Can Negative Cards Ever Have Positive Meanings?

My third and last post for now on the issue of “negative” cards. To follow on from my post I wrote a while back about using those cards in positive ways when they show up , as well as the one about using positive and negative cards to tell if your overall answer is yes or no,  I also wanted to talk about if and when the “negative” cards BY THEMSELVES can ever actually denote a more positive meaning in a reading. Some of my readers have noticed that these supposedly ‘negative’ cards don’t  always seem to that negative in their readings!

Now, discounting the possibility that in some cases this might be a case of “I just don’t want to hear that, so I’m not going to interpret it that way,” or trying to force something to be a Yes when really it’s a No, it’s time to explore whether or not that can happen and if so – how.

Let’s Take A Look at Some of our Favourite Serial Offenders

I’m going to go through these and give you, where I can (and no, I’m afraid, I can’t always)  the more positive meanings of these cards that generally have a negative connotation.

Clouds

Lenormand Clouds Card

 

Dreaminess, things being open, going with the flow. There’s a kind of directionless to the Clouds that doesn’t have to be a negative. Sometimes not knowing where you’re going is a good thing! Sometimes it allows things to flow into your life that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise if you were focused on a fixed path and had a rigid way of doing things.

Snake

Lenormand Snake CardSorry, but I’d usually have great difficulty making the Snake positive of and by itself.

It does have an alternate meaning which is a ‘sexy woman’ or temptation (very Biblical interpretation, this) or just another woman, although personally I very rarely use it to mean a woman. I tend to only find it linked with positivity when it’s paired with another card and that combination can be read as positive: Snake-Scythe for instance, can be read as “cutting through problems”.

Life is full of problems and we can’t expect it not to be. That’s reality. It’s what we do about it that counts, usually, and confronting problems and issues is usually a positive in itself.

 

Coffin

Lenormand Coffin Card

 

And here we have it. Along with the Snake, this is the one that everyone hates to get (what with its clear links to the dreaded  “D Word”)

But really it just means something coming to an end, and often, that is a good thing. Think letting go, getting something done, finished, finalised, completed, done, of moving on, and big transformations.

 

 

Scythe

Lenormand Scythe Card

The Scythe, too,  can often be scary when it shows up in a reading, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, it has that swiftness to it, there’s that sharp glint of a blade… but there are times in life when that’s necessary, no?

Think: decisions, being decisive, cutting something out, giving something up, budgeting, prioritising, precision, speed.

Whip

Lenormand Whip Card

The Whip to me has never necessarily just been a negative card. Sure, it quite often indicates challenge and effort, conflicts, something coming up against something else, but again, life is full of challenges and conflicts, dealing with other people and factors outside of us. That they exist at all isn’t inherently bad.

So for me, this often denotes things like working hard, making an effort, striving, facing challenges. Exercise, training, sport. And, of course, sex. It has a physicality to it, and like many of the cards “negative” connotations, it’s what we do with it that counts.

Fox

Lenormand Fox Card

The Fox is a funny one. I usually use it in its work and career setting, but of course, it also has a meaning about survival, about sneakiness, about deceit and not being trusted.

I tend to see it in its positive sense as being clever, smart, street-smart, instinctive. And of course, work and career, making ends meet, doing everything within our power to put food on the table.

Mountain

Lenormand Mountain Card

The Mountain is another one I’ve never purely seen as a negative. Sure, it might mean delays and blocks, but holding off, taking a step back, patience can be positive qualities too can’t they? Saying “No,” can sometimes be the key to freedom.

Positive meanings of this card would include having and setting boundaries, taking a needed retreat, saying no when needed, getting necessary distance from something.

 

 

Mice

Lenormand Mice CardThe Mice is another one I tend to see almost entirely as a negative (possibly because I really can’t stand them, having once lived in a London flat with a mouse problem) and with that sense of disintegration and crumbling, something niggling at you, anxiety and stress. There is a kind of heightened sensitivity here, a hypersensitivity, if you like.

However, that being the case, the Mice can  also be a sign of gut feelings, all that back of your mind stuff, instincts, noticing little things and details, sometimes subconsciously. We would all be wise to follow our instincts more and get used to using them. Picking up on slightly ‘off’ things in our environment isn’t always a bad thing, and can often keep us safe and well.

 

Cross

Lenormand Cross CardAgain, the Cross will always have that heaviness to it, the sense of taking on a burden. Of load, of weight, of pressure, which is why it’s so often associated with depression and feeling low, literally “weighed down” or “with the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

So it can be hard to see it as a positive at all. However, one of its big connotations is that of responsibility and willingness to take it. To share burdens with others. To be prepared to take someone on. So for me, the taking on of responsibility and being aware of it, is the main positive you can get out of this card. When I see it, that is usually what I know it’s asking me: if I can take something on.

OK, But What Is It That Makes The Difference As To Whether We Should Read Them As Negative or Positive? How Can We Know?

The answer, as always with Lenormand and card meanings, is taking the underlying meaning and being able to apply it correctly to the context. The exact context of your question or situation, and how it blends and makes sense with the surrounding cards in your reading. All I have done in the above is applied the cards in a generally positive context. So it isn’t a given, but will depend on the context each individual reading is in.

Not sure about context? Take a look at my post here about the Importance of Context in Lenormand Readings.

 

Do You Need More Guidance?

Go to my Lenormand Tips page for more tips about common issues and problems.

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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,

        Alan

        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
      Lozzy

  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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