This isn’t a recommendation, it’s a lament: I have yet to find my ideal Lenormand deck. When I first started reading the Lenormand cards in 2011, I bought the Piatnik and then Laura Tuan’s very large Lenormand Oracle (which I still use primarily to lay out a “foundation” of houses to spread the reading cards on). Not long after, Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Reverie came out and, because it’s the one my sitters really took a shine to, I used it almost exclusively for a couple of years. Then I went deck hunting again. I picked up Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand because I find Smith’s artwork well-suited to divination decks and Edmund is a forum mate so I wanted to support his work. I’ve been using it more lately. Then I bought Robert Place’s Burning Serpent Oracle, which is really a straightforward Lenormand deck with a few wrinkles. It reads very well, and the companion book by Rachel Pollack (sold separately) is excellent, honoring the tradition while still leaving the door open a crack to innovation. Most recently, I ordered the Blue Owl, with its very conservative presentation.
I’m at a crossroads now on whether to buy more strictly traditional decks or take advantage of the explosion of creative reinterpretations hitting the market. Lauren Forestell’s Game of Hope on-line store (now run by her daughter) offers some wonderful historical restorations, but for me it’s a case of “so many decks, so little cash.” I could easily buy six or seven of them without even thinking about it, but the Wust grabbed me from the moment I first saw it. In a more modern vein, Jeri Totten has some compelling decks like the Alternate Realities, and the Wanderwust with its minimalist use of color looks like another winner. I’ve also just noticed the Nordic Lenormand by Lynn Boyle and the Fairy Tale Lenormand, both of which appear to be highly readable.
Readability is the key for me. A deck must be plain-spoken in its imagery. The Clouds has to look like its namesake, not a lake with a Ship in the middle foreground (I’m looking at you, Piatnik!). Cards like the House can’t have a bunch of people loitering around the premises. The Heart shouldn’t suggest anything else, even remotely. Instant recognition of a card’s central subject is crucial; with the Grand Tableau especially, confusion is fatal to ease and speed of interpretation. I don’t care for embellishments that mainly serve the artist’s creative vision and not the utilitarian purpose of reading the cards. On the other hand, as a trained graphic artist I want at least a measure of accomplished artistry in the images; a “stick figure” deck (and there is at least one in the tarot world) holds zero appeal for me, no matter how easy it is to read for literal meaning. A deck review will follow as soon as I find the “One Deck to Rule Them All.” (But don’t hold your breath.)