Silson Lenormad Guidebook


i. Primary Images


The 36 primary images within the Lenormand deck have remained unchanged since The Game of Hope was first published. While a number of cards sometimes bear different names. e.g. ‘Crossroads’ for Paths, or ‘Park’ for Carden, the sequence of images has remained consistent for over two hundred years - a remarkable survival. In recent years, thorough and valuable research has been carried out on the sources for Hechtel’s own choice of images. Sufficient evidence now exists to confirm that The Game of Hope itself drew heavily upon earlier fortune telling coffee cards. These coffee cards incorporated many of the images handed down to us - or at least used images which are very similar to those adopted by all subsequent Lenormand decks. At least one set of 32 cards from 1794 includes many familiar images - although these appear in a different numerical sequence from that adopted by The Game of Hope. So it now appears to be beyond doubt that Hcchtcls own deck drew its inspiration from an earlier deck or decks, rather than being a completely original invention.

The credible history which has been built for the deck discounts the theory that there exists any secret philosophy or system embedded within it. Although some have tried to assign astrological or cabbalistic associations to it, these attempts are largely exercises in post-rationalisation. It is sometimes worth remembering that Lenormand was originally just a game.

Throughout this guide I refer to the pictures on the cards as images, rather than symbols. Unlike Tarot, Lenormand contains neither symbols of the virtues - Temperance, Fortitude, Justice - nor symbols which require religious or cultural explanation, such as The Hanged Man or The Wheel of Fortune. Lenormand cards simply show images. The cards are therefore easier to understand by any reader, regardless of cultural background.

Lenormand decks are not divided into different schools. In this respect, Lenormand is very unlike Tarot. The same card within different Tarot decks can, and often does, carry quite different meanings. For example, a specific Tarot card’s meaning depends heavily on whether it has been drawn from an early Marseille deck, a Golden Dawn variant, or Aleister Crowley s later Thoth deck.

Lenormand is entirely free of this complexity
and potential for confusion. Whatever the
shape, style, or theme of a Lenormand deck,
its cards always carry the same basic meaning.
The Tower could be represented by a mediaeval
gothic structure, the Empire State Building,
or a termite mound, but it always remains the
Tower, and its meaning always remains broadly
the same.

The primary images on Lenormand cards
should ideally be. read quite literally, rather


than symbolically. It is important to recognise


first learning to read Lenormand.
used to reading Tarot, which relies
i detailed interpretation of symbols


and metaphors, this adjustment can sometimes require some effort. It is certainly helpful to put aside at an early stage familiar meanings of those images which are common to both Lenormand and Tarot. The Tower and 1 he Sun in a Lenormand deck, for example, are not the same as The Tower and The Sun in a Tarot dec k

Lenormand cardb should be treated as images and as the building blocks for creating miniatuii scripts or visual sentences. How these visual sentences are constructed and read is dcs< nkd in Section III of this guide, whei c a num I i <.i different card layouts are demonstrated.

The meanings listed in the following section are all my own, and are not intended in any way to be definitive. They should, however, be sufficient for new readers to familiarise themselves with the basic meanings usually assigned to each card. Over time, as you become better acquainted with all the primary images, you will doubtless develop your own intuitive associations with specific cards.

In an attempt to make meanings easier to remember, I have also assigned a single keyword to each card. Again, these keywords are my own suggestions and should not necessarily be taken as definitive.


News of some
kind, received in
either verbal or
written form. Also,
unexpected change.
Swiftness, flight,
a messenger, a visitor,
a person in uniform,
a horse, bicycle,
or motorcycle.


1. Rider.


2. Clover.



A welcome bonus,
but nothing
life-changing nor
permanent. A small
Stroke of luck.

A windfall, a lucky
break, an opportunity,
hope, a turnaround,
a tonic, recovery after
a short illness.


A journey, which could be spiritual as well as physical The card frequently indicates a foreign influence.

Adventure, travel long distances, a rite of passage, a large vehicle or vessel


3. Ship.



The enquirer s own
home. In some
specific scenarios a
safe house or refuge,
rather than the
enquirer s home.
Sanctuary, shelter,
creature comforts,
a large building,
a home business,
a website.


4. House.

5. Tree.



Physical and spiritual
health and wellbeing.
It also suggests
the enquirer’s own
culture and family

Nature, nurture,
organic growth, diet,
roots and ancestry,
patience, healing,


6. Clouds.



particularly in a
confusing or complex
situation where there
may be no clear ‘yes
or no’.

Vagueness, indecision,
scepticism, cynicism,
depression, fog,
smoke, gloom.

7. Snake.


Deception or deceit -
from a known person.
It can also suggest
complexity and

Treachery, twisted
words, jealousy,
rivalry, rivers,
winding roads, pipes
and tubes, tangled
wires and cables.



The necessary end
of a situation or of a
relationship. In some
rare cases, physical


stagnation, terminal
illness, death, a closed
box. darkness.


8. Coffin.


Sweet and graceful
pleasures which bring
charm and joy in life.
It often suggests a
welcome gift.

Happiness, charm,
a gift, a positive
surprise, colour,
beauty, generosity,
romance, good taste.


10. Scythe.


Something needs
to be cut away. This
may be painful, but
its removal will bring
longer term benefits.
Removal, separation,
surgery, efficiency,
ruthlessness, knives,
sharp tools.

11. Whip.



A dash, where the
enquirer may be
either the culprit
or the victim.

Sometimes, physical

Argument, culture
dash, bullying,
threatening behaviour,
violence, sport and



Small talk or gossip.
But also sometimes
the casual intimacy
between siblings and
close family.

telephone calls or
messaging, a date,
an interview, a small
meeting, a debate.


12. Birds.

13. Child.




14. Fox.



Usually the enquirer’s
own childhood,
but sometimes
another child or a
pupil known to the

immaturity, naivete,
simple pleasures, play,
fun, a new beginning,
a pupil or student.


A sly, ingenious
person - working
against the enquirer.

Often, a devious work colleague.

intrigue, plotting,
manipulation, bending
the rules, getting
away with it. office

Money, usually home
finances. The Mother
Bear who provides
for and protects her

Power, weight,
prudence, protection,
bank accounts,
insurance, savings,
wealth and assets.


15. Bear.



Signs or signals
to he followed. In
the modern world,
technology and

Clarity, navigation,
design, planning,
strategy, technology,
the internet,
astronomy, astrology.


16. Stars.



Improvement, if the
enquirer gets the
timing right. Often,
pregnancy and births.
Positive movement,
promotion, a shift
of direction or
priorities, good
planning, maternity
and childbirth.


17. Stork.


18. Dog.


. “Loyalty.”

Friendship and trust.

A reliable close
friend, colleague,
or partner.

Honesty, support,
trust, being there.

assistance, intimacy,
an advisor or

* i



An institution *
government agencies,
the armed forces,
the law. education,
large corporations.

Law and order,
military and police
forces, hierarchies,
rules and regulations.



19.   Tower.



A place where people meet. Nowadays, this can indicate social networks as often as a physical place. Meetings. clubs, parties, reunions, conferences teamwork, the countryside.


20.    Garden.


An obstacle which
will take effort to
overcome.This can
be both external or
internal, e.g. writer’s

Challenge^ delay,
interruption, inertia,
paralysis, immobility,
denial, stiffness.


21. Mountain.



Called Crossroads
in many decks, the
need to make a
considered decision.

Decision making,
evaluation, analysis,
free will, gm instincts,


22.      Paths.


Disruption and
disorder - either
due to interference
or through neglect
and lack of proper

Loss, theft, erosion,
ruin, deterioration.

untidiness, dirt,
vermin, parasites.


23.  Mice.



The enquirer’s own
emotional life and

Feelings, passion,
warmth, desire,
affection, tenderness,
kindness, charity, the
heart as an organ of
the body.


24.   Heart.






Coming together,
in both personal and
professional contexts.
In some instances,

Weddings, union,
alliance, agreement,
a promise, contracts,
a merger, jewellery.


25. Ring.



Information coming
into the enquirer’s
possession - which
may be of a secret or
confidential nature.

Any printed or
digital materials,
books, papers, filcs,
knowledge, libraries,
the occult.


26.      Book.



communications -
both printed and
digital e.g. email or
text messages.
Letters, mail

newspapers, contracts,
bills, invoices.

statements, cheques.


27. Letter.






The enquirer, if the
enquirer is male.

If the enquirer is
female, the Man
shows a man close to
her, e.g. her husband
or father.

This deck includes
two Man cards.

Please see note IV in
this section.


28.      Man.

The enquirer, if the
enquirer is female.
If the enquirer is
male, the Woman
shows a woman dose
to him. e.g. his wife
or mother.

This deck includes
two Woman cards.
Please see note IV in
this section.


30. Lily.



Wisdom and inner
peace gained from
experience. Sexual

Serenity, wisdom,
experience, mercy,
mner security,
relaxation, ageing,
sex and sexuality.


Positive power,
dynamism, ana
achievement. A card
of great energy.

Light, heat,
consciousness, science,
ambition, masculinity,
testosterone, the ego.
the left brain, the
physical world.


31. Sun.


32. Moon.



Creativity and
inspiration. The
internal opposite to
the Sun’s external

The subconscious,
the irrational fantasy,
oestrogen, the id.
the right brain, the
hidden and psychic

33. Key.


A problem solved.
An achievement
which will open
doors to


Discovery, access,
passwords and
entry codes, pass
certificates, passports
and visas, dues,
destiny, the soul.






Work, but


independence and
Often an indicator
°f freelance


34 Fish.


,. “^dence, ilexibilitv e .


35. Anchor.

Security, often after
a difficult period.
But sometimes the
Anchor can suggest
fixed and rigid

Safety, settling down,
a safe haven, legacies,
reactionary beliefs,



A burden, of either a
physical or spiritual
kind. Loss, grief, and

Physical or
spiritual sacrifice,
religious devotion,
suffering, illness,
guilt, bereavement,

36. Cross.



  • by Mary Terhune on

    And by the way, I see no notes anywhere. I guess I’ll have to assume that the 2 different man and woman cards are simply positive and negative.

  • by Mary Terhune on

    symbol /ˈsɪmb(ə)l /
    ▸ noun
    1 a mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process, e.g. the letter or letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation:
    the symbol r in Figure 5 represents a gene which is ineffective
    the chemical symbol for helium is He.
    ▪ a shape or sign used to represent something such as an organization, e.g. a red cross or a Star of David:
    the Red Cross symbol
    the Star of David, the Jewish symbol.
    2 a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract:
    the limousine was another symbol of his wealth and authority.
    ▸ verb
    (symbols, symbolling, symbolled; US symbols, symboling, symboled)
    [with object] archaic symbolize.
    – ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting the Apostles’ Creed): from Latin symbolum ‘symbol, Creed (as the mark of a Christian)’, from Greek sumbolon ‘mark, token’, from sun- ‘with’ + ballein ‘to throw’.

    From (ironically) the Oxford English Dictionary. Note what I highlighted. I read as far as seeing these objects called “images” as opposed to being symbols and I had to say something. I’m an artist with a degree, also a writer and professional Tarotist, and actually working on two of my own decks. I’ve been reading Tarot since 1978 at the age of 12 and have an extensive background in research and studying the Tarot. Having said that, I admit I’m not an expert on the Lenormand. I do have some familiarity with the original; at any rate, that’s neither here nor there because this is not about the deck as such, just an explanation of what the word “symbol” actually means. The Tarot is a collection of images comprised of symbols, such as keys and towers, etc. So in effect you actually have the definition backwards. The Lenormand is pared down and simple to read for that very reason – the imagery is comprised of a single simple symbol per card. They are objects with inherent symbolic meaning, like the letters that make up a sentence – which, oddly, is how the creator of my one and only Lenormand of the past 20 years, the Titania’s Oracle Deck, puts the idea. Read Jung to grasp this concept. If you have something that has a meaning beyond its mere existence, a meaning, it is, by definition, a symbol.

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