I cannot remember when I first discovered the Lenormand system, but I can tell you that my first set was Titania’s Fortune Cards. Although it is not a particularly popular deck amongst the tarot and Lenormand community, it served me well since I found the symbols extremely easy to read. I eventually passed it on to a friend when she developed an interest in the system and looked for a set which was more aesthetically pleasing.
Unlike my collection of 200-odd tarots, my selection of Lenormand sets is small. I only have a handful – these consist of a few traditional packs, a handmade beauty from my friend and artist Judith Johnston, and a more recently published set by Caitlin Matthews. I’d imagined that my return to Lenormand decks would coincide with the UK release of The Celtic Lenormand by Chloe McCracken (published by U. S. Games) which I have planned to buy. I’d been unaware that a newer set by the same creator (with artist Elizabeth Arena) would pip it to the post.
Chloe McCracken has been reading tarot professionally since 2006. Her blog dates back to 2010; we started to talk back then, when I began to write under the pseudonym of Prince Lenormand. It was through her blog, Inner Whispers, that I first got to know of Chloe and I am now pleased to now call her a friend. Like many, I’d been watching the creation of the Celtic Lenormand online, unaware that while it was in the hands of U. S. Games, Chloe was working on a second project. This time, she enlisted the help of artist Elizabeth Arena, and took the route of self-publishing, giving her greater control of the finished product and a quicker delivery date.
The Wings of Change Lenormand sits inside the world of faery. Within this genre, we often find very specific kinds of winged beings – they’re either the mischievous descendants of Froud or the flickering and twinkling kind we know from Disney. The ones shown in this deck are neither. Even though there is an over all feeling of positivity in this set, the faeries shown do not fit into either the Froud or Disney camp. They have their own energy and voice, which is what provoked me to order the deck.
On opening the package, we notice that the presentation here is different to what you’d expect from a mass-market publisher. Rather than a cardboard tuck box, the deck is shrink-wrapped and nests inside a transparent plastic box. This is a nice touch, since it provides a perfect home for the deck and keeps it safe from damage. The cards are regular playing card size and sturdy. Chloe opted for a professional linen finish.
The Wings of Change Lenormand is traditional. Like its elder sibling, it does include extra cards – which appears to be a common practice for many Lenormand creators these days. In Chloe’s set, you’ll find alternative versions of the Man (see right) and Woman, as well as a faery for each of the four elements. Therefore, you can use or reject the extra cards at your own discretion. Having extra cards will allow for fine-tuning or can be added for anyone enquiring about same-sex relationships within a reading. As Chloe points out in her accompanying text, the elemental cards could be used to decorate your altar or may also be used in a spread. If a system of reference has already been established before consulting the cards, I thought they might also be set aside and accessed for timing – using each element as a pre-designated season of the year.
What is immediately noticeable about this Lenormand is its colouring, which is rich and striking. The symbols of traditional Lenormand are worked into a scene to help illustrate their meaning. For each, a faery is included. My mother suggested that this would be a nice pack for a child and she is right. There is nothing here to offend and the images would work well as a story-telling device for the young and young-at-heart. In fact, in Chloe’s text (which you’ll find on 8 extra cards rather than in a pamphlet), bite-sized faery tales are used to describe what is going on within each. As an example, for the traditional House (above left), she says ‘Cozy loves his little home. It’s not just a safe haven for him, it also represents the comforts of stability and family. His great grandfather built it, and Cozy takes good care of it, too, just as he does with his own body’. This fits with traditional meanings of the card and having a named character gives it a personal touch. All of the faeries are given names which are connected to the card they are in. I have seen this in tarot decks before (noticeably The Joie de Vive Tarot and The Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot) and I like it a lot.
Although noted that this set would work well for younger readers, this is not intended to deter those with a less lighthearted mindset. What originally attracted me to this set of cards was a deepness to the characters which might be more easily recognised and understood by an adult or someone with life experience. Although the deck is bright and cheerful on one level, there is a mournful look to some of the faeries. Because many of them look straight into our eyes, it is as though they have a greater understanding of our problems than we’d initially assume. It was when I looked at the slide show on YouTube that I felt a connection. In this sense, a greater relationship has been built up with the characters of the Wings of Change than with my standard mass-market Lenormands.
One of the other things worth pointing out is the balance of gender in the Wings of Change Lenormand. I am always a stickler for this, since so many faery decks are almost entirely female. Excluding the elemental cards (all four being female), the Snake and the two extra ‘people’ cards, there are 25 cards featuring female fae and 10 featuring males. Of course, this is not entirely balanced but it has a healthier volume of males than many within the faery back-catalogue.
So, how does the Wings of Change Lenormand read?
One of the nice things about this deck is that you could use it without any prior knowledge of the Lenormand, using the short tales as guidance and making it a 100% intuitive. Because of the scenes, it would be possible to use the illustrations as a starting point, allowing your intuition to roam. Personally, I am quite attached to the meanings I have pulled together over the years, so consulted my own notes when I began to use the Wings of Change. At first glance, I didn’t notice every symbol from traditional Lenormand, since the faeries dominate many of the cards, but once you have familiarised yourself with them (I suggest taking some time out to sit with the deck, a cup of tea, the tales, and some traditional titles to compare with), it doesn’t take long to sync the lot together.
On the reading table, the cards come alive. Although I have always preferred to read Lenormands with just symbols on, I like that they become extensions of the characters which carry them here. As an example, Amity carries the ‘heart’ (#24) as a gift for his love and is depicted as a ‘romantic beau’. In regular Lenormands (and here), this card carries the playing card association of Jack of Hearts. If we were to look to the ‘court’ aspect of this particular card to describe a person, we therefore have the story of Amity to remind us of the cards characteristics when reading. This would work with all of the twelve playing card courts. Each playing card reference is discreetly positioned in the right hand corner of each card, so you can choose to refer to them or not.
Personally, I removed the elemental cards to begin with and placed them around my reading table. Some readers like to position protective stones around their sacred reading space and I thought that putting one of the elements in each corner might act in the same way. It set my intention for reading. As I have worked with the deck on the blog all week, I have been surprised by how clear these cards actually are. I have avoided scenic Lenormands before since they have not been focused enough in my experience (Lo Scarabeo’s Art Nouveau inspired set, as an example) but these are significantly different from each other and what is going on can be readily identified. My draws have proved interesting and stimulated thought.
To conclude, the Wings of Change Lenormand has been all that I hoped it would be. Although light and bright, it can be deep and reflective. It would suit anyone with an interest in the fae, a storyteller, or an asset for anyone who may have clients worried by the more physically intimidating cards like The Coffin, The Scythe or The Whip. It is worth noting that this deck is a limited edition from a print-run of just 200 so will appeal to both readers and collectors alike.
Illustration from the Wings of Change Lenormand by Chloë McCracken, illustrated by Elizabeth Arena.
You can find Chloe McCracken’s website here.
You can check out Elizabeth Arena’s website here.
You can order the Wings of Change Lenormand here.