For Dawn R. Jackson

Playing dead must be one of the best oracular games. The surrealist poets, who invented the exquisite corpse, knew how to play by the rules, yet allow chance to speak its intelligence. All beyond the grave, of course.

Reading cards is about fun. The fun in knowing that no matter what we know, and how much we know, chance will play a game on our time. So here we are, a few card readers, who decided to take the Lenormand cards for a ride. All very apt, as the first card in the deck is called The Rider.

I assembled the cartomancers, as another enthusiast said about what I was doing here, and gave them a task. Each of the people involved was dealt 3 cards from the Lenormand pack. The cards fell entirely at random and were given to the cartomancers according to their assigned number in line from 1-10. None saw the others’ cards. Then they were asked to produce a line based on what they saw in their cards. As the master of the ceremony, I assigned myself the task of beginning and closing the game. I wrote my line before I got the others’ in, in fine traditional exquisite corpse style. Here’s the result. All oracular, grand, flamboyant, intentional, suggestive, spontaneous, playful, and above all poetic. All true and accurate too. All in line with the true and accurate fortunetelling tradition. In this classroom, we like tradition.

A word of thanks to the team, and especially Fortune Buchholtz for inspiring this game with her ‘Hölderlin Lennie,’ which she sent to me this morning as a sweet waking-up gift.

The corpse is now released. You are welcome to comment on the larger set, or the square in which your cards appear. The public at large is also welcome to join in.


Her grimoire of treffle trust
ill, a mint nun wrote, “we row to woe.”
Desire elaborates the naiant heart.
Tender bonds split where kinship once stood.
Warblers chirped in the mind of the Son as he rang the bell of his ancestral home.
For lack of a cat, the rodent was crossed out by a snake.
Flowering reeds hid the voracious bird of good omen.
The yogurt’s bacteria refreshed his love, indefatigable and edible.
The same old wish was being spread by his Lords as they watered their heads that – “the King, oh the King is Dead”
under vigorous compulsion to gather up the dreams,
emerging from the cave of slumber, dream vessel, thief of productivity . . .
addicted to hedgewythchery.

. . . . . .






. . . . . .

To the assembly of cartomancers: as you know, the surrealists never credited the individual contributions to the exquisite corpse, but I want to let you know who got what pictures and wrote what line. The fun increases that way. So the order was this: 1 myself, 2 Enrique Enriquez, 3 Fortune Buchholtz, 4 Ryan Edward, 5 Andrew Kyle McGregor, 6 Bent Sørensen, 7 Bent Sørensen, 8 Paul Nagy, 9 Joeanne Mitchell, 10 Ross Caldwell, 11 James Wells, 12 myself. The reason for this disclosure has to do with the fact that I’d like to see how you interpret the squares. So, fling your master sentences, and let’s continue the fun.

Published by Camelia Elias

Read like the Devil | Martial Arts Cartomancy | Zen


  1. I have trouble trusting the trifle in the first line. No, that’s not quite right… I did have terrible truffles in Tripoli once, though.

      1. It does. I find it rather telling that the spread beings with the Woman’s Ring – in the beginning, the Ace of Clubs – and ends with the Clover. A double on the treffle. What do you make of that? Not to mention the plenty in between. So give us something, Testadura, don’t resist.

  2. To continue:

    A; The Lady of the castle turns her back upon her Lord’s wealth and station craving a vacation to smooth away the blemish of age.
    B: The heir apparent chasing the hound of erudite teaching forgets his obligations and becomes an intellectual instead.
    C: A fair maiden moved by an invitation waits for the Lord with the key to remove her from forced isolation
    D: Arguments can quickly turn violent and deadly sudden storms overtaking large ships out of port on moonlight trips to nowhere.

    1. Thanks James. The whole point is to see an analogy between the way in which we write poetry and the way in which the cards fall. No difference to me. This puts into perspective how much we ‘control’ what we see is happening in the cards and what is see is happening at the other end of the table for the people we read the cards for.

