Hi. I moved this article to my new website. Please read its updated and improved version there. Thank you.
Ancient and even Medieval Astrology has always been considered the queen of the sciences, just as Chinese Metaphysics (of which Astrology is a branch) has been the most powerful knowledge in the East. These are completely holistic systems; they were intended, “invented” and practised that way. However, the oral tradition existed back then, as well as the teacher-student relationship. Textbooks were merely guides and not meant to substitute the teacher and their understanding. Unfortunately, with almost the complete loss of the oral tradition in the past few centuries, the textbooks have had to fill that gap. They have, of course, failed for Yang can never dig deep as Yin. All is not lost though, as the surviving bits and pieces and hints can allow someone to restore at least to a certain extent, and with a lot of time consuming effort, what was taught by the lost oral tradition, namely holistic thinking and application.
That is one of the main reasons I was very drawn by Chinese Metaphysics, especially the Destiny/Life (Astrology) and Physiognomy/Appearance (Chinese Face and Palm Reading and Feng Shui) arts. It is virtually impossible not to have a holistic thinking when practicing these. Needless to say, I am talking about the classical ones, not the baseless and made up new age ones. Just as you can’t read one feature of the face, palm, natal astrological chart or a part of the property without taking into account the whole face, the whole palm, the whole chart and the whole property and the surrounding environment/forms and period/energy, the same holds true for the traditional Lenormand cards method.
Calling it Lenormand is historically very incorrect though, so I will be calling it the Game of Hope Coffee Grounds Cartomancy – GHCGC. (It could also be called just Game of Hope Cartomancy – GHC or 36 cards traditional cartomancy method). By GHCGC I mean of course the traditional method, for it is a method, a system, NOT divination or an oracle as some would like to believe. GHCGC is different from the Tarot. It is simple, direct and also very powerful.
I have known about GHCGC but I was not interested in it. In fact, while talking to an acquaintance 5-6 years ago, with whom I share a different common interest, he said he was practicing “Lenormand” and started telling me about the method. I was not into Tarot back then but was doing I Ching cards and gypsy cards. It is only on hindsight that I realize, again as with the Tarot, that it was not the right time for me to take up the method. The reason for this is I had to appreciate the holistic thinking and application. It was only years later after I started integrating ancient Astrology and Chinese Metaphysics that I came across the GHCGC method and this time there was no turning back. I have been studying the GHCGC for the last few months and have been very impressed.
I want to make it clear that by GHCGC I mean the traditional one, that is, the Grand Tableau where all the 36 cards are laid – the way the method was devised to be used.
This means no spreads and thus assigned meanings of the particular numbered position of the cards. This also means little or no psychology, impartiality, following a method and having to make the effort to memorize rules and meanings and the principles behind them. Just like in Ancient Astrology, while true intuition does have a part in narrowing down the significations, it is reserved for last – only after one has thoroughly followed the method and rules of delineation and prediction. I come to a very important point. For one to appreciate how powerful, accurate and specific the GHCGC is, they must study the traditional method first, or at least in case they studied other methods, they must have a pure mind and heart and not carry baggage from the modern pseudo methods or from other similar predictive disciplines where rules, method and order do not reign supreme. I cannot emphasize that point enough! What I am saying is that unless one studies the fundamentals and understands how the principles are derived, it will be very easy to get sidetracked into the modern, psychological, non-specific, no-negative-cards method. This runs the risk of turning it into what the Tarot has degenerated into – hundreds of books, the vast, vast majority of which rehash card meanings and spreads and do not teach the reader how to think, understand and derive the meanings, let alone how to predict.
When reading about the fundamentals of GHCGC I immediately noticed so many similarities between it and Ancient Astrology. In fact that is one of the main reasons why I decided to learn the method and add it to my arsenal. It helps and forces one to think holistically and to examine the big picture. You will notice that the title of the article does not contain “Ancient”. This is because it is possible to revive a significant part of the full system from the ancient astrological textbooks, but not so from those written after the year 1000 or even 700 AD. So it is any type of Western Astrology after this period that needs to take a page from the book of GHCGC. I don’t want to digress but were it not for the translators of the ancient astrological books over the past 25 years, one versed in both would have wondered whether traditional cartomancy or Astrology came first. This shows perfectly how huge the loss of the oral tradition is. Just think about it for a second please: how is it possible for a traditional cartomancy method that is merely about 200 years old to contain techniques which in essence are extremely similar to astrological techniques from 2000 years ago, written in different countries and languages? The reason is the oral tradition and the teaching the correct way to study, understand and derive the fundamentals – something missing in almost all astrological textbooks or courses.
