7 Tips For Learning A New Card-Reading System

Ooh, exciting! You’ve come from Tarot (or Lenormand), got a new deck, or you’re about to try out a new system. Whether it’s Lenormand, Kipper, or Sibilla cards, you’ve got your brand new deck of cards in front of you and you’re raring to go!

But, you find, the LWB that came with your deck isn’t EXACTLY revealing… as you squint and try to decipher its meagre instructions  (although some are a little better than that, obviously. For more informative booklets on Lenormand, for instance, you can check out what comes with the Ciro Marchetti deck, or the Celtic Lenormand or the Rana George. MUCH better!)

As I’ve been doing this very thing of late and experimenting with both Kipper and not one but TWO types of Sibilla decks, I thought I’d share my top tips for starting to get comfortable with ANY new cards or system. As my readers here are all Lenormand readers or would-be Lenormand readers, I’m gearing this towards those who ALREADY kind of know the basics of Lenormand card reading and what you can and can’t use from your Lenormand learning to help you learn other similar oracle decks from the era as well.

1. Explore Each Card In Your New Deck or System

The very first thing to do, before you start looking anything up or anything or getting any books, is to get a “feel” for your new cards.

Unwrap your new oracle deck. (The one on the left is the Alexandre Musruck version of the Kipper deck) Before looking at the cards more closely one by one,  I’d suggest laying them out on a table or the floor from 1 to however many there are and take a look at the whole set, the ‘big picture’. What do you get from the ‘feel’ of the deck design? Do you like it, are you drawn to it? What do you like or not like about it? What are your first impressions? “Wow” or “Meh”?

Next, scan along the rows and columns. Do any of the cards jump out at you as being particularly pleasant or unpleasant, or notable in other ways?

Now, what I’d do is gather the cards up and now take a look at each of them one by one. Again, don’t look anything up for now. You want to try and glean whatever you can first, from just looking at the image on the card and what it’s called. What do you THINK it’s going to mean?

Now, Kippers (see the Big Luck/Fortune card on the left) don’t have reversed meanings, but Sibillas/Gypsy Oracle Cards (see right) do. If you’ve got a Sibilla deck,  ask yourself what you think the reversed card MIGHT mean? Don’t spend too much time on this, and don’t look them up just yet, just go through them fairly quickly and see what YOU think about each one. You’ll probably find that just as with Lenormand,  some you wouldn’t have a clue about on first sight, and others will be far more obvious to you. And some of the meanings when you come to look them up will turn out to surprise you.

2. Discover The Cards’ Basic Meanings

NOW it’s time to go and find out what each of the cards actually is supposed to mean. You don’t need to go into detail at this point, just try and get the essence; enough so you can start trying out simple readings. Your deck probably came with a guide, so check that out as a first port of call. (The card on the left is the Vera Sibilla/Gypsy Oracle’s Pleasure Seekers/Madmen card. You can guess from the Italian name that it has an aspect of ‘delirium’ and ‘out of controlness’ about it.)

Go through the meanings you find and make a note of them. (A notebook where you build up info for yourself is always useful). Which of the meanings did you expect? Which didn’t you? Which now make perfect sense? Which surprised you?  If your deck DIDN’T come with a meanings list, go online first of all and see what you can find. It’s best to try and find different sources at this stage, so you can get as much info as possible. Take the info you need, but don’t just go with one person;
take a look around.

Here’s my list of Kipper Card Meanings to give you a head start, and do keep checking my Other Oracle Decks page for updates re: other decks’ meanings. But don’t just listen to me: I’m not some guru. Explore elsewhere, and as widely as you can.

3. If A Basic Oracle Deck, Try Simple 3-Card Layouts, then 5 and 9 Cards

The beauty of systems like Kipper and Sibilla is that you can do the simplest layouts that you’re familiar with from Lenormand quite easily. DON’T let the awareness that some of the decks do have ‘special’ different ways of reading things stall you or stop you experimenting at this stage. Yes, you may notice some differences from reading Lenormand, particularly with the ‘situational’ type cards that you get in Kipper and the Sibillas, so you’re not going to need “essence combinations” in quite the same way, but think about which cards are likely to be influencing which (clue: it’s not necessarily that different).

The aim here, just as with the meanings, is to START to get you having a relationship with your cards, getting a ‘feel’ for
them and how they SEEM TO work. Try out simple 3 card layouts; and then 5 cards and 9 cards using Lenormand-type techniques. You can get into the detailed ins and outs later. What sort of messages do they SEEM to give you? Are they meaningful? How might you interpret their messages based on the meanings that you’ve learned?

4. Find Out What You Can Online & From Books

Now it’s time to get a little deeper. This is where you start exploring beyond the basics; maybe buying a few books (again: try not to just go with one person, no-one is actually a guru and no-one has The One True Method of anything, which isn’t to say you can’t learn a huge amount from different people) and taking a look around. Taking courses if you want. Explore. How have other people interpreted the cards? In the same way you would or differently? Check out things like blogs where people have done card layouts. Try to interpret what the cards say for yourself first, and then look at what interpretation they gave. Do you agree? Why or why not? Do they give you any tips for further learning? And from your learning, what, if anything, did you get “wrong” about how you were first reading the cards? What did you get right? (The card on the left, the Important Revelation, is from a different Sibilla system, the Parlour Sybil/Sibilla Indovina).

5. Try Out New Layouts & Methods

As part of this exploration, you’re likely to come across different layouts and methods, as well as new possible ways of reading the ones you already know. So try them all out. Do they make a difference to the outcome of your readings? Do any of them suddenly ‘click’ and give you that ‘aha’ feeling?

Both Kipper and Sibilla decks have, as well as reading layouts that are similar to Lenormand, their own specific ways of reading. I’ll be documenting the ones I d try out here, with examples, on my Other Oracle Decks page.

6. Practice Often And Get “In Tune” With Your Cards

It can take a good while before you ‘click’ with a certain set of cards or a method. So you do need to practice regularly. A good way is to try small daily reads, like 3-card spreads, to see what kinds of ‘messages’ you get. And how does it work when you do a bigger exploratory spread, like a 9-Card, about people or situations? Remember, other oracle decks are, like Lenormand, storytelling systems at heart, and mostly about everyday things and everyday life.

7. Compare The Different Systems You Use: How Does Each Work Best?

Ultimately, the test of whether the cards or method “work” for you is not how well you’re attuned to one person or another’s method of reading, or whether you’re doing it strictly as is meant to be ‘traditional’; it’s if they give YOU what you want or not. How are the readings you’re getting – meaningful or no?  This can vary from person to person. For example, I have one deck that I just don’t seem to really get on with at the moment. It may be that I’m just not tuned into it yet, it may be that it’s just not going to be for me.

And there are some BIG differences between Lenormand and these decks, particularly in terms of directness. For instance, when I first did a Kipper reading, I was kinda like

because it was just SO much more direct—scarily so!— than Lenormand. In fact, almost to the point I wasn’t sure if I like it at first (but I REALLY do now!). So bear in mind different systems can take a while to get used to.

Plus, if you’re reading with more than one system, you should start to get a feel for which ‘system’ YOU find is best for which type of situation, which type of question – and which you like. Lenormand, for instance, can be applied to heaps of things, whether it’s ‘big’ or ‘everyday’. You’ll find that other systems, because, they’re situational do tend to be even more everyday, and as I say, quite direct at times. Don’t forget that ultimately, it’s about what it is YOU are looking for from your readings. I wrote about different ways you can use your cards here:

7 Different Ways To Use Your Cards

So what are you waiting for? Have fun and happy exploring!


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4 thoughts on “7 Tips For Learning A New Card-Reading System”

  1. Thank you! So informative! I read tarot and feel better with Lenormand now, and just added Kipper! I love the Kipper cards I got…..the Fin de Siecle Kipper. I am learning that some are better for different questions/inquiries. I sometimes I use both Tarot and Lenormand together and it has been amazing how they each clarify the other! 🙂

    1. Yes, and just how different they all they. Glad you’re finding it helpful, Denise!

  2. Thanks so much for this, Lozzy! It helps a lot! I got hung up on trying to use systems according to the “gurus” and gave up. I like your approach very much. Very practical advice. 💐💐💐

    1. Glad it helps! It’s true – you can let it stall you, so you’re scared to try ANYTHING without a guru’s strict instructions, but it really doesn’t need to be like that! Especially if you’re already familiar with Lenormand.

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