woman (a)


Female querent; woman/girl; impact of gender roles

About the meaning:

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

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

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

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

The Woman represents the most relevant female person: I personally don't assign the Woman strictly according to the method described above. For me the Woman always represents the female person who is most relevant to the question asked. In many cases, who this most relevant woman is will be immediately clear, especially when the question asked explicitly concerns a specific woman, e.g. "How do I make my girlfriend happy?". In such cases, the Woman definitely represents the female person named in the question. But if no woman is named in the question I don't assign an identity to the Woman automatically. Of course, people's partners usually do have a major influence on their lives. So in many cases the most relevant female person will indeed be the steady partner. But that is not necessarily the case! To find out who the most relevant female 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 Woman give more clues about her identity. As I said, very often she will indeed be his wife (or his life partner, fiancee, or steady girlfriend). But it is not at all uncommon that the female person who is most significant within the context of the question turns out to be some other woman - e.g. the woman the querent has a secret affair with, or a female relative (e.g. mother, daughter, sister), a platonic friend, or a colleague at work, a woman of whose existence the querent isn't aware of yet, or even his imagined "ideal" woman which he can't let go of! Also, sometimes, the identity of the Woman 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 Woman, so of course the other cards make no sense.

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

The impact of female gender roles and stereotypes on the querent: As I wrote above I don't think that (seemingly) dichotomous qualities like gentleness/assertiveness or emotionality/rationality should be assigned to specific genders. However, this is what many, maybe most, people do. And these ideas about what is inherently female and male 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 Woman turns up in a reading for a female querent, the card might indicate that the querent's ideas of what a "real" woman, a "proper" woman is, influence the situation she is asking about. They could for example influence what options she thinks are available to her, or the ways she goes about achieving what she wants to achieve, or whether she allows herself to go for what she wants at all. And something similar applies to readings for male querents. Their ideas of what is female, or feminine, will influence how they judge the women in their lives, and it will influence which behaviour, which decisions, they allow themselves as men (e.g. "I mustn't let them see that I'm sad!" or "No, I can't concede; I'm supposed to always come out on top!"), and it will influence how they treat women (e.g. "Women are silly, emotional creatures, they need someone to tell them what's what - and this someone is rational me!")

Other: In a few rare cases it has turned out quite productive to interpret the Woman as situations or places were there's a majority of women (e.g. midwifery; education system; yoga class 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 Woman + Ring as "women's association" or Woman + Dog as "women's support group".

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

About the Image:

The Woman by herself: What is probably most peculiar about my Woman is that she is walking ahead of the viewer, right into the card - thus, the viewer cannot see her face. I ended up with this design because, as I write above at great length, the Woman represents no specific qualities other than that she's of the female gender. If I'd shown the Woman's face, I would have had to give her specific facial expressions, a specific age, and race. Let's say I'd have chosen to make her look Asian. But what if the querent were Black? What if I painted a youngish woman (which most decks do) but the woman the querent was asking about was an old lady? So I decided to paint her from an angle which doesn't show her face. What you can say about my Woman is that yes, here is someone who is almost certainly of the female gender because the clothes she wears strongly indicate it. Other than that, not much is fixed. There is no way of telling whether she is young or old, happy or sad, what skin colour she has. She could be very slim underneath the thick, bulky, warm winter clothes, but she could also be quite chubby. Thus I hope it is easy to have the Woman represent any woman you know.
If you put yourself in the Woman's shoes you will find yourself walking; walking along a path leading away into the distance. Both the path and the fact that the Woman 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 apples in the immediate foreground, winterly snow around the Woman 's feet, and the landscape in front of her turning slowly into spring. Thus, she is moving through the seasons, forward through time.
I already mentioned the apples in the foreground. Apples are also in the basket the Woman is carrying. They represent that which she is carrying with her out of her past into her present and onward to the future. If she is smart, she's left anything foul behind and is only bringing along the good stuff which, if processed and stored with skill, will be able to nourish her for months to come, until the next harvest can be brought in.

The Woman (a) in relation to Man (a):If you compare Man (a) and the 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 Woman (a) in relation to Woman (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 visually, too.
If you look at Woman (a) and Woman (b) you will see that the apples Woman (a) has been collecting seem to be intended for her friend or lover - they are in a bowl next to Woman (b)! And the yarn Woman (b) is spinning at the moment has the same bluish colour as the dress Woman (a) is wearing. It might well be that Woman (b) made the dress for her. This interlacing is to express that both Women fulfil an important role in their mutual relationship. Moreover, the Women's shared reality is also hinted at by the fact that the landscape Woman (a) is walking through looks a lot like the landscape outside of the window of Woman (b).

The Woman (a) in relation to Man (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 images to relate in form and content, too.
If you look at Woman (a) and Man (b) you will hopefully make the association that the apples Woman (a) has been collecting are intended for her friend or lover, as nourishment! And the warm room Man (b) is building will shelter Woman (a) from the cold when she has finished her work outside. This interlacing is to express that both people fulfil an important role in their mutual relationship. Moreover, their shared reality is also hinted at by the fact that the landscape Woman (a) is walking through is the same as the landscape outside of the window of Man (b). And finally, I gave each of them blue clothes and a a blue frame and title - this should make it even easier to pair them together.  
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