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Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot


Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot:
Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards

by Patrick Dunn
Llewellyn Publications
Trade Paperback | 9780738736006
English  |  264 pages | 6 x 9 x 1 IN
 _About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

From the title of this book, you might expect it to be primarily a collection of spreads that use the Lenormand and the Tarot in combination, or a list of interpretations for each Lenormand card when paired with each Tarot card. You would be wrong. Although Patrick Dunn does include spread ideas and card interpretations, this book is devoted much more to theory and concept. As Dunn puts it in his Introduction: "This is a book about types of knowledge and ways of listening... This book is only secondarily a how-to book."

This book definitely makes one think, contemplate, and learn -- all of which I find most enjoyable. I came away with a clear appreciation for how the Lenormand "works" when compared with how the tarot "works" and why understanding the history and purpose of both decks can result in "richer, more personal readings." And there's an Index. Win!

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book:
  • "A panpsychist believes there is a mind underlying all of reality. . . I'll call it by the name the ancients gave it: the Anima Mundi, or 'soul of the universe.'"
  • "The questions most suited to divination are those that uncover meaning rather than data -- that put together stories that relate to the readers rather than give them disconnected bits of information."
  • "Lay out the cards in a single row of three cards. . . What card leaps out to you, without your necessarily realizing why? That card is salient. . . In seeking salience in your readings, trust is paramount. Let your eye roam over the card or the spread until it 'sticks,' and then trust that this sticking place is relevant to the reading."
  • "Every card of the major arcana echoes the everyday concerns of the Lenormand, which means most cards in the Lenormand have a major arcana card (sometimes several) that rules them."
  • "We are all a lot closer to bourgeois eighteenth-century French women than we are to Renaissance scholar-monks, who wrote the allegories the tarot images are based on."
  • "If anyone dares say, 'Well, Dunn says this card means...' I shall be very, very grumpy."


"Combining the simplicity of the traditional but little-known Lenormand deck with the familiarity of the tarot, Dunn creates a unique learning format blending these two powerful systems. Sharing his vast knowledge of symbols and symbolism, he introduces the Lenormand cards and even shows you how to make your own deck. Then he compares this with the tarot and teaches numerous spreads—to be used with either or both decks—in addition to methods of intuitive and collaborative readings. This introduction to the Lenormand will help any reader discover and use this deck, while adding insights into tarot interpretation and even magic. . . Working with the Lenormand and the tarot, you can collaborate with the Universal Mind and enhance your meditative and magical work for life-changing results."


Patrick Dunn (Chicago, IL) is a poet, linguist, Pagan, and a university English instructor with a PhD in modern literature and language. His understanding of semiotics and the study of symbols arise from his training in linguistics and literary theory. He has practiced magic since childhood. He is also the author of Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age, and Magic, Power, Language, Symbol / A Magician's Exploration of Linguistics (Llewellyn).


This quality Trade paperback is 264 pages (including the Index). The book measures 6 x 9 x 1 inches. Interior illustrations are black-and-white.


In Chapter 1, we have a discussion of Mademoiselle Marie-Anne Lenormand and the deck that bears her name, making sure we understand that "this was not the deck that Mlle. Lenormand herself used." We are advised that the best results from this book will come if we use a Tarot deck with Rider-Waite imagery with a Petit Lenormand deck (36 cards vs the Grand deck which as 54 cards). In Chapter 2, we are encouraged to make our own Lenormand deck and given "meaning starters" (suggested keywords and questions) with black-and-white illustrations for each card.

In Chapter 3, Dunn turns to the Major Arcana of the Tarot, providing a brief history followed by interpretations and black-and-white illustrations for each Major.

Subsequent chapters discuss Occult Symbolism and the Anima Mundi; The Symbolic Structure of the Major Arcana (or, Throw Away Your Little White Book); Getting in the Mood and Getting Ready to Read; and Preparing to Tell the Story. We are then introduced to some Tarot spreads and some Lenormand spreads, with sample readings.

Chapters 10-12 address The Grammar of Symbols, Intuitive Reading, and Collaborative Reading. In Chapter 13 Dunn delves into Symbolic Interaction Between the Lenormand and Tarot. Chapter 14 -- Synergy -- explores how the Lenormand and Tarot decks differ and how they complement each other. For example, "If the tarot is a calligraphy pen, a Petit Lenormand . . . is a ballpoint." Dunn notes that "The Lenormand. . . offers archetypes from the perspective of a person living an ordinary life. The tarot sees these archetypes through a magic mirror; the Lenormand, through the mirror over our bathroom sink." Another example: "I have heard several readers of both systems say that the tarot is like talking to a philosopher, while the Lenormand is like talking to a friend."

Finally, Dunn provides commentary on divination and magic, including "how to scry a card."

Appendix I is titled "Okay, Fine, a List of Meanings for the Cards, if You Insist." Dunn notes: "It is, in one important sense, unnecessary, even harmful, to create formulaic interpretations of the Lenormand cards. Yet I'm aware that some readers will insist on it. . . They're my meanings, gleaned from several sources and my own experiences with the cards."

Appendix II provides a Lenormand Keyword Table. The Bibliography offers an excellent list of resources for further understanding and study.

You can learn a lot about Patrick Dunn's approach by reading his article _"A Deck in Each Hand: Reading with the Lenormand and Tarot"_.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.


  1. Great review of a wonderful book. I've bought it some time ago and enjoy reading in it. It is certainly worth the money

    1. Thank you, Ellen. I have just started using Lenormand cards, so I found it fascinating!

    2. I am a newbie with the Lenormand cards to. I think I prefer the tarot though. But the combination could be fascinating


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~ Zanna