  3. I read in the usual German style: Star+Heart+Fish. Heart modified by Fish; Star. Star+Fish also has to be considered (in this case I chose it as the verb) and then remade the sentence into better English.

    Thus: heart naiant, but that sounds too stiff altho’ perhaps correct as heraldry; naiant heart as better English.

    Star as desire, longing, dreams, ideals, ambitions, hopes etc.

    Now the verb: easy to chose gilded for Fish, yet Star increases that to “ideal gilding” – the best verb for that in English I think may be “elaborate,” in the sense of “make fine & intricate in detail” as that retains a sense of richness coming from Fish.

    A different style of reading would have given us a different order: A naiant heart elaborates desire. To pick apart the chicken-n-egg question of that feedback loop “heart desire heart desire. . .” could be an entire piece of itself. So between espressi, I chose the one but could NOT object to the other. 😀

    1. The book is like a lampshade. Though, going with what the Bible has to say about putting your light under such a thing, we may speculate on what the idea is: the fish as the soul of the book making tracks through the mountain? And yet the heart is looking under the nuns’ skirts. That’s clear to me.

  4. I like Enrique’s comment on FB:


    One can also read it in acrostics. First line:

    Her ill Desire Tender Warblers For lack of Flowering. The yogurt, The same, the King under, emerging addicted.”

    To this I only have this to add: no wonder Joeanne saw what she saw. Love her 4 takes above. They go somewhere.

      1. I always say, keep it close to nature, so it’s good news if we return to the green. Ryan also nailed it nicely with identifying this course as the correct one.

  5. To follow from the Holderlin cites, I might also have said “Nowhere can my maiden heart find peace.”

    1. Well, how about this: The Ring slips on the Tower. It’s parked there. When I go swimming I park all my jewellery on a lampost. I always swim naked. That’s peace.

    2. Reading that first sq. of nine, we could say that the maiden, were she to marry (Ring) the Government official (Tower), she would be rolling in cash (Fish). Fortunately she is too wise (Book) to go down that road…

      (I claim no method to my readings, other than what was instilled in me by a good Lutheran upbringing…)

      1. No method? Hmm, are you sure you want to say that in public? There’s Lenormand police, you know.

        About the rich. Bring them on. We can teach them to swim naked.

      2. The Lenny police don’t come ’round here any more. They are afraid of being hit by a crossed stick and other forms of punnery…

  6. Lenormand chokes when propped up on the pillows of noun, verb and adjective beyond basic interpretative level. It is in essence a telepathic signed language which uses flashes and vignettes as clothing for energies. Always in motion scenes composed of memories you can’t forget act as containers where the 36 signs are hidden- electric outlets that connect you to an invisible sentient current.

  7. So looking at the last square, there is much to see. After all that has been said this is a Core PS to the excellent incorpsoration of oracular brilliance….

    A ship on high seas – power cunningly distributed
    A de-scythe-ion confusedly taken in argument
    dreamy moon poked on a c-lover anchors, spiked
    tre-foil, tree high masts and all whipped down
    anchored ship in cloudy weather,

    clearly Odysseus here is on the way,

    rashly did Paris reap his chosen flower
    through cunning travels Ulysses into Troy, to throw it down with power.
    Cassandra saw it all acoming, the lovers, spiked but going
    A journey long and strife abundant, but home he finds still fair and verdant.
    To all he’s dead and long forgotten, his shots sail true, his wife he’s got then.

    1. Excellent answer, Markus. You are like the wind God Aeolus. Not in this game, but pushing our sails ahead. The oracular has much to do with the outside forces, like you, and the way in which we, the players, are instigated to action. Thank you for this. Next time we’ll call on you too.

      1. Thank you for your kind reply. Prophecy in German is Vor-Her-Sage…pushing juxt a bit we have Her-Vor-Sage, which means speaking forth from within. You are a master of this. Prophecy is in your name…then Cam(elia)s…I answer to Aegir, master of sea and lake, pushing ships nonetheless. I have now to be ex-qui-site and to bed 🙂
        Thank you for being a gift to the world.

  8. Grateful to be part of this with you all. Sorry I’m late to the party, just now getting the chance to sit down and ingest all 36.

    My humble take on the 4 squares:

    a) The astrologer manifests.
    b) Bright eyes no longer blinded by false word.
    c) Distinction precedes the man himself.
    d) Correct course.

    Also love how Joeanne’s take on ‘our’ square (with Andrew & Bent) reflects ‘my’ own line, even though we read relation between the child and the dog differently. Also relates closely to a recent spread (or two) I’ve had, eerily so.

    An immense lesson, thankful for everybody.

    1. ‘Our’ square, Ryan, is quite dichotomic:

      13 – 22 – 18
      12 – 31

      — i.e. the upper left-hand corner, could be read as all about ‘Nature’s child’: “I am myself and what is around me; and if I do not save it, it shall not save me.” (Ortega y Gasset)

      The bottom-right is fraught with peril:

      ……….. – 8
      23 – 36 – 7

      — here y Gasset’s warning becomes ominous: something dies – but this is all told via culture’s way, thru’ the symbols of waste (Mice) and death (Coffin/Cross)… The Snake is nature redux – perhaps, so therein might lie the child’s way out. But not every child can follow the Snake’s way!

      So, if we were to read just this sq. in isolation, the message could well be, as Joeanne hints, that the child knows best and should trust in instinct and play rather than intellect and analysis – or in a more ‘homeopathic’ analysis: All the child’s play is good and pure, but there is no way to evolve but through culture, and a little snake-bite to inoculate you from its corrupting influence…

      At least ‘our’ sq. is free of the written word. The first has The Book, the third has The Letter, but we have only the chirping of The Birds, and as we know (only too well) “Sticks and Stones may break my Bones, but Names will never hurt me…”

      But, bear in mind, that this is all an intellectual’s take on the cards – so, caveat emptor!! 😉

      1. Beautiful. Here I would add this: let us not forget that the battle between dance and the intellect can be settled in the sky. All we need to do is take that big yellow round thing in the middle of the square, aka a balloon, and enjoy whatever vistas present themselves to us. The intellect will appreciate the flight, and the dance the roundness of it all.

  9. Very beautiful indeed. Chirping of the birds, yes. Hard to hear a bird chirp in a coffin though. A ‘bright-eyed’ child is all too easy to influence, for good or bad. There echoes the dichotomy.

    1. If the Snake represents occult wisdom, then the Coffin and the Cross are tools for initiation. You get to the Snake through a symbolic death. This reading is supported by the insets. A look just at the playing-cards in a magical application will disclose this: A restless Knave of Spades meets a Queen of Diamonds professor and they hit it off amicably (10H). An initiation (AD) into the mystery (9D) is predicted (7D) and this has to do with the Queen of Diamonds (same suit) who can see things (7D+QD). The actual magical work (7C) is then undertaken (6C) by a practical witch (QC). So, while the Queen of Diamonds shows the way (AD over 6C), the Queen of Clubs supervises the way (6C under the gaze of QC). Given the preponderance of red cards over blacks, makes the reading tilt towards the fair, and we can asume that the Queens here collaborate, rather than enter an adversarial relation. The two magical 7 cards, one for foresight (7D) and the other for spells (7C), each representing a Queen, tells us that what we are dealing with here is simply introducing the Knave of Spades into magic. The Knave being related already to the suit of the Craft, the Spades, will quickly learn the lesson. Going to the underworld (6C) for the great change (9D) will not be so scary as may be feared, for this travel (10H) is prompted by the love of mystery (10H+AD+7C). This square is thus all about magic, and woe to all those who can’t feel its radiating heat.

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