LEARN TO READ LENORMAND - STEP BY STEP

Note: Before you read the following chapter in detail it might be a good idea to have a close look at the table of contents once. It gives you a simple overview of the journey you're about to embark on - of its starting point, the individual stages, and the (temporary) goal.



Table of contents

1. Vital preparatory steps
1.1 >> Learn the individual cards' meanings
1.2 >> Learn the combination method
1.3 >> Get an overview of commonly used spreads

2. The reading
2.1 >> Define your question or concern precisely
2.2 >> Pick the fitting spread
2.3 >> Shuffle the cards, spread them, and turn them over
2.4 >> Read (interpret, find a message in) the cards
2.4 >> Considerations post reading

3. Practise tips for beginners



1. Vital preparatory steps


1.1 Learn to know the deck, and the individual cards' meanings

Knowing the structure of the Lenormand deck you're going to use for your readings is essential. If you haven't done it yet, now is the right time to read my introduction to the >> classic Lenormand deck, and to the >> particularities of my own (and how to handle them). Also, take note of what I write about >> how to handle my interpretations of the cards, depending on whether you want to keep things traditional or are an individualist like me. You can find the full chapter >> here. Please read it thoroughly; it will save you a lot of confusion.

Once you are familiar with the structure of the deck, you can start learning the individual cards' meanings. If you're happy enough to follow an individualistic approach to Lenormand, you can go to my >> view all page and click on the thumbnails of the cards for my own detailed descriptions of their meanings. If you want to keep it traditional you need to learn the meanings from more traditionally minded sources!
Now, you can always look up the cards' meanings as the need arises. So technically it isn't necessary to know them all by heart before you start your first reading. But it is definitely important to have more than just a rough idea! Also, be sure you understand the special role the Man and the Woman play in the deck.

IMPORTANT: When you look up my own cards' meanings on this website, you will be presented with a large number of keywords, and elaborate interpretations. It is not necessary to remember all of them! What I recommend when you're just starting out is to pick two to three nouns, attributes, and activities - the ones that resonate most with you. It's perfectly sufficient to remember just those for the time being. If at some point later on, you begin to feel that it would be helpful to expand your range of interpretations, you can always pick more. Know, however, that many people stick with a very small number of keywords even after they have gained experience - and it works perfectly fine for them! Like so much else with Lenormand, the number of keywords you use is up to personal taste and reading style.

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1.2 Practise the combination method

Once you have a good idea of each card's individual meaning, there is something else you need to learn before you can do a full reading: You need to know how to combine two cards' meanings. For unlike Tarot, Lenormand cards are usually not read one by one, with each card interpreted just by itself. Instead, the cards are usually read in pairs, by combining two cards' meanings. For my own detailed tutorial on combining cards' meanings go go >> here. No, you needn't have a lot of experience with combining cards' meanings in order to do full readings. And it's okay if you still get stuck with particular combinations sometimes. But you should feel comfortable with the process itself!

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1.3 Get an overview of commonly used Lenormand spreads

Before you do your first reading, have a good look at commonly used Lenormand spreads. You don't need to understand them all in detail yet! I recommend that as a beginner you thoroughly read my >> introduction to Lenormand spreads, and then focus on Single Card readings (not common in Lenormand, but very useful for total beginners) and String readings (very common, and suitable for beginners who already know the individual cards well). Stick with them until you are comfortable with them and ready for more complexity!

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2) The Reading

Let's recap. You know each card's individual meaning (to a sufficient degree of precision). You are comfortable with the combination method and you are aware which Lenormand spreads are suitable for your first reading attempts. Now you are prepared for practising full readings!


2.1 Define your question or concern as precisely as possible

It is important that you know what you want from the cards before you actually start with a reading. Vaguely defined aims will lead to confused or generic readings. So before you even start drawing cards, phrase your concern/question as precisely as possible.
While you are still a beginner, try to ask questions which are as simple, as narrow, as possible. This means that the structure of their answers will be very simple, focused, too. For example:
"Why is X happening? - Because of this!"; "What is a good X? - This is a good X!"; "How should I proceed? - Like this!".
Keep in mind, too, that you needn't even ask a question. You could also say: "I need advice!" or "I'm stuck; give me some input!" and the cards then say: "This is your advice/input!"

A note regarding yes/no questions: There is certainly the possibility to ask questions which aim for a "yes/no" answer. I personally don't ask the cards such questions because I don't think they are productive. In my experience, it's much better to rephrase. For example, I wouldn't ask "Should I do X?" but "What are some pros and cons for doing X, and for not doing X?". But if you want to give yes/no questions a try, techniques for getting yes/no answers can be found online easily.

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2.2 Pick the fitting spread

Once you've phrased your concern, you can pick a fitting spread. Take care that the spread you are using is actually able to deliver the type of answer you are looking for! Some spreads are more adequate to answer simple, one-dimensional questions, whereas others are better suited for giving you answers to multi-dimensional concerns. Some spreads and techniques show several consecutive stages of a process, while others highlight separate aspects of one present situation, etc. Sometimes a reading only seems all askew because the spread that was used wasn't matching the question.

Note: It might really pay off to not get too fixated on Strings and Tableaus. Complexity isn't always what yields the most profound results. Especially if you just want a short and sweet, concise answer to a simple, but pressing question, it might be better to draw just one card (or one pair of cards if you want to keep closer to Lenormand tradition) and interpret this single card (or this one pair) as a very focused, condensed, answer to your question.

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2.3 Shuffle the cards, spread them, and turn them over

When you've chosen your spread, and decided which techniques you're going to apply, shuffle your cards thoroughly. Except in the case of a Grand Tableau (which contains all 36 [or in the case of my deck, potentially 40] cards), you then need to draw the number of cards you will be using. Some people like to fan out the shuffled deck face down and draw the cards with closed eyes. Others shuffle and cut, and some people just count off the topmost cards. Whatever method feels right to you will be fine. You can then either first spread the cards face down, and only turn them over after the spread is fully arranged, or turn them over as you spread them. Again, it's a matter of personal taste.

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2.4 Read (interpret, find a message in) the cards

Once you have spread the cards and turned them over, you can proceed with the actual reading. Now, the thing is that how you go about reading the cards in detail depends greatly on the spread you are using. You can (and have to) proceed differently depending on whether you used a Single Card, a String, or a (Grand) Tableau, and, within these spreads, which techniques you want to apply to them. So after you have read to the end of this section, look up >> the type of spread you are planning to use and follow the specific instructions given there!

But first, a few words concerning the "correct" interpretation of the cards in your concrete readings. You have to learn to feel intuitively which of its many potential meanings a particular card should have in a specific reading. Let's say you've drawn the Fox. In many contexts the keyword "self-care" is the most helpful. But in others, "selfishness" would be more accurate and productive, and in still others "caution", and so on. Picking the most accurate and helpful keyword out of the many potential ones is an ability that needs practice as well as the readiness to let go of preconceived notions and biases. Don't be discouraged if this presents a challenge at first. If you are at a loss with a certain card, just move on and come back to it later. Often, the meaning of a card only becomes clear if we take its interdependence with one or more of the other cards into consideration as well. And sometimes it takes a couple of days' distance for inspiration to strike. But if the same card keeps baffling you in different readings, you might want to read up on keywords you haven't yet been actively using. A keyword which seemed totally useless when you first saw it may eventually turn out to be a very relevant, applicable one.

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2.5 Considerations post reading

After you have finished a reading, you may want to write down or photograph the cards and take some notes about your interpretation. You can note what seemed obvious and easy, and where you were confused or stuck. It's sometimes helpful to revisit a reading after a week or two - often, question marks left over from the reading will dissipate when you look at the cards a second time. And sometimes, you'll be able to recognise things you weren't ready to accept the first time around.

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3 Practise tips for beginners

1) Draw day cards. To learn the individual cards' meanings, in the morning of each day, draw one card and read through its keywords (and, if you have the time, also the longer interpretation on my website). In the evening, come back to the card and think about which of the issues this card addresses turned up during your day, and in what way. Maybe some of the issues were very dominant while you only caught glimpses of others. Some possibly surprised you by their absence when you expected them to show up prominently - they thus featured in a "negative" sense.
This way, after only a bit more than a month, you will have gone through all the cards' meanings in depth, and you will also have started to grasp how the different aspects of each card's meaning can present themselves: prominently; only as glimpses; or negatively altogether, by their absence. Once you are through all cards, you could repeat the same process one or several times more, each time only with the cards whose meanings you have forgotten in the meantime or which you are still unsure of. When you feel sufficiently familiar with all cards' individual meanings, you could move on to the next step.

2) Draw day combinations. As soon as you are comfortable with the individual cards, you can start practising the combination method. For this purpose, you could draw one combination each morning and create as many combined meanings as you can think of. You could either do that spontaneously or go through the different combination techniques systematically (Noun/Adjective, Noun/Verb, Conjunction, etc.) and try to create at least one of each kind. Come back to your list of combinations in the evening. Which of them showed up during your day, and in what way, and which didn't? And can you think of a few more now? Write them down, too. They will serve as your very own reference book, a reference book you can expand every time you come across a new combination or find a new meaning for an already known one!
After a month or two of practising this way, you'll be confident enough to handle any combination that turns up in actual readings.

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