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3.9 out of 5 stars
Learning Lenormand: Traditional Fortune Telling for Modern Life
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
I took this book on vacation with me and read most of it through. I'm not a Lenormand expert, but I've picked up a lot of knowledge about it over the past couple of years. There were a few exercises/techniques in this book that I found very helpful and enlightening. But when it came to the keywords, they were just totally off in some places. So when it comes to rating this book, I'm torn. I'd hate to have a beginner read this book and use it as their North Star for Lenormand. It's just way too far off where it comes to those keywords. And the writers placed way too much emphasis in the book on what Lenormand is and is not in relation to tarot, in my opinion. On the other hand, I did find a few of the exercises helpful in deepening my learning. Personally, I get more value out of my own self learning, cobbled together from blogs and videos and posts that I find for free online. I take the process of reviewing very seriously and want to be fair. If you expect this to be your Lenormand bible, then you'll be mocked by other readers when you use the hinky keywords and meanings provided in this book. But if you're planning using this book as one of many resources that inform your Lenormand practice, then take what you need and leave the rest to books coming out in the fall from Rana George and Caitlin Mathews, two highly qualified Lenormand experts. It's certainly not the worst book out there and, unfortunately, may, for the time being be the best of the widely available and affordable books out there at the time of this review. But when the books by Mathews and George come out, this will likely become middle of the pack. I think this book deserves two and a half stars. It's a mixed bag. But since I have to choose either two stars or three, I'm giving it three stars, because writing books in this genre is neither easy nor profitable, so I err on the side of the authors.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2014
I'm a fan of Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin, however as an experienced LeNormand reader I felt the book was lacking in some very fundamental ways. My opinion is that they strayed a little off the traditional path in favor of presenting this as they would in their Tarosophy based structured courses. I'm all for finding the meaning that an individual might discover on their own. I think that is one of the gifts they bestow on their students and the methods in which to discover them is a powerful resource for all lifelong students of cartomancy in any form and system. All keywords and written concepts are really only guidelines used as a jumping off point for the reader to dive into his/her own intuition. But I think it is imperative to truly learn the fundamentals before pursuing a system outside its original tradition. And I can't ignore the fact that they do provide some traditional meanings when they deviate. That being said, I have no doubt that a novice could learn to read well under their instruction, but they would not be utilizing the traditional methodology and therein lies the crime in their creation of this book.

The other thing that greatly disappointed me is their lack of addressing the playing card insets. If they really wanted to be ground breaking in their treatment of this beautiful topic they would have laid the ground work where everyone else has failed to do so by discussing the insets, their meanings and how they can be utilized to add depth and layers of meaning to the reading. I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories, however I'm beginning to wonder if there's a weird unspoken pact to only divulge a certain amount of information while seriously omitting vital information to ultimately provide a incomplete picture of the system. You know that old mystery school mentality. That's a shame, and I'm sad if that is truly the case. But the alternative is that their topic was poorly researched - and I'm having difficulty reconciling that with what I think I know of Marcus Katz who is an exemplary academic.

Here's the dilemma - one could certainly learn a system of divination using the method presented here because Katz and Goodwin are two highly skillful instructors who do an exquisite job in general where tarot is concerned. Unfortunately anything else a newbie might pursue would be a bit confusing because it would not coincide with what Goodwin and Katz are promoting in this book and I think the person might regret this in the long run. However, learning to read and doing readings are a highly subjective pursuit that boils down to intention and agreement with your Spirit guides and Source. Some of their perspectives are enlightening and do add value to the experienced reader who can discern what is proper and in accordance with tradition and what is a completely different take on the matter. I always tell my students to accept what resonates with them personally and discard the rest. My suggestion would be to find alternative resources and when you have successfully mastered the system in a traditional manner, go back and take a second look at Katz' book on the subject. Because there will be things in there that could shed light on some images you may struggle with, and ultimately enhance your end result.

