A Closer Look at The Sabbath Lenormand

Not long after I acquired my copy of the Sabbath Tarot, Allan Spiers announced that he planned a Lenormad deck. Although I don’t often use Lenormand cards, I had been very impressed by the Sabbath Tarot and the care and attention that had gone into its creation. I decided to support the development and production of the Sabbath Lenormand and subscribed to the Kickstarter for it. The deck arrived earlier this month.

The deck comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a hinged top, so this will be one of the few decks I own that I will not need to make a bag for. Should I want to take the deck to client readings, I can use the velvet bag that came with the deck. The inside of the box has a picture of Mlle. Lenormand after whom these particular divination decks are named.(1)

The box holds the small, hardback Petit Guide and the deck of 36 cards. The sturdy cards are the same size as the Tarot cards with the same orange edging and the same pentagram on the back (although the backs of the Lenormand cards have a subtle pattern not found on the Tarot cards).

The large size of the cards allows you to appreciate Spiers’ art. However, it also means that you need a rather large surface to lay out the Grand Tableau, which uses all 36 cards. This is the reason most Lenormand decks are smaller in size (see the size difference below).

Many Lenormand decks have images of playing cards on the faces of the cards. Spiers has chosen to use the image of the corresponding Tarot card from his Tarot deck instead.

The playing card number and suit can be found at the bottom of each card. In this illustration you can see the number 9 in the lower left corner and the heart in the lower right corner. This makes it easy enough for folks not familiar with the Tarot to playing card correspondences to use the deck.

Many readers take issue with the gendered people cards in the deck that are most often used as significators: the Gentleman (#28) and the Lady (#29). There is also the issue of reading for LGBTQ clients, since there is only one of each. Some deck creators choose to add additional cards to the deck, such as the Under the Roses Lenormand.

Spiers has chosen to take an entirely different approach. He replaced both images with images of a human heart. Initially, I did not notice that the images are the reverse of each other.

While the Petit Guide attributes “Masculinity, Male Gender Identity, Courage, Dominance”(2) to card #28 and “Femininity, Female Gender Identity, Seduction, Nurturing, Compassion, Psychic Abilities”(3) to card #29, the imagery is neutral enough that the reader could use whichever attributes are necessary in a reading.

Another of Spiers’ illustration decisions can be seen on the Child card (#13, often depicted in traditional decks as a young girl) where he chose to depict a “devil” figure. Jeff Cullen (Spiers’ husband) writes in the Petit Guide, “At the Sabbath at the climax of the witches’ initiation, it was believed tht witches would offer children to The Devil as symbols of innocence.”(4) As a result of these decisions, there is even less feminine imagery in this deck than in the Tarot Deck–only the Ladies of each suit are shown on the cards where the Queens from the playing card decks would be shown.

The Petit Guide is apt title given that the book itself is the same size as the cards. It has a brief introduction, two pages dedicated to each card (an illustration on the left-hand page and text on the right), and three spreads (the Key, the Crossroads, and the Grand Tableau). The guide includes a unique addition a “Spellwork” section in the text for each card that relates to the card and its meaning. Most of the spellwork gives an outline of a spell. There are no specific rituals or spoken words provided. You can adapt each one to your own practice and make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

As with the Sabbath Tarot, this is not a deck that I will use with most clients. I can, however, see lots of ways in which it will be great for personal work.

The Sabbath Lenormand card images © 2021, Allan Spiers
Mlle. Lenrmand Cartomancy Deck, © 1986, Piatnik

  1. Marie-Anne-Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843) was one of the 19th century’s most well-known fortune tellers. Among her many clients were leaders of the French Revolution and European nobility. After her death her name was attached to two different types of decks which have become known as the Grand Jeu Lenormand with 54 cards and the Petit Lenormand with 36 cards. The Sabbath Lenormand is a Petit Lenormand deck.
  2. Allen Spiers and Jeff Cullen, The Sabbath Le Normand Petit Guide (Attendthesabbath.com, 2021), 61.
  3. Spiers and Cullen, 63
  4. Spiers and Cullen, 31. Spiers also has a blog post that delves deeper into this topic.

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