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Lenormand Cards Origin

Updated: Feb 12

Who was Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand?

Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand is one of the most influential fortune and cartomancers of all time. Born in Alençon, France in 1772, as a young woman, she moved to Paris and began practicing cartomancy, using a variety of card decks to read fortunes for clients.  She died in Paris in 1843.

According to accounts, Marie-Anne claimed to have created her own cards, using her knowledge of numerology, astrology, and other mystical traditions to design a deck uniquely suited to divination.

However, some scholars have disputed this claim and suggest that the Lenormand used  an earlier card system called Jeu de la Princesse. This deck is made of 54 cards, each with a unique image representing a specific aspect of life, such as love, money, or health.

Lenormand became famous for her accurate predictions and intuitive insights, and her clients included some of the most prominent figures of the time, such as Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Empress Josephine.

What we now know as “Lenormand cards” originated from Germany. It existed under the name “Das Spiel der Hoffnung”, the Game of Hope, which came about in 1799. .

After her death, the cards were renamed and re-leased, under the name Wahrsagekarten. Thereafter, several other card games were named after Ms. Lenormand. The two most well known decks are the 36-card “Le Petit Lenormand” and “Le Grand Jeu Lenormand”. The Petit card deck comes with a simple image and is associated with playing cards. The Gran Jeu deck has a combination of images that refer to different forms of divination: playing cards, astrology, geomancy, flowers and letters.

Illustration of Gran Jeu Lenormand cards

Of the two, the Petit Lenormand is most Popular. It includes 36 cards. It is based on regular playing deck, reduced from 52 to 36 cards by removing the 2, 3, 4 and 5, pip cards. The deck covers all four suits: hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades. It also includes the jacks, queens, and kings, aces and numbers 6 through 10.

Illustration of cards from a Petit Lenormand deck

Lenormand is not Tarot.

Lenormand cards are not at like Tarot cars.

Tarot offer insight into the subconscious while Lenormand is more useful in telling past and future events. It tells a story!

Tarot tells us what we didn’t think we wanted to know whereas Lenormand tells us what may come to be, what happened for us to be where we are. The cards are read based on their positions in a spread, think of the Celtic Cross, the 2nd position means challenge. With Lenormand the cards are interpreted based on their proximity to other cards. Lenormand is all about the combinations.


Similarly to tarot, Lenormand card meanings can shift slightly based on the other cards in the spread. But unlike tarot, there are limitations to the extent meanings can be modified.

Each Lenormand card represents a noun, a verb, adjective, or adverb. One major advantage of Lenormand is the meaning will remain the same no matter which deck is used.

Today, Lenormand cards are still widely used for divination and fortune-telling, and many different versions of the deck are widely available. Lenormand cards are not Tarot cards. It is a brilliant, stand-alone tool for fortune-telling that can become a great everyday advisor for every life situation.

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