Lenormand Couples Spread

This is something we all get asked about. Here’s an example of a pretty cool Lenormand couples spread along with the rules. I’m posting the rules first, but fear not, we are going to work through an entire real spread with them.

On the Lady’s side:

Above the Lady: Her thoughts and plans
Left of the Lady: Her hopes and desires
Right of the Lady: Qualities she displays in the relationship
Below the Lady: Her feelings

On the Gentleman’s side:

Above the Gentleman: His thoughts and plans
Right of the Gentleman: His hopes and desires
Left of the Gentleman: Qualities he displays in the relationship
Below the Gentleman: His feelings

Note that Hopes & Desires and Displayed Qualities switch positions for each party. That’s because the Lady is at the left, and the Gentleman is at the right, so we can see the Displayed Qualities – how they act towards each other – falling together. It makes a combination showing how they interact with each other as well as showing each of their separate actions.

Now, after you’ve interpreted the cards for each person, add up the numbers of the person’s cards (discounting the significator, which means you don’t add in the number 28 or 29, for the Lady or Gent respectively), then reduce the number to 36 or lower, and add that in as a general advice card for each of them. You can also read the two-card combo for a little information on where the relationship is heading. And then you can add those two cards together to get a likely outcome card for the relationship.


So let’s go through all that step-by-step, and take a look at the Lady first:

Okay, it doesn’t take much to realise this relationship is in serious trouble. The Scythe falls directly above the Lady, indicating her thoughts, and she’s thinking of ending it. Well, let’s see if we can see why. To the left of the Lady is the House, which is her hopes and desires – she wants a stable, solid relationshp, and it appears that isn’t what’s happening with this man. Directly below the Lady, indicating her feelings, is the Cross. She’s in pain here, but may be hanging on out of a sense of responsibility to the Gentleman. And how is she acting towards him? To her right, we see the Fox. Now there could be a little deceit going on, but given the rest of the reading, I’m thinking it looks more like she’s playing her cards close to her chest – she’s not doing or saying much right now, she’s protecting herself from hurt. Fox can indicate that sometimes, instead of out-and-out deceit, and given the pain she’s feeling from the Cross, I’m thinking it’s more self-protection that’s happening than outright lies. She’s not telling him everything, but her reasons seem to be more for keeping the peace than for lying to him. This woman is on the verge of walking out, and she doesn’t want it to be any more painful than it has to be.

Let’s take a look at the Gentleman’s side now.

Our Gentleman has the Whips above him in his thoughts position. There’s been a lot of arguing going on between these two, and he’s preoccupied with it. So this confirms the Lady’s current peace at any price stance. To the right of the Gentleman, we see the Fishes, indicating his hopes and desires. Mostly, this guy wants money, and there are some indications here that he may be a little too fond of the bottle, as well.

So we can already see a good deal of the source of the conflict. The Lady wants a nice, stable home with a good relationship, and the Gentleman appears to be a bit of a workaholic, and probably not spending too much time with her. And when they do spend time they argue. She wants him home, he’s convinced he has to spend more time making more money. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s one of the things that’s driving them apart, and sadly, one we’re seeing all too often in today’s world.

Let’s see what else is happening with the Gentleman. Uh-oh. His feelings, which are shown in the card beneath him, are the Snake. Now this could mean one of two things, or it could mean both of them. He wants a career-minded woman (this is the Snake), or possibly he’s already having thoughts about or actually having an affair with a woman who meets that description. OUCH. And that gives us more of the puzzle as to why he and the Lady are fighting.

As to how he’s acting in the relationship, we get the Child. In this case, I’m going to read the Child as him giving very little (remember that ‘a little bit, not very much’ is one interpretation of the Child), as well as acting naive or oblivious to the Lady’s concerns, or arguing with her when she brings them up. Now look back and see that the Lady is acting the Fox. She knows something’s wrong, probably knows what it is, hence both her pain (Cross), and thoughts of ending the relationship (Scythe).

Now, I’ll give you a tip here. Do we see any indication that the Gentleman is actually thinking of walking out in his cards? Actually, we don’t. Yes, there’s fighting, and yes, there may be another woman, but we have no indication that he’s going to leave the Lady. It’s she who’s thinking of leaving him. At best, with him we see a situation of having his cake and eating it, too. The relationship isn’t uncomfortable enough for him to bail, and it looks like he doesn’t see a problem with having both the Lady, and another woman on the side. People can be like that – bear it in mind. We get another indication of this from the Child card in his actions in the relationship. Yes, he’s playing naive, but he’s also depending on the Lady to keep the house running, the laundry done, the meals cooked, and what have you. It may not be the ideal, but it isn’t that uncomfortable for the Gent.

Whole different story for her, though.

Not a happy situation for these two, though I think it’s probably worse for her than it is for him. What to do? Can it be salvaged? Let’s take a look at the overall card for each of them.

For the Lady, we need to add up the following numbers: 10 (Scythe), 4 (House), 14 (Fox), and 36 (Cross). 10 + 4 + 14 + 36 = 64. That’s not going to do it, so we add 6 + 4 together to reduce the number to 36 or less, and end up with 10 – the Scythe.

For the Gentleman, we need to add up 11 (Whips), 13 (Child), 34 (Fishes), and 7 (Snake). This gives us 65, so we add 6 + 5 together, and come up with 11, the Whips.

When you add 10 + 11 together, you get 21, the Mountain.

If there’s any way to save this one, I can’t see it. We have arguments tearing the two of them apart, nothing bringing them together, and an impassable obstacle to look forward to if it continues. They’d be living in the same house in total estrangement, and she just can’t take that. Not to make this anymore of a grim fairy tale, but when you see Scythe + Whips, or even the other way around, especially with the Mountain following, you may be looking at a situation where domestic violence is the likely outcome.

You will get these readings for clients. Not always this dire, but some of them will be, and some will be worse. Happy people don’t go to fortune tellers, and one of the things most people are unhappy about is their love lives. So think carefully before you speak. I’m not suggesting you sugar-coat – in a situation like this it’s obvious there’s already a lot of pain, and it’s not getting any easier. And there doesn’t look to be a way out, not if they stay together. But do be kind in explaining this to your clients. Please. Because if they’re already in a world of hurt, they need you to acknowledge that – and sometimes, to just give them confirmation of what they already know.

It would be nice if there was always a happy ending, but often times there isn’t, and if you work in fortune telling, you’re likely to be the last stop for a lot of these folks. It doesn’t mean you can’t help. You can see what’s happening clearly if you’re good, and that means a lot. Most clients are tremendously appreciative of honesty, so long as you’re tactful. But you can’t always show people a way to put things back together again.

Anyway, this is how the spread is done, and I hope it’s given you some help or insight or pointers to work your way through it.


Bible Stories

I know, I know, not what you guys expected to see here, but bear with me. Mary Greer sent me a wonderful video about the future of storytelling.

Go take a look at it. I’ll wait. Of course card readers are storytellers, too – that’s part of what struck Mary about this. What struck me was – storytelling. The thing I’ve done all my life. It happens when I write about cards, too, or at least I hope it does, because telling stories – that’s how I try to reach you, to say something that’s important to me in a way that I hope you can understand.

So here is the bible story I promised you in the title. You may know that the big event in the Jewish bible was when God called Moses to Mount Horeb to give him instructions on how the Jews were to live.

The first time Moses attempted this the Jews behaved rather badly, with the upshot being that a couple of stone tablets containing some of God’s most important instructions were destroyed. A very bad thing, and that’s the story of the golden calf. That’s not our story, though.

God didn’t give up. He called Moses back up the mountain. And God and Moses talked for forty days. It was a pretty wide-ranging conversation from the accounts. Many instructions were given, including a small thing – but it wasn’t, really. God told Moses that a special type of candlestick, called a menorah, needed to be made for use in the Sanctuary, and later, in the Temple. You can click through the wiki link to see what it probably looked like. Moses wrote down the instructions, which you can find in the bible.

But if you want to know how the first menorah was actually created, you won’t find it in the bible. You need to turn to the oral tradition.

God was dictating, and Moses was dutifully transcribing the words, but God could see that Moses wasn’t getting it. Not really. Moses had a lot of virtues, but he simply wasn’t a visual-spatial thinker. But God, being God, realised there was a way he could solve the problem. And what he did was this: He sent a vision of the menorah directly to the artist Bezalel. And from that, Bezalel could translate it, could make God’s vision of the menorah into a proper thing-of-beauty-in-the-world. Because that – that is what artists do.

I wish this was more inspired, guys, I truly do. But when I thought about storytelling, that was the story that most came to mind. So I give it to you as part of this conversation amongst storytellers. It is only one perspective, albeit one that means something to me.

Here’s what I’d like in return: Tell me a story about storytelling. Write it in the comments if you like, or on your own blog, or maybe make a Facebook post. Please – tell me a story. The subject is so very big, if you’re a storyteller, or a card reader, or you consider yourself both. And I don’t have any answers to how storytelling will evolve. But I know we need to keep telling stories.

Best –

Can I Say My Opinion, Please?


It’s been a while since I’ve done this. And really, I’m not quite sure where to start.

The cartomancy community got fractured a few years ago, badly. Over Lenormand. Suddenly, everybody had an opinion about this, about traditional reading. There were personal attacks – a lot of them. Not to mention a rash of plagiarism the likes of which I’d never seen before. It was all so ugly it’s just painful to think about.

