Card combinations in Lenormand

If we are to observe the current trends, most people interested in Lenormand seem to be coming from the world of Tarot. This can be both a blessing and a curse. While the average lover of Tarot will approach the new system easily and without the tip-toeing caution of a complete beginner, excessive self-confidence and assurance that the two methods are one and the same can lead to their downfall. The truth is, the two decks couldn’t be more different. While Tarot keeps its focus on single images, on sinking into them and meditatively exploring their symbolism, Lenormand has a different set of rules altogether.

Assuming that you have already managed to memorize all (or at least most) of the individual card meanings, you will need to face the fact that Lenormand requires you to use them not as pictorial referrences and meditative tools but instead as mere keywords. Yes, unlike Tarot, Lenormand is purely semantic and uses a language-like structure to tell its tale. Instead of sticking to a rigid structure of spreads, positions and individual card meanings, it uses card combinations as its blueprint for divination.

Each card is treated as a word, a pair of them as a simple phrase, a string – a sentence. The resulting readings can be very literal, specific, surprising, sometimes funny, but also oddly accurate. A House and a Dog may mean a family pet or a friend’s house. A Man and Fish will represent a fisherman or a banker. Add to that the Tower and you will have an investment banker working for a large hedge fund. The possibilities are endless. In order not to get lost in them, context is paramount in determining whether the Coffin is the sign of imminent demise or just a box you keep your jewelry in.

Most commonly, the first card is taken as a noun and the one behind it an adjective, following the pattern of Romance languages (the system is at least in part French, after all). The second card thus becomes the so-called “modifier” of the first. This can be confusing at times but if you commit to it, it will soon start making sense and giving results.

In larger spreads (such as the Grand tableau), you will often need to read certain cards as parts of different combinations. Going through a horizontal, vertical, or even a diagonal line, you will encounter the same card over and over, each time paired with a different set of images. In such circumstances, it will be important not to pay attention to what the card meant in a previous pairing. In each new interpretation, each new line, each new sentence, you shall treat the card as if you are seeing it for the first time. This way, you will remove from it the baggage of its previous couplings and be able to use it afresh, allowing it to shine in its full interpretative power.

Let your intuition guide you. Be spontaneous, be playful, don’t be afraid to utter an interpretation that sounds silly – chances are it’s the right one. The Snake and Fish may stand for the water pipes in your house while a three-card set of Snake + Fish + Mountain may indicate a blocked sewer. You never know. All this gives any reading countless nuances and plenty of room for your intuition to engage and shine through. Possibly no other system can trigger our deeply rooted, natural psychic abilities the way Lenormand does. Take advantage of that.