Christiana Gaudet

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Tradition and Innovation: Celtic Lenormand

I have been excited about the new Celtic Lenormand for as long as I have been reading Chloe McCracken’s fabulous blog. It’s wonderful to be able to finally hold the cards in my hands. Now, the Celtic Lenormand Blog can become a resource to help me learn to use these beautiful cards.

The artist of Celtic Lenormand is Will Worthington, who has created several tarot and oracle decks, including one of my favorites, Druid Craft Tarot.

U.S. Games Systems, Inc. is the publisher of Celtic Lenormand. The cards come in a sturdy matte finish box with a lift-off lid. The card backs are muted shades of tan with a simple Celtic knot design.

Celtic Lenormand is a fascinating addition to the growing number of available Lenormand decks.  With nine extra cards, and a booklet denoting correlations between each card and the Wheel of the Year, Pagan deities from many cultures, magical spells and affirmations, this deck evolves beyond Lenormand tradition in a variety of ways.

If you are a tarot person just discovering Lenormand, or if you are discovering modern cartomancy all at once, you will probably hear some sweeping comparisons between tarot and Lenormand. You might hear that tarot is only for spiritual divination and psychological introspection, and Lenormand is only for fortune telling, or something like that.

My experience with tarot far outweighs my knowledge of Lenormand, but I can say this.  I know that tarot always expands itself to rise to whatever tasks I give it. If I want mundane fortune-oriented answers, I can get those out of tarot. If I want communication with those in Spirit, I can get that with tarot. If I want spiritual guidance, I can get that from tarot, too.

Many of the statements made about Lenormand and tarot seem to limit tarot’s ability in a way that doesn’t make sense to me, and isn’t true for me. Thus, I wonder if the limitations that people put upon Lenormand are also limiting and untrue. Celtic Lenormand really fuels my fire on this topic.

Celtic Lenormand is not simply a Pagan-themed art deck. Celtic Lenormand finds the balance between tradition and innovation, inviting the seeker to explore their spirituality and practice magick with this special fortune telling deck.

The nine extra cards are as follows. Four cards are extra “people” cards. There is a female Rider, called “Bardess”, as well as the usual male Rider, in this deck called “Bard”. Cards 28 and 29 each have an extra, so cards 28 are “Lord” and “Man,” and cards 29 are “Lady” and “Woman.”    There are two Child cards.

Quite a few new Lenormand decks add extra people cards. This allows the reader to activate specific cards to more accurately handle gender-specific questions and topics regarding same-sex relationships.

Celtic Lenormand ventures into uncharted territory with some of the other additional cards. There are two Tree cards, “Oak” and “Holly”. These cards are associated with the male aspect of deity, referring to the Celtic myth of the Oak King and the Holly King.

There are three Birds cards. These are sacred to the Triple Goddess. Songbirds represent the Maiden, chickens represent the Mother, and owls symbolize the Crone.

There are two Snake cards, one “Fierce” and one “Shedding.” There are two cards for card 18, a dog and a cat.

The additional cards allow the reader to choose their favorite image, or to divine with the greater number of cards.

While the divinatory interpretations of the extra cards are essentially standard, the booklet gives different spiritual interpretations and activities for the extra cards, expanding the possibilities for what one can accomplish with this Lenormand deck.

Celtic Lenormand breaks with tradition by discussing the “dark and light” nature of each card. Typically, Lenormand cards have clear designations as to their nature. Some cards are positive, some are negative, and some are neutral.  This does not change deck to deck or reading to reading. This is in contrast to modern tarot, where we like to say there are no “good” or “bad” cards. We rely on context and perspective to reveal the nature of the cards in the specific reading.

Celtic Lenormand suggests that, while the positive and negative designations can be helpful in answering yes/no questions, “It can be useful to see all cards as having both positive and negative interpretations inherent in them” (P. 15). I must admit to some mixed feeling about this. I had just finished memorizing the positive, negative, neutral list, darn it! On the other hand, to see all the possibilities in each card is exactly the way I read tarot, so I should easily be able to connect with Celtic Lenormand, perhaps in a way I have not before felt permitted to connect with other Lenormand decks.

Chloe McCracken notes very clearly, on Page 13, that there is a credible history, in Europe and elsewhere, of using Lenormand for spiritual readings, as well as practical ones. She points out, wisely, that spirituality and practicality are not mutually exclusive.

While Celtic Lenormand describes the spiritual processes one might attempt with the cards in greater detail than I have ever seen before with a Lenormand deck, I know that there indeed are existent spiritual traditions around Lenormand.

In her fabulous book, “The Essential Lenormand,” Rana George describes a process of focus and prayer she has successfully used to manifest a different, more positive outcome than the cards had originally predicted. Celtic Lenormand gives us some clear ideas of ways we, ourselves, might accomplish this sort of work.

Celtic Lenormand is very specifically a Pagan deck. This would be a marvelous gift for any lucky Pagan diviner. At the same time, while a non-Pagan might not be interested in certain aspects of this deck, such as the deity or the Wheel of the Year associations, there is no doubt that Celtic Lenormand is a legitimate Lenormand deck with which any seeker could derive helpful information.

Some seekers might consider the extra cards to added opportunities for spiritual growth. Others will be less interested in the spiritual associations, but might enjoy the opportunity to use the images they prefer to create their personalized 36-card deck.

In soft tones and detailed textures, Worthington’s lovely illustrations set the Celtic Lenormand in Brittany, in the north of France.  Brittany is one of the six Celtic nations, and serves to tie the deck both to its Celtic theme and to Lenormand’s French origins.

Each card features its symbol within a full background. There are no borders, or card insets; a small round icon in the bottom right corner of each card depicts the playing card association.

Lenormand is definitely growing in popularity worldwide. As it grows, artists and authors will add their creativity and insight to this simple, profound system.

Celtic Lenormand honors the Lenormand tradition while pushing the boundaries on what we’ve believed a Lenormand deck could be and do.

To see more card images, watch my video review!