Cartomantes Cabinet: Tradition v. the Individual

I “love” when people want to reinvent the wheel, before they’ve learned the difference between a circle and a hexagon.

As always, I fully support you, Andy!


Cartomantes Cabinet: Tradition v. the Individual.


The Daily Deal — Personal Lenormand experiences based on daily draws


Let me tell you something, my friends; being a storyteller and a filmmaker can interfere with mastering daily Lenormand draws. My innate attraction to drama, high affect and loud personality perform nicely when reading for clients who desire periodic draws with deep revelations. But reading for myself everyday is a different beast altogether.

In our car

As I mentioned before on this blog, my daily practice consists of drawing 3 cards for my husband, and then 3 cards for myself on our way to work. After discussing the cards with my husband (who now can read Lenormand, even though he has never asked to learn it 😉 ), I record our dailies in a notebook along with my predictions. As I pull the cards — and especially if what I drew does not make sense right away — I tend to go over the top with my predictions. Overarching statements create safer umbrellas, when you are not sure what the exact message is. And, since objectivity isn’t possible, the tendency is to go for dramatic keywords I have memorized for each card.

By now dailies have become our own little ritual, and they never cease to surprise me. The Lenormand is precise, and witty, and literal, and I am always amazed when I realize which events playing out in our daily lives the cards chose to foreshadow. Typically these are the things we tell each other in the end of the day, as soon as we are cloaked by the privacy of our Mini Cooper, tend to reflect the morning draws 1-to-1. These are the joyous things we can’t wait to share right away; or the stresses and downers we must vent about, getting it off of our chests.

Today’s Draw: Birds + Rider + Whip, from a “Game of Hope” reproduction deck

This morning I drew The Birds, along with The Rider and The Whip. I had all kinds of ideas what these cards might represent, but it ended up reflecting me having to repeatedly attempt (The Whip) performing a simple computer-related task, and being unable to do it because of a loud group of people (Birds) that held a meeting in the same room I work at. Since I had a headache, and was tired and stressed out to begin with, having a herd of ladies chirping gossip in my ears in the end of the day really terminated my focus and performance abilities. The Lenormand though, was right on.

Our four bosses, and the way they show up in the cards.

As you have probably understand by now, my husband and I work together. We both are artists, working in a therapeutic day school for students with autism, who we adore. We have three female bosses that show up in the cards as the Snake, the Fox, and the Bear. Recently a fourth person joined the leadership team, and we think he might be showing up at the Dog — but we are not 100% on it yet.

The kids we work with have ginormous personalities, whether they are verbal or not. A few days ago, while brainstorming on my biggest project of the year, I’ve decided on a whim to interview one of my high schoolers about his dreams. This particular student (lets call him Luca) is very bright, but I had no idea whether he knew what the word dream means. Also, Luca has a very hard time controlling and organizing his body, and is a very high strung young man. When he is not feeling good physically or emotionally, his anxiety grows exponentially — heavily taxing Luca’s already limited ability for communicating his ideas.

I got lucky though, and Luca gave me some profound answers to my questions about dreams. On his letter board, slowly spelling with one finger letter by letter, Luca explained that dreams are visions coming from the brain. He dreams regularly, and in color. And it looks like movies. Regarding his aspirations, vs. nocturnal dreams, Luca said he would like to sail a boat one day. He also shared some interests that could possibly turn into an actual business in a not so far future.

Needless to say, I had chills running all over my body and tears in my eyes by the time we were done with the interview. The depth of Luca’s inner world blew me completely out of the water, and so did the morning Lenormand draw that looked like this:

Moon + Star + Stork talk about an uplifting feeling about a student’s dreams and aspirations for the future

Have wonderful dreams, my cartomancy friends!


Madame Nadia

Learning a New Oracle? A couple thoughts on grasping the lingo of a new divination system.

