Can Negative Cards Ever Have Positive Meanings?

8 thoughts on “Can Negative Cards Ever Have Positive Meanings?”

  1. I had just been thinking about how so many Lenormand decks illustrate the Scythe card with a sickle instead of a sythe – similar tools, with overlapping uses, but not the same, and I was wondering whether the confusion had any impact on the interpretation. I am frequently confused by how negative the “book” interpretations of this card are. I look at a scythe and see a useful tool, part of a positive process – reaping what has been sown, making hay while the sun shines. The scythe is a tool for mowing, for cutting hay or grain. It is used with repetitive, full-body motions. It accomplishes a useful task, part of a sequence of tasks. My mind automatically goes to tedding, for hay making, and to winnowing, for grain harvesting. Both also positive processes that seem like they could be useful parts of a Lenormand reading. Scything is a large-scale process, often a group effort. Using a sickle is smaller scale, less rhythmic, surely less likely to be part of a group activity? Not that a scythe can’t have negative connotations – the grim reapers scythe, the village mob gathering with torches and farm implements, soldiers mown down by machine guns – heck, I even see lawn-mowing as having negative aspects. A scythe is used standing, both hands on the tool; a sickle is used while bent over, grasping what is to be cut in one hand, swinging the sickle with the other. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, in one case; bend, grasp, swing, release, step, bend, grasp, swing, release, in the other. Aren’t the Lenormand images intended to be evocative, not just mnemonic? So when the images show something different doesn’t that matter?

    1. Hi Alan.

      The meanings of the cards are broadly the same (to do with their real-life counterparts and their functions) regardless of the images. The word “Scythe” written on a card would still have the exact same meaning and inferences as an 18th century illustration, or a modern one or even (as is occasionally used in modern decks) a pair of Scissors or a knife.

      So the actual form of the images on the cards are irrelevant (unlike in Tarot, for instance). Nothing else that may appear on the card is relevant. At its most essential, the Scythe represents a blade; a thing that is used to cut or the cut itself. That is the fundamental underlying meaning of the card that you then apply to different contexts; how it is represented on a card will make no difference to the meaning. Because of this, I personally find it more helpful to distil it to an underlying meaning like that and then apply it to the world, rather than getting too caught up wondering about the nuances of the imagery itself. I do hope that helps. All best, Lozzy.

      1. Thank you for your reply. I feel that I must respectfully disagree. When I got my first Lenormand (a Piatnik) about 30 years ago, I was delighted to be freed from the trivia of and esoteria of the Rider-Waite tarots (which in the early 1970s I had gladly embraced after several years with the 1JJ). As I added other Lenormands, I was intrigued with the variations in the imagery, which could be so evocative, and I was pleased with the subtleties and ambiguities of the cards’ meanings. When I recently came back to Lenormands and such after a twenty year absence, I was delighted with the variety of new decks and literature. I have been accumulating both faster than I can digest it. When LWB (especially) interpretations were shallow and narrow, I thought that was do to limitations of space and poor choice of writers. When something was missing from books, they got set aside “for later,” without my expending a lot of thought on what they lacked. Fortunately, I found other writers who explicitly recognized that there is more to the imagery than a superficial cliche, that scythe and scissors are vastly different. They speak of harvesting and regrowth. They speak to the heart and the soul. I love your deck imagery and was wondering if that was available somewhere. Apparently that distracted me from what now seem to me be mechanized, over-simplified interpretations. I doubt that in person that would apply to your readings. How could it? But your writing, here and elsewhere, has been a good learning experience for me, and will help me budget my money and time better in the future.

        Best regards,


        1. I use the approach that has long worked for me in my regular practice, and have found it has no less depth – absolutely the opposite in fact. That’s kind of the point. It is about universal underlying concepts, irrespective of surface level imagery, and the Lenormand is NOT and has never been like the Tarot in this respect. For me since I began my practice many years ago and indeed, for many Lenormand writers and practitioners, Lenormand is not about the imagery, it is about the concept, the meaning, like a universal language. This is what allows you insight. A universal and fundamental meaning (and a word is, like an image, another representation of a meaning) then applied to different contexts, and that’s the beauty of the system. That is certainly neither “mechanized” or “simplistic” (in the pejorative sense you have used it here – simplicity is not shallowness, and overcomplication can be very superficial indeed) when used in regular practice. So with respect, I fundamentally disagree with the approach you are setting out here, although it may be that you haven’t fully grasped mine. Not all approaches suit all individuals, after all. If mine is not for you, it is not for you, but I will continue to share with others who are learning Lenormand what has long served me so well in my practice. All the best. Lozzy.

  2. I am just getting into these incredible cards …..if possible could I have an opinion about a spread I just did. My question was ‘will my business do well this year, I am female, 64, self employed and have to keep working due to no private pension etc etc. For the future I got ‘letter’ , ‘sun’ but then ‘coffin’. I read it as receiving a document that brings very good news that could lead to me either getting a lot of money or good fortune and then being able to give up working..or I will drop dead with the shock! Opinions please?

    1. Hi Lynne. Glad you’re enjoying the cards. TBH, I would be very wary of the interpretation you’ve just given. It may be a case of seeing what you want to see rather than what is actually there. None of those three cards actually say anything at all about receiving a lot of money (you would be looking for the Bear in that case). They do talk about a document and good news; however, the position of the Coffin in the spread in that position would be ringing alarm bells for me.

      If you read just the cards individually left to right, you would get: News-Success-Ending i.e. news that success is coming to an end.
      Cards 1 and 3 around 2? You get “Ending news around success” ie news of an ending connected with success
      Cards 1 and 2, 2 and 3? You get Good news followed by success coming to an end.

      The card order really matters. If the Sun and Coffin had been swapped I would have given you a different answer (that would have indicated a successful ending). I’d suggest that your cards are actually giving a warning (the future is not set in stone, obviously, they just give influences) but the fact you saw it so differently and with such an overly positive slant suggests why. There may be something you are banking on that comes to an end in your business. If it was my reading, I’d see it that I was being warned not to count my chickens. I would take that as a sign to keep a tight eye on things NOW and expect the unexpected. If an ending doesn’t happen, great. If it does, I’m covered because I’ve been careful. I do think, though, that you’d really need to do more than just three cards to get a whole detailed reading for a year with all the nuances involved.

      Hope that helps

  3. Thank you! I have been fighting with my cards because they have been reflecting struggles I have personally. While my gut said the struggles are worth it and necessary to growth, I read the cards as meaning to cut and run or that the obstacles were too great. The cross as a shared burden and the mountain as boundary setting and the mice as instincts makes so much more sense in the context of the cards. This has been quite refreshing.

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