Ok, so we’ve established in my previous post on why many decks have playing card inserts and what they mean, that while the pips on Lenormand cards don’t change the meanings or have ‘extra’ ones exactly, that they can certainly deepen and enhance your Lenormand readings.
So what I want to give you now is three practical and relatively quick and easy ways of actually using the playing card references to enhance the basic Lenormand Card meanings in your readings.
1. Look At The Suits In Your Spread To Get An Overall “Feel”
This is something you can do at a glance when you look at a spread to give you a sense of its energies. Sometimes the suits are balanced evenly across a spread, but you’ll often find there are more of one suit than another—and you may have some suits missing completely.
If you have an abundance of:
Clubs: This suggests a lot of challenges, negativity, hurdles and difficulties in relation to this issue
Hearts: Ideals, emotions, feelings, love, heart over head are mainly at play here
Spades: These suggest a sense of practicality, real-world security, pragmatism and structure
Diamonds: This has a high-energy, dynamic, risky, quick-thinking, entrepreneurial, intellectual feel
Do take note of what isn’t there as well as what is. A lack of a suit can also be quite telling.
For instance, a complete lack of :
Clubs: Might indicate you should progress challenge-free and relatively easily and lightly, an easy ride
Hearts: Could indicate logic, head over heart, perhaps overly so, or lacking in the ‘people’ stuff, heart or warmth
Spades: There could be a lack of pragmatism or realism here. How are things going to get done in the real world?
Diamonds: Is there a lack of energy and vim here? Are things moving sluggishly or are they overly mired in the past?
2. Look At The Pip Numbers And Especially Repetitions For More Clues To A Spread’s Energies
You can do similar when you’re looking at how many you’ve got of each pip, especially in larger or longer spreads. As a reminder from the previous post:
Sixes: Starting point; Things out of our control,
Sevens: Communication, Manifestation, Response
Eights: Resolutions, Community, Outside World
Nines: Behaviours, Movements
Tens: Guidance, Support, Advice
Jacks: Attempts, Experiments, Initial Actions, Interactions
Queens: Methods, Resources, Approaches
Kings: Command, Domain, Dominion
Aces: Pinnacle, Ultimate, Origin, Answer, Essence
So if you find your spread is being dominated by certain pip numbers, they will also be bringing the associated energies with them.
3. ADD The Pip Numbers In The Spread And Relate Back To Lenormand Card Numbers For Hidden Information
I certainly don’t take credit for this one at all, but it’s one method I found and started playing with that really works in a number of situations for giving additional information and clues to a reading in a very satisfying, pleasing kind of way. It’s based on something called the Hidden Dynamics method from Caitlin Matthews’s Lenormand Oracle Handbook in her extensive section on pips (more on that below), although she mainly uses it in a 5-Card spread as far as I can tell
What you can do is add the pip numbers of cards in your spread together and then relate that back to the Lenormand card number. You can then take THAT card as an extra, hidden message. If adding up your pips comes to more than 36, then you add the digits together until you come up with a number under 36 and then read that card.
In this method, you read any Jacks as 11, the Queens as 12, the Kings as 13. Personally, it works better for me to read Aces high (as 14) although I am told they “should” be read as 1. I suppose you could (Aces is kind of the beginning AND end after all) but it seems a bit illogical to me since you have no twos, threes, fours or fives in a Lenormand deck. Also in Piquet, which Lenormand is partially derived from, Aces are read high, so… you could try it with both, I guess. Experiment, and see what works for you.
Huh? Can You Show Me What You Mean?
Sure. I’m going to do my own thing here and just show you an example with three cards. I drew these yesterday to ask what was going on in the world today.
So we’ve got our Lenormand card images of Mice, Birds, Fish. As we know, the three of them together are saying something about anxious talk of business, or talk or discussion of business anxieties
But what about the pips?
Ignoring the Lenormand card numbers completely, we’ve got two 7s and a King (13)
Adding just the pips of all three cards together gives us 7 +7 + 13 = 27
The Lenormand Card number 27 is the Letter. Meaning News. So overall, the hidden dynamic of these three cards together could be taken as “News” (suggesting that the anxious talk of business could mostly be happening in the news or the press.)
