I’ve been a tarotist for nearly thirty years. I am holding my very first Lenormand deck in my hands today. Well, that’s not quite right. What started my journey into card-reading originally was the Lenormand-based “Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Cards” that Santa brought me as a curiosity when I was eight years old. It was those cards that first showed me the truth inherent in oracular divination.
My first Lenormand is “Under the Roses Lenormand” by Kendra Hurteau and Katrina Hill, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The ‘”Sub Rosa” theme speaks to me. We can use the cards to create a sacred space where secrets are revealed. The rose theme plays into the lovely artwork of the deck.
The deck is the size of a small playing deck. There are thirty-nine cards and a Little White Book (LWB).
The LWB is clear, concise and informative. Within just a few minutes I was able to do some basic self-readings.
The thirty-nine cards include the thirty-six card deck, along with an alternate Gentleman, Lady and Child. The second set of characters offers a choice in the characters’ ethnicity.
It’s no secret that European cartomancy, both tarot and Lenormand, can be rather classist, racist and sexist. Modern tarot artists and authors have made a real effort to allow tarot images to reflect all people and to depict relatable culture. It’s nice to see this happening in the Lenormand world as well.
One of the first things we are instructed to do in the LWB is to choose which of the Ladies, Gentlemen and Children we will use. At first choosing between the black people and the white people felt a little forced, and even a little smarmy to me. It reminded me of the Lovers card choices, one lesbian and one sort of androgynous couple, in the ground-breaking “Daughter of the Moon Tarot.” Certainly anything that makes an effort to make cartomancy images more inclusive is a great thing. Some attempts just seem a wee bit clumsy to me.
Then I decided I was overthinking things. I looked at the two Child cards. Based purely on aesthetics and vibes, I chose the child with the yellow dress. Then I looked at the two Lady cards. I choose the Lady who was holding a rose. One of the two Gentlemen looked a little emo to me. I chose the other guy. Suddenly the cards looked very much like my own family – a hodge-podge of cultures and ethnicities. Then I saw the wisdom in offering the alternative card choices. The deck already felt more personally attuned to me.
An early lesson I learned from “Under the Roses Lenormand,” then, is this.
Not everything has to have grand socio-political implications. Sometimes you just have to look at the pictures.
Lenormand decks are typically visually different from tarot. The Lenormand structure is based on a subset of a playing deck. In many cases, Lenormand cards feature the suit icons in the appropriate number, as well as the card name and some image associated with the name. In “Under the Roses Lenormand,” the number and suit icon appear in a small box in the lower right hand corner of each card. Card numbers one through thirty-six appear in a circle in the upper left hand corner of each card.
“Under the Roses” is beautifully illustrated. Lenormand images are traditionally simpler than tarot images. The “Under the Roses” images are lovely and evocative. As the LWB tells us, Lenormand is typically read analytically, rather than intuitively. However, the images of “Under the Roses Lenormand” have enough depth and texture to stimulate the intuition.
The cards are colored in brown and beige tones. This makes them look deliciously old-fashioned. The art has a Victorian feel. Some of the cards are significantly more colorful than others. The Dog is adorable, looking cuddly with a rose in its mouth. The Whip is a sexy redhead in a corset.
The card backs feature a red rose, stylized with curly-cue vines.
I had already done several practice readings, following the directions in the LWB, when I noticed that in the background of each card, in very light scroll, are key words. This is brilliant. The key words are not visible enough to be distracting, or to limit the deck’s usefulness. But, for a Lenormand beginner like me, they are certainly helpful.
The LWB offers small two-and three card spreads as a way of teaching card-combining, which is a cornerstone of Lenormand interpretation technique. The LWB also includes instructions for more complex spreads, such as the traditional Grand Tableau.
I can already see ways in which Lenormand cards could fit into my divinatory practices, both personally and professionally.
It’s evident that Lenormand is here to stay. I’m looking forward to a lot of great new Lenormand offerings over the next few years. No matter how many wonderful Lenormand decks are published, I believe that “Under the Roses Lenormand” is destined to become a well-loved classic, and one of my favorite divinatory tools.
Video of Christiana Gaudet Reviews Under the Roses Lenormand