As much as I don't want to do this, and it truly saddens me to do so, because I adore this fabulous duo, I would definitely steer the novice in the direction of Rana George's new book "The Essential Lenormand". For more on that topic you may want to check out my review for her book on Amazon.

I rated this a 3 because I feel that some of their insights and learning exercises can be very useful to all levels of learning. But I just can't get over the clear deviation from the traditional system and the impact it may have in confusing innocent onlookers. Whatever your decision, at least I feel I have delivered an honest and balanced view of what you will be getting. Good luck and happy divining!
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99 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2013
This is the first of the long-anticipated new crop of english language Lenormand books to show up, the others being Andy Boroveshengra's, Caitlin Matthews' and Rana George's upcoming works.

From my interactions online, I've seen plenty of extreme reactions to this book and its authors, ranging from virtual worship to a kind of seething resentment verging on pure (and undeserved) black hate. I'd like to remind everyone of how quick Marcus was to replace their miscut and/or lost-in-the-mail greenies when the Original Lenormand was first published and there were all those problems with Gamecrafter. He and Tali also have some very solid writings on Tarot. So I'm going to look at this book on its own merits or lack thereof and I'd like to remind people that Marcus and Tali are neither Hitler, the 1%, nor your corporate overlords.

I suspect they rushed this book too much. There's a 10,000 hour rule, or a 5-7 year rule - whichever - for becoming fluent with Lenormand. You're essentially learning a language. And there's been occasional talk of "is Lenormand here to stay?" etc. They probably gave themselves a time limit for this book, wanting to get it out before the bubble burst lest everything default to the prior situation where a half dozen of us were hanging out at a forum talking Lenormand, the way it was a couple of years ago. Just speculating, but it looks like they were under the gun to produce something (while they were also busy with who-knows-what else) within a year or whatever, and they just didn't have time to really absorb it.

So be advised that this is about the BOOK, not my assessment of the authors on a personal level. It's neither a personal bashfest nor a rave-up, and may well end up cheesing off and/or alienating everyone on both sides. Oh, well.

The first part is a historical overview, and though I'm a little surprised there was no mention of emblem books, it's solid. I've seen a good deal of the historical research before via Helen Riding, however. Of course Marcus and Tali did a lot of research as well, and could have uncovered much of the same info independently, but it was Helen who wrote the Wikipedia entry on Hechtel last year, found his portrait, etc. And there's a short list of websites at the end with some VERY glaring omissions, like AndyBC's course and blog, and Chanah's blog. I think the best in the field are at least as worthy of acknowledgement as that lady who created a stick people deck.

The instructional part of the book has a lot of issues. The copy I have was gifted to me by a friend. From the beginning, there are key bits marked in highlighter pen. The last highlighted bit is on page 34, where the word "teamwork" is given for Mice and she apparently threw her hands in the air. Since then, I have had several other people offer to mail me THEIR copies. To be fair, one had several extras, but the others had a single copy that they purchased, and then decided that they just didn't want it around anymore.

For me, it all starts to run off the rails sideways at the point where the historic stuff ends and the "how to read" stuff begins. They very clearly created their own reading method based on the Lenormand deck. I know how hard it is to write on Lenormand, since people have been after me to write a book for some time now, but I can't think of a good way to do it without appearing to plagiarize my mentors. How many ways are there to say "The Rider brings news", after all? All of us traditional readers read very similarly. And it's possible that all the time and money they put into research came up drier than they had hoped, since Lenormand is essentially a folk tradition.

Of course they are free to create their own meanings and method, and people are free to follow it. I just wish this had been made more clear IN THE BOOK, since I now anticipate many years of explaining very simple, basic, vital things like the Clover being "fast luck" or "small luck" in traditional Lenormand, (like finding five dollars on the sidewalk or a decent parking spot) not any "deeper meaning" like "identity" the way this book says it is. I anticipate years of online headaches trying to clear things like this up.

There's some jargon that's peculiar to THIS book, that will probably end up in common usage a la Steinbach's term "charged" cards for cards that signify a person or sphere of life ANYWAY. "L-space" (a Lenormand mode of thinking as opposed to a Tarot mode), and being told to "say `vignette' not `layout', and `sibyl' not `reader'". (Actually, I prefer "fortune teller", "cartomante", or "reader". Please don't call me "sibyl", I'm old enough to remember that movie.)

Strangely, not long before reading this, I was reading a discussion on slang vs. jargon on an internet forum. A consensus was reached that slang is a kind of tribal marker, but jargon is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. Jargon is words that don't actually convey information, but sound as if they do. "I have issues with that" for "I'm not listening anymore", for instance, or "I feel your pain" for "go spread your tale of woe elsewhere". I think (or at least I sincerely hope) that the made-up terms in this book may have been intended as tribal markers - like slang - and it should be very easy to pick out people using this method by their use of certain words. But it doesn't have that informal, slang-y feel, IT READS LIKE JARGON and so, for me, sets off the same mental alarm bells that get triggered when I'm reading a credit card agreement or stuck in a bus station hearing Bill O'Reilly rant on FOX.

Some may argue that the jargon is intended to trigger the "L-Space", but shouldn't that be done by the sight of the cards themselves? Simply practice with them and your mind will automatically react to them. There's a lot of unnecessary complication in this book. And mistakes as well, like the statement that Kipperkarten have astrological signs on them. They seem to be describing the Mystiches Kipper, a contemporary deck that deviates a great deal from the traditional images (and I'm not even sure there's astrological signs on THAT one), not the one that Frau Kipper is said to have designed, nor the traditional variations like the Salish and the Leidingkarten.

There's a good amount of descriptive purple prose that reads almost like hypnotic induction, "...a ship sailing calm waters in a blissful winterless paradise", etc. It's all there but "deep cleansing" The whole thing, for me, reads like someone trying to mess with my head.

There is a faction online who state that this book is what finally made Lenormand fall into place for them. But the usual response I've gotten from them when I question things in the book is shilling, to wit, "BUY THE BOOK! BUY THE COURSE!" rather than any clear explanation that shows they actually DID benefit from reading it. Again, I don't think of Marcus as Jim Jones or L. Ron Hubbard, but the behavior of a lot of the people who have latched on to this thing is disturbingly cult-like.

There's a smattering of solid Lennie information dispersed throughout the book, but the problem is that you have to be experienced to pick it out, and if you're experienced, you already HAVE a method. What they've done here is create their OWN method. I think that's an important distinction to make.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
- you are buying this book for the history section (which is great)
- to add to a collection of English books on Lenormand
- you do not want to learn how to read actual traditional Lenormand fortune-telling but a made-up version by these authors

I do not want to come off as being too rude or as though I am dissing the authors - I am not. They are really great authors on tarot. Tarot is not Lenormand. There is a section in this book distinguishing between reading tarot and reading Lenormand cards but at some point along the way the details get a bit muddled and may leave the experienced tarot reader and/or the newbie (or even experienced) Lenormand reader confused with some convoluted tripe detailed in this section.

If you are new to these fortune telling cards and you want to learn how to read them, you have many choices available to you. You can patiently wait until some other author's books are published (later this year I believe and I am truly hoping they will be as good as other's predict); you can join a good card study group in a social network place (like Facebook); you can subscribe to and read several different blogs by people who are actual readers of these little cards and who know their stuff; or you can find a few reputable YouTube videos as well.

In my opinion, this book just barely rises above Sylvie Steinbach's "Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle".
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2013
...nor is it the card game which the authors constantly refer in there re interpretations of the meanings of the Lenormand cards.

Tarot is admittedly wonderful. The meaning and value of each card itself and its relation to other cards is a whole multi-dimensional universe.

Over the past few decades, Tarot readings have taken on the "flavor" of counseling sessions - and understandable evolution, because Tarot Is an advisor more than a predictor.

Lenormand is fortune telling, pure and simple. The oracle is a predictor more than an advisor. In fact nearly exclusively so.

Lenormand cards are deceptively simple in both imagery and intepretive meaning.

Each card is a picture of a material object or living being. Each card has a very simple traditional meaning.

Learning to interpret Lenormand is far from simple. It is all about patterns and inter-connections.

Lenormand is the Occam's Razor of oracles.

It states in simple, often literal form, what was, what is, and what will be.

And in terms of fortune telling, that's all we need to know.

The authors appear to have mistaken Lenormand as a kind of short-form version of Tarot.

Thus all of their intricate interpretations have the same value as tastless neon-colored sprinkles on top of ice cream. Pretty, but unnecessary.

It is obvious the authors have very little experience with Lenormand as it is. They make the same mistake as many other Tarot People have made in the first stages of learning Lenormand.

They are deceived by the apparent simplicity, and so overburden it with personal opinion and over-interpretation.

I found this book so without merit, that I was relieved to have purchased the Kindle edition.
Returning an ebook for a refund is a simple process and does not require paying for return postage ;-)

There are many fine informational websites and Lenormand Groups on the Social Sites (such as Facebook) That have clear consistent help available for anyone interested in learning Lenormand.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
There are some fantastic things about this book: for one, it's an easily available resource where few exist, and most are hard to get. The authors have provided a decent way to get into the nitty gritty of the Lennies (as the Lenormand Deck is affectionately known) through history, excellent exercises, and repeated description of the cards. Their keywords can be helpful, and their introduction to non-tarot cartomantic techniques is fantastic.

There are also some seriously less than fantastic things about the book. The whole L-space/T-space (for different "headspaces" used to read Lennies vs. Tarot) is a torturous, and tortured, metaphor that doesn't even begin to actually address differences in any way that a reader could understand. They take liberties with the cards' traditional meanings (which isn't THAT big a deal to me - as long as you're consistent, it doesn't matter all that much, as different Lennie schools demonstrate). There are many places where they start to explain a reading and totally leave the reader behind - I tried, and failed, repeatedly, to understand where they were going or how they got there. They talk about the importance of reading in combinations, and not using spreads a la Tarot, but then read the cards singly, and in spreads a la Tarot.

One of my biggest pet peeves: when they talk about combinations, and the importance of order, they provide examples where all they did was turn the words into a different order, but left the meaning. For example, they'd say Bouquet + Bear means "a gift from your boss", but Bear + Bouquet (he opposite order) means "your boss will give you a gift". Argh! Traditionally, the order is usually very important, read like a sentence, so the Bear + Bouquet might mean something more like "your investments will continue to perform well".

Get it for the exercises if you must. You really should search the web for Lenormand lessons, of which there are plenty. Rana George has a book coming out next year (Mar 2014), and her podcast lessons with DonnaLeigh (of are fantastic.

In the end, I'm glad I got it, and incredibly disappointed at the same time.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
A good read just to get a spin on how others see the lenormand, but I found it confusing especially if youre a follower of Rana George and DonnaLeigh deLaRose whom made it easier for me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2014
First, I like the disclaimer in the front where it says "all research is only as valid as the day it was written," that means I know what I know when I know it. Had a feeling the rest of the book would be along those lines.

To be fair, the historical section was fascinating, and you could skip from the end of that on page 19, over to page 249 appendix one, and read about The Game Of Hope, and The Game Of Picket, and that would be the end of the factual information you'd get from this book. The remainder of it from page 21 on to page 247 is the part of the book that I, like so many other reviewers, take issue with.

I'm a huge fan of Tarot, have read and collected for over 30 years, and also other types of oracle decks as well, and I don't make a huge distinction of the myriad differences in decks....there are so many different kinds available today. The more that the authors try to seperate Tarot from Lenormand, the more ridiculous they sound. They keep beating the drum about T-space versus L-space and how different they are supposed to be from eachother.... it's just cards, people. Little colorful cards. You mix them up, deal them out, and flip them over to read them. Hopefully you enjoy doing it or it wouldn't be such a popular activity, a nice way to pass the time, by yourself or for another person, whatever the reason. This book thoroughly complicates that process and could make many beginners give up in frustration, because of it's overly-convoluted teaching methods and poorly formatted design.

Readers unfamiliar with British English as a written language will be further confused by the idioms and attempts at being witty that the authors took as their writing voice. They try to simplify the meanings of the cards but use multiple layers upon layers of meaning instead of some good, solid reliable keywords to go by, which will try the patience of anyone looking for what these 36 cards actually stand for. The first 2 chapters talk about choices in meanings, and keyword kaleidoscoping, which should have been covered after the basics have been learned. Oh, and then who thought it was a good idea to teach the Grand Tableau as the first spread you learn? All 36 cards at one time for beginners is too many cards, for me it was a dive in the deep end. When I got to page 221 where they teach the smaller readings in order of complexity, I wondered why they didn't do it that way from the beginning and work our way up to the Grand Tableau. This is definitely a formatting problem, not just an editing one. The authors want to take you around the mountain the longest possible way, hoping you'll not get lost in the woods.

There's another strange theme that pops up in this book several times, relating to card 2, The Clover. They begin on page 50 saying that the concept of luck seems to be at odds with the practice of fortune-telling. They say luck is out of the sitter's hands, and so what use is a reading? Well, do they know that pretty much every divination, oracle, or cartomancy deck contains some card (or cards) denoting luck as a concept? Even card 10 in the Tarot is The Wheel Of Fortune, with it's ups and downs, the good luck and the bad luck together. By the time I got to page 247 where they said and I quote, "If you are able to make predictions, what role does the random, unpredictable nature of luck play in your readings?" I'm thinking it makes a lot of difference, if there was no luck offered, the cards would be gloomy and rigid indeed. By this time I was ready to heave the book at the wall, but I didn't want to make a dent in the wall which knows nothing of human frustration or books in general, as I fear the authors also know nothing of. This book fails me on so many levels and I'm glad I didn't pay a lot of money for it. I will write my own Lenormand book instead.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2013
Shipment of this book began in mid-April 2013, and many of us was excited to get our hands on it... "Learning Lenormand" is by Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin; whose names you would have run across in the Tarot Community as the proprietors of "Tarot Professionals". They had fully crossed into the world of Lenormand by the summer of 2012, with their own deck "The Game of Hope : The Original Lenormand" an 1800 reproduction deck; courses at their website and now this book. Additionally, Tali runs the "New Lenormand" section of Tarot Professionals and her Tarot Speakeasy site.

"Learning Lenormand" is published by Llewellyn Publications; ISBN 978-0-7387-3647-1 and book cover prices are $16.99 US and $19.50 Canada although at this time it is running only c.$11 on Amazon; it measures 7 1/2" across by 9" tall, with 284 pages; and black & white ink illustrations. The book is intended for everybody with Lenormand interests, from the very beginner to the advanced professional reader... in this, it delivers.

The contents are numerous so let me touch on a few, that especially drew my attention within the various chapters. The "Introduction", which lays the stage for how the book is going to help you learn how to use Len cards... "1) A Tale of Two Cities", takes you through the background and history of Lens but goes beyond the usually canned Madame Lenormand 'facts' and actually gives us new historical perspective, facts and thoughts. It was really quite intriguing and I loved the examples and substantial background history of such fortune telling decks.

2) "Getting Started", gets into the usual but needed fare of how to pick your deck; terms of the deck called 'language'; then we go off into the subject of the "Lenormand Tower", "Traditional/Contemporary Meanings" then the "Tarot Tower" and an entry on the Six Spades which is the Tower's Playing Card designation. From the Tower subject we go into table one of an "Essence Word" (a keyword) per card compared to table two of a "Traditional Words" per card and then some comparison discussion of certain cards, including "Facing Cards" and some "different names a card might be called". There are then sections of the "Keyword Kaleidoscope Exercise"; "How Not To Read Lenormand" and "Learning the Lenormand".

