Having really enjoyed working with the Destiny is Brewing Lenormand (self-published, 2014), I thought I’d give a little overview of the cards and the companion book (available separately through Amazon).
The card stock is good, flexible, sturdy and easy to shuffle. There are 40 cards in total, with two Man and Woman cards and two extras: the Cuckoo Clock and a card that is actually just a place holder – both sides decorated with the card back image of a teapot on a background of stars. However, I didn’t realise that wasn’t intentional, and it could perfectly well be used, perhaps named ‘Destiny’ 😀
The Man and Woman cards offer a choice between a very elegant couple, who look like Audrey Hepburn and perhaps Humphrey Bogart, and a gypsy couple. As for the Cuckoo Clock, this card is offered to use as a timing card. It is dedicated to Johann Kaspar Hechtel, the creator of the original Game of Hope cards which were the precursor to the Petit Lenormand deck, and a cuckoo clock was chosen because of its link to both time and to the Black Forest in Germany, Hechtel’s native land.
The theme of images within and/or on the teacups is a lovely notion, linking these cards to the origins of the ideas found in the Coffee Grounds Cards known as the Game of the Germans in the 1780’s and 90’s. Likewise, this theme is continued in the companion book, where meanings for tea leaf readings based on the Lenormand images are given with more traditional Lenormand interpretations. These bring in the concept of near and far, which can of course also be applied in reading larger spreads, especially the Grand Tableau. The book also gives tea leaf interpretations for other common images such as a violin or nut in a section at the back of the book. So, a two-in-one system!
There are many charming images in the deck. A personal favourite of mine is the Storks card, which looks like an extremely fancy porcelain cup from Meissen or some similar manufacturer. Inside the cup are a couple of eggs, pointing to the “baby” interpretation which some readers give to this card. The image also demonstrates the interesting way in which the Court card images have been incorporated – with a semi-black-and-white depiction at the bottom of the image. You can’t see it very well, but this Queen of Hearts actually has a teacup in her hand, too 😉 Other than that, the playing card associations are included as the number or letter within the suit symbol in the bottom left hand corner of the card.
There is a very clever element to many of the cards. For instance, the Mountain card shows an upside down teacup with a mountain on it, creating an obstacle in itself. The Snake card holds a feminine, flowered cup tipped over on its side, with a snake winding through the handle and around the cup and saucer. The Child card has teacups as seats on a merry-go-round ride, with a girl enjoying the fun.
The only card that doesn’t work as well for me, personally, is the Paths card. I have no objection to the signposts (a device also used in the Bärtschi Lenormand), and in fact really like the clever directions. These include the Spiritual Path, the Yellow Brick Road, and the Road Less Travelled! There is also a nod to Mademoiselle Lenormand, as we appear to actually be on the Rue de Tournon, where she kept a house. However, I find the spaghetti junction of roads in the background overly busy, and the teacup is so subtle as to be almost non-existent.
As for the companion book, it is lovely quality, with full-page colour images of all the cards, as well coloured backgrounds on many pages, and smaller colour images for the sample readings. I was surprised to realise it was a print-on-demand, through Amazon – this kind of service has progressed so much in recent years!
As well as the beautiful presentation, the book gives traditional interpretations for all of the cards, as well as near and far meanings (under the heading of tea leaf readings). There are lots of sample readings to demonstrate the different spreads and ways of reading the author suggests, which I always enjoy reading. And Gummersall also has some interesting suggestions on timing, using her extra Cuckoo Clock card. She has clearly read up on the history of the development of the Lenormand cards, giving a good run-down of the Coffee Ground cards, Hechtel, and Mademoiselle Lenormand, too. There is a decent section on the Grand Tableau. I was a little surprised to see a basic counting approach to reading the Grand Tableau defined as the ‘Destiny Is Brewing’ Spread, but that is a minor point. There is also a suggestion for a Fortune Teller Spread, which uses two decks, a pair of dice and a figurine – very interesting.
Overall, then, the cards are very well thought out, and quite beautiful. The companion book has a solid basis in tradition, and interesting additional suggestions. All in all, it’s a lovely set for either beginners or more seasoned Lenormand readers.