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Joker, wild card, genderqueer, indeterminable, unknown factor

About the meaning:

Conventional Lenormand decks do not contain a Wild Card. If you don't want to use mine just remove it from your deck! But if you want to keep it you can use it in any way that seems fitting to you personally. For my Wild Card is supposed to play the role of a Joker (it can represent any topic you want it to represent) as well as, very specifically, the role of a wild card. In the latter sense it is the potential representative of a person or thing that could affect a situation in a way that cannot be predicted - an unknown factor. Accordingly, depending on the context, I myself have employed the Wild Card as:

A person who is genderqueer or -indeterminate: If the querent is genderqueer or doesn't identify with one gender strongly they might prefer to be represented by the androgynous, gender-ambivalent Joker. Both Men and Women cards would then be free to represent other people. If the querent is represented by one of the Women or Men the Wild Card is free to represent someone known to the querent who is androgynous, genderqueer, or whose gender is not (yet) known to the querent (e.g. a fetus, or a person of whom they only know the gender-indeterminate online persona). And what has turned out especially useful to me is to interpret the Wild Card as "a person who is relevant to the querent's concern - but the querent doesn't know it yet." This person could be already in the querent's life and the querent just hasn't realised their importance yet. But the Wild Card could also stand for someone they haven't yet met.

Someone or something that isn't clear cut: Following from the paragraph above, more generally, the Wild Card can represent a person who is, in the context of the question, the odd one out. It can represent someone who is odd, unusual, or just very difficult to read - someone with a poker face. Not necessarily referring to a person, the Wild Card can stand for all situations, processes, or concepts, in which things, while being complete, self-consistent, still aren't clear cut, are not delimitable, don't fit into readily available categories. It may represent, for example, lifestyle concepts which are so individual that there are no models, no prototypes to use as guidelines. It can stand for emotions which are so complex they can't be put into words. And it can stand for types of relationships which don't fit in one of the usually binary and often not truly exhaustive categories available (e.g. "platonic"/"sexual", "committed"/"non-committed", "monogamous"/"polygamous" etc.).

The unknown factor / open question: By itself, the Wild Card represents a question mark in our life - it can stand for something or someone we wonder about. Even more evasive, the Wild Card represents anything which is "kind of there", already important for us, but which we still can't decipher, or can't fully understand yet. The Wild Card can mean that something seems very close right until we try to grab it- when it slips through our fingers yet again like water, or mist. It can represent an open question - and it can even indicate that an answer is unavailable because important parameters aren't fixed yet. It represents the unknown factor that plays a role in any situation - for good, or bad.

Something "yet un-/in-": From a slightly different angle, the Card can be employed to represent something which is "not yet fully understood", "yet unrealised", "indeterminate yet". Most importantly, this "yet un-" or "yet in-" can transfer, by use of the combination method, to surrounding cards. A few examples are: Wild Card + Key = a yet unreached solution; Wild Card + Stars = a yet unrealised hope or vision; Wild Card + Garden = not public yet; Wild Card + Snake = a desire never followed yet; Wild Card + Crossroads = potentials yet unfulfilled etc. In all these cases I tend to see the combination with the Wild Card as a strong indication that it would be a productive thing to work on all these unfulfilled, unknown, unrealised, issues - and to turn them into fulfilled, known, realised ones.

Something, anything, everything: If you do not want (or need) the Wild Card as a representative of a person, or feel the paragraphs above made little sense, it can stand in for any topic you need it to represent. If you always felt a certain issue was not represented properly by any of the other cards, the Wild Card can fill this gap for you in all readings. And any other way you can think of of putting the Wild Card to use also fulfils the purpose of the card perfectly.

Note: You might want to experiment with how your interpretation of the card changes depending on whether the Wild Card lies with the Joker the right way up, or upside-down. With the Joker the right way up a lot of focus falls both on the Joker themselves and on the picture frames. This might encourage you to interpret the card as a person or a specific (but possibly not clear-cut) issue. If you flip the card so the Joker is upside-down this puts a lot more focus on the large cat in the big picture frame. She now looks as if she was resting on top of the roof, next to an open skylight, with the actual dark, starry, night sky behind her. This might shift your interpretation towards "the unknown factor" and "things yet unrealised/indeterminable". If you wish, you can use this effect as a means for regulating the card's meaning in your readings. If you want the Wild Card to exclusively represent a person or a specific issue, you could read it exclusively with the Joker the right way up. If, on the other hand, you want the Wild Card to exclusively represent the unknown factor, you could use it with the large cat facing the right way up. What I personally like to do is try both. After initially reading with the card in whatever way it turned up, I then turn it over and give the reading a second go. Sometimes, nothing much changes. But sometimes I get two completely different readings out of it.

