Originally, Lenormand was used for telling people’s fortunes - and this still seems to be its main purpose today, too. Because Lenormand cards’ traditional meanings include a lot of explicit data required for classic fortune telling (even more so than Tarot cards!) they can seem to give you
surprisingly precise information, even down to your future lover’s hair colour and the day you’ll supposedly meet them. Now, the possible accuracy and reliability of these predictions is a different question.
1.b) Card reading to gain self-awareness
I’m a sceptic – and as far as I can see, Lenormand cards can’t tell the future. But even as as sceptic, reading cards can be a very productive thing to do. For there is also the psychological approach to card reading. It regards the cards as Archetypes of the human psyche, or, in a smaller sense, as typically human situations and experiences. Here, the cards aren’t used to try and figure out what is going to happen. Instead, they are used to help a querent break their tunnel vision. They help a querent to become clear about their own motivations, about how and why they find themselves in certain situations, and what steps they could take to try and change their lives for the better. Here, our actions and decisions are not governed by the
cards. The cards are used „only” as thought-provoking impulses for leading a more insightful, self-responsible life. And yes, in one sense the cards can still refer to the future: They help us to realise which potentials (positive or negative) are masked in a present situation. It is important
though to understand that if these potentials are realised later on does only partly depend on our own actions. We can do our best to prepare the ground – and Lenormand cards can serve as inspiration on how to do that. But whether something then actually happens or not does also depend on other people’s decisions, and on all kinds of accompanying circumstances which we cannot influence ourselves.
2. Two general approaches to card reading
2.a) The traditionalists' approach
Many Lenormand readers are traditionalists. They follow, quite strictly, one of several different
“schools” of reading these cards. Because of that, for them there is a right and a wrong way
of reading Lenormand cards. Only specific interpretations are correct, only some techniques are proper. Anything that diverges from them must necessarily lead to inaccurate or totally wrong results - and/or shouldn't be called "Lenormand" anymore.
2.b) The individualists' approach
I am an individualist card reader. I don’t believe there is one right way of interpreting and reading Lenormand
cards. I don’t believe that "this is how it was done in the beginning" alone is a valid reason to keep
doing it that way. I believe that whatever works for an individual, whatever is productive for them,
is the right way for them. According to this individualist approach I do keep on board traditional
meanings and techniques when and where they make sense to me. But I readily discard any that
don’t, and I love adding my own quirks, and inspirations from other individualist readers. So what
you’ll find on my website is my very own approach to Lenormand: my very own interpretations of the
cards, and the reading techniques adapted to how they work best for me. They are not meant as absolute, universal, instructions. You're welcome to adopt the ones that work for you, and adapt or totally reject any that don't.
3. Additional thoughts
3.a) Why to respect the cards, and how
While I don’t believe that there is anything intrinsically sacred about a deck
of Lenormand cards, they are still "special" in regard to what you can do with them. You can learn
to know yourself very intimately with their help. But for this to happen, you have to aim your focus
inwards when you work with them. And that’s easier when you treat the cards with respect. For
example, many readers don’t allow others (or at least not people they find negative) to handle
their decks. When you read the cards, do this in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Don’t
hesitate to create a ceremonial atmosphere if that helps you focus inwards. For example, lighting a
candle whenever you start a reading, or reciting a poem or incantation which touches you, can get
you into a focused, intuitive state quicker. Also, you may want to spread your cards on a beautiful
cloth in which you also could wrap them afterwards - many people feel uncomfortable when their
cards lie around exposed or just in their cardboard box alone.
3.b) Reading ethics
I enjoy reading cards, both Tarot and Lenormand. I don’t just use them for deep
inquiries - I have for fun also asked the cards about computer problems and about what I should
cook. And if you want to use them for fortune-telling in the traditional sense, that is completely your
choice. But, what I would stongly warn you against is using the cards to get answers to questions
that are much more safely answered by professionals. Neither would I let a querent ask questions
that just can’t be answered by the cards. Especially when you’ve reached the point where you start
thinking about reading cards for others, not just yourself, having your own set of reading ethics ready becomes important. As an example, here are my own reading ethics:
• I do not use the cards to find out about medical issues ("I’ve got this blind spot in my field
of vision; do I have to worry?"). I tell querents to ask a doctor.
• I do not use the cards for financial advice ("Should I invest my savings in X?" or „Can I afford
to buy X?"). I tell querents to consult a trustworthy financial adviser.
• I would never use the Coffin to make (explicit or implicit) predictions about someone's impending
death ("Someone who is impotant to you is going to die soon."). At some point we all
will die. Asking the cards about when exactly it’s going to happen is not a useful or responsible
thing to do. However, when a querent is confronted with the actual prospect of someone’s
near death (e.g. because of a professionally diagnosed fatal illness), or with a death that has
already happened, I may use the Coffin and its surrounding cards as input on how to deal
with that situation productively.
• While I'm not on principle opposed to reading cards for minors, in many cases it definitely
isn‘t a good idea. In the rare cases I have read the cards for minors I took care to make sure beforehand that the parents had no objections. Also, there might be laws in
your country which expressively forbid you to altogether!
• When I have any reason to suspect that a prospective querent is especially vulnerable
emotionally, highly impressible, or has a distorted view on reality, I do not read the
cards for them.
• I believe it is neither productive nor fair to try to answer questions regarding a third party’s
private life, including their feelings or motives ("Is X in love with me?"). Instead, I let the querent
ask questions from their own perspective ("Apart from openly asking them what can I do to
find out what X is feeling?").