In regards to the similarities between GHCGC and Ancient Astrology, I would like to share some of what I have discovered. I think it will be very valuable particularly to those who are into Ancient or Medieval or traditional Astrology and are considering another method of prediction (obviously horary can be used but not for a general reading) and do not like what the Tarot has degenerated into or simply do not feel like spending time deciphering obscure symbolism and the various attempts by secret societies to mislead.
One major similarity is the delineation of various topics, like relationships, career, wealth, health, travel, etc. As in Ancient Astrology’s universal and topical approach, there are two approaches in GHCGC. The first one also does not use the places/houses and the second one uses both the significators of the various topics and the houses. Just as in Ancient Astrology, one can read the whole chart without resorting to fully delineating all or any of the houses, it is the same in GHCGC.
Another similarity, which is connected with the first one, is the central importance of significators. Just like in Ancient Astrology, where the Ascendant and the Lot of Fortune are the places around which all planets and points are placed and judged against, it is the same with GHCGC, where the siginificator card is the central point. It is from this central point that special places or cards become significant. In Ancient Astrology these are the stakes – the 1st 4th 7th and 10th places from the Asc, Fortune, or even another significator, counting inclusively. In GHCGC, there are various methods of counting, but the fundamental principle is the same. Also, the 4 corners in GHCGC are a very telling similarity.
Another similarity is the concept of mirroring/reflecting in GHCGC and the concept of antiscia or the various relationships between the zoidia (same domicile lord, seeing, hearing, equally rising, etc) in Ancient Astrology.
Another similarity is the concept of above and below. Cards above are more powerful than those below in GHCGC, which is precisely the same in ancient Astrology, with the concepts of overcoming – 10 or 9 places from a place or planet.
Another similarity is the concept of tampering with a planet’s intensity, even its intrinsic essence. In GHCGC, while negative cards spoil or reduce the goodness of positive ones, card 6 the Clouds is the only one that can cloud and really mess up a given card. Likewise in Ancient Astrology the benefics can be significantly weakened and turn into accidental malefics too, though they do not harm intentionally as the malefics, and there is the South and North Node of the Moon (the Tail and Head of the Dragon) which reduce or increase the intensity of a planet that is bodily within 12 portions of it.
Another similarity, at least in some traditional decks, is that the left, sinister side is generally the bad one, just as in ancient Greek thought. For instance in card 6 the Clouds it is the left side that is the darker and malefic one. Also, and that is valid for all decks, having card 25 the Ring to the left of the significator card shows a possible separation, while on the right, it indicates a lasting relationship, or a new one, depending on how near or far it is.
Another similarity is the classification of the different natures of the cards, just like with the planets and fixed stars. Some are very benefic, others are mildly benefic, others are neutral in expression and depend who they are configured with, others are malefic, others are very malefic. As in Ancient Astrology, it is impossible to practise, delineate and predict accurately unless you distinguish between benefic and malefic planets or positive and negative cards. Disease, injury, losses, bankruptcy, divorce, ending of friendships, depression, enemies and death take as much part in life as do health, gains, wealth, marriage, new friendships, enthusiasm, allies etc. In fact, just as in Ancient Astrology where the malefics are in fact stronger, it is very similar if not exactly the same in GHCGC, and the reason for this is of course because life itself is such.
I want to reiterate how impressed I am with GHCGC. As you can see it is a like a sister to Ancient Astrology. Even though it cannot be compared to it in terms of its scope, it most definitely can compete with it and even win over it, in terms of specifics. To those that are versed in Astrology, the results can be like a combination of the natal branch + horary for even closer specifics, but at the same time dealing with almost all areas of the life of the native, though just for a period of time that is 1 year or 6 months at most, but one can always do another reading provided there is a sincere need to know.
However, I want to repeat again that by GHCGC I mean only the Grand Tableau, using all the 36 cards at all times. Yes, 5, 7 and 9 card layouts do have value, but the problem I have with any layout is the weight of the cards. That is especially evident with daily draws up to 3 cards. The cards simply cannot give their full weight meaning when the time period is so short. I mean, one can generally have just 1-2-3 events of note, if any, for a very short period like 1 week, 2 weeks or 4 weeks, not to mention 1 or 3 days. Needless to say, everyone is free to practise GHCGC in whatever way they wish, but the point of my article and mentioning natal Astrology (which studies the whole life and 1 year of life as the shortest span of time) is to emphasize why I consider GHCGC to be so valuable. It is so damn accurate and valuable when using all the 36 cards. In this way it takes 3-4-6 months to 1 year of time for the events and probabilities shown in the cards to happen.
