man (version a)


Male querent; man/boy; impact of gender roles

About the meaning:

Note: There are two versions of the Man in my deck - you are now looking at Man (a). The following interpretations apply to both. Only the paragraph >> about the image differs from the one of >> Man (b).

The Man, like the Woman, plays a special role in the Lenormand deck. He is (almost) exclusively used as the representative of a person: a man (or boy). Other than being male he carries no defining qualities - with the excecption I mention in the fourth paragraph.

The Man represents the male querent: When the querent is male, the Man represents the querent. Other male persons are then always represented by other, "ordinary" cards (often used: Rider and Dog) - or, if you are reading with both versions of the Man, by the other Man. If the querent is female, see next two paragraphs.

The Man represents the querent's steady partner: If the querent is female, according to one very common approach the Man automatically represents her male partner (husband or steady boyfriend) or, if she is single, her love interest - even if the question asked did not refer to the partner or love interest. According to this approach other male persons, e.g. an affair, or a male friend, are then represented by other, "ordinary" cards (e.g. Rider, Dog). For an alternative approach, see next paragraph.

The Man represents the most relevant male person: I personally don't assign the Man strictly according to the method described above. For me the Man always represents the male person who is most relevant to the question asked. In many cases, who this most relevant man is will be immediately clear, especially when the question asked explicitly concerns a specific man, e.g. "How do I make my boyfriend happy?". In such cases, the Man definitely represents the male person named in the question. But if no man is named in the question I don't assign an identity to the Man automatically. Of course, people's partners usually do have a major influence on their lives. So in many cases the most relevant male person will indeed be the steady partner. But that is not necessarily the case! To find out who the most relevant male person in each individual case and context is I usually talk to the querent about the different possibilities, and I also check if the cards surrounding the Man give more clues about his identity. As I said, very often he will indeed be the husband (or life partner, fiancee, or steady boyfriend). But it is not at all uncommon that the male person who is most significant within the context of the question turns out to be some other man - e.g. the man the querent has a secret affair with, or a male relative (e.g. father, son, brother), a platonic friend, or a colleague at work, a man of whose existence the querent isn't aware of yet, or even her imagined "ideal" man which she can't let go of! Also, sometimes, the identity of the Man remains mysterious. And sometimes when a reading doesn't make sense no matter from which angle I approach the cards I suspect that this is because I have assigned the wrong identity to the Man, so of course the other cards make no sense.

Which qualities does the Man carry? The Man represents someone who is of the male gender. For many readers, including me, this is the only fixed attribute the card has: maleness. Whether the male person is young or old, happy or sad, honest or deceiving, in control or helpless, which hopes he has, what motivates him etc., is not fixed but has to be gleaned from his position in the spread and from the qualities the cards surrounding him indicate. However, even while insisting that maleness is his only defining attribute some readers still go a step further. They assign a number of additional qualities to the card which they believe are inherently male - or "masculine". I have, for example, seen people interpret the Man as assertive, rough, or rational, behaviour. But this is a view of gender which makes me uncomfortable. It implies very limiting and judgemental assumptions about what a "true" man is. It implies that a man who doesn't strongly broadcast these qualities but their opposites, for example a man who prefers to yield instead of asserting himself, is less of a man, is "feminine". And it implies that a woman who doesn't like to submit to others and prefers to assert herself is somehow less of a woman, masculine. But I think that when a man is gentle he is not a man with strong "feminine" tendencies; he is a gentle man. When a woman is dominant, this doesn't make her masculine - she is just a dominant woman. In short: I don't assign character qualities to the Man (nor the Woman) because I think character qualities cannot be divided along the line of gender.

The impact of male gender roles and stereotypes on the querent: As I wrote above I don't think that (seemingly) dichotomous qualities like assertiveness/gentleness or rationality/emotionality should be assigned to specific genders. However, this is what many, maybe most, people do. And these ideas about what is inherently male and female will also impact their behaviour greatly. It will influence how they see themselves, how they judge others, and it will impact the decisions they make for themselves and for others. So when the Man turns up in a reading for a male querent, the card might indicate that the querent's ideas of what a "real" man, a "proper" man is, influence the situation he is asking about. They could for example influence what options he thinks are available to him, or the ways he goes about achieving what he wants to achieve, or whether he allows himself to go for what he wants at all. And something similar applies to readings for female querents. Their ideas of what is male, or masculine, will influence how they judge the men in their lives, and it will influence which behaviour, which decisions, they allow themselves as women (e.g. "I must take care not to appear harsh!" or "No, I can't keep insisting on this - I'm supposed to be accommodating!"), and it will influence how they treat men (e.g. "Men are strong, tough creatures, I will just let him handle this strenuous task, he won't mind / will be able to handle it better than I!")

Other: In a few rare cases it has turned out quite productive to interpret the Man as situations or places were there's a majority of men (e.g. politics; military; football field etc.). But I usually only apply this meaning when it is strongly indicated by the context (e.g. the querent is looking for social connections) - or by surrounding cards. I might, for example, interpret the combination of Man + Ring as "men's association" or Man + Dog as "men's support group".

