I am a strong believer that any magickal tools you make yourself are far more powerful than something made by someone else. I’m a DIY kind of gal. Growing up on an isolated island before the age of internet shopping, necessity was often the mother of invention, so I learned to make things myself.
I’ve played with the idea of making my own tarot deck for years. I’ve even gone so far as to plan out Majors and start sketching cards. But 78 cards seems like a daunting task, especially when I find my understanding of the meanings of cards evolves and shifts over time. Tarot cards are so deep and complex, with layers of meanings that shape-shift according to circumstance. I was afraid that making my own tarot would be like building a house on a sand dune… my foundation would be blown away by the time I finished pounding the last nail.
Recently, I started hearing lots about Lenormand cards, and my curiosity was piqued. The Petit Lenormand, or simply Lenormand cards are a deck of 36 cards used for divination like tarot (they fall under the same umbrella of cartomancy, or divination by cards), but much more literal and direct than tarot. A single tarot card can hold a multitude of different symbols which alter the meaning and how the card is read. A Lenormand card has one symbol with one set meaning. A tarot reading is like a long stream of consciousness poem. Lenormand reads like an instruction sheet. Lenormand cards are read in a line, like a sentence, which appeals to my literary bookish side.
Each Lenormand card has an inset playing card symbol, so as I was reading more about them I had my first idea of how to make a deck fast and cheap. I grabbed an old deck of poker cards, pulled out the 36 associated with the Lenormand cards and quickly scrawled the name of each card along with their corresponding number in Sharpie. With help from Rana George’s amazing book “The Essential Lenormand”, I right away began doing basic 2-card readings. I started keeping a notebook of daily draws, seeing how the cards played out in real life, and I started to really enjoy the literalness, practicality, and straight-forwardness of the Lenormand.
After a few weeks of using my “ugly-but-they-work-lovely” cards, I decided it was time to make a prettier set, as I really want to dedicate more time to experimenting and learning with them.
I had some Avery brand sheets of business card blanks, for printing business cards on a home printer. I used Photoshop to create a card template, with an “old paper” background, a border, the card number and the playing card correspondence (both changeable). I used graphics I found on google images – most came from the graphics fairy. I will admit I wasn’t too careful with using copyright free images, as the cards are just for personal use and I don’t plan to sell them or reproduce them. After I created and saved all 36 cards, I cut and pasted the images into a template for the business card sheets and printed them double sided (with a moth and moon design on the back) on my home printer. After punching the cards out of the template, I used some 3M brand no-heat business card laminators that I found in the stationary section of a big-box store that shall not be named. They shuffle smoothly and feel nice in the hand, and the laminator sheets have nicely rounded corners so you don’t have to mess around rounding them yourself.
The next day after I finished the deck was the Spring Equinox, also a new moon. It seemed an auspicious day to bless and charge the deck, so I set up a crystal grid and left the deck with the crystals for a day. I have been using the deck since, and just last weekend on the first full moon after it’s creation I braved my first Grand Tableau, a method of divination using all 36 cards laid out in a grid. It read like a dream, and I now have a trusty Lenormand deck, completely unique to me, made by me, and attuned to me.
Also, the act of creating my own deck helped solidify the meaning of each card in my mind. I read about each card in Rana George’s book, as well as another very helpful book by the amazing Caitlín Matthews. I kept the meanings I had read about in my mind as I searched for each image, prepared the image to be added to the card, and then as I was coloring and adding final touches to the card. Again, as I laminated each card, I took my time and meditated on the meanings of each card, my way of programming my brain and the cards. I also printed the cards out on thinner plain printer paper, so I could physically cut and paste the images into a Lenormand journal I have begun. I dedicated four pages for each card in the journal so I can add meanings as they pop up in real life application.
If you’re interested in learning to read Lenormand, or if you’re already a seasoned reader, I highly recommend making your own deck. If you do not use photo editing software, you could easily sketch, draw, paint, or even collage your own cards. Using pre-cut business cards and laminator sheets makes the finishing job very easy and makes for a very durable, water-resistant, not easily bent card. The act of making a deck will really deepen your relationship with the deck, and the cards will resonate with your thoughts, as that’s where they were born.