I realize that one must practise in order to learn the method and not wait until they learn all the cards and enough of the techniques to do their first Grand Tableau. Unfortunately, there is another similarity between Ancient Astrology and GHCGC: there are just a few valuable books, if any on the subject which are written by contemporary authors. In regards to GHCGC, no matter what some authors or practitioners claim, there is only one. It is written by Andy Boroveshengra called “Lenormand 36 Symbols”. Make sure you get the 2nd edition. It is truly traditional and the only book I know of in English that, after explaining the meanings of the cards, starts teaching the Grand Tableau, not the numerous card layouts where the weight of the cards’ meanings is so light that it is questionable whether it is worth bothering. Moreover, the author practices Medieval Astrology among other disciplines. In other words, he exemplifies the structured, disciplined, impartial, rules-based, approach. Readers are shown how to delineate, judge and predict accurately. I don’t expect that a book as valuable as this one will be published in the near future. The only other book worth getting is by Anthony Louis called “Lenormand Symbols: Exploring the Origins of the Images on the Cards”. Its purpose is not to teach readers how to practise; it is all about the history and traditional meanings of the 36 cards. What is also valuable is that he went to the trouble of giving their meanings in 4-5 European languages. As with Astrology, it is crucial to read the primary meanings of the planets and stars, thus Tony Louis’s book is indispensable. I am also writing this to warn my readers because had I known what I now know I would not have wasted money and time on other books in English which claim that they are traditional but are really not, which is something to watch out for because if you want the traditional method you will have to unlearn what you read.
If you choose to do as I suggest, so that you get the most out of GHCGC, then when you start learning the GHCGC do not use daily draws or 5, 7 or 9 cards layouts. Instead learn combinations and get comfortable with them (keeping in mind not to overdo this as it can mislead you when the Grand Tableau comes because context will be different there and you will have to collect testimonies and synthesize). Another, even better way, is to read newspapers or magazines or internet articles and do combinations and sentences for some of the headlines. The best way is to study Grand Tableaus by other practitioners. Unfortunately the only truly traditional one, when it comes to books in English at least, is Andy Boroveshengra. Studying the 2 examples in his book over and over again will reward you a lot. There are some articles on the internet on the Grand Tableau and the techniques used there are to a large extent traditional, but the overall approach is not. As such, they can mislead you into psychology or blurring the distinction between positive and negative cards or minimizing the malice of the negative cards among other things.
I really understand that doing as I suggest entails (only Grand Tableus in terms of actual predictions) it will take years to fully master the GHCGC, if that is even possible with all the nuances and variations, but at least in this way you will truly appreciate how powerful the method is. I don’t want to digress or underestimate the Tarot, where I have also had good, specific predictions, but GHCGC is different as I said. If I want a daily draw or the moral of a movie or a story or a fairytale or need to feel the cards, I would us the Tarot. If GHCGC is akin to horary Astrology, and it is, though it can encompass all areas of one’s life, and horary is to be used sparingly as the ancient practitioners advise, then GHCGC is very much like that. Of course, you can always do Grand Tableaus for other people when you are learning, but let me warn you: a potential problem could arise and it is not about not charging money as you are not experienced enough yet and it is natural not to at this stage, it is about the level of seriousness of the querent. In other words, are they appreciating what you are doing for them and asking in earnest about something important, wanting to have a general reading because they have had a rough period, or just wanting to see a demonstration without being committed an respecting the amount of work it will take (about 2 or more hours if done fully and written down). Are you seeing the connection to horary and the rooting of the question of the querent? It is not that strict, but I definitely advise a certain amount of effort by the querent, for after all, remember that when someone gets paid to read the cards, the client is the active, initiating party, and that is my point here – the person has to have a genuine interest in and need of the reading.
To illustrate what I mean, when I did my first Grand Tableau, after about 2 months of intense studying and practicing, I was (and still am course as it is not over) very excited and enthusiastic when laying the cards. It is this feeling, this authentic appreciation that is important. Here are some specific predictions that I made and have come to pass: the sickness of a friend, betrayal by a person from my social circle, the injury of a female person (who turned out to be my mother and the cards even showed the nature of the injury), changes in my business activities, some secret/unknown ways or techniques through which to make money.
As you can see, the method is very accurate and specific, and I am still waiting on other predictions to come to pass. Yes, I have a lot of experience from other disciplines and it does help me, but to achieve such a level of specificity on the fist Grand Tableau is truly humbling for me, though not so unexpected, because I know how powerful the method is.
Finally, I want to emphasize how important it is to use a simple deck, a traditional of course. A very important rule in GHCGC is less is more, which is also true for the deck. You will need enough space to lay all the 36 cards and be able to easily recognize every single one of them. Thus they need to be smaller than Tarot cards. There are over 10 traditional decks, so there is plenty to choose from.
After checking them all online I decided to buy the Bernd A. Mertz Lenormand deck. I am extremely pleased with it. I owe big thanks to La Fanu for it is largely from their blog’s post that I decided that this was the perfect deck for me. The picture for the article (card 1, the Rider) was also taken from La Fanu: