Lenormand is a tried and tested divination system that many people who do not take to the complexities of the Tarot prefer as a way of identifying the circumstances behind their lives.
In today’s high-tech, push-button world, we want immediate answers to simple questions—rather ironic given that so many are now turning to Lenormand (a fortune-telling system that is over 150 years old) as a way of providing those insights.
Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin—both of whom are highly respected Tarot researchers as well as acclaimed writers on the subject—have produced a simple introductory guide to Lenormand called, rather understandably, ‘Easy Lenormand’.
This is a packaged set of Lenormand cards with handbook that sets out to guide the novice through the world of Lenormand and to understand what it can offer to today’s aspiring divinationalist.
There are many different styles of Lenormand cards but the one chosen by the publishers to include here is The French Cartomancy deck—a 36-card oracle and the reconstruction of a deck that originates from the era of Mlle. Lenormand herself. It depicts pastoral scenes in slightly pastel shades of color.
The cards themselves are numbered but do not include their title in the way that so many others do.
They do, however, include a small inset image of the related playing card.
They measure 2.5” x 4” (10.2cm x 6.3cm) with an attractive floral design on the rear of each card.
The book that accompanies the cards in this deck opens with a brief history of Lenormand and explains how they are an amalgamation of the works of an old French fortune Teller and a German games maker.
It then looks at each of the thirty-six Lenormand cards—from The Rider to The Cross—and offers a general description of their meaning. The authors also offer an occasional commentary along the way on how a card operates when it is connected to others in a simple pairing situation.
In the second section of the handbook, the authors explain how one or more sequence of cards can be read—generally, this is in one of three specific ways depending upon their relationship to one another.
Section three focusses upon that fundamental essence of Lenormand divination work: The Grand Tableau. They also take a brief look at three card spreads and then nine-card spreads which are related to questions of love, travel and education.
Section four of the Easy Lenormand handbook explores The Grand Tableau spread, which the authors refer to as Zones and Shadows. Once again, the authors give a number of examples of card sequences and their typical meanings.
The book closes with a short conclusion.
Easy Lenormand has to be one of the poorest products that has been my misfortune to review in a very long time. I found it to be poorly conceived, badly produced and frustratingly incomplete. This comes as a big surprise, given that nearly everything else that Katz and Goodwin publish is of the highest quality.
So, what exactly is it about Easy Lenormand that has irritated me so much?
Let’s take a look at the handbook to start with.
On first appearances, this is of a decent length—some 160 pages—but, upon closer inspection, ten of those are advertising the authors’ Tarot books and the handbook itself also contains huge areas of empty space—pages with nothing on them but a few lines of text. I estimate that a good 25% of this book is empty white space!
This is particularly bad when you look at the page dedicated to card number 30: The Lily — which is a card that the authors themselves describe as
…one of the strangest cards in the Lenormand for its symbolism. Yet, it has only a few lines describing what it means—and even then in rather vague terms. The rest of the page is pure white space, except for a small and rather poor reproduction of an obscure Lenormand deck of highly dubious quality.
I also found that many of the larger images included in the book actually have no value whatsoever — like the reader cannot work out for themselves what a 9 x 4 grid looks like without requiring a whole page of black blobs to act as an example.
I can go on.
There are the examples of layouts showing various cards with their related commentary on what they might mean in relationship to each other. The problem here is that the Lenormand cards that are used as examples are NOT the same cards that accompany the book so the reader has no immediate way of cross-relating the two examples. Even worse, they are not even the same cards that appear individually on the card descriptor pages.
Easy Lenormand? Hardly, when the user is confronted with three different card decks of totally different designs to try and get their head around. And while I am on the subject, why include a deck for beginners that does not include the card titles?
As if all this were not bad enough, the book content is equally confusing. Halfway through, the narrative simply falls completely and utterly apart with the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained, inclusion of images of The Grand Tableau spread when this is a subject that the authors do not refer to until part three some pages further on. When we do reach the relevant section, the authors launch into instructions for a three and nine card spread instead.
The actual instructions for performing The Grand Tableau — and remember this is a divination technique that requires the use of all thirty-six cards—actually includes just a handful of paragraphs of which none contain any advice on how to actually approach creating this spread e.g. direction of laying the cards, correct shuffling, laying methods, choice of significator, etc.
Figure that one out!
So here is a book about Lenormand that offers nothing in the way of practical advice to a beginner. It is a book that was seemingly partially conceived in the minds of its creators but which fundamentally fails to connect to the needs or requirements of its potential audience.
What on earth can I say that is even in the slightest bit positive about this shameful product?
Not a lot really. Where it did occasionally begin to shine a little light on Lenormand divination I felt that the material would have been better included in an advanced instruction manual and with the authors’ ideas fleshed out so that they are not so darned simplistic, confusing and utterly irrational.
The best example of where the handbook does redeem itself a little is to be found in the section titled ‘Zones and Shadowing’. The shadowing section here includes some interesting ideas by Tali Goodwin on the subtle impact of the cards upon others and in what Tarot card readers would understand as an ill-dignified context. I love Lenormand for its occasional gritty, dark side and I feel the author picked up on this aspect of the cards rather well.
Overall though, this is a terrible product and one that I would certainly recommend anyone starting off along the road to Lenormand divination to avoid like the plague. Instead, invest in a more contemporary deck and more exploratory beginners’ manual and enjoy the true and genuine delights that Lenormand can bring into your daily life.
In short, Easy Lenormand is so bad that it will leave many purchasers feeling confused, frustrated and ripped off!