The Exit Card: An Epiphany

If there is one crucial thing I’ve learned in nearly seven years of working with the Lenormand system of divination, it’s that there is always more to learn. Epiphany can come from highly unlikely places, an insight that was recently delivered with considerable force.

A few weeks before the suicide of her son, my sister visited and I gave her a Grand Tableau (GT) reading. The focus was on her career advancement hopes, which included relocating to another State. The Lady card was in the house of the Book, a clear indication of the fact that she has spent a major portion of her career working at a public university, and wants to continue in that role at another State institution of higher learning. Overtures had been made to her by just such an entity, but they wouldn’t offer her enough money to make a move worthwhile. It was left they they will contact her when one of a series of anticipated vacancies occurs in several higher-paying positions.

In hindsight, we should have taken a picture of the layout. But I do recall that the outlook was almost entirely upbeat regarding her chances for a new career development within the next six months to a year. All of the cards surrounding the Lady were positive or neutral-positive (including the Storks immediately above her), but the most telling thing was the row containing the Significator, and particularly those cards to her right. I normally don’t use a left-to-right, past/present/future flow with the GT, preferring the “near/far” method of interpretation, in which those cards to the left are fading away in their influence while those to the right are increasing in importance. But here the card immediately to the Lady’s right was the Letter and the card at the far-right end of the row was the Rider (in the house of the Moon, reflecting honor and recognition that is often job-related). I also don’t pay much attention to facing with Lenormand cards, but in this case the Rider in the Gilded Reverie deck was facing right and appeared to be leaping off into the unknown. I told her that both cards indicated some kind of message coming her way that would involve a “leap of faith.”

Now comes the hard part. The Gentleman card was located in the upper-right section of the layout (the quadrant Andy Boroveshengra has named “the most influential” area of the GT) and surrounded by almost entirely negative cards; nearly all of the heavy hitters were there: Clouds, Snake, Fox, Mice, Whip, Coffin (interestingly, the Scythe was missing; it preceded the Storks, showing that she would cut her present ties and make what would be a fortunate move). The Gentlemen was almost completely hemmed in by hostility; in the house of the Bear, he would most likely see forced relocation as a diminishment of his earning power. I advised her that it looked like her long-term male partner (call him “X”) would be vehemently opposed to any decision that leads to him accompanying her out-of-State, and he could make things difficult. The one forward-looking outlet I noted for his expression of anxiety and frustration was that the Gentleman knighted to the Rider at the end of the Lady’s row, showing that he would weigh in with his objections, probably at the last minute. In retrospect, though, I don’t believe that part of the reading was about her partner at all.

The first time I saw my sister after the suicide, I told her that I had missed the boat on that point. She said to me without prompting “It wasn’t about ‘X,’ was it?” Then she asked something that set me off in a new direction regarding how to treat the cards at the extreme right edge of the layout: “What was the ‘exit’ card?” In reconstructing the spread in my mind, I realized that she was talking about the Rider, and it had stuck in her memory as the card that showed release from her present circumstances and entry into the next phase of her journey. Subsequently, I told her that the Rider can also show the arrival of a man in the situation, but here – with the figure on the card literally “jumping off into space” – it suggested a male individual departing the scene. While it could still mean that her partner would deliver an ultimatum to her regarding the impact of any proposed move on their relationship. I’m now more inclined to see it as her anguished son communicating his intent to no longer continue on the path with her. It wasn’t a cry for help, since he had steadfastly refused all previous offers of psychiatric aid or medical intervention, simply a statement of fact: “I’m going my own way.”

I realize that it’s tempting to reinterpret cards to fit the facts of a situation. I’m also not prone to “free-associate” creative nuances from the images since I see Lenormand reading as far more literal than intuitive. But in struggling to make sense of what happened (which, although shocking, wasn’t entirely unexpected given his long history of personal difficulties), I was looking for some kind of handle within the layout that might have pointed in that direction. Given my meager recollection of the arrangement and the marked prominence of negative cards around the Gentleman, this is the best I could come up with.

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