles, rough journey.

Now take a look at another really really beautiful deck:

A really dream-like scene. Luxurious cruise, perfect day, beautiful waters in my favourite colour, the way I want my ocean to look like, romantic and smooth. This actually symbolises one's dreams of being on a holiday, going travelling in a cruise.

Both decks give me different feelings.  get totally different meanings from both decks. I believe I'm not alone in this.

Now lets look at another of my favourite examples:

This is the 22-Roads card from Titania's deck
Titania's deck
This card looks like a road, a long journey, a path which is taking you somewhere you don't know or cannot see.

On the other hand, this is the Roads card from Mystical Lenormand which has two roads , a choice, a decision coming up.The sign of Libra in the top corner also reminds me that this card is about keeping a balance, a sense of two, with the number 22.

Mystical Lenormand

Now what made me post this post?

I believe I'm not alone in this, but don't we get a different feel from different decks. If yes, then which one is the right choice for us?

Does the imagery on deck changes our meanings for the card and do they help us sticking to the original meanings or do we deviate from them when we have others things added in between?

I cannot tell myself " a choice or a decision" when I look at the Titania's 22-Roads card. I would rather call it a long way.

I have decided to put up a poll on the blog, which you can see right to the left. I would like if I get your opinion on this. Please share your thoughts in comments.

Thank you


  1. I think you have a very good point in what you are saying.
    I used the Blue Owl, Titania and now I'm used the French Cartomancy deck. I joined the Facebook Lenormand group, studied Sylvie Steinbach's method and to be honest, it can all be a little overwhelming at times! Do you think we should therefore all stick to one deck only? or, as long as we know the base meanings for each card, then the meaning doesn't change regardless of what deck we use?


  2. Hello Martyn

    I find myself very confused on this matter. The people whom I have learnt the language of Lenormand from have been reading these cards for years and years e.g Andy, who always emphasized that one should stick to a few meanings at a time, and even when you add your own meanings they should not be deviating from the original symbolism. On the other hand, I see a new meaning emerging in every book and every deck I see. I gave you two examples in this post. I have seen on a forum where people have posted more than 10 meanings for one card, they say its given in their "little white book". I honestly do not know which deck one should or should not use. This is the reason I have posted this topic and the poll as well. How about you? What would you say about this?

    Thank you and Blessings

  3. Hi,

    Well I own a few Lenormand decks and most mainly stick to the French Cartomancy..I think a card becomes personal to the reader in all honesty..Yes, there are many many different perceptions of what each card means but I don't think anyone is right or wrong in their interpretations. I've been a tarot reader for many years now and I'm always learning still. I find the Lenormand more flexible than the tarot as you can be a bit more specific with timing etc. I don't use the LWB with any deck. Yes it's always nice to read what the author says about the cards but as I said, I feel as if the meanings should be more personal. I'm following Talia's method of Lenormand now on Tarot Town. Do you know of it? if not I can send you a link. There's also an excellent group on Facebook too :) Oh I did want to say that I very much enjoy following your blog too!

  4. Yes I agree with you about the meanings and associations being personal but what I meant was, do you attribute different meanings to different cards when you use different decks? I can not tell myself "a trip or travel" if I look at 3-Ship in Lilac Twilight deck. or may be its just me?

    Any how I took a peek in to the Talia's course going on and I closed it off after the very first lesson. Its not my thing. The meanings list she has attributed to the cards, I disagree with most of them and most of the beginners are following them given there, if I give my own, I will feel left out :)

    Yes I saw the really active facebook group too, lots of information there too.

    Thank you and blessings for encouragement and discussing this aspect with me.


  5. Yes I do tend to use the same meanings with whatever deck I use. The only one that slightly differs is the Mystical as there are a lot more things to see in the deck. I might perhaps add a little information but the meaning for me still remains the same. I think the meaning you gave to to the ship in the Lilac deck is spot on! You are using your intuition which is what we are supposed to do. If someone else doesn't see what you see then that doesn't mean that your meaning is wrong. Don't forget, all the people who write about the Lenormand readings get their meanings from somewhere and who says that they are correct? ;)

  6. Yes Martyn I must agree with you. But I'm still confused why would the creators of different decks want to give a different perceived meaning to the cards? Its too confusing. I love the decks, all of them, this Lilac Twilight is becoming a favorite but I guess I'm too traditional in my approach to Lenormand and I would like to stick to that. The more meanings I try to create, more confused I get. Last night I threw the combinations list away and did the weekly spread, which I will post soon, and for the first time I realized it was easier to interpret when I stick to few meanings (basics) for each card, like 3-4 keywords, instead of a whole list of 15-20 meanings.

    just my thoughts. and again, one should stick to whatever system works for them.

  7. I agree with you. I stick to a few keywords too. I find that any card system that's been changed in artwork will always have the creators own personal interpretation in them somewhere. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to the Lenormand! I like the cards simple and uncluttered so it gives me deeper scope to think about things. I've learnt more from reading blogs than I have from any book.

