Our first blog in the series outlined basic differences between the Lenormand and 78-card Tarot decks. Our second went deeper into the history of the deck, as well as the Grand Tableau spread. In this, the last in our series, Marcia McCord digs deeper into Petit Lenormand card interpretation, directional interpretations, and Marcia’s work developing Tarot and Petit Lenormand decks.
Marcia: Another thing that’s different between Lenormand and Tarot decks is that with Tarot, we say every card has a good side and a bad side. Lenormand has good cards and bad cards. The Coffin is not a good card, or at least it’s not good for somebody. So if there’s been a hair you’ve wanted plucked for a long time, Coffin energy would probably be appropriate. But it’s absolutely a stop ending to things. The Mice card means diminishment. It’s the kind of thing where you pick up a bag of grain and realize that not only have the mice eaten most of it, but just about everything you’ve picked up has fallen on the floor, too. So it’s a card of unhappy surprises, diminishment of resources. Well, it could also be a diminishment of debt. So in a way it still has that diminishment.
PYN: So if you’re trying to lose weight, could the Mice be a good card?
Marcia: Yes! You get your Tree with the Mice and say, “you’re slimming!” You go from Bear to Fox! Yes! If the Rider’s involved, you probably need exercise.
PYN: I’m starting to love these cards.
Marcia: Me too! But you see what I mean about everything being on the surface. Another thing, as a designer of cards or a picker of images to create decks of cards, is that the images on the Lenormand are actually quite stark. The starker the better. You don’t want any distracting other imagery other than the Sun on your Sun card.
PYN: So you do not want to be looking at the scroll in the High Priestess’s hand and wondering what it means?
Marcia: You do not. It’s so the opposite of Tarot. You’re not looking for: “That one ray in the sun is crooked and that must mean…” No. The Sun is the Sun. It’s out loud and proud. It shines, it’s good, it’s out there in the day time. If you thought it was a secret, it ain’t. And it’s just that kind of thing. And so the decks that I do, which of course are croppings and snapshots of past imagery, very often are kind of polluted with extra imagery in them. So my first deck, which is still very popular with people, I really feel that my second deck to me was an improvement on that Lenormand tradition because I grew in my understanding of how to hone in on that one symbol that must show up.
Another thing that’s really strong in Lenormand is that there are directional cards. So if you have the Book, the book binding is the closed end. The book pages are the open end. So the book represents mystery. Whatever’s on the binding side of the book will never get the mystery because it is the closed side. And in tradition, sometimes the books are turned around so you have to use what you’ve got. In some decks, the book is open, which to me is a non-directional card and the wrong meaning of the Book.
PYN: Are all cards directional?
Marcia: No, not all of them. And it really depends on the deck. I have some wonderful antique decks I’m using for my class at BATS, and in one of them the Scythe is the single side, and you figure out which end is the pointy end pointing to. And in the other deck, there are two scythes, so both sides are the pointy side. So you can’t really use that as a directional side.
The Rider can face right or left, but the idea about the Rider is that it is speed and communication and news and hear ye, hear ye. Something will be coming in hand quickly.
The Ship can represent any means of travel or a foreigner. So it doesn’t have to mean you’re on water.
PYN: When did you get into Lenormand?
Marcia: Well, I started collecting them because I am the Happy Squirrel. Someone asked me how many decks I have, and I think I have 500. I have the packrat gene. But it was actually a few years before they became popular. I just like antiques and old imagery, especially old images in print. It feels like growing up in my mom’s antique shop – it feels like home. And then when Lenormand started to pop up, I thought, “I could do that,” and then I realized, not only can I do it, I have some!
There’s a great deck that I just love. Dondorf was a big publisher and they did the 1926 Carerras deck, and what was interesting about that deck was that the cards were individually included in packs of cigarettes, so you can collect them. The idea was get them all, and your tobacconist will let you purchase the instructions and how to read them.
So much of what I’ve learned through cards is that context means everything. Growing up in my mother’s antique shop, context meant everything. You didn’t just have an artifact; you had an artifact within its place and time. So a picture is never without its context. So I always want to know, what were they thinking when they did this? What were their expectations?
PYN: Do you have any new decks coming out?
Marcia: I have a couple in the works. I have a Lenormand deck that I’ve been working on very slowly. I have the images I want to use with it. It’s interesting in that it has an influence of a certain quilting style. So there are different kinds of ways to piece things together so it will violate the rules of don’t be fussy about multiple imagery but at least all the images will be consistent. I have a couple of somewhat dormant Tarot projects that I’ve been working on, too, and I’ve been thinking about reprinting a couple of my decks.
I’ve been talking to the Tarot Media Company about the possibility of putting one of my decks as an app. My own preference? I like paper. I like the transient nature of artifacts because they represent an idea that someone had that’s being communicated to us, perhaps imperfectly.
There’s a point in the teenage stage where everything you look at becomes a Tarot or Lenormand card. And that’s actually what my decks are geared for. I never recommend my decks for absolute beginners. I want them to learn from something more structured. But I feel my decks are in those enthusiastic teenage years, so it becomes amusing for them and has the fun and enjoyment of understanding.
You can buy Marcia’s Tarot deck here and follow her blog here. Marcia McCord self-published the Picture Postcard Tarot, the Art Postcard Tarot and the Victorian Trade Card Tarot, the Tea Tarot, The Dust Bunny Lenormand and the Off-Center Lenormand, taking her inspiration from her childhood spent in her mother’s antique shop. She reads professionally in addition to being a columnist for Timeless Spirit e-Magazine. Her blog, revealing the all-too-human side of Tarot and Lenormand, takes an upside-down view of the human comedy while Marcia takes life one card at a time: http://www.marciamccordTarotreader.blogspot.com/. Knowing that they would pout if she did not mention them, Marcia lives in Vallejo, California, with her husband John, their rescued cats and one very patient, long-suffering cocker spaniel.