In the various online groups where people learn how to read the Lenormand cards there seems to be some controversy about how to read a two-card line. And is a two-card line suitable for yes/no questions?

There also seems to be some disagreement as to the extent to which one should disregard the images on the Lenormand cards, insofar as these may interfere with the otherwise straightforward answer that one expects from a two-card line.

The argument here is that it is better to just stick to a method and use the keywords that each individual card is provided with by the said method, rather than consider the card’s iconography or symbolic pattern. Some readers are actually quite keen to distance themselves from reading the image as this activity smells too much of tarot.

To counter this limited view, I have offered a few suggestions in various places, which I’ll briefly summarize here. But first a note on my motivation:

I entertain the idea that in order to read well with the Lenormand cards one must be married to the fortunetelling tradition of delivering a master sentence in the form of an answer to all questions regardless of their nature, while also paying extreme attention to all the details on the cards, and that includes the cartomantic value of the insets and the symbolic imagery of every card.

In the final statement, however, you can leave out the details of what you’re dealing with, and deliver an essentialized version of what you see, but ‘seeing’ as much as you can is a must.

Let’s look at two types of questions and how we can see them at work in a two-card line. I use examples of cards from actual readings.


Example: Will I sell my house?

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 1.15.55 AM

Cards: Ship + Mouse

As a general rule a yes/no question can be answered in 3 ways:

Yes, no, maybe – where ‘maybe’ can also mean, ‘it’s none of your business’.

Reading a two-card spread is derived from classical divination that goes from casting bones to shells or whatever else you may have.

Here, for a clear-cut answer you can either decide to take the inset at its face value and say, ‘not’ (spades) ‘likely’ (clubs), or simply just look at the indexical value of the card’s function, and say, ‘wasted endeavor.’

In this case here the answer is a clear ‘no’, and the reason why it is a clear ‘no,’ even in spite of the more so-called ‘neutral’ or ‘positive’ Ship card, is because I don’t complicate anything beyond looking at how the cards function progressively.

Also as a general rule, in the world of cards we don’t think ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ cards. We think ‘image’ and the way in which ‘image’ translates into words.

So it goes like this, quite simply:

Ship turns into a Mouse. Outcome: bad.

If the other way around, we could say that ‘Mouse turns into a Ship.’ Outcome: good.

Just by following what’s happening in the images we get a sense of how precisely we can formulate what the cards tell us.

We see a Mouse having passed through a Ship, and closing the line thus: Ship + Mouse. What do we think? ‘Goodbye Ship, you’re sunk, having suffered from too many holes. No bounty.’

Thus the outcome must also always relate back to the question and its context, if one such is given. This rule follows the ‘tirage-en-ligne’ rule, or the reading of the cards in the order in which they were drawn. First the one and then the other.

We find the advantage of reading cards linearly in the observation that the answer often contains half of the question + the image. The active image. The image that turns into something else when placed in conjunction with the other image.

I’m not keen on ‘pairing’ the cards as I’ve seen others do it and without much respect for how the image interacts with the elements that formulate our sentence.

More often than not inconsistent pairing creates nonsense.

Furthermore, the idea that the second card modifies the first card also creates a static process not a dynamic one.

If a reader knows how to pair, then the work can turn out beautiful, but I find that particularly the beginners appreciate more the accuracy of the type of sentences that reading linearly creates.

Hence, the art is always to get a sense of the image and the word together, not just a sense of either the image (when we tend to go too many places) or the word (when we tend to be all over the place).

So linearly, Ship + Mouse can be read thus: The Ship has gone to the Mouse (active sentence).

In pairing the line can be read thus: ‘Wasted journey’ (passive sentence).

Here you can already see the difference in conveying accurate information between the two and the potential danger in departing too much from the context of the question in the second reading, where I also go with the keywords for the cards: Ship = Journey; Mouse = waste.

How does ‘wasted journey’ answer my question?

It doesn’t.

It suggests merely what the more ‘primitive’ and linear reading tells me already head-on.

If ‘wasted journey’ is ambiguous and sends us astray to a foreign land, wasting our time, we all get the picture of how the ‘Ship that has gone to the mouse’ makes us feel.

Some readers are looking for what they perceive is a ‘basic’ reading, when they insist on prioritizing keywords over the image.

But the trouble is that there is no ‘basic’ reading once the cards are assigned a meaning. Like, d’oh…

Therefore most experienced Lenormand readers go with looking at how a card’s function, that is, the function of the image on the card translates into meaning, and certainly not the other way around.

I’ve been insisting on looking at the function of a card for ages, as it’s simply the safest in a reading, whether you’re at beginner level or advanced.


Following the same argument, let us try an open-ended question also related to the above:

What can I turn the unsellable house into?

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 1.15.31 AM

The cards: Clover + Star

A linear reading based on the cards’ (symbolic) function would go like this:

‘An opportunity for guidance.’

This we understand straight away. And if the the sitter provides more context by exclaiming: ‘I actually thought about creating a study group,’ our fortune as fortunetellers is made.

A reading through pairing by keywords would yield this answer:

‘An extraordinary chance.’

But here we find that while we make sense, we lack information.

An extraordinary chance for what?

The Star emphasizing a grand celestial intervention does not tell us much when it acts as an adjective that modifies the noun, the clover. So we end up with two nice words that are too generic to be of any use whatsoever.

Not to mention the fact that we cannot escape the symbolic order of things.

No matter how much we try we cannot dissociate the symbolic meanings of the Star and the Clover as ‘great’ ‘opportunity’ respectively. Again, ‘great opportunity’ makes a lot of sense, but the question is, is it useful?

The point is that there’s no divination without a method. But not all methods are useful. Especially not the methods that are not thoroughly tested.

My mantra is this: Keep it simple, use your commonsense, and don’t believe everything you’re told.

Good luck.


For info on how you can work with insets, see my post here.


Stay in the loop. Join The Art of Reading. Get a gift: Read Like the Devil: A Crash Course.


Published by Camelia Elias

Read like the Devil | Martial Arts Cartomancy | Zen

7 thoughts on “YES/NO: LENORMAND 2-CARD

  1. To each their own but I prefer my cards numerically odd. It is my considered opinion that two do only as a pair. I need a spare another fellow to get mellow, as with a triad things manifest much clearer Four are too even to be believed in so I need five to make my answers come alive! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: