Not long ago I bought the Rana George Lenormand deck. I had taken it off my wish-list as being of only middling interest, but you know what happens when commercial availability and consumer vulnerability converge. Although its artwork is nowhere near as dazzling as Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Reverie Lenormand, I place it in the same quasi-modernist bucket. However, as was Rana’a intent, it hews more closely to the standard imagery where Ciro’s deck pushes the envelope on a few cards. I decided to run it through my New Deck “Attitude Check” spread to get a glimpse of its potential as a reading deck. I don’t intend to use the four extra cards in reading, and I’m undecided on inclusion of the additional Gentleman and Lady cards in relationship spreads, so I don’t include them here.
Before I describe the reading, I want to comment on the quality of the deck. The production values are excellent; the card stock is sturdy and the size is perfect for overhand shuffling. I don’t think I would want to riffle-shuffle due to its stiffness, but then I don’t do that anyway. The printing is clear and crisp and the gold in the borders and playing-card insets, as well as its liberal use on the card backs, is a nice touch. The Lebanese cultural references that Rana was after are present but don’t intrude on reading the cards in a traditional manner.
I chose to bypass the visual displays of most of the various reading subsets and just work with the “exploded” view of the four 9-card piles to assess the position of the Significator (in this case the Gentleman, representing me as the user) among the population as a whole and in relation to the different benchmarks. The benchmark values I use in this spread are my own. Note that I deal the cards face up into four side-by-side piles and then expand them horizontally rather than vertically because it is easier to see what is to the left and right of the Significator.
All images copyright U.S. Games Systems, Inc, Stamford, CT
As shown below, in each expanded row the card to the far left was at the bottom of that pile and the one to the far right was at the top. The row (pile) of cards above the Significator was to the left of its pile as dealt, while the rows below it comprised the right-hand piles; the left-and-right positions of the cards in the Significator’s row were as you see them, with left representing beneath it and right on top of it in the pile. To be clear, I typically view the leftward positions as fading in emphasis and the rightward ones as increasing in influence. A preponderance of positive or negative benchmark pairs in one particular direction will slant the deck’s attitude in their favor. Structurally, the result resembles a 9×4 Grand Tableau, the difference being that, after getting the “lay of the land” regarding the Significator’s position, I only read the cards in the Significator’s immediate row.
The Significator appears in the second pile, in the 15th position of the draw, placing it in the middle zone of the layout, which implies that there is no pronounced bias toward either a future-oriented or past-oriented attitude, although it is shaded slightly in the direction of a fact-based, utilitarian outlook. Since I see Lenormand as mainly a practical, analytical system of divination rather than an intuitive, conjectural one, this is perfectly fine with me. Of the eight wholly positive cards, six (75%) are to the Significator’s right, while six (75%) of the eight entirely negative cards are there as well. Since these benchmarks fight each other to a standstill regarding the deck’s overall optimism or pessimism, we must look to the “neutral/positive” and “neutral/negative” cards for further evidence. There are four “neutral/positive” cards to the Significator’s right and only two “neutral/negative” cards, so I would expect the deck’s customary output to be mildly encouraging rather than cautionary.
The Bear (large) is to the left of the Child (small) and the Fish (much or many) is to its right, suggesting that the deck will be even-handed and not prone to exaggeration. However, the Mountain is to the right of the Mice, indicating a tendency to make a “mountain out of a molehill,” so these benchmarks are working at cross-purposes. As long as I’m alert for this potential, all should be good.
Among the “cards of good tiding” – Sun, Clover, Bouquet, Stars and Key – none appear to the Rider’s right, while the ill-omened Coffin, Scythe and Cross all show up to its left as well. The deck will not be prone to deliver either overly “rosy” or excessively dire news, and therefore should be an honest witness.
The Ring and the Dog are to the left of the Heart, so the deck won’t be the steadfast “boon companion” I might have hoped. It’s observations are likely to be aloof, but I’m probably too sober-minded for the “folksy” stuff anyway; that sounds like Anna K Lenormand territory.
Both the Clouds and the Park are to the right of the Book, another mixed message regarding how forthcoming the deck will be with its testimony. The bright side of the Clouds is facing the Book, so this may be something that will improve with use over time.
The Clouds, Fox and Whip are to the Significator’s right, but the Snake, Cross and Coffin are to the left, suggesting that the deck could “give with one hand and take with the other” regarding how convoluted or unwelcome its insights might be. None of the cards in these sets are close together, so their combined influence will be somewhat diminished.
My card-by-card reading of the Significator’s row is as follows:
The deck will be dependably solid (Anchor + Ring) and dedicated (Ring + Book), as well as deep (Book + Coffin).
The Coffin + Child combination suggests “childhood’s end,” so I expect the deck’s revelations to be mature and no-nonsense, while Child + Man brings to mind the phrase “the child is father to the man,” so I would read this pair as “inspiring.”
The Crossroads following the Man implies that I will be “inspired” (Child) by this deck to travel down many alternative byways (Crossroads), with the deck as a chatty and informative traveling companion ( Birds + Letter) .
One final note about the four corners of the spread: the Bear, the Lady, the Ship and the Sun give me the idea that the deck will be potent (Bear), gracious (Lady), enterprising (Ship) and illuminating (Sun). I’m looking forward to working with it. Overall, I find the prospects for regular use of this deck to be promising. Of course, I can almost reach that conclusion just be holding it in my hand.