Lenormand Tarot…Tarot Lenormand… It's a discussion that comes up often amongst card readers, especially as the popularity of Lenormand increases.
And one that only becomes more confusing as sometimes people new to Lenormand have a tendency to refer to the deck as Lenormand Tarot cards (a misnomer altogether).
Pull up a seat. We have a lot to discuss.
A Study of the Differences and Similarities Between Lenormand and Tarot
Some people say Lenormand and Tarot have nothing in common. They're completely different and require different styles of readings. Lenormand gives information that Tarot cannot, and vice versa.
But is this true?
Well, yes and no. Let me explain.
Differences in Tarot and Lenormand Card Structure
Tarot is a deck of 78 cards organized into the Major and Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana are further broken down into 4 suits representing the elements: Pentacles (Earth), Swords (Air), Wands (Fire), and Cups (Water).
Lenormand decks contain no such division. They consist of 36 cards. Most decks have playing card images on them, but these are rarely used, outside of the occasional use of the court cards to represent people.
Beyond these differences in card organization, Lenormand decks contain cards that are classified as positive, neutral, and negative. Tarot decks, on the other hand, contain no such classification. Tarot cards are not labeled as positive or negative, good or bad.
I hope you're beginning to see why calling a Lenormand deck a Lenormand Tarot deck is a misnomer.
How Tarot and Lenormand Differ in Reading Styles
When reading Tarot cards, the images on the cards contain great significance. Every nuance matters for each individual card – every element in the image, every color, the placement of each element, even whether a person or animal looks happy or sad. Everything on a Tarot card is designed with the intent of giving information in a reading. The image is so important that different Tarot decks can be read differently.
With Lenormand, the images are relatively unimportant. The meanings of the cards are what matter and do not change from deck-to-deck. You could just as easily read index cards with the names of the Lenormand cards on them.
Now, there are some people who will say that the images on some Lenormand cards matter. For example, some people will say it's important to look at which side the dark side of the Clouds is on or what direction the Scythe is pointing.
However, these images are pretty much the same on every Lenormand deck. The dark side of the Clouds is on the left most of the time. The Scythe cuts to the right 99% of the time. That's why when the Clouds is on the left during a reading it is often read as uncertainty in the past and the Scythe as cutting what is to the right of it. They're read that way because it's how 99% of Lenormand decks are created. If you know what one Lenormand deck looks like, you know the essence of what they all look like – and how to read all of them.
2. Reversed cards
When it comes to reading styles, Tarot does do one thing Lenormand doesn't do. That's read reversals.
When a Tarot card is pulled and it's upside down, it's read upside. In other words, it's meaning is reversed. Lenormand doesn't do this. Cards are always read upright – their meaning remaining unchanged.
What's the difference in the information provided by Lenormand and Tarot Cards?
1. Where a card lands in a spread
When reading Tarot spreads, a meaning is assigned to each individual card based on its placement in a spread. For example, in the popular Celtic Cross Spread, if a card lands in a particular spot, it represents what forces are working for or against you. In another spot, it represents what you hope or fear.
As you can imagine, with 78 cards in a Tarot deck, there are a lot of possible interpretations.
However, Lenormand is quite different.
That's why reading Lenormand spreads isn't based on what an individual card means. Instead, the magic of Lenormand comes from combining cards together. Each card adds meaning to the other cards, adding layers to your interpretation.
If you use a layout that assigns specific meanings to Lenormand cards, like the Celtic Cross spread, you lose the beauty of Lenormand. You truly water down the deck and any insights you can gain from it.
In fact, the more Lenormand cards you use in a spread, the more information you can get from it as you bounce cards off of each other. It's one of the reasons the Grand Tableau has stood the test of time.
2. What Tarot and Lenormand cards reveal
Tarot is well-known for its psychological insights – showing why people do the things they do, how they view particular situations, etc.
Lenormand is well-known for its ability to predict events and what's happened in the past. It's like you're the observer of a game, watching the moves of the different player and seeing the outcome of their actions.
Many people will say that Tarot can't predict the future and Lenormand doesn't give any psychological insights.
I've done many predictive readings with Tarot with great results. Tarot does add an element of psychology when it does this. For example, if you ask Tarot whether you'll enjoy your family reunion, the 4 of Wands indicates the answer is a yes; it'll be like a celebration or you'll celebrate seeing family members again. Whereas the 5 of Cups suggests you'll be disappointed, and thus the answer is a no.
Likewise, I've done many Lenormand readings that reveal psychological insights. For example, the Fox can indicate a person is doing whatever he can to protect himself. The Snake can point to someone being motivated by jealousy, malice, or a desire for revenge.
Lenormand and Tarot Differences in Cards Used: One Card vs Multiple Cards
Tarot cards are read individually. One card is sufficient for a reading. The card's meaning is usually combined with its position in the spread to give the answer.
Lenormand cards aren't designed to be read individually. They are meant to be read in pairs (or more). There are a variety of reading techniques (such as mirroring) that allow you to bounce around a spread combining cards from all over the spread, revealing more and more layers of information.
Tarot and Lenormand are truly two different systems. Both provide answers to the same questions, but one isn't better than the other.
The beauty of Lenormand and Tarot lies in their differences.