woman (b)


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 (b). The following interpretations apply to both. Only the paragraph >> about the image differs from the one of >> Woman (a).

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: My Woman (b) faces away from the viewer, into the card, as does Woman (a). I chose this design because both Women represent no specific qualities other than that they are of the female gender. If I'd shown the Women's faces, I'd have had to give them specific facial expressions, specific ages, and races. Let's say I'd have chosen to make Woman (b) look Caucasian. But what if the querent were Asian? What if I'd painted a gently smiling woman but the woman the querent was asking about was a very dour or angry woman? So I decided to paint Woman (b) from an angle which doesn't show her face. What you can say about her 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 for certain whether she is young or old, happy or sad, what skin colour she has. She could be very slim underneath her flowing summer dress, but she could also be quite chubby. Thus I hope it is easy to project the specific characteristics of any woman you know onto Woman (b) .

If you put yourself in the Woman's shoes you will find that you are sitting indoors, at a spinning wheel, and you are just about to fix blue fibres (which at first glance appear to be wool or flax) onto the spinning wheel's distaff. There are multiple balls of finished yarn around your feet. Most are of a pinkish hue (like your dress), and there are two blue ones, too. So it seems you have been spinning for quite a while already. Outside the window opening, a spring or early summer landscape lies in front of you, with blooming trees.
The reason for placing the Woman in front of a spinning wheel was that I wanted her to be busy with some constructive task. For life is an ongoing process in which we always, continually, do something - even if it is sleeping, or sitting idly and daydreaming. And everything that we do, no matter what it is, eventually becomes part of our history, becomes part of us. I chose the spinning not so much because spinning is one of the most traditionally female tasks. It was more because yarn that someone spins will also serve them as clothes. The yarn the Woman is creating will, symbolically, become part of her. To emphasise this I made a significant part of the finished yarn pink - it is a very similar colour to the dress the Woman is already wearing. But the symbolism doesn't stop there. Probably you've already noticed that the Woman isn't spinning any old flax or wool. She is actually spinning the blue sky into blue yarn - and along the same line of thought the pink balls of yarn are meant to have been spun from the trees' blossoms. Translating the symbolism, the Woman is actively and creatively shaping her own life from the ingredients fate is offering her. And that is what we do, too, as long as we live.

The Woman (b) in relation to Man (b): If you compare Woman (b) and the Man (b) you will notice that I placed them in very similar locations. Apart from some minor differences it could even be the same, one room. The most important reason for me to design the two cards in this way was that even in the cases when Woman/Man 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 lot like they are sharing the same room. They are both busy with their own tasks, but because they are facing each other it seems very likely that the Man is building the room not just for himself but for her, too, and that the Woman is spinning her yarn not just for her own clothes but for his, too (especially because she is spinning blue yarn, like his clothes). And, again because they are facing each other, it looks a lot like they are in communication with each other - at least silently.

When Man and Woman are facing away from each other it looks as if they shared adjoining rooms of the same house. They are both busy with their own tasks. It looks still possible that the Man is home improving not just for himself but for her, too, and the Woman is spinning yarn not just for her own clothes but for his, too. But here it seems a bit more likely that they are working for their own benefits only. And because they are facing away from each other it looks a bit as if - at least at the moment - they were very focused on their own tasks, and not communicating with each other.

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 (b) in relation to Man (a): 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 images to relate visually, too.
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.  
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