I’m not a fighter by nature. I’m just not. And this stuff – all this stuff that was happening – all these people with all these vicious words – it wasn’t helping. I don’t know how many friendships were broken over this. I don’t know how many livelihoods were lost. I don’t know how many good people got chased away from this community because they thought we were all crazy, and because it was a scary place to be, but it was more than a few. I saw so much of it.

I went away. I felt so much like I’d failed. Failed the cards, failed history, failed – you. I started writing about Lenormand because it’s such a fun little deck, with a lot of history and a lot of folklore behind it. It has a wonderful reading method passed on by oral tradition that anyone can learn. I’ve gotten so much enjoyment out of it over the years, and I wanted to share that with you. After the Lenormand wars (isn’t that a silly concept?) started, the message, what I wanted to say – it got lost in the din.

I was one of the first people to write about this deck in the English language. You couldn’t even get a copy of it outside of Europe and maybe Brasil back then.

How times changed. There was a trickle of decks. Then a flood. And all these Lenormand experts appeared, pro-tradition and anti-tradition. I’m not really sure where they came from. Me, I’m not an expert. I know a lot about these cards, but I’m not an expert.

But if you listened to these folks, a few things came to be considered pretty much fact, though the facts often contradicted each other. Tradition was designed to keep you out of Lenormand reading. That, they said, was only for the elite. Besides, it wasn’t even a living tradition. It was something stodgy and boring and near-death, and each card had a meaning that needed to be memorised. You’re a dilettante if you use card combinations (or if you don’t), proximity is the only true reading style, hell, if your deck has one bird on the Birds card, or three, instead of two, it’s not traditional. Even if you could remember that and the myriad other details, you could never read about your life. Because the cards were designed in the late 18th century, and people – they weren’t really people back then. They didn’t care about things like home, family, work, love. They weren’t like us.

So…what you really had to do was to read with psychic ability, though it’s generally called ‘intuition’ in non-traditional circles. If you tried to learn traditional reading, you’d be brainwashed; made a sheep. It also meant you weren’t a creative person, because to be creative you need to have utter contempt for both knowledge and history. And if you don’t do it that way (which way?), you’ll never be a real reader.

If you’ve ever wondered why anyone outside this community thinks we’re crazy, why no-one wants to get involved with us, you don’t have to look much further than this. And it still goes on.

Can I say my opinion, please?

Those folks lied to you. I’m pretty sure they lied to themselves, too, and probably fear of being wrong is what caused this inexorable split that looks so much the same on both sides. You lost, I lost, the cards lost. This neat little fortune-telling game – it wasn’t fun anymore. Too many people were trying to claim some identity for it, some personal or political symbol, and in all that madness, the deck itself pretty much disappeared. It simply couldn’t hold the weight.

So. Here we are.

I’d like to try this again. Maybe this time I’ll do it better. I’m a traditional reader. We didn’t used to use the word ‘traditional’ to describe it until pretty recently, because it was simply how you read Lenormand cards. And at the end of the day – Lenormand is a deck of cards. Nobody’s going to come to your house and arrest you because you’re playing with it wrongly, and if anyone thinks ill of you for doing it – they’re wrong. Pure and simple. If that’s what you want to do – feel free. Please.

But I would like to talk a little bit about what the tradition is, that thing I so much wanted to share with the English-speaking world.

Tradition is inclusive. It’s alive. It’s designed to let you in. It’s also a lot of fun to learn and work with. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, but you’ll be no worse for learning a bit about it – I promise.

Back in the days of pre-esoteric tarot (and even in the early days of esoteric tarot), card reading was a skill, a craft. Most card-readers were illiterate, so they passed on their knowledge through apprenticeships and orally.

Lenormand falls squarely into this tradition. The deck has been used for a little under 200 years to tell fortunes, and wherever you find a pocket of Lenormand readers, whether it’s in Rio or Kiev, the Book + Gentleman is going to mean a man you don’t know yet, and the Gentleman + Book will mean a learned man. All around the world. For 200 years. Passed on by people who couldn’t read and write. And they did that because this language, this funky, wonderful card language – it mattered to them. A lot. They kept it going in the absolute faith that somewhere down the road, people like you and me would find it and get as much enjoyment out of it as they did.

Think about that, for a couple of minutes.

They didn’t do it to keep you out. They did it to let you in. As my friend Björn Meuris said: ‘Reading cards is a magical act. But you don’t have to be a magician to do it’. And he’s so right. You don’t need to be psychic, or clairvoyant, or have spirit guides, or do any rituals to read Lenormand. All you have to do is learn the craft of reading.

There’s a lot more to talk about, I know. But for now I’d like to leave it here. Just for a bit.

I hope you’re doing well.


Short Sharp Shock

So…this is the new place. The old place got…well…see the picture above.

Not quite sure what this one will be yet, except Lenormand, and fun.

Stay tuned.

Dreaming it all up again –