Let’s start at a beginning. I say ‘a’ beginning and not ‘the’ beginning because this post, the first in a new series, is not looking at the official start of the Lenormand cards in the history of card readings. Rather a beginning of a my look into the world of how I read with the cards and the methods that have helped me understand them.
To begin I’m going to go though the cards one by one and share my understanding of the card meanings through both the historic and a modern sense. My opinion is that were we to only look at how they were read back in the 1800’s, we would be doing them a great disservice by sticking them in the back of a parlor room under a lace napkin. To me this puts them in a historical bubble and not as a living oracular system.
Personally, I’m not a fan of remembering long, literal, lists of keywords as is popular today, but rather I prefer to create conceptions which associate to the image meanings and how they can be conveyed. Thinking about the full possibilities that a card image symbolizes can take out some of the guess work of how the cards relate to each other and assist the organic nature of the readings. My set of meanings is derived from my teacher’s meanings, Rana George, lessons in cartomancy from a great reader named Jason Farnsworth, the original rules to the Game of Hope (the original, 1790’s German parlor game) and my own findings over the past several years of using them. These have all come together to help in forming my experience and diatribes here.
Throughout my postings, I’m going to try to stick with the same format for each card. Hopefully, this will keep some continuity to the work as a whole. First, I will go into the original sources and then into a little of how I see the cards interact with other cards, this is commonly referred to as ‘card combinations’. Beginning immediately with card combinations does prove challenging as all the cards may not be fully explained as yet. However, I believe that reading cards in combination is so very important, I would be remiss to not begin with this approach. I ask you, dear reader, please stick with me, and I fully expect that they will still prove useful over time, and certainly by the time the series comes to a conclusion.
The deck starts off with a card called “The Rider”, sometimes referred to as “The Cavalier”. This traditional card meaning poses an interesting way to start a deck, with ‘impending news’. It seems that the deck is already telling us it’s purpose in being in our lives.
In the instructions of ‘Das Spiel der Hofnung’, ‘The Game of Hope’, one is directed to lay out the whole of the pack of cards in order from 1-36 into a ‘table’, forming 6 rows of 6 cards. Then a marker for each player is placed on the starting card (Card 1, the Rider) and players roll a set of dice working their way around the table to the end. One of the main aspect of game play came when a player would land on a card. If that card was seen as favorable or unfavorable the player’s marker was sent either backward or forward. 15 of the 36 cards are neutral, neither advancing nor hindering the players in their quest to get to the end of the table.
The Rider is one of those neutral cards. In most traditional readings, it is seen as a card bearing some sort of news. I can get behind that idea. Seeing that; packages, correspondence and tidings of goings on, most likely came to someone via a person (most likely a man) riding a horse would make sense. Imagine the excitement of living out in the country and the letter carrier rides up to the house. One knew it was important because there was no junk mail back then.
So we need to know that part of what this card conveys is going to be important, but what that is the card itself can’t tell us. Much like the person carrying the letter won’t know what is in it. This card, like several in the deck is very much dependent on the cards around it to know what it is that is going to happen. If it is pulled out as a one card reading then the best you can tell a person is that ‘news is arriving’. A good sentence to say, but what news? Be it of goodwill or not, is not for this card to tell us.
In looking back at the older decks the Rider is holding a whip as if it is meant to speed the horse along so speed is part of the message. This means when a person asks how long till this news will arrive we can say that it will arrive quickly. Most likely within a day or a week. In Pixie, the Rider carries the caduceus so we have a symbol of his movement and speed. If we want to think of this card as a person it would be one that is fit, athletic, and maybe an animal lover, who is smartly dressed and has good dexterity. All this fits into the image we see before us and we can glean just from thinking of the idea of a Romantic Era horseman. Even today usually persons with horses are dressed in well fitting clothing. Since this is a quick fast moving card is love was in the reading the relationship wold be one that is moving quickly, or is going to be happening very soon. Likewise health issues would be face moving ones, most likely dealing with the knees and legs. This makes sense in the image as the news is being delivered on the legs of the horse.
The cartomancy insert places this card with the 9 of Hearts which is a good thing. It’s a time where the playing card meaning and the Lenormand traditional meaning can line up pretty well. As one will see over time this will not always be the case. For those unfamiliar with how cartomancy looks at card suits understand that red suits are considered favorable and black ones less so. In red suits higher numbered cards are more desirable because one wants a greater ‘number’ of good things in their lives. Like cupcakes, 10 are better than 1. When it comes to the suits of clubs, the idea is exactly opposite. They go 1-10 because you want a lesser amount of hardships e.g.1 bill to pay is better than 10. Bringing us back to the 9 of Hearts it is given an unofficial nickname as ‘the wish card’ so here we can say we are wishing for the news that is being delivered by the Rider in the card to be favorable. The 9 of Hearts was also looked upon as being able to turn bad cards before it around, that to can work in our favor when using it in Lenormand readings. Not always the case but it can be a factor in getting a more nuanced reading without having to resort to jumping around to more and more cards.
When using this card in a reading I see the card laid out just before it as an indication of the type of news, or the situation the message is coming from. The card just after it as the effect the news is going to be having on the reader’s life. Pretty simple to start. It can get more complicated then this. As with any reading the cards around the card adds a great deal to things but more on that as we go along.