  8. What an excellent topic for a poll, Alyna. I voted ‘no’, but I thought I’d explain why.

    Lenormand is often grouped in with the Gipsy decks (Hungarian-German 19th century fortune telling decks). However, if truth be told, what Lenormand is most similar to, is tea leaf reading.

    Tasseography is completely symbolic. Like Lenormand, the meanings attached are to the shape or symbols, rather than the actual iconography or pictures as seen in tarot.

    You can’t exactly read the tea leafs and allow for any overt pictures lol.

    For this reason, Lenormand cards are noted for their starkness. It’s a “quick clue” system based on common association. Thereby you read what a Fox means rather than the actual Fox.

    A good explantion for this is the Cross. When you look at the Cross card you can tell about its country. In protestant Germany, you get a cross (Dondorf), in catholic Austria, a crucifix (Piatnik).

    In Germany a crucifix would be seen as idolatry, as opposed to a blank cross, which is ‘your burden’.

    In the 19th century, these meanings would be more or less second nature. Obviously, in non-European cultures, this might be harder to grasp i.e. the USA or Brazil.

    The cards symbolic meanings are still largely known in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, culturally. So, they don’t seem to be tempted in the way some are to try and reinvent the cards meanings.

    This is why I couldn’t quite understand the AT’s ‘school’ jumping straight in with personal attributions when they’re yet to know the cards. Both Sylvie Steinbach and Droesbeke urge people to develop their knowledge before adding on. They call it 'good habits'.

    Tradition wise, personal attributions do occur, however, but normally in combinations. This is because the cards respond to what I call, 'regional slang'. However, it's still the same language.

    Here, in the main schools, they do allow for which way is the Ship facing, the Clouds, or the Mice eating what’s on the left to lose what’s on the right, or the shroud of the Coffin. Iris Treppner's online course skipped this, but my friend says in her German book she doesn't.

    But again this is still firmly within the tradition of reading ‘a’ Fox or Mice as opposed to ‘the’ Fox or Mice on the card.

    1. Thank you Andy for your detailed explanation. I started learning the oracle mainly from the Treppner course and from you and others on AT, this is the reason I find myself very much traditional in the language. I am still sticking to the original attributions like Anchor for Job and not Moon (like you do). My second best teacher was time and practice which helped me realizing that if I try to deviate from the meanings, I will just end up a mess. Its really strange to see individuals attributing random stuff off the shelf with each card and every time there is a new meaning emerging (oh my I've done that too). I find myself very much like a beginner and I feel like there is lots to learn as of yet, this is the reason I joined that course on another forum, the school at AT and others, but they are a total disappointment. They are just making new associations for the students and students are developing a new dictionary instead of "learning" the language as it is. Its heart-warming. I myself often deviate from original meanings thus I have learnt the hard way that its not right thing to do.

      I really wish students will see and learn the "actual" language instead of forming their own dictionary and the way they are going we will soon see an emerging dictionary with a 100+ pages for meanings only.

  9. The huge differences in the decks led me to study knowledgable blogs. They are confusing, especially to us in the USA, where books that give historic evidence and the tradition of Lenormand are not available in English. We are at the mercy of Sylvie Steinbach and Mario Dos Ventos. How are we to learn with a dearth of info here? Unfortunately, the Roma culture is largely unknown or thought of as "Gypsy" with negative connotations, as sad as that is. Most of us don't have the benefit of having an aunt to teach us. Moreover, publishers like to make decks designed to stir intuitive response, like the Angel and Mermaid decks, and this approach to oracles is what drives the market in the US. Some newer Tarot decks take this view, resembling little of the Rider Waite deck of old. To us, a structured pictorial language that has been around for a few centuries is unknown. So people wanting to seriously study the cards confuse how they should learn them at the very beginning. Publishers reinventing the oracle confuses and thwarts people's exploration of Lenormand. For this reason, many people here have assumed that they can make their own language with knowing the minimum meaning and following the pictures, ala Collette Baron- Reid/Sonya Choquette. This is not Lenormand.

    Lenormand is the only deck I use and have ever studied. My learning is strictly from the school of hard knocks and sheer tenacity. I have been blessed with a great deal of free time in the last two years so have researched them intensively on my own. It became clear that it is more like hieroglyphs- a pictorial language. I have a psychic friend who wants to use the pictures as intuitive prompts and I'm always raining on his parade. If you don't know the history or the backgrounds of the cards, it's impossible to be accurate. Like any language, there are the basic noun and verb combos to learn as a beginner. It becomes more refined with practice and you discover that the cards do speak to you on a personal level. The interpretations of more than 3 cards at a time are very dependent on the positions they fall in relation to others, both in a row and column, on the GT, and depend upon your level of knowledge. For instance, it is very different to say "I need water, please" and "I want water" when speaking a language. It is the same in Lenormand.