About the Image: I began playing around with the idea of a gender neutral or ambiguous Joker figure as additional person card early on in my journey with Lenormand. But it didn't take long for me to realise that a mere Joker figure, and treating them exclusively as a representative of myself (or another person), wasn't going to be enough to motivate me to actually paint an additional card. Apart from possibly satisfying some personal preferences its presence or absence in my Lenormand Deck didn't seem to make that much of a difference. It was only after I expanded the meaning of my potential Joker to that of a "wild card" that I began to feel that the card could actually add something to the deck that the other cards did not offer: the aspect of the unknown factor, of things yet indeterminable. At the same time, this introduced a new difficulty regarding the card's design. While I felt that a Joker figure in the centre of the card would serve well as representative of a person or issues the other cards did not address, the "unknown factor" dimension of my new card's meaning didn't seem clear at all. I spent several months pondering this problem. The solution eventually came from an unexpected place: from the little cat I had somehow envisioned standing on the Joker's shoulders from the very beginning. I now realised that if the cat wasn't little, but much taller than the Joker, and if it was night, not day, that the "unknown factor" would then become overwhelmingly present in the card image. At first it seemed as if two separate Wild Cards were necessary: one with a big Joker and little cat at daylight, representing a person and things not addressed by the other cards, and one with a small Joker and a huge cat at night, representing the unknown factor. But eventually I figured out the picture-frame and/or flip-the-image design you now see in the finished card. If you're interested, here're some more detailed descriptions of the different aspects of the final illustration!

The Joker's design: Because the joker from a deck of playing cards is a strong symbol for many of the things I wanted my Wild Card to represent I decided to put a figure in the card's centre which would closely resemble a typical playing card joker. I gave them a typical jester's hat, with bells on its horns, but in white, and the rest of their costume I made white, too. For white cloth will assume the colour of the light you shine on it - depending on who looks at the Joker, and how, my Joker is able to assume different qualities. I gave my Joker an androgynous body, so that their gender would be indeterminable, and very stylised white facial paint, reminiscent of a mime artist. The latter also stresses the function of the Joker to act the part of anyone (or anything) you need them to represent.

The picture frames: The idea to have the Joker surrounded with picture frames came to me pretty late, when I pondered how I could visually connect the Wild Card to the other person cards. At first I had planned to put the Joker in the same kind of blooming trees environment found in the Men/Women cards. But I soon discovered that this lead to such a strong connection to the Men/Women that it made it nearly impossible to have the card represent anything else but another person. So I eventually came up with the idea of many picture frames containing paintings that (partly) resemble the themes of some of the other cards, with the blooming tree landscape of the Men/Women just one among many.
These picture frames and the paintings in them visualise that the Joker can stand for any issue you need them to represent. And the fact that some of them are up on the wall, while others are still on the floor, express that we all can choose how to handle the different issues in our lives. But no matter how we choose to deal with them they are all part of our reality. And even the ones we try our best to ignore will still start to leak into our consciousness whether we want them to or not. To visualise this I had some of the paintings "leak over their frames" into the Joker's cosy room. Not all do, and some only very subtly. But most obviously, sand is trickling out of the painting in the top right corner. In fact, so much sand has trickled out already that it has begun to turn the Joker's room into the same type of sand dune as is seen in the painting itself. On my blog you can find quite a few >> enlarged details of these paintings plus a few words about where they come from and what they could be interpreted as.

The cats: The little cat turned up in the card not just because I love cats and thus wanted one in the deck. While that certainly is the case I probably still wouldn't have considered it seriously if cats didn't also seem like the perfect Joker's companions to me. Cats can be funny and lively, but also dignified and elegant, they are extremely tough when they have to be but are masters of hedonism when the situations allows it. They are fiercely independent but will still form close relationships with humans and seek their presence - if they feel like it. To someone who doesn't intimately know them and maybe even to someone who does, their behaviour can seem unpredictable, mysterious.
As for the large cat, I already wrote above that her purpose is to make the "unknown factor" part of the card's meaning more obvious. The large cat's realness is ambivalent. She can either be seen as just an overdimensioned painting of a normal sized cat, in which case hers is just one painting among many. Or, she can be seen as an actual living cat, much larger than the Joker, looking into the Joker's cosy room from outside. Especially if you flip the card it seems as if a gigantic wild cat was looking in from a skylight - calm, definitely not aggressive and possibly friendly at least at the moment, but very intent, and potentially, dangerous.

The lack of frame and title: In contrast to the other cards in my deck the Wild Card has neither a frame nor a title. This is because a frame "encloses" an image both physically and metaphorically. It emphasises the physical limits of the image, and, metaphorically, it expresses that there is a limit to the image's potential interpretation, too. Similarly, a title labels an image, puts it in a certain category, which makes some interpretations essential, some possible, and precludes others. Accordingly, my Wild Card, whose potential interpretations and usages are (intended to be) limitless, has neither frame nor title.  
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