Wolf Metacarpals Runes

Recently I picked up a few new oracles to study. Being a triple Gemini, I never lack in new subject to learn. Patience, however, isn’t my best quality, and I always desire to assimilate new systems so i can practice them right away — which is difficult to do, considering the subject of my interest is new to me; like the Runes I’ve been recently investigating.
On the other hand, the cool thing about my Mercurial tendencies is that I am able to swiftly utilize previously acquired information to produce accelerated learning.
In any case, my intention with this article isn’t to tell you of the pros and cons of my natal chart, but to share a few techniques helpful when working with new systems.
As I already mentioned, I’m currently studying the Runes. Although I have a couple of books at home, I tend to rely primarily on the internet for information. And we all know how “reliable” the net can be, so I am forced to discriminate with all that I find on the subject. Not much fun.

Little Czech Oracle draw with a Deer  Antler “Uruz” rune

I am also working with the Little Czech Oracle, produced by Baba Studio. This little gem packs quite an oracular punch, but since I do not Know Czech I do not understanding the LWB that came with the deck, and it’s hard for me to believe that the publisher will be investing time and money into translating it and making it into a book. So I am left trying to figure out on my own how to work the magic of this divination system.
Nevertheless, even if you are lucky enough to stumble upon a good source of information regarding a system you are attempting to grasp, there is still quite a gap between memorized meanings (which are no doubt a must), and utilizing these in a reading to produce an accurate, Spirit-led narrative that not only validates, but also transforms the querent. It’s one thing to have a decent vocabulary, and another to use it in meaningful, rich and engaging way.
Throughout the years of reading and being read by others, I realized that every good diviner posses a unique way of communicating spiritual messages eloquently. These individuals seem to have a special connection to the oracles they are using, and the way they are translating archetypal information to their clients.
In my own practice I learned that every oracle, be it the playing cards or Lenormand or Tarot, has its own way of sharing information. And not only that, but each oracular tool (i.e. my personal copy of the Game of Hope Lenormand, or my own set of Bones) has its own tone and accent. You might consider this idea strange, or even ridiculous, since I am giving such importance to the “voice” of inanimate objects; but no joke — a simple statement of “You will find a new job soon” is going to be expressed in a different dialect by my Crowley Thoth deck compared to how my vintage Rider-Waite-Smith will deliver this same line. And while my White Owl Lenormand usually takes a poetic approach, the Carta Mundi deck communicates within the “SpeakEasy” genre: saying it “like it is”!

So what are beneficial approaches to learning such linguistic nuances?

Reading Backward:

The Parlour Sibyl deck, one of my new cartomatic obsessions

One approach that has been working well for me is what I call “reading backward”. What I mean by “reading backward” is instead of predicting upcoming events, I divine on a well-known to me occurence with a clear outcome. This way I don’t get stuck, self-doubting my work because I am not fluent enough in a given oracular system. Instead, I focus on the way my system tells me a story I already know. I think about: What kind of themes does it choose to describe the situation? Are there elaborate, fuzzy metaphors, or warm and lacy analogies? Or is it speaking in a painfully straightforward and direct voice that hits my being like an iron feast? By paying attention to such details I can analyze the way my intellect and psyche interpret the language of a specific oracle, letting me to calibrate my “spiritual tuner” appropriately.

Reading Along Other Fortune Tellers:

Another useful exercise I’ve been employing to progress with a new divination system is to read along with other, trustworthy readers — while focusing on the same subject or theme. For instance, I regularly listen to the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Radio show, on which I have also been a guest in the past. The format of the show include two constant hosts, catherine yronwode and ConjureMan Ali, and a weekly guest from the AIRR collective. Callers, who signed up for a consultation prior to the show, phone-in to receive a free reading and rootwork advice. Their situation is stated by the show announcer, followed by their own description of their case. I do a short divination as the caller presents their situation; and after interpreting my own layout, I “compare notes” with the predictions of my esteemed colleagues on the show. This way I not only practice my divination skills in a controlled environment (i.e. not using my own clients as guinea pigs), but also learn the way my new oracle communicates.

Finally, I hope these two language-based ideas for divining with a new tool will be useful to you. I would love to hear about your own experiences as a novice, tackling a new oracle.

Madame N.

© 2012 Madame Nadia

How Many Cards Should I Pull? — 5 popular layouts Lenormand diviners use

Shortly after starting my Lenormand journey, I realized how different this system is from Tarot. The differences are vast, and I am not going to bore you with all of them. But one of the things that struck me early on is the methodological significance behind the amount of cards chosen for a reading.

After 20 years of card reading experience I could give a profound and lengthy reading based on a single tarot card. On the other hand, I had many readings where I continued pulling cards from the deck, letting Spirit weave its stories of prophesy along many pages of colorful archetypes. Though I had my go-to spreads, like the Zodiac spread, many times I followed my intuition without limiting myself to a set number of cards.

a 2-Card Lenormand Spread (A Ukrainian version of the Blue Owl)

Not so with the Lenormand. Traditionally this system isn’t used with a single card — there must be at least two cards in a sequence — which means that the lowest number of cards in a spread will always be two. One of these cards is the noun, representing the matter at hand, so to speak; while the second card is the adjective that describes the first card. The way I read is the card on the left is described by the cards following it on the right.

Being a chronic immigrant and a triple Gemini, the linguistic nature of Lenormand makes a lot of sense to me. I relate the necessity of at least two cards per reading to the basic requirements of a sentence structure in English. For instance, we cannot have a sentence by just using the word “I” or the word “am” — however together they are a complete, though very basic, sentence — I am.

Although I have practiced extensively with the two cards spread in the past, today I use it mainly when in need of a super focused snapshot of a situation, or when I am really out of time. Sometimes I use this layout for Yes / No readings too.

3-Card Spread (Game of Hope deck)

My most used type of draw is the 3-card spread, however. Not only that I use it for clients, I also religiously pull three cards for myself and three cards for my husband every morning, on our way to work. I keep a notepad in the car where I record our daily draws and my predictions. On our way back from work we get to discuss the main events of our work day, comparing it to the cards we drew in the morning. This turned out to be an uber beneficial practice learning the way the Lenormand system communicates in general, and the intricacies of my personal processing of the cards’ dialect in particular. A 3-card spread seems to be the perfect amount of cards for my personal daily draw. It captures just enough information without giving me more than I can handle, especially so early in the morning.

Another of my regular cartomancy practices are the weekly overview draws. These are usually performed on Sunday nights in my altar room. I pull five cards from one of my Lenormands, alongside cards from various tarot and other oracle decks. I often end up topping this card “salad” with some bone and curio sprinkles.

A 5-Card Spread (from the Dark Castle deck)

A 5-card Lenormand draw is a bit more advanced form of fortune-telling because it not only uses more card, hence more meaning permutations; but also because more complicated techniques — like mirroring — are used with this spread.

A 3×3 Lenormand Spread (a vintage Dondorf deck)

Following the timeline trail, the next logical prediction stop is the monthly draw: which brings us to the 9-card spread, or the 3X3 as it is often called. This is a lovely layout that is easily replicated with tarot or other oracles that can potentially be combined with the Lenormand. The 9-card draw not only clarifies the main issue at hand, but it also gives us solid root and background causes. In addition, the 3X3 allows for a Past+Present+Future perspective.

The 9-card draw is indeed an advanced kind of spread. But when you know your way around this block of information, it brings you so much closer to mastering the mother of all Lenormand layouts — the Grand Tableau!

The Grand Tableau (ASS deck)

The Grand Tableau (GT) uses all the 36 cards in the deck. Some people arrange the deck in four equal rows of 9 cards; while others place the cards in four rows of 8, with an extra bottom raw of only four cards. No matter which way you choose to lay out the cards, the amount of information in this spread is quite overwhelming.

All major areas in one’s life are outlined in the GT, giving us not only a current and accurate snapshot of what is, but also shares profound information of the past and the future. I use this complicated spread to look into several upcoming months at a time — usually six months to a year. It is a fascinating and multilayered layout, and it  takes several hours to complete.


Madame Nadia

3X3 Lenormand Sample Reading for the Month Ahead

I thought it would be of interest to share a sample 3X3 reading I gave a fellow student of the Cartomantes Cabinet. My colleague’s concerned with the month ahead, focusing mainly on love and money. Personally, I think he’ll have a rocking month!

The Cards 

3 Sixes — a lot of money. Money will be coming in, possibly through a full-time job. Corresponds w/ the Fish card. 2 Kings — Agreement (possibly foreshadows a successful month in the relationship arena).

