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« against the Lenormand deck » < Tarot & Cartomancie, Bertrand

« against the Lenormand deck »

note : this highly controversial paper was first published on facebook in march 2014 under the not less controversial title "Why I hate Lenormand".

First of all despite everything that follows, I should state that I don't hate any card – playing cards, divination cards, … - so I don't hate Lenormand decks as another deck of cards pattern, I even quite enjoy it to the point I designed a Lenormand deck for the pleasure of exploring the design.

Nor don't I hate the late Mademoiselle Lenormand, I'm certainly not her biggest fan and can't say I found anything worthy in her narcissistic writings, but I enjoy the mythology that was built around her and I love to pay a visit to her grave at the Pere-Lachaise more often than not. It's a charming and touching place, filled with a good energy. Plus Miss Lenormand had no involvement in the “Lenormand” deck design nor did she used it.

I certainly don't hate Lenormand readers, I know and have much respect for several people who are pretty good at using this deck, even using very codified methods.

What I hate and despise is the narrow minded, bourgeois and egocentric world described in the petit Lenormand cards. This has nothing to do with my appreciation of the cards kitschy aesthetic style – I even frankly like the nice old fashioned pictures. This is about a metaphor of the world that is pure stinky garbage.

What is the world of the Lenormand ? It's a bourgeois world where Madame awaits patiently Monsieur, within those rich gardens, those overly decorated interiors ; a life where the countryside and nature are turned into cliches, an existence resumed to being an obeisant child, where dog are well tamed, where one should avoid dangerous snakes, stay away from foxes - those vile wild creatures filled with viruses and parasites – or bears, where the ideal is to meet a good and behaving wife in a well tailored garden, or awaiting in the comfort of a boudoir a rich husband who 'll send a nicely turned letter along with flowers to obtain what he wants, where authority and education are expressed with a whip, where being fearful of the cross is mandatory.

Hell, even a tree is threatening in the Lenormand ! Even a Mountain ! Even clouds ! In this society you don't mention death save by the coward metonymy of a coffin ; a book is mostly decorative and nearly never opened, and like in the XIXth century mice are a big concern and sign of decay.

Truth is nineteenth century sucked by many aspects, it was not “spiritual” save for a handful of people, in fact XIXth century was the moment when spirituality became mundane, what anchored in history the spiritual failure of the XVIIIth century, the victory of self centered “skeptics” and the glory of narrow minded bigots.

It is very true some fine people manage to get over this disgusting and ridiculous image of the world, and to interpret the deeper values or concepts hidden behind these images.

I don't, because those are not nice little images of a sympathetic world, and those cards are guilty.

I can't decide if the original designs (that dates back to the late XVIIIth century as we currently know) were the creation of some propagandist rich card maker or the ideas of a “wannabe rich man”,  but it doesn't really matter because the Lenormand cards are icons of a world any decent human being will want to set on fire, the portrait of a repressive and hypocrite society that deserves a bloody revolution, an ode to a possessive universe filled with frustration, fear, envy, jealousy, hate and a will for domination over the woman, over the employee, over the animals, over nature.

This is the picture painted by those apparently innocent and charming images, that's why I admire them because managing to condense so many miserable values, so much lack of any wisdom, so few humor in only 36 cards is quite an evil achievement. I admire the very act of cartomancy, managing to use such an emptiness on the spiritual, magical and moral plane for the sacred play of divination is quite an achievement too (but in a good sense this time).

Entering this Lenormand world directly is like praising those “good old dictatorial governments”, being regretful of the nice old time when criminals were tortured, burned at stake or hanged upside down, it's a conservative universe.

Good Lenormand readers, you'll notice, are often full of humor and second degree, sometimes sarcastic and definitely have a true magic understanding of the world, because this is at least what it takes to work with such a straightforward and void of any humility portrait of the creation. It takes that, and even more humor and very strong guts not to throw up in front of this despicable vision of life, with a good orientation and a fierce will not to be absorbed by this materialistic trap.

That being said, those Lenormand decks are cards deck, and I love cards... so about my relationship with the Lenormad : “it's complicated” as they say on Facebook ; anyhow don't forget you can buy my Palimpsest Lenormand deck (along with other wonderfull stuff) at !


B.S.G. (worst salesman ever)