The Essential Lenormand

Review by Diane Wilkes


The Essential Lenormand by Rana George

Published by Llewellyn Worldwide,

ISBN: 978-0738736624

Retail: $21.99 US

The Essential Lenormand by Rana George literally saved my life.

I read it a few weeks ago and, while I am delighted to see it get the acclaim it is receiving, I wanted to be the first to crown this book with enthusiastic raves. However, a brush with death intervened.

I have been studying Lenormand for two years or so—I took an online class with Melissa Haney and was part of a forum study group taught by the amazing Andy Boroveshengra. I learned the basics—you must learn the basics—and found the Lenormand wanting. “I’m more interested in the psycho-spiritual,” I said to myself, somewhat self-importantly. And I put the Lenormand on the back burner. (I ignored the fact that I didn’t like having to memorize and become a novice again. It had been a long time since I wasn’t an expert and I wasn’t happy about it.)

However, my reptile brain (cerebral cortex) registered that I shouldn’t quite give up until I read Rana George’s book. I had heard her on Donnaleigh’s Beyond Worlds radio show and was drawn to her warmth and her vision. She clearly had a traditional grounding and a great deal of experience, which is what I was drawn to—if I wanted to use image-based techniques, I had the Tarot, thank you very much. If I knew anything about Lenormand, a “whatever your vibe is” approach is the anti-Lenormand. Lenormand is traditional and a discipline. 


In case you haven’t picked it up from this review, I am drawn to the anecdotal. While I am grateful to the other teachers I had, the Lenormand only began to breathe for me after I read The Essential Lenormand. Rana’s authorial voice is the same as her voice on the radio—warm and visionary. In the book, she includes a story from her life to illustrate every card in the Lenormand, along with standard and contextual meanings (ranging from how this relates to individuals {physically and type-wise} to work, love, spirituality, and health). She also includes timing information, advice, and activities for each card, along with some examples of the card in connection with other Lenormand cards. I found myself re-reading every card description whenever I did a short reading, because each time I took in a new nuance or application. After you get a card a few times, you don’t have to do it any more (though you still might want to).


My reptile brain wasn’t the only part of me fed by this material. In fact, I was so captivated that I booked a reading with Rana. Part of my reasoning was that I had gotten stuck on the 9X9 readings in my studies, not moving further than the five card reading. I felt I was now ready to take on the world of Lenormand, including the Grand Tableau, but I wanted to experience it from a master reader, one whom I considered a friend because of the complete generosity and warmth of her book. I was not disappointed—she nailed a lot of specific information, and answered an important question for me that helped me address a difficult situation immediately and effectively. 

More importantly, I discovered the art and beauty and flexibility of the Lenormand through observation of Rana’s techniques and approach. As in astrology, it seems that Lenormand will give you the same information in a few different ways, reiterating a particular message or theme. All of a sudden, the mundane became poetry, and I longed to pick up my own Lenormand quill.

I can now see how you can use intuition after you have mastered the Lenormand basics—but it really does take a while to learn those basics. Romance writers often talk about “transcending the genre,” by which they mean bringing new things into a fairly codified template. However, they emphasize that you don’t start trying to transcend the genre on your first go-round; experience with the basics is key. So it is with Lenormand.


You are probably wondering how the book literally saved my life. I had a dust-allergy-related asthma attack that almost killed me. I was notoriously bad with self-care because I am so used to living with chronic illnesses that it’s hard for me take anything new health-wise seriously. Asthma is just my newest shamanic gift. 

On my way to the return trip to the doctor to see if they were going to hospitalize me, I got Clouds/Stars/Coffin—which I first read without referring to my new Lenormand Bible. I saw this as confusing (not going to give me an answer about hospitalization), but that I was on the path to recovery (Star—I was on an intense medical protocol and following it precisely), but I wasn’t allowed to minimize the seriousness of the illness (Coffin). 

When I referred to my Lenormand Bible, I saw the health association for The Clouds is asthma. 

Not too specific, right? 


But more importantly, the Coffin (and/or The Cross) continued to come up every day, reminding me again and again how serious this was and how seriously I needed to take it and how seriously I needed to take care of myself. I learned how to practice self-care really, really fast—because I now trusted Lenormand to tell me what I needed to know. And that would not have happened without Rana George and her wonderful book.

Are there some flaws with the book, or things I would have liked to be included that were not? 

Yes. While there is a section on Mme. Lenormand in the addenda, it doesn’t make it clear that she had nothing to do with the actual Lenormand deck. (Her name was used because she was famous, but they were published well after her death and were not based on her fortune telling techniques.) I would have liked to have had more information about the connection between the playing cards and the Lenormand imagery. In my Kindle version, the formatting is problematic. 

But does that make it less of a Lenormand Bible for me? No. 

My plan (and suggestion to others) is to read this book and schedule a reading with Rana if you  possibly can (that’s a luxury, not a necessity). No need to read anything else on the subject until Mary Greer, Andy Boroveshengra, and Caitlin Matthews’ books on Lenormand are released. There will be minor differences in the associations (different schools of Lenormand), but that’s okay. Start with one system, work it until you’ve worked it into your bloodstream, and then explore others. 

Since I didn’t get to be the first to crown Rana George and her book, I will instead offer an unique suggestion. Get a blank set of index cards and create your own Lenormand flash cards, using the abundant information Rana provides in her book. You will learn to read the cards rapidly and can sooner graduate to the living, breathing, beautiful Lenormand. 

Living and breathing are beautiful things. So is this book.

Images used in this article are from the Ryder’s Lenormand created by Ryder George.

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