camelia elias helium poet lenormand

Three days ago a woman psychologist wanted to know what kind of an impact her research has made on a crowd she has lectured for, and who was unfamiliar with some of the concepts that she was using – concepts imported from the less consecrated world of ‘related psychology’, such as, myth as reality in a shamanic world view, the stars as guides and markers of identity in astrology, and cards as storytellers in divinatory situations. I can relate to this type of question, as I often find myself transgressing borders and making gate-keepers uncomfortable.

We looked at the Lenormand cards for it laid in a grand tableau. While a lot was said, as is often the case when pouring our minds and souls into this grand picture world, one thing emerged as interesting, regarding the situation of what to make of it when one is seemingly up against a wall, or barriers informed by prejudice rather than sufficient knowledge about a topic.

lenormand, camelia elias, grand tableau

The corner cards in the tableau (Key, Tower, Star, Book) disclosing how the psychologist went about her aim of putting a clever solution on the table (Key, Rider, Fox), suggested that while she was indeed facing a mountain (Woman to Mountain in the diagonal future line), her talk was appreciated for its brilliance and its gifts (Woman, Birds, Sun, Flowers, Moon).

lenormand, grand tableau, camelia elias, helium poetGoing with the image, I was struck by the card of the Mountain dissolving into the card next to it, the Ways, leading to consolidating a relation (Ring) with the institution (the Tower). The verticality of the mountain, suggesting almost an impossibility to overcome, has turned into a horizontal relation in the card of the Ways, with the peaks of the mountain now having become two roads leading to the polished diamond in the Ring, and to infinite knowledge.

The point here was to see the Tower as the cultural manifestation of the natural force that the Mountain expresses. With its own two peaks, one on top and one part of the construction, the Tower translates the mountain peaks into its own. Insofar as the aim was to make raw power manageable, the progression from the Mountain to the Tower is good news. It would not have been so good if we had to question why we would want a mighty mountain contained by some random man-made tower. We would even find support for this here in the houses that the Mountain and the Tower fall within, the Tree and the Coffin, respectively. Bringing the natural world to an end is indeed bad news.

When presenting us with symmetrical elements, the cards can be seen in terms of the one manifesting the power of the other. Here, in the context of the psychologist’s question, the answer was given in this very relation. Her talk, dealing with the wild ways of ascension to insight, found validation in the Tower being open to the rough power of the Mountain. The fact the Tower also literally sits on top of the Moon in this tableau indicates that the alternative views have been endorsed.
lenormand, grand tableau, camelia elias, helium poet‘Your talk had the impact of a break through’, I finally told the woman, and then offered the inverse of the situation. Had she started with the consecrated knowledge in the academy and then move towards the wild ways of smashing the pedestals leaving behind a pile of rocks, then her talk would not have made any significant impact. It would have lacked the structure that the higher learning institutions appreciate.

But if we stay with this idea that the cards can be seen as the manifestation of some other card which they come into relation or aspect with, we can say the same about the corner cards. The Star can be a seen as a higher manifestation of the Key, given that both open doors. The Book can also be seen as a written manifestation of the ideals brewed in the Tower, given that they both formalize knowledge.

Thus it often pays off to look at not only who is doing what to whom in a grand tableau, but also at what is manifesting which aspect or relation. An answer to our question can emerge right there in the conflation of symmetries.


camelia elias helium poet lenormandNote on the cards:

A Helium Poet Lenormand.

Camelia Elias, ink on archival paper, 2013.

Get a facsimile of this deck here, or read about its construction, in one fine hour in Norway, here.


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Published by Camelia Elias

Read like the Devil | Martial Arts Cartomancy | Zen


  1. Well, I don’t have to much to say about this fascinating reading but I did want to stop by and comment on how thoroughly I’m enjoying both your blog and your book. As I read along with both I’m aware of a subtext, that your oracular interface with the world is both sensual and discriminate, a dance between belief and irreverence. This makes room for all the ambiguity inherent in the various realms of the manifest and the un-manifest, and that place of potency between the two which, I think, is what the cards show us, that liminality given form.

    One thing your book is encouraging me to do is to place myself within Merleau-Ponty’s wonderful phrase “my body is the awareness of the gaze of the Other”, as it relates to the cards, that is to say, to allow my body to be the awareness of the cards’ gaze, to be seen by them. From that kind of intimacy a palpable dialogue ensues. So thank you for that and everything else you bring to the moment.

    1. Thank you, Rose, for this wonderful comment, which I would venture to assume, only a poet could make. Indeed, I’m very glad to see that some get that subtext precisely. What gets me inspired in my work with the cards is this dance with the gaze, and the discursive power of both, the gaze and the dance, that is. For me, that is that magic of the cards, the possibility to enter a world that is alive and that makes us aware of how we can think of concepts beyond their cliché manifestation, such as the idea of making an impact. Believe me, I come across this very discourse in the academic world, and I absolutely loathe the premise for making an impact in that context. When I go to the cards, however, I see the whole thing come alive in a different light, and that’s when I realize that there’s hope in the world.

  2. Yes!! It is very much a dance with all the Eros implied in the realms where Lover and Beloved play out their passions. The visionary realm is no less visceral, I think. What is Love if not the perfect consensus of breath and cell?

    Your beautifully calibrated lens gives voice to this, for me, felt sense of the erotic-poetic within the oracular. And you do it in a resonant and relevant way. It is truly a breath of the freshest, sweetest air. All blessings to your innovative and sensitive and discriminating self.

    1. Ah, yes. That’s it. That’s simply, exactly it. That’s what I’m always looking for, the erotic-poetic within the oracular. Thank you, Rose. You make me want to re-enforce for myself my own dictum, and say it out-loud to myself, so I can breathe that life into it, into all of it: ‘Those who are like you, will find you’.

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