The art of divination has always enjoyed a continuous state of flux and change. Over the decades, new students have tended to apply radical new interpretations of their chosen fields in fortune-telling. Quite often, they openly challenge what was once deemed to be sacred and inviolate.
The Celtic Lenormand deck by Chloë McCracken and artist Will Worthington attempts to break the mould by taking a new and fairly challenging approach to the Lenormand divination system. Between them, they have transposed and integrated Celtic themes into their cards, taking this popular divination system into new areas.
The deck comes in a sturdy cardboard box—complete with 45 cards and a 188-page illustrated guidebook.
The question is ‘Has this worked? And what will traditional Lenormand fans think of their work?’.
Let’s take a closer look at this deck.
Each of the 45 cards of the ‘Celtic Lenormand’ deck features the landscape of Brittany—an area of beautiful and largely unspoilt countryside in the Northern region of France. This area was populated by the Celts for some 500 years.
Drawing upon this location for the cards’ imagery makes sense as it links them to the original roots of this French divination system.
Students of the Lenormand system will be aware that the original system was comprised of 36 numbered cards. This deck is at slight variance with this tradition in that it includes the standard deck along with nine additional cards.
The author explains in her accompanying booklet that these have been included so as to expand on the deck’s original meaning and, from a magickal perspective, as a way of incorporating Goddess and God aspects into the cards.
The deck has also been modified to include symbolism and interpretations based upon the phases of the moon and the Wheel of the Year.
So then, what qualities does this deck have that gives it Celtic credentials?
For a start the traditional Lenormand images have been modified slightly to reflect Celtic symbol and imagery.
Secondly, the deck has been specifically designed to represent important elements of the Pagan path. For example, the eight sabbats are represented in the cards as well as the phases of the moon.
In addition this deck includes the more generalized Celtic dieties in the form of animals and aspects of nature.
For example, In the ‘Celtic Lenormand’ deck the three birds cards card is used to represent the tripartite Goddess (Maiden, Mother and Crone) whilst the two trees cards have been designated the role of representing the duel aspect of the male God. The Oak King and Holly King.
Other more radical additions have been included in the Celtic Lenormand deck. These include changes to card 7, The Snake, which comes in two forms in this deck: the Shedding Snake and the slightly darker in meaning Fierce Snake. Which of these two cards you employ in a reading depends upon your disposition toward snakes as a symbol.
There is also an additional number 18 card (The Cat), which has been added to accompany the traditional Dog card of the same value.
As well as the animals and birds, the deck includes four extra people cards. These compliment the traditional Man, Lady and Child cards. The author explains that these have been added for gender balance and to aid those users performing same-sex relationship readings.
In addition to its primary image, each card displays its numerical value in the top left hand corner and its playing card association in the bottom right. None of the cards are named as is the case in some Lenormand decks.
The cards themselves are 2.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high. They have a comparitively plain reverse with a simple Celtic knot as decoration.
The Celtic Lenormand booklet that accompanies these cards is small but comprehensive. It begins by explaining the core structure of the deck and highlights its differences with more standard decks.
Each card in the book is numbered, named and illustrated. There is an accompanying set of keywords for each card along with an interpretation of its spiritual meaning, general description and core meaning. The author has also included guidance on the significance of the card when it appears in spiritual readings, its use in spells and affirmations.
Each card is deemed to have a light and dark side and these are revealed for each card along with its associated deities—some of whom are not exclusively Celtic in origin.
A later section of the book explains how to use the cards in readings, how to combine cards to create sentences, how to use the cards when working with a deity and their application in spells and practical magick.
Finally, it concludes with a number of spreads.
Lenormand, whilst it is an easy to learn and use divination system, is not really open to being messed with. It resonates to a very strict interpretational discipline and students of the cards will be keen to see that remain.
That said, this is a deck that works very well on so many levels.
Here is a run down of my impressions of this deck.
What We Liked About it:
- Superbly illustrated cards
- Keeps the core Lenormand symbolism
- Excellent accompanying booklet
- Decent strength and weight to the cards
What We Did Not Like About it:
- Card size is a little small for shuffling
As you can see, there is very little that I did not like about this deck. I felt comfortable with the changes and additions that were made to these cards. However, I did remove them from the deck and restored it to its original format and found that, at its heart, this is probably one of the best basic Lenormand decks available.
So, if you are slightly put off by the Celtic or magickal theme to the Celtic Lenormand, don’t be. It remains a superb deck that is beautifully and sympathetically illustrated.
It only lost a star off its rating because I found the cards a little small to shuffle. I would also love to see these beautifully crafted images in fuller glory.
Authentic both to Lenormand and the Celtic Tradition, this is a superbly well-designed deck that operates both as a powerful magickal tool and highly insightful divination device. Highly recommended to Lenormand fans both old and new.