– 1 –

The Focus — TOWER — ambition that is triggered by the STARS, which represent hope and guidance.

Stars + Fish + House + Ring — This shows that you’re interest isn’t only in work and relationship separately, but there’s also a desire for the relationship to help or facilitate financial growth. I hope this makes sense?

– 2 –

Rod + Clover =  Lucky argument / Satisfying sexual encounters

Clover + Tower = An official lucky break

Tower + Letter = A message of official nature

Letter + Key =  A positive message / document

– 3 –

Past: Star + Clover + House  = Hoping for happiness in the household / relationship. Also, hoping for luck to come from the relationship.

Present: Rod + Tower + Letter = Official documents / correspondence going back-and-forth between you and a potential employer. Possible arguments based on anxiety around this issue.

Future: Fish + Key + Ring = A successful contract that brings an increase in money. Also, this position is supported within your romantic relationship.

– 4 –

House + Ring = An official commitment in a relationship + Rod = but it will also generate some strife and arguments.

Stars + Fish = A hope for business / improved finances + Letter = A document that brings a positive answer to this hope.

If you missed the Hoodoo Rootwork Radio Show last Sunday

If you happened to miss the Hoodoo Rootwork Radio Show last Sunday, here is an archived recording of the show. Along the hosts, who were using the RW tarot, I was divining with the Lenormand cards & Ana Cortez‘s fabulous Playing Cards Oracles.

The show was loads of fun, and I can’t wait to do it again. Though I was very nervous, since it was my first radio appearance.

I absolutely love using the Lenormand and playing cards for conjure-type readings and for Spirit work. I find both systems to be very practical, and give not only accurate predictions, but also naturally offer natural suggestions for rootwork and magical remediation. After all, two-headed doctors from the old South often used playing cards as their divination tool, along with bones, and scrying.

Do you use your Lenormand or another deck, other than tarot, in any type of Spiritual work?


I’ll be on the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour this afternoon!

ImageI wanted to make sure y’all knew I’ll be today’s guest on the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour on Blog Talk Radio.

The hosts, catherine yronwode, ConjureMan Ali, and yours truly — Madame Nadia of AIRR — will provide 90 minutes of free readings and conjure consultation, while offering an education in African American folk magic. The Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour will air at 3pm PT, 6pm ET.

Please tune in online, call in by phone 818-394-8535, or ‘Click-to-Talk’ via a computer interface. Join in chat using a registered account.

For all of you card lovers, I am planning to use the Lenormand system and Playing Cards Oracles, by Ana Cortez.

I am über excited! And I hope to connect with all of you this afternoon!!!!

Madame Nadia

Daily Draw — June 2, 2012

What a week that was! It felt like the days were ringing through my head on a speed dial, and I couldn’t be happier on Friday evening. I kinda feel guilty for not posting anything on this blog for a while… Oh well.

I did continue with my Lenormand practice, and drew cards everyday for my husband and myself. Again, I do not have enough synonyms for the word amazing to describe how accurate this system is. But I haven’t had time for my Cartomantes Cabinet studies. I was able to resume my learning only last night, and I hope to go through Lesson 4 concerning the 9X9 Spread this weekend. As a Lenormand fiend studying this “building block” spread makes me very excited!

In any case, I figured I’ll have enough time to share my daily reading from this morning.

Here goes:

Clouds + Moon + Stork + Ship + Clover

The Stork is a key card and denots movement and change. The combination of Moon + Stork + Ship is a classic message of promotion and often relocation. Since it’s a daily draw, I feel that it is an uplifting message about my work / career situation. This make me very happy because there has been a confusing and stressful recent development (Clouds + Moon) relating to my husband’s and my current work situation.

The Ship + Clover make me feel like a small wish will be granted — I think it relates to a package I am expecting to arrive by mail.

With the Clouds mirroring the Clover I feel that anxiety and stress are going to continue tricking my Gemini mind today, like the sun that is hiding behind the clouds on and off today.

Finally the Moon and Ship reinforce that positive change is coming. I am also wondering if this change is going to touch ground on the upcoming Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse, which happen to manifest on my birthday this year.