Let’s look at a recent reading with the Lenormand cards that made me think about how we can use the playing card insets in an optimal way.

I’ve written about insets on other occasions, but recently I’ve had an opportunity to see how beautifully the reading flowed in and out of the cards’ symbolic representations as they were accompanied by the playing-card significations.

The question fell into the classical love triangle category and the layout was the classical 9-card.

A woman wanted to know:

‘What impact do I make on my former lover and his new family?’

I often encounter this question in situations when a querent is working through their regret about not having been able to hold on to their relationship.

I never dismiss such questions in the name of ethics – ‘it’s not nice to spy’ – or in the name of knowing better, which is worse, as it presupposes judging another’s motivation for asking such questions. It’s not my business to judge. My business is to read the damn cards.

As it happens, I actually understand where these questions come from, namely a desire to be remembered, to have left a trace. In fact, whenever we use the phrase, ‘I love,’ or ‘I have loved’, what we disclose is actually a desire to make an impact.

Sometimes this desire carries into our way of coping with a failed relationship, as it validates our sense of self-worth. To some of us, it may come as a comfort to know that, although our former lovers have moved on, there’s still part of them that remembers the love in a way that’s tangible and concrete.

It can be interesting to know just how such past love still manifests and in what manner. The cards are excellent at offering an insight, and something to think about. I always value the stories that the cards tell, also because they save me the trouble to spy in any other way, if spying is something I fancy.

Now, to what extent such information is useful to the querent who wants to know what kind of an impact she makes after the break, is another question, but to begin with, it is most definitely a question that can be answered.

And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not bothered by third party questions, least of all when ‘being bothered’ discloses gender and professional bias.

As an aside, before I plunge into the reading, have you noticed in the many tarot groups in the social media that whenever a woman asks about her former lover people tend to jump on her, calling her question unethical?

Somehow this never happens when people ask about their imbecile bosses and how to cope with them. Is this not also a third-party situation? Methinks it is, so let us all be spared the double-moral standards. Just read the damn cards. That’s what the fortunetellers do.

Back to the question:

‘What impact do I make on my former lover and his new family?’

What I said:

‘You make no impact. None whatsoever.’

But let’s unpack.

To begin with, we note something interesting:

None of the usual suspect significators showed up in the spread, namely the Man, the Woman, and the Snake, for the other woman, in this case, the Snake as a representation of our querent.

So what do we work with in the absence of significators?

The playing-card insets. Especially when they offer themselves as a magnificently clear representation of significators, albeit of the indirect kind. So the focus here will be mainly on the court cards.

Let’s see what we can say about them:

The court card insets disclose the dynamics of how the parties involved, one direct, our querent, and two indirect, whom the querent asks about, participate in the subtle suggestion that all involved are trying to avoid the sticky situation.

Although we know nothing about the two asked about, and whether they are trying to avoid anything , the cards give an indication of how they figure in the equation beyond their direct participation, and beyond also their lack of agency or passive power in this context.

But this is exactly what makes third party readings utterly exciting, namely that there are things we can ask the querent directly about the context, and that there are things we can only arrive at via deduction from a missing, but plausible context. If you like detective stories, then you like reading for third parties, regardless of your ‘moral’ inclination.

I asked the querent here, just to validate my suspicion: ‘Does the new wife of your former lover know about you?’ She said: ‘Yes’. So we have here the premise for why this woman thinks she may still be in the picture. I didn’t ask her what her hopes were. They are irrelevant to the question.

But let’s see what else I said.

I proceeded from the middle, and made this general statement:

A cloud has descended on the situation and everything is in the process of being laid to rest. By ‘everything’ I obviously mean, everything pertaining to impact, as that was what the woman wanted to know. So we’re not interested in talking about love, and how it all ended, and who’s depressed now. That’s utterly uninteresting.

What we look at is the dynamics of action. Here we note the following:

The Cloud card features the King of Clubs on it, suggesting that our man of focus is right at the center of everything, yet indirectly represented. After all, we didn’t get the card of the Man on the table, as we might have otherwise.

The King of Clubs is aligned with the Queen of Diamonds on the Crossroads card, flanking him to the left. This closeness of the two court cards make us assume that this is the couple the querent wants to know about, thus leaving the Queen of Hearts on the Stork card in the first position to signify ‘the other woman’, our querent. Neat.

In an extended interpretation, we can also refer to the symbolism of the Stork, to change house and position, thus leading us to the conclusion that this woman, the Queen of Hearts, has willingly exchanged herself for another, the Queen of Diamonds, depicted on the card of the Crossroads, emphasizing a choice and an alternative path.

Let us then assume that not only is the Queen of Diamonds the King of Clubs’ alternative option, but she is also the lesser candidate – she is below the Queen of Hearts, and therefore inferior in rank. She is a strong option, mirroring the card of prosperity, the Bear, but still second choice. In terms of imagery, we’re with the immediate ‘d’oh’ response, as the Queen of Diamonds will never beat the Queen of Hearts in matters of the heart.

Pointing out such details to a querent can have a real impact, especially if they happen to sit with a moment of trying to hide their disappointments. Nobody likes to hear that they make no impact, even if the context for their power to act is basically non-existent simply by virtue of their not playing a role in it.

