Believing as I do that the Lenormand symbols are meant to be taken fairly simply to indicate aspects of daily life and relationships, it was a bit challenging to take on the new thematic versions of the Lenormand deck. I was at first skeptical of the idea of, say, a Celtic theme for cards using a method actually developed in the 18th and 19th centuries in “polite” European society.
But, like all effective divination systems, the Lenormand one still spoke to the universal human concerns that span all places and times: youth, movement or not, messages, conversations, health, inner struggle, relating to others intimately and socially, old age, work, home, institutions, wealth and money, travel, gifts, luck, making choices, death and endings. Sounds about human, yep.
So, since I really admired both the Celtic illustrative art of Will Worthington in his Druidcraft and Wildwood tarot decks, and the fine writing and interpretive skills of Chloë McCracken in her blog articles and videos on both Tarot and Lenormand topics, I thought I’d give the Celtic Lenormand deck a chance.
At first, the plethora of “extra” cards was a bit daunting. I was thankful that I came to this deck after actually learning with the more straightforward traditional decks like the French Cartomancy.
The first and biggest challenge, though, was to deal with the Celtic time and culture, which created some cards that were not instantly recognizable in the Lenormand system, which prides itself on its focus on standard symbols; in this case the Ring and Lilies, which in the traditional system are normally portrayed as…a ring symbol and what we in America at least, call Easter lilies.
In the Celtic Lenormand, though, the ring reflects a slightly more abstract angle on the actual meaning of the card (contracts, hand fasting/engagement), and the ring is a very small part of the overall picture. The Celtic lilies, although true to the area and time, are not instantly recognizable when we’ve been regaled with Easter lilies and the French coat of arms symbolism of the Fleur de Lis.
These kinds of anomalies I had to think about getting used to.
Back to the extra cards, then. Another set of decisions, in this case not about altering my mental picture of the main object of the card, but about allowing multiple facets for the same card. There are often multiple aspects to a Lenormand card (birds can be a couple, doubling, a phone conversation, gossip; there are two trees, the oak for robust health, the holly for the getting old and winter of life). There’s definitely room for splitting the facets into different cards, and I did like some of the Celtic Lenormand’s choices in this regard, particularly for the Birds and the Tree.
Chloë and Will used the Celtic/Pagan threesome of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone to illustrate three ways of thinking about the Birds card. I liked that and kept them all.
I think of the little song birds (maidens) as a traditional lively conversation by phone or multiplying of whatever else is in the draw; the chickens make me think of a coffee klatch of housewives gathered to gossip; and the owls of course make me think of the musings of wise older women in conversation on the porch of an evening.
The Celtic Lenormand also attempted to provide a dual-gender and dual-class option for the man and woman (different classes) and child (boy and girl). In these cases, I made some choices to keep the simplicity of individual cards in Lenormand, and chose only the peasant class for the Man and Woman, and only the girl version of the Child. It was nice being able to choose, and I may change my mind later, but I definitely did not want all of these options in one deck for this system; it just seemed to over-complicate what was designed as a grounded-in-daily-reality reading method using multiple cards in relation to each other.
That’s my take not the Celtic Lenormand. I’m using it for my daily draws now to good effect (you can get your own copy here). I still feel I have so much to learn and remember about this system, but I think the Celtic Lenormand provides an interesting and usable alternative to the 18th-century images we are used to (Chloë provides a well thought out and practical guide on reading with the cards), and as with all of Will Worthington’s artistic work, it is a delight to look upon as well. 🙂