I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even know that these little guys existed until a couple of years ago. But, I can honestly say that since I found them I’m just a little in love. My Tarot is still my everyday tool but there’s something very simple, quick and effective about a Lenormand reading. There are only 36 small cards and they follow one of three simple options for readings; 3 cards, 9 cards or all 36 for the Grand Tableau. Each card has a picture with an appropriate meaning, for example, the dog means loyalty, and the clover brings a little luck. The cards tell a story through combinations and positioning in their spreads. It’s a very direct way to get an answer to a specific question. This is why I love them, and it appears I’m not alone as publishers are significantly increasing their Lenormand catalogue.
When I initially found them I assumed they were a recent invention until I discovered that they dated back to 1799 as the ‘Game of Hope’. Johann Kalpar Hechtel, a brass factory owner, produced the first 36 card pack as a racing game. The cards were laid out and dice thrown, each player landed on a card foretelling their fortune and continued across the cards until a player landed on the penultimate card ‘the Anchor’, which traditionally signified ‘hope’, hence the ‘Game of Hope’.
So, why are they called ‘Lenormand’ cards? This is in part thanks to the French Mademoiselle Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand. During the Napoleonic era, she rose in notoriety due to her fortune-telling abilities. She read for all members of society including Empress Josephine Boneparte. It’s reported that when she died she was exceptionally wealthy. Mlle Lenormand left her entire fortune and documents to a nephew, a staunch Catholic and subsequently burnt the lot! So, we don’t have any definitive proof that the Lenormand cards today are related in any way to her own fortune-telling cards.
Several years after her death a new deck of cards, with 36 cards containing French suit symbols and called Le Petit Le Norman, but looking remarkedly like the Game of Hope arrived on the scene. It’s believed this was a clever marketing ploy to sell more decks! However, they appeared on our divination tables today and I for one, am happy they are here. Their accuracy is quite stunning.
If you’re curious for visuals I’ve displayed my own decks below; a limited edition Reproduction of the Game of Hope, the extremely popular Gilded Lenormand and my favourite the Blue Owl Lenormand. It’ll give you a great insight into what they look like. I’ve also detailed at the bottom of the page the meanings for each of the cards.
If you are interested in looking at more of these enchanting little cards, check out the samples I have in the store HERE. The list is constantly growing as this is an emerging market for UK publishers as more Tarot professionals discover the Lenormand cards.