But knowing that you’re still the first, actually the Queen of Hearts, is way better than knowing that you have no influence (Stork to Coffin). It makes the heart jump, even if you actually already recognize the futility of your question.

As it happened here, the querent already knew the answer to her question beforehand, as it was embedded in the very act of her carrying the torch – for nothing tangible. But still she felt she needed to ask. And when someone asks a question, we answer it, regardless of their motivation.

Overall, this 9-card carré shows a very clear picture of lost agency.

If we stick strictly to the images of this tableau, we can actually also say that it’s not clear at all how impact is manifest here. While we may say that the querent is asking about her power because she thinks she still has a stake in it, it looks like the other agents involved, the couple the querent wants to know about, don’t have a clue either. They are strongly clouded in their ways (Bear, Clouds, Crossroads).

This may explain the absence of significators proper in this tableau, that is, the absence of the Man, the Woman, and the Snake. They are only indirectly represented here via the court cards, simply because no one has any impact on anyone else involved (if we assume that this is yet another classic love triangle).

The card of the Clouds at the center, flanked by the Crossroads to the left and the Bear to the right merely tells us that the central focus is weak and as transitory as the clouds, and that power (Bear) is divided (Crossroads) and sinking into the ground (Coffin below Bear).

But whose power are we talking about? The King’s or the Queens’s? To be more precise, we obviously want to know: Whose impact are we talking about exactly, even though we already have that as a given in the question?

We want to ask this question simply because as the card of the Clouds touches all the other cards, it extends its function to all the other cards, which is to say, it places a veil on everything.

Well, we begin to understand why the card of the Book, the card of secrets, is right below the Clouds and the King.

Let’s see what happens if we unpack some more:

Above the Clouds we find the Dog flanked by the Stork and the Tree. This makes us infer that however fickle the heart of the Queen of Hearts may be, in the head of the King of Clubs this heart is the heart of a lover (Dog) and durable (Tree).

However, as the Dog mirrors the Book, we can conclude that this is not a love that’s spoken of, but rather one that remains a closed chapter, left behind, and put to rest (Book flanked by Ship and Coffin).

If we look at the diagonal lines crossing the 9 cards, with the X marking the spot, we can say that the Queen of Heart’s impact is now a thing of memory (Tree to Ship via the Clouds), her heart dissolved too (Stork to Coffin via the Clouds).

That answers the question very precisely.

Now, however, if we were to go back to the motivation for asking what we can deem is a hopeless question, if we were to judge, and whose answer can be given even without looking at any cards, we could say the following, based on looking at the ‘future’ column, featuring the Tree, the Bear, and the Coffin.

The querent, our Queen of Hearts, is asking the question because she feels moved (Stork a sign of change) by what she still perceives is a strong connection, exceeding the death of the relationship.

In spiritual parlance, the Tree, the Bear, and the Coffin are significators for a connection strongly rooted in ancestral power.

What does this mean? What impact may this information have on the querent’s question about impact?

We can point to a paradox and talk about the future in the past.

The Tree, connected to genealogy and family business, standing literally on what can be termed inheritance, which the Bear and the Coffin together is all about, points to unresolved issues from the past that keep being carried into the future, but only as dead matter, as a dead end, perhaps even as a thing that’s ended before it began.

This is heavy. But significant. It’s heavy because we’re dealing with the future in the past, as in the situation: ‘We’re done, but it’s still here’, whatever IT is – perhaps the enduring heart. And it’s significant because of the everlasting relation between energy and entropy. Incidentally, the 9 diamonds on the Coffin card represent energy in constant change, as in my book, diamonds are associated with the nervous system, the mind and all its reflections.

It goes to show. When the cards are generous, they’ll give us a lot to think about. They will tell stories about people and their pains in the soul in such a way that can disclose a very specific key to reconciliation of the unresolved.

Cards can also teach us about timing, and about how far we can stretch our analysis into the space of the other we read for, as this space pertains to what they are ready to hear.

While the answer to the above question was already on the table in the first 5 seconds into the session, it was clear that by stretching it, by going into the astuteness of the nuances on the table, we could arrive at a deeply felt connection that opened itself up to action.

Even if such a deeply felt connection at the level of the heart that can be said to be both dead and alive cannot be addressed in the same context as the one to begin with, the question of impact, the fact that the cards help articulate it clearly, contributes to moving things in the right direction, out of the dead-end.

If we gather the 3 major lines that all lead to the Coffin, we can say the following: The heart is dead (Stork to Coffin). The roots of the love are dead (Tree to Coffin), and the distant secret is dead (Ship to Coffin). Meanwhile, a veil of mist and fog is descended upon the misfortune.

It’s up to the querent herself if she wants to lift the veil, unearth the future in the past heroically, and penetrate through the traces left by the still pulsating heart. She can ask herself: What is the purpose of this?

It’s also up to the querent herself if she chooses to stand by the catafalque and mourn. Meanwhile the same, wise question applies: What is the purpose of this?

I say ‘wise’ because whichever way we turn it, dispersing clouds is a very good idea. It leaves you with clarity about the nature of your experience.

The cards help articulate the two choices. All it takes is commitment to truth that the heart knows, and commitment to action against obscurations.

All it takes is looking.

All it takes is reading the damn cards, and mastering the art of synthesis.


STAY IN THE LOOP on cartomantic courses.


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