    I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but am somewhere on the intermediate level. I have some personalized meanings from my own study that combine with my personal learning to form a language I use as a psychic, the meanings being the framework. At some point, we all develop this language, but to do so right at the beginning is like trying to speak fluent French with a six week starter course- it's not going to happen. Like ID Concealed, I am always learning when it comes to Lenormand and have resigned myself to the idea that it is a life-long pursuit.

    I'm been fortunate to have studied all the schools and am at the level now where I can go onto a blog and tell if the person writing the blog has taken the time to learn the cards beyond the no -layout and combination list in Sylvie'sbook. It's easy to criticize a person's methods for learning but we in the US do not have the the tools or culture available in Europe and must rely on her for most of our information. While she is very knowledgable, there are blogs written by people who think they know Lenormand simply because they've purchased her book or taken her course. This is not her fault, but simply a lack of availabilty and knowledge here. If I were to give advice to anyone undertaking Lenormand in the US, I would first say, "Find a knowledgable blog before sticking to any one theory" and "Forget Lenormand, unless you are prepared to also study numerology and astrology." We all want to speak languages correctly, so it is the same with Lenormand.

    1. Hi Michelle

      Thank you very much for your detailed reply and the suggestion. I would like to share with you that I'm also a non-US and non-European individual. I speak two languages only and one of them is English. I do not speak German, Russian, French or any other European language. But I must say that with passage of time I have made several mistakes too, over-indulgence and attributing lame meanings to the cards are two of them. I started both tarot and Lenormand together, but then I put tarot aside because I wanted to concentrate on lenormand only. I agree with you that there are very limited resources available in English. Most of my knowledge also came from blogs and Iris Treppner's course. I looked at the workshop of Sylvie Steinbach on AT forum and also the extracts and I found both systems contradicting. So I decided to stick to the German system only and I'm totally satisfied with it. I completely agree with you that it is a language and all learning and speaking rules of the language apply to the lenormand oracle as well. However, I have found that finding one system that suits you and then sticking to that system no matter how many other systems you come across. I have a list of Russian meanings, French combinations and German combinations, but I will rather follow or take guidance from one instead of switching between one and the other.

      Thank you so very much for stopping by. I can very much relate to your journey because my path is pretty much same as yours.


  10. Hi Alyna,
    I, too, found the different systems contradicting, which led me to study numerology and astrology in relation to the oracle. As Andy points out on his blog, these are cultural interpretations of the cards. (He's like a cartomancy encyclopedia :) Being American, where we are a melting pot of many cultures, it makes sense to me, for example that Fox, Anchor, and Moon all represent work in some way. I know how I deal with this when I read the cards, but my way of doing it is different from most people because my purposes for learning the cards are different from most people who study cartomancy. I don't NEED them to give a reading to someone. I'm more interested in developing a "complete" language by adhering to appropriate methods and meanings. One must know the appropriate methods and meanings first, which is where I am at now. And I've made PLENTY of mistakes!! LOL! Each cultural school of thought in Lenormand seems to have different priorities about topics for readings. Here is where my interest lies. Regarding the Ship card above: it is "Titanic" vs. "The Love Boat."

    1. I Like your take on the Ship cards above. I know bits and pieces of astrology but now I have started taking a course on Numerology as well because I think that is something very very important for everything I study, astrology, Tarot, oracles, everything.

  11. Coming in late, as usual. I live in the US. I discovered Lenormand on ATF and was immediately drawn into them, to the exclusion of Tarot. I entered with no preconceptions and wanted to learn them. First I got Sylvie's book. Then I encountered Melissa's cards and they were beautiful. I saw her 101 course. Then I got Iris Treppner's course. A completely different 'take' on Lenormand. Somewhere in there I found Andy's blog.

    I realized that there were different approaches to Lenormand. Finding Andy's approach/blog was the pivotal point in my Lenormand journey when I saw that he actually learned it from his family and practiced in the traditional ways. I did not want to pursue, shall we say more creative approaches over a tried-and-true method. Iris Treppner's course is fabulous but since it is a translation its presentation is not as sharp and clear as Andy's.

    Andy made it perfectly clear that the symbols are the language, not the evocative art. I have a few decks, including the Lilac Twilight, and see the artsy decks as simply eye candy. I don't see anything else 'in' them beyond the symbols of the cards.

    I think that is why I prefer the Lenormand over the Tarot -- because unlike the Lenormand is direct and to the point.

    I find it unfortunate that people who are drawn to Lenormand and truly want to learn the traditional methods have to take these unwelcome detours. The problem is that they all are based on the cards and since the variations are presented as Lenormand the distortions are not recognizable to the newbie until time is already invested with the incorrect versions.

    1. Thank you Chimera for sharing your story with us. I'm glad there are a few of us who found the proper track before wasting too much time. Some decks are actually very distracting.