The Life and Times of Madamoiselle Lenormand

Although Madamoiselle Lenormand was famous (and infamous) in her time, many things about her life are shrouded in mystery. A number of biographies have been written but it is not certain whether they are reliable. She is mentioned in historical works about other “celebrities” of her time in which “The Sibyl of Paris” is either applauded or reviled. Mlle lenormand has also written a number of books herself, (of which only a few have been translated into English) and which unfortunately are not about her divination methods but, among other things, about the life and secrets of her famous clients… uhum… we will discuss ethics later.

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Deep Sighs and Being Consumed by Jealousy: The Vera Sibilla

Although we know that the first Tarot cards were originated in early Renaissance Italy, it is the French who take credit for the way we work with the Tarot today; After all, it was the French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette  (1738 – 1791) who – as far as is known at least – was the first to assign all kinds of occult correspondences to the Tarot and showed a broader audience how to use Tarot for divination. More Frenchies followed and for years the Marseille deck was THE Tarot deck to be used for divination purposes. The British also contributed a great deal when the members of the Golden Dawn started to delve into the occult writings on the Tarot at the end of the 19th century. The have ‘corrected’ the work of their French predecessors. It is not completely clear if these corrections are for the better, some argue they do and some argue they don’t.

Arthur Edward Waite  (1857 – 1942) is probably the best known Golden Dawn member because he released the popular Raider-Waite-Smith deck in 1909, in cooperation with Pamela Colman Smith (also a Golden Dawn member). Previously, a separate tradition of divination cards had also arised in Germany and the surrounding areas: The Lenormand and the Kipper decks are both of German origin. These four systems (Marseille Tarot, RWS Tarot, Lenormand and Kipper) are the most commonly used decks to date. What about the Italians?

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The Wineseller’s Secret

Last Night a wise knower of a mystery secretly said to me:’The Secret of the Wineseller…hidden from you cannot be’

He then said: ‘Be easy with the way that you treat yourself, it is the nature of the world to treat hard-workers heavily’.

He then gave to me the cup which radiated the sky, so that Venus danced and the lute player said: ‘Drink’, repeatedly.

‘O son, listen to advice, do not grieve for the world’s sake: I speak to you advice like a pearl, keep it in your memory’

‘With bleeding heart still show the laughing lip of the cup: if you are wounded, then crying like reed you shouldn’t be’

‘As long as you haven’t been in the veil, you haven’t a hint: where Gabriel gives news, those who’re immature can’t see’

On the carpet of the knowers of the subtle is no pride of self: Man of wisdom, either speak what you know or sit silently’

O Winebringer, give wine: Hafez’s drunken loving was known by Lord of Unity, Forgiver of faults… Concealer of stupidity

This is one of the poems from “Falnama – Divination Book of Hafiz of Shiraz” by Paul Smith. These Persian Poems – or ‘ghazals’- have been used as divination method for centuries. They are believed to have been written by Shams-ud-din (1320 – 1392), who was later named ‘Hafez’. ‘Hafez’ is a title given to someone who has memorized the entire Qur’an, something Shams-ud-din had achieved in 14 ways according to his own claim. How does this relate to Tarot? Well, maybe not in a literal sense. But there is always a way to relate to the Tarot (as well as to wine…. 🙂

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