Symbolism and the Lenormand

Christopher J Gould

I have recently become interested in the Lenormand deck, and I am working on my own variant of this. I will talk about this deck more (if people are interested) as I get further on.

I always dismissed the Lenormand as being 'lightweight' and of having no real foundations in history, or no real metaphysical substructure. However, we invest meaning into things and that meaning then has validity. So the Lenormand cards may have started life as a children's game (but then, so did the so called 'Major Arcana'!) but that does not invalidate it, if we invest it with meaning.
Also, my own explorations of the deck have been interesting and I have found readings with the Lenormand to be both fresh and (surprisingly) effective.
I think it is the somewhat chaotic and random nature of the symbols that attract me - there is no formal structure, no 'big esoteric secrets', no real preconception, distortions and reinterpretations. Or, if there are reinterpretations; it does not matter with the Lenormand, as it does not really have any fixed ground rules. In a way, you can stroll onto the pitch and make up the game as you go along. If the Tarot is a Classical Guitar, the Lenormand is a Ukulele! (I play the ukulele in preference to guitar these days, so that is not a put-down!)

However, this did get me thinking about the nature of symbolism itself. Certainly the symbols of the Lenormand had a different meaning 'then' to what they have today, it a different time period and a different cultural context. Perhaps today the Messenger, should be email and the Clover a lottery ticket! At the same time symbols tend to retain an archetypal substructure. Add to this that symbols are alive, not only culturally but they mutate according to the individual and that individuals experiences, beliefs and context.

So I would like to propose a little experiment - it is one that I am running on the Alchemy Moon facebook page, if you want to see what is happening over there. But, frankly I am not a big facebook fan (it seems to me to be some kind of pernicious plot to keep everyone focused on the superficial) - still with such research, the more responses I get, the more useful and valid it will be....

So here is the experiment.

I will take a single word or symbol, and what I would like you to do is simply say what it means to you. Not a textbook definition (as soon as you define something you kill it, which is paradoxically unavoidable in what I am doing here!). Then I would like you to imagine the symbol as if you had dreamt it - but with no context - to see the word as an image - and then to say what you think it means *to you personally*. This can be a single word, or a complete explanation - up to you. It would help if you could put a brief description of how you visualized the word (i.e. 'tree' - what sort of tree? How big? Did it have leaves? etc), but this is not essential.

Does this make sense?
Are we up for it?

I will present one symbol, and as soon as I get (or *if*) I get 20 replies or more - I will follow with the next symbol. At the end (if the end presents itself) I will share my thoughts and findings.
Sound like fun?

Ok here is our first one: