What makes a good Lenormand deck?

In case you haven’t noticed, I am absolutely taken with Lenormand. It’s such a neat and precise little system, and I love the simplicity of the card images. A tree is a tree is a tree, you know? Doesn’t matter what kind of tree it is, it’s just a tree. Well…

ASS Lenormand, Postcards from My Lover Lenoracle, Natalie Rose Hand Drawn Lenormand, Unforgettable Lenormand, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Dreaming Way Lenormand

You’d think that collecting Lenormand decks is a waste, because if a tree is a tree, a lenny is a lenny right? Well, yeah… but actually there’s a little bit more to it than that. And that’s why I’m making this post 🙂

First, size is a very important thing. Most Lenormand decks are the size of playing cards, either poker or bridge. I prefer this size (or slightly smaller, as they will be once I’ve trimmed the borders off). Some come in a mini size, which is perfect for doing big spreads in small spaces 🙂 And then you have the larger ones, which I don’t mind as such, but they’re useless for big spreads…

Fairy Tale Fortune Cards, Fairy Lenormand, Primal Lenormand, Gilded Reverie Lenormand, Art Nouveau Oracle, Natalie Rose (poker size), Magisches Lenormand, Under the Roses Lenormand (bridge size), Enchanted Lenormand, Vintage Samhain Lenormand (mini lenormand)
Grand tableau with a mini deck, and nine-card spreads with the Fairy Tale Fortune Cards (the biggest lenormand I’ve ever seen) and the Unforgettable Lenormand (poker sized). See why size matters? 😛

Another thing to look at is whether the cards have numbers or titles. This may not be a big thing, but for me it depends on the style of the deck. Sometimes I prefer both, sometimes I want neither. I like to have at least numbers if the images are busy, or if they can be confused for other cards in the deck. But neither numbers nor titles must get in the way of the images, especially if they are of the artsy and pretty kind, then I prefer just pictures. With some decks, I’ve noticed that I end up mainly reading the titles instead of looking at the pictures, so maybe just as well they aren’t there 😛

Examples of various types of numbers and titles.

Playing card inserts. Some people need them, I personally don’t. I rarely pay any attention to them, but sometimes I like to have them at least in the shorthand form (number and symbol). In the classic style decks they are most often full playing card images, which is fine, as long as they don’t cover too much of the card image. In intricate and artsy decks, I don’t want full card inserts, if I can choose not to.

Finally, and perhaps the most important point is the images themselves. They need to be clear enough that you can identify them in an instant among all the other cards, like in a grand tableau spread. If you know your deck really really well, you may be fine with a very intricate deck, but at least for a beginner it helps a lot if the images are simple and the main symbol is in focus. It’s also a huge advantage if the symbols on the cards aren’t repeated on other cards, even if they’re not the main focus in those cards. I don’t want three cards that have birds in them, I only need one. You don’t really want to wonder what card you’re looking at and get them mixed up. Lastly, I really want the images to be what they’re supposed to, and not something that just looks like it. I want the moon to be the moon, not a wheel of cheese 🙂 (Although, that last bit really depends on the theme of the deck. If it’s done right, it can work.)

Not super happy about how similar these cards in the Piatnik are. Too much landscape and clouds, and a ship in the Clouds card…

For the more picky readers, there are a number of cards that traditionally should look a certain way. I only care about a few of these, but I’ll mention them below anyway 🙂

Rider – person on a horse, movement is important, some people prefer a certain direction (I like my riders to face right, but it’s not crucial)

Ship – preferably a ship with an engine, not a small dinghy, should be big enough to indicate long-distance travel or transport of lots of goods (and I’ve noticed that a lot of ships are going away from the viewer, but I don’t know if this is significant)

Leiding Lenormand, Piatnik, Natalie Rose, ASS, Maybe Lenormand, Postcards from My Lover

Tree – should be a clear tree, not a forest that can be confused with the garden, or any animal life that can become either the fox or birds

Celtic Lenormand, Art Nouveau, Winter Solstice Lenormand, Burning Serpent, Middia Lenormand, Gilded Reverie, Prince Lenormand, Judith Bärtschi Lenormand

Clouds – should have light and dark sides, either sideways or up and down (I prefer the light side on the right)

Unforgettable, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Postcards from My Lover, ASS, Leiding, Maybe, Wahrsagen mit Karten

Snake – nice if the snake is just a snake, doesn’t have to be striking or aggressive (and no women, please – that’s what the insert is for)

Magisches Lenormand, Art Nouveau, Celtic, Judith Bärtschi, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Dreaming Way, Unforgettable, Under the Roses

Coffin – would like to have a proper coffin, preferably with drapery, because it matters which side the cloth is facing

French Cartomancy (Dondorf), Art Nouveau, Gilded Reverie, Blue Owl, Dreaming Way, Under the Roses, Celtic, Burning Serpent

Bouquet – must be a bunch of flowers (and not lilies), in a vase or just a bound bouquet, and preferably not a field of flowers or a flowerbed in a garden

Dreaming Way, Blue Bird Lenormand, Burning Serpent, Under the Roses, Judith Bärtschi, Art Nouveau, Celtic

Scythe – just a scythe, or a scythe with some straw or hay; for some it’s important which way the edge or tip is pointing

Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Wahrsagen mit Karten, Natalie Rose, Dreaming Way, Maybe, Unforgettable, Postcards from My Lover

Whip/broom – just a whip and/or a broom (no more sexy ladies here either, please)

Magisches, Piatnik, Gilded Reverie, Burning Serpent, Middia, Natalie Rose, Art Nouveau, Judith Bärtschi, Under the Roses

Birds – two birds, some people want owls

Postcards from My Lover, ASS, Unforgettable, Dreaming Way, Judith Bärtschi, Leiding, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Art Nouveau, Wahrsagen mit Karten

Fox – should be red, traditionally depicted stealing a chicken

Bear – some people probably want it to be brown, I personally don’t mind polar bears, and maybe some will want it to face to the side

Prince, Magisches, Burning Serpent, Celtic, Under the Roses, Australian Aboriginal Lenormand, Gilded Reverie, Judith Bärtschi

Stars – more than just one or a few

Dreaming Way, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, ASS, Middia, Wahrsagen mit Karten, Art Nouveau, Postcards from My Lover, Burning Serpent

Stork – preferably in flight

Judith Bärtschi, Blue Owl, Blue Bird, Magisches, Gilded Reverie, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, ASS, Piatnik

Tower – must be a tall building, alone or isolated

Brning Serpent, Maybe, Judith Bärtschi, Postcards from My Lover, Under the Roses, Prince, French Cartomancy, Celtic

Garden – must have enough flowers and stuff to not be confused for the bouquet

Wahrsagen mit Karten, Postcards from My Lover, ASS, Leiding, Maybe, Dreaming Way, Celtic

Mountain – must be big and towering, not just a tiny hill (it’s supposed to be an obstacle), and not too much landscape and trees and clouds

Leiding, ASS, Wahrsagen mit Karten, Maybe, Postcards from My Lover, Dreaming Way

Path – should be a visible path with a clear split, not just a roadsign

ASS, Unforgettable, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Postcards from My Lover, Wahrsagen mit Karten, Dreaming Way

Mice – I like it when they face left, because they take away from the card to the left

Under the Roses, Leiding, Dreaming Way, Judith Bärtschi, Gilded Reverie, Art Nouveau, Celtic, Burning Serpent

Heart – doesn’t matter if it’s a typical cartoon hart or a blood-dripping anatomical one, as long as it’s a heart

Dreaming Way, Magisches, Natalie Rose, Middia, Judith Bärtschi, Under the Roses, Art Nouveau, Celtic

Ring – just a ring, not a tiny ring on a hand

Magisches, ASS, Natalie Rose Hand Drawn, Blue Bird, Under the Roses, Postcards from My Lover, Celtic, Art Nouveau

Book – some prefer it either open or closed, because it matters which way the spine faces

Celtic, French Cartomancy, Unforgettable, Postcards from My Lover, Burning Serpent, Art Nouveau, Under the Roses

Letter – just a letter, maybe some pens and stuff, but not a carrier pigeon or a stack of books

Natalie Rose, ASS, Dreaming Way, Unforgettable, Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand, Postcards from My Lover

Man & woman – should be able to face each other (I prefer not to have photos of real people)

Dreaming Way, Gilded Reverie, Natalie Rose, Middia, Art Nouveau, Blue Bird, French Cartomancy

Lily – one or more, but should be white

French Cartomancy, Postcards from My Lover, Unforgettable, Dreaming Way, Gilded Reverie, Under the Roses, Celtic

Sun – big and bright, not too much scenery

ASS, Maybe, Natalie Rose, Unforgettable, Dreaming Way, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Postcards from My Lover

Moon – big full moon (crescent works, but full is best), no clouds or lots of landscape

Prince, ASS, Maybe, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Dreaming Way, Unforgettable, Postcards from My Lover, Winter Solstice Lenormand

Key – a big key, not just a little one in someone’s hand, or a big door with a small keyhole

Postcards from My Lover, ASS, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Dreaming Way, Celtic, Enchanted, Under the Roses, Art Nouveau

Fish – lots of fish, at least more than a couple

ASS, Dreaming Way, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Maybe, Postcards from My Lover, Natalie Rose, Lenormand Wahrsagekarten

Cross – should be a proper cross, not exchanged for something else

Dreaming Way, Under the Roses, Celtic, Burning Serpent, Brittas Wahrsagekarten, Art Nouveau, Enchanted

And now, to finish this post off, my favorite deck, which has all the things listed above that I don’t want… the Mystical Lenormand 😀 I’ve seen people hating it for all those things, but I’m so used to it I manage just fine 🙂

What a mess… a garden in the Heart card, a dog in the Child card, purple lilies, house in the Fish card, birds in the Cross card, an itty bitty ring, carrier pigeon in the Letter card, etc…

Let me just end with saying that despite all the examples above of the “wrong” kind of images, I do love all my decks. They’re just suited for different types of spreads. They’re all my precious babies 😀 I basically made this post to give a beginner some tips on which decks are good to start out with. But always pick a deck you like and connect with, it’s better than ending up with a deck you don’t like to look at… It’s no fun working with a deck you don’t like, and I bet you won’t learn as much either. Just remember that lenormand is a very traditional system, and there will always be purists who want everything to be a specific way (and everything else is horrible). Know where they are coming from, and why, but by all means feel free to ignore them and pick whatever deck you want 🙂


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