See also the annakblogs article >> So, is the Man a positive or a negative card?

About the Image:

The Man by himself: What is probably most peculiar about my Man is that he is walking ahead of the viewer, right into the card - thus, the viewer cannot see his face. I ended up with this design because, as I write above at great length, the Man represents no specific qualities other than that he's of the male gender. If I'd shown the Man's face, I would have had to give him specific facial expressions, a specific age, and race. Even if I'd have chosen to give him a neutral, slightly bored facial expression (which many Lenormand decks do) - what if the querent were highly agitated at the time they asked me for a reading? Or what if I painted a youngish Man but the man the querent was asking about was an old gentleman? So I decided to paint him from an angle which doesn't show his face. What you can say about my Man is that yes, here is someone who is almost certainly of the male gender because the clothes he wears strongly indicate it. Other than that, not much is fixed. There is no way of telling whether he is young or old, happy or sad, what skin colour he has. He could be very slim underneath the thick, bulky, warm winter clothes, but he could also be quite chubby. Thus I hope it is easy to have the Man represent any man you know.
If you put yourself in the Man's shoes you will find yourself walking; walking along a path leading away into the distance. Both the path and the fact that the Man is walking are to show that every person's life is always an ongoing process, that every person's life contains things that they have left behind, things that are part of their present moment, and things that lie in their future. To emphasise the passage of time even more I painted autumn leaves and ripe grapes in the immediate foreground, winterly snow around the Man 's feet, and the landscape in front of him turning slowly into spring. Thus, he is moving through the seasons, forward through time.
I already mentioned the grapes in the foreground. Grapes are also in the basket the Man is carrying on his back. They represent that which he is carrying with him out of his past into his present and onward to the future. If he is smart, he has left anything foul behind and is only bringing along the good stuff which, with skill and patience, can be turned into valuable wine which will be able to nourish him for months to come, until the next harvest can be brought in.

The Man (a) in relation to Woman (a): If you compare Man (a) and Woman (a) you will notice that I placed them in very similar environments. Apart from some minor differences it could even be the same, one, environment. The most important reason for me to design the two cards in this way was that even in the cases when Man/Woman do not represent a couple they still always represent two people who are in some kind of a relationship, who share at least part of their respective realities.

When Man and Woman are facing each other it looks a bit like they were walking along the same snowy path. In this case, just as they share the same path, are heading towards a shared future, the fruit each of them has collected will probably be shared, too - enjoyed together, or, if the fruit are rotten, they both will suffer the consequences. I took care, though, to make the path on each of the cards branch out. So the Man and the Woman won't necessarily continue to walk along the same one. They could also take diverging directions in the future.

When Man and Woman are facing away from each other they still share the same environment but it looks a bit as if they were walking along different paths. And it seems that they are both busy with their own, separate, tasks. Maybe they will later share the fruit that they have collected, but maybe they won't. If they won't they might miss out on shared enjoyment, but they might also be spared unpleasant consequences if the fruit their partner has collected turns out bad.

The Man (a) in relation to Man (b): One reason why my Lenormand deck contains two Men and two Women is so that same sex friends, relatives, or lovers, could do relationship readings in which both representative person cards conform with their genders. Since the two Men cards are supposed to represent two men who are in some kind of relationship I wanted the two images to relate in form and content, too.
If you look at Man (a) and Man (b) you will hopefully make the association that the grapes Man (a) has been collecting are intended for his friend or lover, as nourishment! And the warm room Man (b) is building will shelter Man (a) from the cold when he has finished his work outside. This interlacing is to express that both Men fulfil an important role in their mutual relationship. Moreover, their shared reality is also hinted at by the fact that the landscape Man (a) is walking through is very similar to the landscape outside of the window of Man (b). .

The Man (a) in relation to Woman (b): Another reason why my Lenormand deck contains two Men and two Women is so that there is the possibility to pair Man and Woman cards in which Man and Woman face in the same direction. Some readers are used to (or prefer) this option. Again, since these different pairings would also represent two people who are in some kind of relationship I wanted the two respective images to relate visually as well.
If you look at Man (a) you'll see that the dusky pink yarn Woman (b) has finished spinning doesn't only resemble the colour of her own dress but also the colour of the Man's pants. The landscape Man (a) is walking through appears to be the same as the one outside of Woman (b) 's window. And the grapes Man (a) has been collecting are also found in a bowl behind Woman (b). So, not only do Woman (b) and Man (a) share the same reality, they are also bound together by what they do for each other. To make it even easier, visually, to pair Woman (b) and Man (a), it's not just the colour of their garments which is similar, but both cards also have frames of a similar warm reddish-brown hue.  
<< PREVIOUS CARD | NEXT CARD >> | VIEW ALL | menu | home | imprINT | shop