What if our pips had happened to add up to more than 36? For instance, if we’d had two Queens and King instead? Well, that would have given us 12 + 12 + 13 = 37. Obviously, there is no Lenormand card 37, at least in standard decks, so for this we’d add the 3 and 7 together instead. 3+7 = 10 = Scythe. This would suggest that as well as their main Lenormand meanings, there’d also be a hidden dynamic around cuts or swiftness or even danger in the reading.
What else can we do?
To go back to the three cards above, the other way we can read their pips is to pair the two end cards around the centre card:
7 Clubs 7 Diamonds (Birds) K Diamonds
Add the pips for the 7 of clubs and the King of Diamonds and read them ‘around’ the Birds (or the other 7 if you like, for Problems).
So 7+13 = 20 = Lenormand Garden = Public, people, groups, read around Birds =
The public/people are talking or public communication. If you also happened to read the middle card just as its pip (7 = Snake) it could also give an additional message or dynamic of “Public or group/community problem.”
Can you pair the pips in any way you want?
I don’t see that there’s anything stopping you reading the pips in any pair you want.
So for instance, with the three cards above, you could also read the pips of Cards 1+2 and 2+3 just like you usually would in a 3-Card spread
7 + 7 = 14 = Fox = Work
7 + K (13) = 20 = Garden (again)
= Working publicly in groups/the public working
I have to say, that seems to fit weirdly well with what is actually going on at the moment, no?
Putting it all together
Card images: Anxious talk of business, or talk or discussion about business anxieties
Suits: Two diamonds and one clubs. So overall, the spread is dominated by a ‘thinking, decision-making energy and a problem.
Numbers: Two sevens and one King. Focus mostly on: communication & manifestation as well as command.
Overall pips: News
Outside Pips around Centre: The public are talking or public communication. A public or group problem.
Pips 1+2, 2+3: Working publicly in groups/the public working
So: The news is, there’s anxious talk of business, or talk or discussion about business anxieties and it has something to do with public communication about people going back to work
In reality: The news here in the UK at the moment is ALL about public communications re: people starting going back to work after lockdown to keep businesses & the economy going.
Not bad, eh?
How Else Can You Play With This Method?
You can add the pips of all the cards for an overall message, or add them in pairs or groups in the same way that you pair or group the cards in any Lenormand layout. So for instance, as Caitlin does, in a 5-card spread, you add the pips of cards 1+5, and find the Lenormand card number, then 2+4 and that Lenormand card number around the middle card to give a final message of the cards.
Having experimented further with this, I’ve found you can basically ‘read’ the added together card pips in the same way you’d read any part of a layout and uncover additional hidden info. I mean, you might not want to, and I certainly wouldn’t bother in something as big and complex as a Grand Tableau. That said, you’d be surprised, I think, at how often these ‘extra pip clues’ seem to link in to the rest of the reading, sometimes repeating messages, sometimes underlining, sometimes shouting them loud and clear.
But SHOULD I Be Adding Playing Card Readings To All My Own Readings?
Well, there’s the question. As I’ve said previously, I don’t think they are necessary. There’s no official Lenormand rulebook that says “The playing card inserts must be used and you must use this or that person’s method.” BUT you’ll find they can add additional information, especially if you are a bit more advanced as a reader, curious, have a deck with playing card inserts – and have the time to do the additional bits of analysis and try things out. Personally, I would experiment and explore a bit and see what works for you in your own readings.
That said, I would still ALWAYS prioritise the images and underlying meanings of the Lenormand cards themselves over the pips, and they will continue to be the focus of what I’m sharing here on the blog and in my books and courses. It’s just worth being aware that the pips can add that little bit extra IF you choose to use them; but they are not the core of what Lenormand is about.
Want To Explore More In-Depth About Playing Card Inserts?
The single best and most detailed explanation of ways to use playing card inserts I’ve seen, along with WAY more in-depth info than I offer here (or intend to offer) is Caitlin Matthew’s Lenormand book, and I can highly recommend that if exploring the pips in greater depth is something you’re interested in. She has an entire section dedicated to pips with a huge amount of information and practice to try. It’s not really for beginners, and importantly, a lot of what is in the book is drawn from different traditional cartomancy traditions; however, if you are attracted, as I am, to the ‘underlying universal’ aspects of the Lenormand deck in a spiritual sense, you’re likely to find as I did that the approach taken here resonates and makes perfect, and pleasing, sense.
Do You Need More Guidance?
Go to my Lenormand Tips page for more tips about common issues and problems.
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