3) "The Cards", begins with an exercise called "Reading Literal Lenormand"; then goes into whole page, substantial entries, for each of the 36 cards; there are more exercises; and then a piece on "Negative, Neutral, and Positive Cards".

4) "Reading the Cards in Context" speaks of the "Order of Reading", "Negative and Positive Cards", the "Grand Tableau" with diagrams, "Time Issues in L-Space", "Saboteurs and Silhouettes", "Reading Cards in Any Context", along with exercises along the way. This chapter will take careful reading and study.

5) "The Grand Tableau" starts out with "Simpler Layouts Leading to the Grand Tableau" which when I finally got to the end of the chapter and the "Grand Tableau" section, I was startled to see how little was actually addressed to it here.

6) "The Houses" chapter covers the House System very thoroughly and is rich in information, to guide you through learning this procedure.

7) "Knighting, Counting, and Diagonals" are the three important procedures that are covered in this chapter. I thought there would be more information but what is here is adequate to get a person started using them.

8) "Zones and Shadows" takes us back to the Grand Tableau, where we are directed to look at "a few smaller areas", and this chapter touches on "Zones of the Spiritual and Mundane Life" including "The Four Pin Cards", "The Label Cards"... and then we have the rich section covering "Shadowing" with an entry per each card. This is looking at a Lenormand card, then the cards near it as 'shadowing' the card. Such cards then may be "compared very loosely to tarot reversals" and "provoke sudden intuitive insight". It was good to have each card's own entry for this shadowing, to more fully understand what is being explained.

9) Card Layouts and Sample Readings, is just what it says and is a chapter where you have examples to help you along the learning process.

"Afterword : Lenormand for Tarot Readers", is an interesting read, especially if you have been a long-term Tarot Reader; especially the section on "The Literal Lenormand". "Appendix One : The Game of Hope", covers... "the first English translation of the instruction leaflet accompanying the "Game of Hope" cards held in the British Museum as Das Spiel der Hofnung." I thought this was a delightful section of that translation, after all my own translation work of early 2013 and in fact, worth the price of the book if only for this, in my opinion. "Appendix Two : The Game of Picket (Piquet)", covers information on how to play that game of cards. "Further Resources", gives you a wealth of websites, blogs, books, articles and decks and the links to get to them. The "Glossary", is a list of deck-related terms and their definitions. The "Bibliography" is a rich source of various books they used (and thus so might the rest of us) for researching this book. "Endnotes" can be thought of as footnote sources and credits; followed by "Art Credit List"... and finally the usual advertizing pages of other books by these and other authors.

My final thought is that anybody interested in Lenormands should have this book. There is an awful lot of information covered; and even if you don't agree with their methods and style, it is worth seeing these for comparison to how you do a similar procedure. I believe we now have a brand new Lenormand system called the "Katz-Goodwin System" or something such, and that is a good thing to have a modern interpretation. I am stunned at the breadth of information this works coverage. Such a wide range of information... and it's all been brought together, into a single volume.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
Oh, the first part of this disaster is okay. It's the history of the cards that the authors found in research and then wrote up. Okay, thank you for that. The second half of the book is where it all falls apart. It is clear that the authors are Tarot people trying to make a buck off of the current upsurge of interest in the cards that carry Mlle Lenormand's name.

The authors have written up meanings for the cards according to their understanding (both of them coming from Tarot backgrounds), and many times they are simply WRONG (not just off like all the other cards). It's fine to make up your own stuff, but don't call it Lenormand. Lenormand method of reading is based on tradition, not New Age innovations.

Do you want to learn how to read the Lenormand cards accurately according to a beautiful intact tradition? Then don't get this book. Or if you do, make sure you can return it. There are FREE online resources and discussion forums that present much better information, and with greater integrity, than these two writers who seem more interested in prostituting whatever "discoveries" they can dig up.

But, if you would like to support two authors out to make a name for themselves by prostituting a tradition they really don't understand, then try this book. After reading it, you still won't be able to read the cards any better than the authors can. Sad. Sad. Sad.
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